Ramzan Akhmadovich Kadyrov (Russian: Рамза́н Ахма́тович Кады́ров, IPA: [rɐˈmzan ɐxˈmatəvʲɪtɕ kɐˈdɨrəf], Chechen: Къадар Ахьмат-кIант Рамзан Q̇adar Aẋmat-khant Ramzan; born 5 October 1976) is the Head of the Chechen Republic and a former member of the Chechen independence movement.
Kadyrov in 2018
|Head of the Chechen Republic|
Assumed office |
5 March 2011
Acting: 5 April 2011 – 18 September 2011
Acting: 25 March 2016 – 18 September 2016
|Preceded by||position established|
|President of the Chechen Republic|
5 April 2007 – 5 March 2011
Acting: 15 February 2007 – 5 April 2007
|Preceded by||Alu Alkhanov|
|Succeeded by||position abolished|
|Prime Minister of the Chechen Republic|
4 March 2006 – 10 April 2007
Acting: 18 November 2005 – 4 March 2006
|Preceded by||Sergey Abramov|
|Succeeded by||Odes Baysultanov|
|First Deputy Prime Minister of the Chechen Republic|
10 May 2004 – 18 November 2005
|Preceded by||Eli Isayev|
|Succeeded by||Odes Baysultanov|
Ramzan Akhmadovich Kadyrov|
5 October 1976
Tsentaroy, Chechen-Ingush ASSR, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
|Political party||United Russia|
|Spouse(s)||Medni Musaevna Kadyrova|
|Children||12 (6 Sons (2 Adopted), 6 Daughters)|
|Service/branch||Russian Armed Forces|
He is the son of former Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov, who was assassinated in May 2004. In February 2007, Kadyrov replaced Alu Alkhanov as President, shortly after he had turned 30, which is the minimum age for the post. He was engaged in violent power struggles with Chechen government warlords Sulim Yamadayev and Said-Magomed Kakiyev for overall military authority, and with Alkhanov for political authority.
Ramzan Kadyrov is an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. He founded the Akhmat Fight Club and established an international annual freestyle wrestling tournament called the Ramzan Kadyrov & Adlan Varayev Cup. Since November 2015 he is a member of the Advisory Commission of the State Council of the Russian Federation.
Over the years, he has come under criticism of international organisations for a wide array of human rights abuses under his watch, with Human Rights Watch calling the forced disappearances and torture so widespread they constituted crimes against humanity. He has also been criticized in Western press for his advocacy for restricted public lives for women, and a campaign of mass detention for those who are suspected to have engaged in homosexual behavior.
Early life and militia leaderEdit
He was born in Tsentaroy, RSFSR, USSR. He was the second son in Akhmat and Aimani Kadyrovs' family and their youngest child. He had an elder brother called Zelimkhan (1974 – 31 May 2004), and he has two elder sisters, Zargan (born 1971) and Zulay (born 1972). Kadyrov strove to gain the respect of his father, Akhmad Kadyrov, who was an imam. He claims that he always emulated his father. Akhmad had supported the call for jihad against Russians during the First Chechen War but switched sides and declared allegiance to Russia in the Second Chechen War. In the early 1990s, as the Soviet Union dissolved, the Chechens launched a bid for independence.
During the First Chechen War, together with his father, he fought against Russian armed forces. After the war, Ramzan was the personal driver and bodyguard of his father Akhmad, who became the separatist mufti of Chechnya.
The Kadyrovtsy militia was formed during the First Chechen War when Akhmad Kadyrov launched the jihad against Russia.
The Kadyrov clan defected to the Moscow side at the beginning of the Second Chechen War in 1999. Since then, Kadyrov led his militia with support from Russia's FSB state security service (including service ID cards) becoming the head of the Chechen Presidential Security Service. The militia later became known as the Kadyrovites.
Deputy Prime MinisterEdit
When his sister was detained by the Dagestan police in January 2005, Ramzan and some 150 armed men drove to the Khasavyurt City Police (GOVD) building. According to the city mayor, Kadyrov's men surrounded the GOVD, forcing its duty officers against a wall, and assaulted them, after which they left the building with Zulay Kadyrova, "victoriously shooting in the air."
