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16 September 2005 -- The head of Russia's restive southern republic of Kabardino-Balkaria has submitted his resignation to President Vladimir Putin.
The announcement was made today by Dmitrii Kozak, the president's envoy in southern Russia.
Valerii Kokov, the longtime President of Kabardino-Balkaria, said in his letter to Putin that he wanted to be relieved of his powers "due to his desire to step down."
Kokov's approximately 20-year reign in the mostly Muslim republic in the Caucasus Mountains goes back to Soviet times. The Kremlin had considered him a key to stability in the volatile region, but Kabardino-Balkaria also has seen the rise of Islamic extremist movements and violence in recent years. Kokov has long suffered from cancer.More on Kabardino-Balkaria:
"Kabardino-Balkaria's Young Muslims Want to Emigrate To Avoid Harassment"
"What Is The Biggest Threat To Stability In Kabardino-Balkaria?"