Chechnya and the war in Ukraine: Who is Razman Kadyrov and his soldiers?

Putinovo the alliance with Kadyrov lasts for many years, but it is not old. Ahmad Kadyrov and his son Ramzan fought Russian troops before fleeing alongside them at the start of the second war in Chechnya in 1999.

After disputed elections in 2003, Achmed became president of the autonomous republic of Chechnya, but was killed a few months later by a bomb attack. The dreaded militia, later called the Kadyrovci, was taken over by Ramzan’s son, and its fighters incorporated by the Russian Interior Ministry. “He became something of a cult leader, like other post-Soviet leaders in Central Asia.” described for the BBC Cerwyn Moore, a Caucasus expert from the University of Birmingham. “He has co-opted ex-soldiers who do various things in his favor, often very dark ones.”

Human rights groups have accused Kadyrovce of torture, kidnapping and murder. These methods were useful to the Kremlin which sought to pacify Chechnya and all of the North Caucasus. Although the war ended in 2000, Chechen separatists, guerrillas and terrorists continued to attack the Caucasus and Russia itself.

“There are no homosexuals in Chechnya”

Ramzan Kadyrov was named Putin’s president in 2007; since 2011, the office has been officially named the head of the Chechen Republic. It is elected every five years and there is no limit to the number of seats. The oil-rich Muslim Republic is already relatively stable, the BBC said. It builds roads, mosques… But as the critics say, the Chechen government suppresses the freedom of the media and individuals. Kadyrov justifies the rule of hardness by the need to maintain stability.

Other times he denies the oppression. For example, the persecution of homosexuals accused by Western media and human rights organizations: “Let them come here and see. People who write these things about us – I don’t consider you people.” Kadyrov said in a 2018 BBC interview. “1.4 million people live here and statistics show that we have the best conditions here, the happiest people live in Grozny. We are the safest area when it comes to street crime or terrorism. We don’t have rape, pedophilia. We don’t know the word homosexuality, we don’t talk about homosexuals, it was coined by people paid by Western European secret services and so-called human rights activists. Those who do not understand at all what democracy and human rights, individual freedom, are Western European countries destroying entire states. He tries to tell us how we should live.”

When two gay men left Chechnya for Russia last year and were tortured at home, they were arrested by Russian police in Nizhny Novgorod and sent back, the BBC wrote last year.

Journalists who try to objectively inform Chechnya live in constant fear. Investigative journalist Jelena Milašinová of the Moscow daily Novaja gazeta was brutally beaten by several assailants at the Grozny hotel in 2020, His editorial colleague Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead in 2006 by a group of assassins from Chechnya and Russia. It was then that she wanted to publish an investigation into the torture committed by the Kadyrovs. “You are the enemy. Shoot…” Kadyrov had told him personally two years earlier. Three years later, Natalia Estemirova, also from the New Gazette, ended the same way.

The murder of Boris Nemtsov and Anna Politkovskaya

Critics link Ramzan Kadyrov with several assassinations, including a few in Europe, and he denies his involvement. In 2015 he praised Zaur Dadayev, a Chechen member of the Russian secret service accused of the murder of Boris Nemtsov, then Deputy Prime Minister of Boris Yeltsin and well-known critic Vladimir Putin (Dadaev went to prison two years later for the 2015 murder).

The day after Dadaeva was praised as “a sincere Russian enthusiast, ready to lay down his life,” Kadyrov received an honorary order from Putin. It was far from the first decoration of Moscow, Kadyrov already has in his collection the highest Russian decoration Hero of the Russian Federation, the Order of Bravery, the Order of Merit for the Fatherland and also two medals of Crimea annexed to Russia from 2014-15. In 2020, Putin was promoted to Major General by Kadyrov.

He earned all of this with loyalty to the Kremlin. He has been a vocal supporter of pro-Putin rebels in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. At the same time, in addition to the oppression of his own people, he deserved sanctions from the EU and the United States. In 2020, his social network Instagram blocked him (he was watched there by 1.5 million users), three years before Facebook.

The end of the vicissitudes with Boris Nemtsov Square?  The Russian Embassy has found a clever solution, it will not budge

Like Putin, the Chechen leader presents himself as a big macho. He likes to show off with weapons and soldiers, he supports martial arts. And he will be happy to help Putin in foreign conflicts. Kadyrov’s police served in Syria’s civil war, where Putin aided Bashar al-Assad. And the Chechens also fought in Ukraine.

