Torture, repression and massacres: Since his rise to power in 2007, Ramzan Kadyrov has subjected Russia’s Muslim-majority Chechnya to a reign of terror.
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The start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine put him back in the center of action. Appointed a colonel general by Moscow, Kadyrov sends his fighters to terrorize Ukrainians in territories favored by Vladimir Putin.
Who is this man of iron who has been accused of many war crimes by the international community?
1. His father was an independent leader before joining Vladimir Putin
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, an independence movement was born in Chechnya. His influence created tensions and led to two bloody wars with Russia.
Akhmat Kadyrov, father of the current leader, is a key figure in the movement. He said he was waging a “holy war” against Russia and that every Chechen had a duty to kill “150 Russians”.
However, Russia’s seizure of power and the arrival of Vladimir Putin changed Akhmat Kadyrov’s allegiance. He became the leader of Chechnya in 2000 and became a close ally of the Kremlin.
He was assassinated in 2004 in an enemy attack.
2. Master of staging
The Chechen leader is very active on the Internet. Images of him controlling a crocodile with his bare hands, fighting a UFC fighter, attacking tigers have elicited many reactions.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, he has used his social media platforms to praise the prowess of the Chechen forces. He shared pictures of his soldiers helping the public. He took the opportunity to rebroadcast excerpts from Russian television news to motivate his troops.
Ramzan Kadyrov said he sent his three sons, aged 16, 15 and 14, ahead. The three teenagers photographed enemy positions in the trenches. However, the authenticity of these images has been repeatedly questioned by journalists and experts around the world.
He also uses his social media accounts to post shocking news. Earlier in the conflict, he proposed to use Low Intensity Nuclear Missiles Against the Ukrainian army.
In a video posted on his Telegram account, Kadyrov vowed to “burn Ukrainians alive, destroy their cities, and continue his jihad against Satanists in the West.”
He recently shared a video where he can be seen “gifting” three Ukrainian players.
3. An enemy of the LGBTQ+ community and feminists
For years, “Kadirovtsi,” a paramilitary force that hunts down opponents of the regime, has waged a bloody campaign of repression against the LGBTQ+ community.
Amnesty International speaks out “Abolition of Homosexuality” In which men are kidnapped, tortured and killed. There is even talk of creating concentration camps to hold homosexuals in inhumane conditions.
The leader defends himself against these violations by promising “no homosexuality” in Chechnya.
However, sexual minorities are not the only victims of oppression. Since coming to power, Kadyrov organized “Islamization” of society. Access to alcohol is prohibited, and women, who are so oppressed, are almost forced to cover themselves. They are often victims of honor killings.
The Chechen government may also be involved in the assassination of political opponents.