Ramzan Kadyrov
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov told Russian TV that he will step down in April Reuters

Chechnya President Ramzan Kadyrov has vowed to stand down in April this year saying that his time "had passed" as leader of the autonomous Republic. The strongman leader of Chechnya, whose father Akhmad also served as President, has survived power struggles with regional warlords and with his own army during his eight-year tenure.

He announced on the radio station, Russian News Service, last week that he would be stepping down and reaffirmed his plans when speaking to NTV television on Saturday 27 February. The announcement has come somewhat out of the blue and analysts believe that this could be a ploy to encourage Russian President Vladimir Putin to reappoint him acting head of the Republic.

The 39-year-old's term ends in April and if he does resign, Putin must appoint a temporary head of the Chechen Republic until nationwide elections are held in September. The controversial father-of-nine has been accused of corruption and human rights abuses during his time as President.

"I'm saying that my time has passed," Kadyrov said in an interview shown on the NTV television according to the Guardian. "We have very many successors on the team; there are very good specialists. This is the peak for Kadyrov."

Meanwhile in Moscow crowds of up to 10.000 people gathered to remember opposition leader Boris Nemtsov who was murdered exactly one year ago. Kadyrov's deputy commander of Sever battalion of security troops has been charged with the assassination and the protestors chanted "Putin and Kadyrov are a disgrace to Russia" according to reports from the city.

Kadyrov, who is suspected by some to have been involved in the hit, told NTV during the same interview that Nemtsov "wasn't hindering me at all actually, because he wasn't on my level". Dubbed 'Putin's dragon' Kadyrov has repeatedly portrayed himself as an attack dog for the Kremlin and even posting a video of Nemtsov's ally Mikhail Kasyanov in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle to Instagram.

In support of the Russian offensive in Syria, Kadyrov claimed earlier this month that special forces from his republic are fighting in the nation, and that he has set up a spy network to target Islamic State (Isis) in the war-torn country.