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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 April 2007, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Profile: Ramzan Kadyrov
By Steven Eke
BBC Russian affairs analyst

Ramzan Kadyrov
Mr Kadyrov took power after his father's death
Ramzan Kadyrov has been inaugurated as president of Chechnya.

Born in the settlement of Tsenteroi in October 1976, Mr Kadyrov is descended from one of Chechnya's oldest and most respected clans.

In the early 1990s, as Chechnya lurched towards the first war for independence, Ramzan Kadyrov and his father, Akhmad, joined the rebel movement and fought against Russian federal forces. Akhmad Kadyrov became the rebel Mufti of Chechnya.

Father and son swapped allegiances at the beginning of the second Chechen war in 1999, the result of mediation by the Russian parliamentarian and former Minister of Nationalities, Ramazan Abdulatipov.

From this moment, they became candidates in Moscow's search for loyal Chechens to install as the republic's leaders.

They were also important in marginalising the influence of radical Islam, which began to take hold in the region amidst the devastation of the first war (1994-1996).

Powerful figure

Akhmad Kadyrov was duly elected in a vote condemned by international monitors, who considered it impossible to hold a free and fair election in conditions of near-war. He was killed in May 2004, in the bombing of Grozny's Dinamo stadium.

The killing ensured Ramzan Kadyrov would emerge as the region's single most powerful political figure. Indeed, he was groomed for the position by Vladimir Putin, who conferred Russia's highest state honour - the Hero of Russia medal - upon him.

This concerns human rights groups, who accuse Mr Kadyrov of stamping his authority on the republic by using a feared private militia, known as the Kadyrovtsy (the Kadyrovites).

Ramzan Kadyrov poster
Ramzan Kadyrov's image is widely promoted in Chechnya

Russian and international rights groups say they commit serious crimes, including extortion, and human rights abuses, including kidnapping, torture and summary execution.

Both Mr Kadyrov and the Kremlin deny these allegations, despite a considerable weight of evidence. However, Russia is now largely impervious to the wider criticism of its human rights record, let alone events specifically in Chechnya.

Some western scholars have suggested Mr Kadyrov could be seen as a "sovereign governor general".

The right man?

It is thought that he has overall control of both the Chechen oil industry - its one viable sector - as well as the large amounts of reconstruction money provided by Moscow.

The Kremlin insists he has brought stability, and overseen the dramatic rebuilding of the republic's war-ravaged capital, Grozny.

But some Russians question whether Moscow has chosen the right man. They point to Mr Kadyrov's youth, lack of education, and his occasional outbursts suggesting sympathy for aspects of Sharia law.

They also ask whether Mr Kadyrov, having received absolute power, might be tempted to forge a much more independent path.


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