It was already in 2014, when the battles of the Eastern separatists with the Ukrainian army began. For example, among the wounded in the hospital in Donetsk were men from Grozny, said the mayor of Donetsk at the time. Kadyrov denied at the time that he would send troops, but said Chechen volunteers could fight the Ukrainian army there, the BBC wrote at the time. Representatives of the separatists expressed a similar opinion.

The Kadyrovs are now involved in the invasion. “Russian state propaganda and a network of pro-Kremlin channels on the Telegram are spreading information that between 10,000 and 70,000 Chechen fighters – whom Kadyrov called volunteers – are heading to Ukraine to support Moscow’s main forces “, says Foreign Policy magazine that the numbers are certainly exaggerated. “Russia uses the presence of Chechen soldiers and stereotypes about them as a psychological weapon against Ukrainians.”

On March 1, the head of the Ukrainian Security Council, Oleksiy Danilov, announced that the security forces had liquidated the elite Kadyrovci, who had already they were ordered to liquidate the president Volodymyra Zelensky. Kadyrov admitted that two Kadyrovs fell in Ukraine and six were injured.

Ukraine liquidated a bunch of Putin's thugs.  The Chechens wanted to kill Zelenský

The conquest of Ukraine, which the Kremlin apparently envisioned as a smooth blitzkrieg, might be more reminiscent of the Chechen wars. As early as 1991-93, the Chechens declared their independence from the crumbling Soviet Union and the new Russia; in November 1991, they repelled the operation of Russian troops. However, President Dzhokhar Dudayev did not enjoy united support, and the dispute escalated into civil war. Dudayev’s opponents asked Moscow for help, although they insisted on independence.

The Russians initially participated covertly until they entered the conflict openly in December 1994; has begun First Chechen War (1994-1996). Reasoning: “Restoring Constitutional Order in Chechnya and Preserving Russia’s Territorial Integrity”. As the BBC pointed out years ago, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev razed this a regiment of parachutists suffices; He reportedly knocked Dudayev down with a “blitzkrieg without a drop of blood”.

The bombardment of Grozny

Nothing could be further from the truth. The planet has not remembered the harshest bombardment of the city since the destruction of Dresden in 1945.”The once prosperous living city of Grozny has been largely destroyed, no one can say how many bodies may still lie beneath the ruins.” BBC journalist James Rodgers recalled in January 1995 while reporting in Grozny.

Unprepared soldiers, often young men of basic service, Chechnya’s defenders were mowing down en masse. At the cost of heavy losses, the Russians conquered the metropolis, but within a year and a half the guerrilla offensive again defeated the force. This was followed by an armistice concluded on August 22 and the Moscow Peace Treaty on May 12, 1997.

The Russian military declared 5,732 dead or missing in the First Chechen War, the Union of Committees of Military Mothers of Russia estimated 14,000. In addition, the war claimed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians – Moscow states 30-40 thousand, human rights organizations doubled.

With the peace treaty, the Russians promised reparations to the Chechens, but the question of independence was not resolved. And so followed the second Chechen war (1999-2000). First, Shamil Basayev stormed neighboring Dagestan with thousands of jihadists on August 7, 1999, and in September terrorists detonated several bombs in Russia and Dagestan, including in soldiers’ homes; the bombs killed 350 people. Russia has already started raids on Chechnya. Just a month earlier, Boris Yeltsin had dissolved the government and appointed the little-known Vladimir Putin to lead the new one.

And it started on October 1 with ground operations. Again, the Russian army carried out heavy bombardments. The Scud rocket killed 140 civilians in the Grozny market and a raid on a refugee convoy claimed the lives of 25 people, including Red Cross workers and journalists. Grozny was conquered by the Russians on February 2, 2000. The UN later named it the most destroyed city in the world.

In April 2000, the Second Chechen War ended as such, in May Putin established direct power over Chechnya and appointed defector Achmad Kadyrov as head of the interim cabinet. However, the guerrillas attacked sporadically until 2017. According to official statistics, the Second Chechen War cost the Russian army and its Chechen allies more than 7,000 lives (military mothers speak twice as much) and 16,000 on the other side. Estimates of the number of civilian casualties range from 25,000 (according to Amnesty International) to an astronomical quarter of a million.

Putin’s general – a veteran of Chechnya

As the BBC has now pointed out, the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces (and also the Deputy Defense Minister), the invasion commander is currently Valery Gerasimov – who gained experience in the Second Chechen War.

This may still be evident in Ukraine today. An informed government source at the BBC expressed concern that the Russian occupiers might use tactics from Chechnya, i.e. heavy artillery attacks on civilians. And in the event of a protracted war and occupation of Ukraine, they would resist Ukrainian guerrilla attacks with similar difficulties.

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