Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov has said he wants to quit because the responsibility of the job is too much for him.
Speaking in a rare interview, he told how it is his “dream” to stand down from the Russian republic’s leadership.
“Once there was a need for people like me to fight, to put things in order,” he said.
“Now we have order and prosperity … and time has come for changes in the Chechen Republic.”
Without elaborating further, Kadyrov, 41, added there were “several people who are 100% capable of carrying out these duties at the highest level”.
He later described Russian President Vladimir Putin as his “idol”, saying he was “ready to die for him, to fulfil any order”.
Kadyrov, who portrays himself as tough leader and is often seen in army camouflage gear, was once a rebel before switching loyalty to the Kremlin.
It is not the first time he has talked of resigning, but his previous statements have been seen as part of a power play with Moscow, which fought two wars against insurgents for control of the Muslim-majority region in the early 1990s.
The Kremlin, which backs Kadyrov’s regime with generous subsidies and allows it a wide degree of autonomy, played down talk of him quitting.
Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Ramzan continues to remain the current head of the republic.”
The outspoken leader came under international pressure earlier this year amid allegations that more than 100 gay men had been locked up and tortured in Chechnya.
Not only did he deny the claims, calling them “nonsense”, but he caused further outrage by saying: “We don’t have those kinds of people here.”
In a television interview, he said: “We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada.”