Russian President Vladimir Putin has granted Ramzan Kadyrov a high state medal, in a move made public a day after the Chechen leader defended a suspect in the killing of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.
A decree signed by Putin and published on an official website on March 9 said that Kadyrov, among other Russian officials and celebrities, was awarded the Order Of Honor for "professional achievements, public activities, and many years of diligent work."
On his Instagram account on March 8, Kadyrov called Nemtsov slaying suspect Zaur Dadayev "a true Russian patriot" and a pious Muslim who was shocked by cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Dadayev, a Chechen who Kadyrov said had been an officer in a Interior Ministry unit in Chechnya, was one of two suspects charged on March 8 with involvement in Nemtsov's killing.
Nemtsov, who was shot dead near the Kremlin on February 27, had condemned the deadly January attack by Islamist gunmen on the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo.
Putin has relied on Kadyrov to maintain control over Chechnya, where rights activists accuse him of condoning abuses and creating a climate of fear to keep an Islamist insurgency and separatism in check.