Attempt on Ramzan Kadyrov’s Life Reported

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 30

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov on July 30 denied reports that he had been the target of an assassination attempt. “Those rumors are being generated either by the Wahhabis themselves or provocateurs straining for cheap sensationalism,” quoted Kadyrov as saying during a meeting with Chechnya’s education and science minister, Anzor Muzaev. The Chechen president insisted that the situation in the republic is peaceful and stable. “Naturally, there is a circle of persons whom this [situation] doesn’t suit,” he said. “This sort of verbiage has only one goal—to destabilize the situation in the region. These provocative fantasies are engendered by ideologists of the extremists and their henchmen. Jackals who don’t have the guts to go into the woods themselves.” The Chechen president’s press service also denied that there had been an attempt on Kadyrov’s life, calling the reports “provocations aimed against the Chechen Republic and its president.”

The first reports that an attempt had been made on Kadyrov’s life appeared on July 28. The Regnum News Agency, citing a source in the Sever (North) battalion, a unit of the Chechen Interior Ministry’s Internal Troops that among other things guards the Chechen president, reported that the assassination attempt had taken place in the town of Gudermes the day before Kadyrov’s meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev at the presidential residence in Gorki outside Moscow on July 25. Regnum quoted its source as saying that an unidentified person had fired at Kadyrov with a Makarov pistol at a public event in Gudermes and that Kadyrov was saved thanks to unspecified technical equipment and the “adroitness” of the presidential security team, one of whose members shot the attacker in the head. Regnum’s correspondent in Chechnya reported that all of the republic’s “power structures,” including the Sever and Zapad (West) battalions, had been put on heightened alert several days earlier and that security was increased in all public areas and in areas that Kadyrov was expected to visit. “There are rumors that the reinforcement [of security] is connected with an attack on Kadyrov,” a Sever battalion member told Regnum’s correspondent. “All individuals who arouse suspicion or who don’t have [identification] documents are being [detained]. Such a round-up took place on Saturday [July 27] in the central market [of Grozny].”

Like Regnum, Kavkazky Uzel also reported on July 28 that an attempt had been made on Kadyrov’s life. The website, however, said the attack had taken place in Khosi-Yurt(aka Tsentoroi), which is the Kadyrovs’ native village, and that the village had been blockaded by security forces following the incident.

Kavkaz-Center, for its part, reported on July 28 that six people from Kadyrov’s inner circle who were accused of plotting an attack on the Chechen leader had been captured in Tsentoroi and killed after being “sadistically tortured.” The rebel website said that relatives of those killed were afraid to give information about what happened but that one of those murdered was a former classmate of Kadyrov and that all six belonged to the Benoi teip. According to Kavkaz-Center the bodies of two of those killed were burned and the remaining four bodies were dismembered.

Kavkazky Uzel reported on July 30 that there had indeed been an attempt on Kadyrov’s life, but that it had happened not during the preceding several days but a week earlier. The website quoted an informed source in Chechnya’s “power structures” that the Chechen president had been attacked by a close relative who had recently returned from Moscow, where he had been studying at a higher learning institution. The source said the incident had taken place in Tsentoroi and that the alleged perpetrator had fired on Kadyrov with an automatic rifle. Kadyrov’s bodyguards managed to shield him and shoot the attacker, but several presidential bodyguards were wounded, the source said. “On July 28 the village really was essentially blockaded,” the source added. “Not a single car was allowed into or out of it. However, it is hard to say exactly what this was connected with.”

Kavkazky Uzel, however, reported that there are several different versions of what happened. According to one version of events, a recently-hired member of Kadyrov’s bodyguard detail tried to shoot him with a pistol, while according to another, a car in which Kadyrov was supposed to be riding was fired on, but the Chechen president’s cousin, not Kadyrov himself, was in the car when the attack took place.

As Kavkazky Uzel noted, three Chechens detained in Moscow in May 2007 on suspicion of preparing terrorist attacks using explosives discovered in a car near a metro station in the Russian capital (Chechnya Weekly, May 17, 2007) were reportedly planning to carry out bombings during May 9 Victory Day celebrations in the Russian capital and reportedly later told investigators that Kadyrov had been a potential target (Kavkazky Uzel, July 5, 2007). According to Kavkazky Uzel, Kadyrov said back in September 2006 that two attempts had been made on his life. “Attacks on me were organized twice,” the website quoted Kadyrov as saying at the time. “On two occasions conspiracies were carefully organized with the aim of killing me. I was [targeted] by the special services, and both times they organized the attacks on me. I gave up those who tried to kill me to the … [law-enforcement] organs, but nothing was done to them.”

A more Byzantine version of the latest reported attack on Ramzan Kadyrov was put forward by Moskovsky Komsomolets. Citing sources in the Unified Group of Forces, the newspaper reported on July 30 that the attack took place on July 28, but overnight on July 22-23, during a meeting of Kadyrov’s inner circle convened in Tsentoroi to discuss “urgent problems in the region.” According to the newspaper, Kadyrov was handed a letter during the meeting, which turned out to be from Chechen rebel leader Dokka Umarov and stated that the pro-Moscow Chechen authorities are unable to control the situation in Chechnya and that the rebels have such a strong grip on the republic that Kadyrov cannot feel secure even in his own home. According to Moskovsky Komsomolets, the letter told Kadyrov he could see this for himself by going into his bathroom, where he would find two pistol bullets and a note. Kadyrov reportedly followed the letter’s instructions and found a note stating that he should look for a traitor in his inner circle. The newspaper reported that Kadyrov then went to his inner circle and began shouting about a traitor, after which one of them was unable to control his nerves and opened fire on Kadyrov with an automatic rifle. One of Kadyrov’s bodyguards known as “Patriot” threw himself on top of Kadyrov to shield him from the gunfire. He and another member of the Chechen president’s bodyguard detail, along with the attacker, were killed in the incident, Moskovsky Komsomolets reported.

Meanwhile, Kavkaz-Center reported on July 30 that there had been not one, but two attempts on Kadyrov’s life between July 20 and 28 and that a conspiracy to kill the pro-Moscow Chechen president had been uncovered.