Ramzan Kadyrov has been our favorite Russian warlord to google image search (see above for one of many reasons why), but to get some more insider info we asked our friend and Chechnya expert Anna Söderberg to break down this scary guy. This is what she said.
Chechnya is a tiny country--a little over one million people live there--but thousands of those are young men armed to their teeth who can’t even remember life without the war. The slaughter has gotten into their blood. It’s their sport, their entertainment, and their career. And they are absolutely fucking merciless. A young Chechen I talk to says pulling a trigger is not hard; it’s way too easy.
Groznyy, the main city, is in ruins, except for some highways and the one new building constantly in the background when state controlled TV stations report from the “normalized” Chechnya. And out of all the crazy, corrupt leaders in the former Russian federation (like the Turkmen dictator Saparmurat Niyazov, who had, amongst other things, an enormous book written about himself, by himself, a statue of himself put up on the main square in Ashgabat, and who also renamed months of the year after members of his family), Chechnya has dibs on the zaniest: Ramzan Kadyrov.
You’d laugh at all the crazy things this man does, if you just weren’t so scared he was bugging your house, looking for an excuse to come kill your family. For example, one good way of getting on his shit list would be to overtake one of the cars his para-military drive. Not that you could, since they’re all in BMWs and there’s no way in hell you’d be able to pass a car like that. Unless you're Ramzan Kadyrov of course.
And this is how he got to where he is.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the current prime minister of Chechnya, was a fighter since childhood, but his first enemy was Russia. His father, Ahmed Hadji Kadyrov Grand Mufti of Chechnya, told the Chechen people to cock back and pursue “Jihad” against the Russian infidels. Kadyrov Sr. later became the pro-Russian president in Chechnya and was killed in a bomb attack in May 2004. On the day of his father’s death Ramzan was flown to Moscow, and a quick handshake later (with Vladimir Putin in the prestigious chambers of the Kremlin), the 28-year-old warlord became Russia’s man in Chechnya. He was wearing a light blue tracksuit during the event.
Political matters are way too boring for sassy, snazzy Ramzan. Instead, he got to where he is mainly through nepotism, and right now he is focusing his attention on always being in the company of two-meter-tall human gorillas, driving Hummer cars, devoting himself to a life in luxury. Like most powerful people in Russia he is a tasty cocktail of businessman, gangster, and politician, and he enjoys the company of exotic pets like tigers and lions. He’s also polygamous. He feels it’s necessary since the male body count in Chechnya is, well, above average. Not a little thanks to Ramzan himself.
While ordinary gangsters are content with controlling a neighborhood or a village, Ramzan can act Rambo in a kingdom of his own. Which is why he made himself honoree member of the Russian Academy of Science, with the impressive merit of five years of sporadic compulsory school experience. Freestyle wrestling and boxing are huge sports in the Caucasus, so Ramzan Kadyrov has fabricated a glorious past for himself as a promising boxing star. His Groznyy headquarters is a combined boxing club and recruitment base for his militia, and he paid Mike Tyson $100,000 to visit the grounds. In the meantime, Chechen children are starving. Ramzan is also probably the only thug who can add “Hero of Russia” on to his business card. And he didn’t even give that one to himself, that one came in the form of a medal from Vladimir Putin.
Ramzan Kadyrov enjoys the privileges of a having a private militia of thousands, and like in the Red Army, quitting = death. It used to be that anyone could get hold of weapons in the Chechen bazaars. You’d see dudes test shooting on discarded watermelons. This very profitable industry is now controlled by Kadyrov.
The militia goes under the name Kadyrovsti. This herd of dissident rebels, combat officers, policemen, and just regular crazy people who couldn’t get a gun any other way, is now performing state terrorism towards the Chechen people. Kadyrovsti are everywhere, armed and trigger-happy. And if you weren’t paranoid enough before (remember, don’t speed past their cars in the street or they’ll beat you up good), they’ll just randomly kidnap you and demand a ransom from your family without any need for an excuse. That’s why people won’t trash Ramzan Kadyrov even in their own homes. Instead, they’ll put his portrait on the wall and maybe shop for some personal cult gear on the nearest street corner.
Many people wish for Ramzan the same faith that caught up with his father: assassination. Unfortunately, because of his extreme security, the only one that seems to have a good chance to accomplish the mission is his pet lion. If you grow up with war, you won’t know anything else than how to continue it, and it’s intangible that a man like Ramzan Kadyrov is allowed to decimate the Chechen population like a sadistic kid pulling the legs and wings of a captivated insect. But Moscow will keep Kadyrov as long as he performs his duty as a marionette.