Aspects of sharia law imposed in Muslim Chechnya in recent months are inching the republic closer to autonomy and posing a renewed threat to Kremlin control, analysts say.
The Kremlin relies on its hardline Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, to maintain order in the violent region in the North Caucasus, where separatists were driven from power a decade ago after two wars.
Analysts say Kadyrov's methods to tame the region include a crackdown on opponents and imposing his radical vision of Islam, which could push Chechnya again towards separatism.
Earlier this month Chechnya's spiritual leader successfully ordered the shutting down of all eateries during the holy month of Ramadan. Separately, many women said they had been harassed by men for not wearing headscarves in what some of the assailants said were instructions from religious authorities.
The Ramadan orders followed words of praise from Kadyrov who told state TV he was grateful to attackers who targeted women with paintball pellets in June for not wearing headscarves.