Russia's Muslim Chechnya asks UAE to invest $2.3 bln

Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:22pm GMT

* Chechen leader says has "brotherly relations" with UAE

* Asks UAE to invest in energy, industry projects

* Troubled Russian region reaching out to Muslim countries

GROZNY, Russia, Feb 16 (Reuters) - The leader of Russia's Chechnya region has asked the United Arab Emirates to invest more than $2 billion in the energy and industrial sectors of the Muslim province wracked by two separatist wars since 1994.

"I'd like to stress that our relations with the UAE are brotherly," Chechnya's Kremlin-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov told a visiting delegation late on Tuesday. "Economic, sport and cultural ties link us."

Kadyrov proposed 17 investment projects for the region of just over 1 million people, totalling 68.89 billion roubles ($2.35 billion), his press service said. It said the bulk of investments would go towards hydropower plants.

The Kremlin credits Kadyrov with maintaining a shaky peace in Chechnya, a decade after Russian troops drove separatists out of power in the second of two post-Soviet wars in the province on Russia's southern border.

But Kadyrov's critics say he is leading a violent crackdown on opponents and enforcing his vision of Islam with rules that sometimes violate secular Russia's constitution. He dismisses the accusations as attempts to blacken his name.   Continued...

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