Chechen armed forces assemble to honour Putin and his ally Kadyrov

GROZNY, Russia (Reuters) - Members of the security forces of Russia's Chechnya region massed in its capital, Grozny, on Friday to mark Russian President Vladimir Putin's 70th birthday and see local leader Ramzan Kadyrov honoured for supporting Ukrainian separatists.

Kadyrov, one of Putin's most loyal allies, has sent Chechen soldiers to support Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine, notably in the self-styled separatist Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) in the east.

DPR leader Denis Pushilin presented Kadyrov with the medal of a "Hero of the Donetsk People's Republic" before a crowd of service personnel that Chechen television said numbered around 20,000.

Among the ranks of black-clad security forces and soldiers in full battle-dress were members of the "A A Kadyrov" battalion, named after Akhmad Kadyrov, Ramzan's father - a one-time anti-Moscow rebel who switched loyalties to side with Putin's Russia.

He became president of the Chechen republic in 2003 and was assassinated in Grozny by Chechen Islamists the following year.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Frances Kerry)