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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Colonel's Dossier Implicates Kadyrov


Akhmad Kadyrov

A confidential top-level Interior Ministry document, obtained by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, accuses Akhmad Kadyrov, President Vladimir Putin's appointed ruler in Chechnya and his favored candidate in Sunday's presidential election, of using systematic extortion and violence.

The document, a report from a colonel specially seconded to Chechnya, was written a year ago and obtained in Chechnya this summer. It paints a frightening picture of the republic as a place where life is cheap, violence universal and in which armed men who support or oppose Moscow act with equal brutality.

The author, Colonel A. Zhizhin, makes it clear that armed resistance to Moscow was continuing three years after the start of the 1999 military campaign. He writes of a "sharp deterioration in the situation in the Chechen republic over recent months" caused by "an increase in acts of terrorism and sabotage committed against federal forces, as well as in attacks against officers of the Chechen police."

Zhizhin goes on to warn: "The increased activities of the militants, Kadyrov's low popularity in the republic and frequently incompetent actions of the federal forces cause a negative response from most Chechen residents, who mistrust the policies of the federal authorities."

Kadyrov, who was appointed head of the Chechen administration by Putin in June 2000, is strong favorite to be elected president of the republic Sunday, in a poll in which he has no serious rivals.

Officials in the office of Sergei Yastrzhembsky, Putin's main spokesman on Chechnya, have called the document a forgery. However, it was obtained by IWPR from a senior Chechen police official and carried an appropriate serial number. The detail and precise dating in the document, as well as its even-handed criticism of all sides, also suggest it is genuine.

Some government officials claim the situation in Chechnya has stabilized in the year since the document was written and especially after Moscow's constitutional referendum in March. However, a spate of suicide bombings in the past year, claiming hundreds of lives, suggests otherwise.

Mikhail Burlakov, a former deputy in the State Duma who comes from Grozny and until recently headed the North Caucasus department of the nationalities ministry, said he had seen many similar documents and had no doubt that this was one was genuine. He said he believed the situation in Chechnya had deteriorated since the report was written.

Zhizhin signs the report as a member of the Criminal Police Internal Forces Operational Search Actions team, which conducts what are euphemistically known as zachistki, or "cleansing operations," which have terrorized Chechen villages. He recommends that his information be used in future operations.

The Interior Ministry, which commissioned the report, is in bitter competition with the Federal Security Service, or FSB, for authority in Chechnya. "There are tensions between these two organs at the highest levels and these trickle down to the ground," Burlakov said. This suggests the report may have been part of a larger campaign by enemies of Kadyrov to undermine his standing in Moscow.

Certainly, the report details what amounts to supporters of Kadyrov organizing a campaign of extortion against businesses, farms and bureaucrats "supposedly to raise funds for Akhmad Kadyrov's presidential election campaign," many months before the election was announced. Three men who did not pay their dues on time in the Vedeno district were murdered by masked men, Zhizhin notes.

The man mentioned as Kadyrov's main enforcer is Sulim Yamadayev, the deputy military commandant of Chechnya, who is believed to control an armed group of up to 10,000 men.

"A group of armed men led by Khamzat Gayarbekov, who reports to ... Yamadayev has arrived in the Shyolkovskaya district and has been collecting money from managers of state farms, industries, government offices, drivers and owners of oil delivery trucks," the colonel writes. In the last year, Yamadayev is reported to have quarreled with Kadyrov and become a more independent force.

Zhizhin is scathing about the Chechen police force -- supposedly his colleagues in the Interior Ministry -- who are said to be loyal to Kadyrov and adopting, he says, a "wait-and-see attitude" as the political situation changes.

Zhizhin also notes that other rebel fighters have moved to the neighboring republic of Ingushetia, confirming fears that the conflict in Chechnya is spilling across its borders into the rest of the North Caucasus.

Clem Cecil is Moscow correspondent for The Times of London. Thomas de Waal contributed to this report. This article comes from the Caucasus Reporting Service of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting,