Ally of Chechnya's Kremlin-backed leader Kadyrov resigns suddenly

LONDON (Reuters) - A close ally of Chechnya's Kremlin-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov resigned unexpectedly as speaker of parliament on Wednesday, creating a vacancy in the elite at a time when Kadyrov's health is under close scrutiny.

Magomed Daudov was widely seen as one of the most influential politicians in the southern Russian region. He gave no reason for his departure.

"After a meeting with the head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov, I decided to resign as chairman of the parliament of the Chechen Republic," Chechen TV quoted him as saying.

Daudov, known as "Lord", is a former insurgent who fought for Chechen independence from Russia but later switched sides and was awarded a Hero of Russia medal. He had held the parliamentary post since 2015.

Chechen separatists tried to break away from Russia after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union in two wars that brought heavy destruction and casualties. Kadyrov, president since 2007, has been given wide leeway by Russian President Vladimir Putin to run the mainly Muslim region as his personal fiefdom in return for keeping it stable and loyal.

Independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta last month reported that Kadyrov had been receiving treatment for the past five years for a serious illness called pancreatic necrosis.

Kadyrov has repeatedly dismissed reports he is unwell. On the day the article appeared, he posted videos of himself chairing a meeting and exercising in the gym.

(Reporting by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Andrew Osborn)