President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov has often stood out with loud statements, and he even isn’t afraid to disobey Moscow’s demands, despite the fact that he, in words at least, has always been an avid supporter of Putin’s regime. He is undoubtedly a controversial person, and upon researching information available on him online it is impossible make more sense of him, instead the controversy just keeps growing.
To make myself more familiar with Kadyrov’s biography I looked at every possible resource available. All these resources shared the same principle – very little information and very much information. I will explain.
It is always more likely – at least it should be – that official sources possess more credibility. So, I opened the website of the Chechnyan government1 and read:
Ramzan Akhmadovich Kadyrov, born October 5, 1976. He has acquired two higher educations – in 2004, he graduated from the Makhachkala Institute of Finance and Law where he majored in law; in 2006, he graduated from the same institute and acquired a degree in finance and credit. In 2006, he was awarded the degree of candidate of economic sciences.
Everything looks good until you take a look at the numbers. Both of these educations are not related or a continuation of each other, so one would have to complete two whole education cycles. If we visit the website of the said institute, we can see that in order to acquire a bachelor’s degree in economics, a four-year study has to be completed, and this is the same for law studies.2 Therefore, it is not possible to acquire this level of education in such a small amount of time. What concerns his bachelor’s in law, Kadyrov himself cannot remember the subject of his bachelor’s paper.3 One should wonder how a person occupying such important posts found the time to finish all of his studies.
Enough about education – it’s not that Kadyrov is the first or last person whose higher education is shrouded in mystery.
Let us look at his work experience.
His first steps into the working world were made in May 1994, when he began working as the deputy head of the mufti security guard of Chechnya. Sounds like a harmless post, but is it really so?
In 1994, Kadyrov was 18 years old, so this is quite an influential post for a youngster just having reached legal age. He does, in fact, have additional “experience”: from December 1994 to August 1996, the first Chechen war with Russia took place during which Kadyrov fought AGAINST the Russian Armed Forces. He himself has said about this period: “During the first campaign I fought alongside my nation. I was young and dumb, but always together with my father.” Kadyrov said this during a 2016 interview with TASS.4 However, other sources state that Kadyrov killed his first Russian when he was 16.5 He denied this in a later interview with TASS, but he did not give a reply to a journalist’s direct question of whether he has killed Russian soldiers in his life.6
All this fits into the aforementioned category of “very little information”. There are no descriptions or at least hints to what Kadyrov did during the war with Russia. Search engines show websites that could possibly contain such information, but when you attempt to open them it says that these websites do not exist.
One thing is clear – Kadyrov initially fought AGAINST Russia, and then FOR Russia. There are different names in which we call such people, but they are all synonymous with – traitor.
Kadyrov’s duplicity in furthered by his own comments about traitors. He has said: “Those who betray their motherland and country have to be punished as harshly and strictly as possible, as prescribed by the law.”7 As I already wrote – what does that make Kadyrov himself?
Okay, Kadyrov’s education is shrouded in mystery and he became president by being a traitor. So, maybe as president he has made Chechnya flourish and raised the wellbeing and happiness of its citizens?
I will, again, have to disappoint you.
Reports on violations of human rights in Chechnya are more than frequent and the entire world is well aware of them. In a 2018 report, the OSCE stated that the acquired evidence is “a clear indication of serious violations of human rights in Chechnya.” Numerous reports have confirmed intimidation, violence, unlawful arrests, torture, kidnapping and extrajudicial killings. Among the victims have been members of sexual minority groups, human rights activists, lawyers, independent media outlets and civil society institutions.
The European Parliament has also passed numerous resolutions concerning Chechnya, with the latest being the resolution of 14 February 2019 No. P8_TA(2019)0115.8 It is, then, clear that human rights are not being observed in Chechnya.
In late 2019, repressions against Kadyrov’s closest circle ramped up, with high-ranking Chechen officials along with their relatives and security personnel being held from a couple of days to several weeks or even months in illegal prisons. Those detained were also tortured, and those who were released now have to pay millions in donations to the Akhmad Kadyrov Fund.9
I will add that Kadyrov praised his security forces for beating up someone who had violated quarantine rules and promised to reward them.10
What is the situation in Chechnya regarding crime and solving crime? Official data looks more than decent, but the reality is that majority of crimes go unreported so as to not tarnish the official statistics. “This means that when something is stolen, which is not a mobile phone because those can be tracked via IMEI numbers, but for instance a bag or something similar, the perpetrator will be searched for unofficially. And it is most likely that the person will be tried unofficially. Those who get arrested get involved in some sort of public service – washing police officers’ cars or cleaning the streets.” The police can also detain someone for a month or two, torture and beat them until they decide that the person has now admitted his wrongdoing and a criminal case can be initiated. There have been cases when dozens of people are being kept in police stations, most often in the Grozny Ministry of Interior, which explains the high rate of solved crimes: in Chechnya, a criminal case is often initiated only after a voluntary confession has been provided by the accused person.11
This doesn’t look like law and order to me, but more of a low-level criminal gang.
Despite what is going on in Chechnya where essentially an uneducated bandit has risen to power and implemented mob rule, the region still enjoys Moscow’s financial aid. During the period from 2001 to 2014, Chechnya received more than 464 billion rubles from the Russian budget.12 The annual budget of Chechnya is 80% comprised of Russia’s funding and has a tendency to increase in comparison to the rest of Russia’s federal subjects.13
Many are baffled about why Putin is treating Kadyrov so well. Maybe an explanation can be found in Kadyrov’s own words. “We have tens of thousands of people who have underwent special training, and we ask the national leader of Russia to consider us as a volunteer special unit.” Kadyrov also expressed that he knows that the country has a conventional army, aviation, fleet and nuclear forces, but that there are some tasks that should be done only by volunteers, adding that “we will carry out these tasks”.14 Kadyrov has also stated “We say to the entire world that we are Vladimir Putin’s infantry.”15 Kadyrov also once said that he could go to Eastern Ukraine as a volunteer.
It is no secret that Kadyrov is getting rid of his critics in Chechnya, but he is also doing this abroad. I will mention only a couple of examples: the shooting of Kadyrov’s former bodyguard Umar Israilov in the center of Vienna on 13 January 2009; the assassination of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in a park in Berlin on 23 August 2019; the murder of Chechen-born blogger Imran Aliyev, also known as Mansur Stary, in Lille, France – his body was found on 1 February 2020. Regarding the latter, French investigators are certain this was a political assassination.16 All of these people shared the fact that they were not afraid to criticize Kadyrov. Coincidence – I don’t think so.
It is interesting that Putin’s critics tend to find the same fate. Many of them have been killed or have died in mysterious circumstances. This brings us back to Kadyrov’s statement about being willing to carry out special tasks given by Putin.
It is most likely that this willingness to execute Putin’s special tasks is the secret to Chechnya receiving such generous funding from Russia along with the fact that the Kremlin is reluctant to interfere in the activities of Kadyrov and his gang. It is a well-known fact that every dictator needs someone to carry out their dirty deeds.