Who Is Ramzan Kadyrov, The Chechen Strongman Fighting For Putin?
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has ground to a halt. The Russian plan was deeply flawed, with poor intelligence, and even more poorly executed, many of the Russian conscript soldiers were told that they were going on an exercise and that the Ukrainian people would welcome them.
The Russians have suffered horrendous casualties, something that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state-controlled media has largely kept from the Russian people. The losses of armored vehicles, combat aircraft, and support vehicles have been staggering.
The Russians have changed their tactics that they’ve used in Syria and other places and that is they’ve indiscriminately used airstrikes and artillery against civilian targets and infrastructure. And now facing an even bloodier urban warfare campaign in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and other large cities, they are bringing in Syria proxy militias and Chechen fighters led by strongman Ramzan Kadyrov.
Kadyrov is a strongman much like his benefactor, Putin. He boasted that he was now in Ukraine and ridiculed the Ukrainian military. He then turned his social media wrath on billionaire Elon Musk who challenged Putin to a fight. He’s been the strong-armed ruler of Chechnya since 2007 and has been accused of several human rights abuses. It is well known that he has three wives and is a big supporter of Putin.
But who is Kadyrov? We’ll look at the Chechen strongman in a couple of different parts. First, we’ll look at his overall life from a historical perspective, then look at his methods and motivations and finally, what we can expect to see in his deployment to Ukraine.
Early Life and Growing Up as the Son of an Iman:
Kadyrov was born in Tsentaroy, Checheno-Ingush in the former Soviet Union in 1976. He was the youngest child to Akhmad and Aimani Kadyrov. He worked hard to gain the respect of his father who was an imam. During the First Chechen War, Akhmad had supported the call for jihad against Russians and created the Kadyrovtsy militia.
His father, his older brother Zelimkhan, and he fought against the Russians. After the war, Ramzan served as the personal driver and bodyguard of his father, who became the separatist mufti of Chechnya.
In the early 1990s, when the Soviet Union dissolved, the Chechens launched a bid for independence. However, the family switched sides and declared allegiance to Russia during the Second Chechen War in 1999. Kadyrov’s militia was supported by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) the successors to the KGB. Kadyrov then became the head of the Chechen Presidential Security Service after his father became the President.
Assuming And Abusing Power:
His father Akhmad was assassinated in early May 2004 when attending the Russian Victory Day celebration when an explosion ripped through the VIP seating section of the Dinamo Football Stadium in the capital of Grozny. Explosives were later found to have been emplaced inside of the support columns during repairs.
Akhmad was killed instantly as well as 56 other people. Many more were wounded, including a Russian general who lost a leg in the blast. His older brother died a few weeks later on May 31. The day after his father’s assassination, Ramzan was named the First Deputy Prime Minister.
He kept that position until November 2005, when he was named the Acting Prime Minister after Chechnya’s prime minister Sergey Abramov was injured in a car accident. Kadyrov immediately proceeded to implement Sharia law, such as declaring a ban on gambling and the production of alcohol.
He became the permanent Prime Minister in 2006 and promptly passed a decree that all women were required to wear head-scarves. His cousin Odes Baysultanov was appointed to the position of First Deputy Prime Minister.
In 2007, Putin dismissed President Alu Alkhanov and installed Kadyrov as the acting President. He immediately named his cousin as the Prime Minister, taking over from him. Russian citizens in a poll, stated that only 33 percent believed him to be trustworthy, while 35 percent found him untrustworthy.
He’s married to Medni Musaevna Kadyrova and together they have 12 children, six boys and six girls. However, Newsweek reported that in 2021, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project found that he has a second wife named Fatima Khazuyeva who is a property owner worth millions of dollars. The same report stated that he had a third wife, a local singer and dancer named Aminat Akhmadova.
In our next segment we’ll take a look at how he runs his country and what his motivations are.