Chechnya leader proposes Grozny as host city

MOSCOW - The leader of Russia's volatile Chechnya region on Friday proposed adding its capital to the list of host cities for the 2018 World Cup.

"We are completing a sports complex in Grozny which is up to international standards... Naturally, we will offer our city for other matches," Ramzan Kadyrov, the Moscow-backed leader said on the official site

A decade after Moscow drove separatists from power in the second of two wars, peace in Muslim Chechnya is shaky at best.

Russia, which on Thursday won the rights to host the world's biggest sporting event, is however unlikely to bring any matches to the North Caucasus, which includes Chechnya.

President Dmitry Medvedev last year said the region was Russia's biggest domestic political problem.

Islamist insurgents stage near daily attacks across the North Caucasus, especially Chechnya, neighbouring Dagestan and Ingushetia.

Russia has said it will build 13 stadiums and revamp three more for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, to be held in 13 cities: Moscow, Kaliningrad, Kazan, Krasnodar, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, St Petersburg, Samara, Saransk, Sochi, Volgograd, Yaroslavl and Yekaterinburg.

Kadyrov, an ex-rebel who fought against the Russians and then switched sides, is largely credited by the Kremlin for rebuilding Chechnya over the past two years. Rights groups say he rules Chechnya with an iron fist.

Although Chechnya today boasts glistening shopping centres, fancy cafes and meticulously paved streets, most Russians from outside the region do not dare venture there.