In August 2005, Ramzan declared that "Europe's largest mosque" would be built in place of the demolished ruins of Grozny's shattered downtown. He also claimed that Chechnya is the "most peaceful place in Russia" and in a few years it would also be "the wealthiest and the most peaceful" place in the world. He said that the war was already over with only 150 "bandits" remaining (as opposed to the official figures of 700 to 2,000 rebel fighters), and that thanks to his father, 7,000 separatists had already defected to the Russian side since 1999. When responding to a question on how he is going to "avenge the murder of his father", Ramzan said:
I've already killed him, whom I ought to kill. And those, who stay behind him, I will be killing them, to the very last of them, until I am myself killed or jailed. I will be killing [them] for as long as I live... Putin is gorgeous. He thinks more about Chechnya than about any other republic [of the Russian Federation]. When my father was murdered, he [Putin] came and went to the cemetery in person. Putin has stopped the war. Putin should be made president for life. Strong rule is needed. Democracy is all but an American fabrication... Russians never obey their laws. Everyone was stealing, and only Khodorkovsky is in jail.
He remained the First Deputy Prime Minister until November 2005.
Acting Prime MinisterEdit
Following a car accident in November 2005, in which Chechnya's prime minister Sergey Abramov was injured, Ramzan was appointed as the caretaker prime minister on 18 November 2005. He immediately proceeded to implement elements of Sharia law, such as declaring a ban on gambling and alcohol production.
In February 2006, responding to the publication of the Mohammed cartoons, he accused the Danes of "spying" and being "pro-terrorist". He also banned Danish citizens from entering Chechnya, effectively banning activity of the Danish Refugee Council, the largest NGO working in the region. Kadyrov is quoted as saying, "That cartoonist needs to be buried alive." He was eventually pressed to overturn this decision by Moscow, a rare example of federal intervention in Kadyrov's rule in the republic.
On 1 March 2006, Sergey Abramov resigned from the position of prime minister and told Itar-Tass news agency that he did so "on the condition that Ramzan Kadyrov lead the Chechen government." This was followed by a decree of Kadyrov forcing women to wear headscarves; he also rejected a federal appropriation of the republic's budget, demanding more money, and called for all federal forces but the border guards to be withdrawn.
Kadyrov was appointed as the Prime Minister of the Chechen Republic by Alkhanov on 4 March 2006. Shortly after taking office, Kadyrov approved a project to erect a presidential palace on a 30-acre (120,000 m2) plot by the Sunzha River in ruined downtown Grozny. The project, which was also to include a five-star hotel and recreational facilities, was estimated to cost around 1.5 billion rubles ($54 million USD) to build. Later, Kadyrov called for refugee camps scattered across Chechnya to be closed down, calling the refugees "international spies who are interested in stoking conflict between Chechnya and Russia, who are seeking to destabilise the situation in our region". Reuters quoted him as saying that "liquidating the refugee camps will allow us to uncover spies who are working for foreign intelligence services". His cousin Odes Baysultanov was appointed to the position of First Deputy Prime Minister by Alkhanov on 6 March 2006 after being unanimously approved by the Chechen Parliament.
On 5 June 2006, Speaker of the Chechen People's Assembly Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov said at a press conference in Moscow that "there is no alternative" to Kadyrov for the presidency; Kadyrov has "exclusive awards in combat, and has made achievements in improving the peaceful life and in human rights protection. Who could replace him at this stage? Nobody," he said. Later that year, Umar Dzhabrailov, Chechnya’s representative in the Federation Council and a close ally of Kadyrov's, urged Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov to initiate a measure calling on Kadyrov to become the republic’s president, thereby replacing Alu Alkhanov. The following week, several Russian newspapers reported that a worsening security situation in Chechnya was lessening the likelihood that Kadyrov would replace Alu Alkhanov as the republic's president. Other media, however, reported that Kadyrov continued to strengthen his position at Alkhanov's expense. He was also elected as the Chair of the Chechen Peoples' Assembly in late-October 2006.
On 6 December 2006, Kadyrov said he that he would seek the prosecution of the commanders of federal military units responsible for the death or disappearance of civilians in Chechnya (specifically Major General Aleksandr Studenikin). In addition, Kadyrov said the war in Chechnya was unleashed not by the Chechen people but by the Russian leadership. Kadyrov's comments may have represented his government’s increasing unhappiness with certain figures in Moscow, who were said to be blocking his elevation to the post of Chechen president. In 2006, leaked cables from an American diplomat recounted a lavish wedding attended by Kadyrov in Russia's Caucasus region in which guests threw $100 bills at child dancers, and which had nighttime "water-scooter jaunts on the Caspian Sea", and a report that Ramzan Kadyrov gave the newly married couple a "five-kilo lump of gold".
On 5 February 2007, Kadyrov said he did not aspire to become the Chechen president; however, he criticised Alkhanov. Kadyrov also claimed the war in Chechnya was ultimately finished, with "all informal armed groups eliminated". Alkhanov, for his part, criticised "the cult of personality and idealisation of one person", a clear reference to Kadyrov, whose enormous portraits are prominently displayed in Grozny.
