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Terek Or Akhmat? Fans Of Chechnya Soccer Team Oppose Name Change Online

Actor Gerard Depardieu holds up a scarf of Terek Grozny soccer club as he poses for a picture during a visit to the Akhmat-Arena sports stadium in Grozny in February 2013.

A decision to rename the Russian Premier League soccer club Terek Grozny after the late father of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov is not sitting well with some of its fans.

Fans began protesting online after the club's June 7 announcement that the name would be changed to Akhmat, after the former separatist rebel who became the Kremlin-backed head of Chechnya and was assassinated in a bomb blast in 2004.

Ramzan Kadyrov, who has ruled Chechnya since 2007, said the decision was based on a petition.

But a fan-organized poll on the social network VKontakte suggested that more than 85 percent of the club's supporters were against the change.

Some Terek fans wrote that it would be against Islamic traditions to chant the name of a dead person -- "Akhmat! Akhmat!" instead of "Terek! Terek!" -- during soccer matches.

Akhmad (in Russian "Akhmat") Kadyrov fought against Moscow in the first separatist war in Chechnya, in the mid-1990s, before changing sides during the second conflict and becoming head of the region.

The club plays its home games in the Akhmat Arena, and numerous mosques, streets, schools, foundations, and buildings across Chechnya have been named after the late Kadyrov.

With reporting by AFP