President of the Chechen RepublicEdit
On 15 February 2007, Putin signed a decree removing Alkhanov and installing Kadyrov as Chechen's acting president. On 2 March 2007, following Putin's nomination of Kadyrov as Chechen president, the Chechen parliament approved the nomination. In the following days, serious changes took place in the administrative setup of the republic, affecting both the top- and middle-ranking officials. Former deputy prime minister Odes Baysultanov (a cousin of Kadyrov) was elevated to the vacant post of prime minister. Critics allege that Ramzan Kadyrov is actively building his own "vertical of power" in the republic, and encouraging nepotism by placing men of the Beno clan in all the leading and important positions.
A Russian daily, Gazeta, reported that according to a poll conducted by the independent Levada Center, only 33 percent of Russians believe that Ramzan Kadyrov can be trusted, while 35 percent believed that he cannot. Asked whether they thought Kadyrov could normalise the situation in Chechnya and end the bloodshed there, 31 percent said yes and 38 percent said no.
On 14 March 2007, Kadyrov said that human rights abuses were "a thing of the past" in his republic, rejecting new charges of torture made by the Council of Europe. Two days later he accused the federal authorities of torturing detainees. On 19 March 2007, Kadyrov vowed to put an end to all remaining guerilla activity in Chechnya within two months. On 5 April 2007, Kadyrov was sworn in as President of Chechnya. He appointed his maternal cousin Odes Baysultanov as the Prime Minister of the republic on 10 April.
After the car-bomb attack on Yunus-bek Yevkurov, president of the neighbouring Republic of Ingushetia on 22 June 2009, Kadyrov claimed that the Kremlin had ordered him to fight insurgents there, and during his subsequent visit to the republic on 24 June pledged ruthless vengeance.
In late December 2009, Kadyrov claimed that remaining rebels were getting financed by "The West"; "I officially declare this: those who destroyed the Soviet Union, those who want to destroy the Russian Federation, they stand behind them". He also suggested that Russia should attack Georgia and Ukraine "It's Russia's private affliction; why should we always suffer if we can eradicate this for good?". In early August 2010, Kadyrov had claimed that there were only 70 Islamist militants left in Chechyna. In the same month, he proposed changing the title of President of the Chechen Republic to Head of the Chechen Republic. On 12 August, he also called upon presidents of all North Caucasus republics to petition the State Duma to change their titles, stating that there should only be one president in Russia. The Chechen parliament unanimously approved this change on 2 September. However, Speaker of the Chechen Parliament Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov stated on the next day that the title will be retained until the end of Kadyrov's term in April 2011.
In February 2011, he invited the players of Brazil's 2002 FIFA World Cup winning team to play a match against a Chechen football team led by Kadyrov. The Brazilian team was named as Brazil XI. In addition, Ruud Gullit was hired by Kadyrov to train FC Terek Grozny.
Attempts at consolidation of the Chechen nationEdit
As reported by the Caucasian Knot, an independent human rights resource, on 5 February 2009, "in the course of his meeting in Grozny with Ramzan Ampukaev, representative of the Chechen Diaspora in Europe, Ramzan Kadyrov invited former militants, now living in Europe, to come back home":
- "Now, the situation in the republic has stabilized, we witness a steady economic growth, and there's no sense for people to leave. And those who are already abroad, can always come back. We'll help them in every possible way," said Mr. Kadyrov. "All sorts of Emirs and former participants of illegal armed formations, who are now in Europe and whose actions were not aggravated by bloody crimes, have two alternatives: either to come back and serve for the welfare of their homeland, or stay there until the end of their days."
Tsentoroy and Chechen Parliament attacksEdit
In 2010, two large scale attacks were carried out by Chechen insurgents, one in Kadyrov's home-village Tsentoroy and the other on Chechen Parliament in Grozny. The assault on Tsentoroy which occurred on 29 August is considered to have "shattered" the image of Kadyrov's unshakeable rule in Chechnya, as it was the first time in six years that his seemingly impregnable village had come under attack. On 2 September, Ramzan Kadyrov announced a reward of more than $300,000 for information about each of the insurgency leaders involved in the operation, which Chechen commentators interpreted as an indicator of the government's weakness. Kadyrov also tightened his control over information coming from Tsentoroy by not allowing any of the village's 5,000 inhabitants to leave in the days after the attack; the citizenry were also allegedly under the threat of death not to talk about the siege or the damage inflicted by the rebels. The attack on the Chechen parliament was carried out by three Chechen rebels on 19 October 2010. Kadyrov dressed in a parade uniform attended a meeting that was held a few hours after all the buildings of the parliament were declared cleared by the special forces. During the meeting, he apologised to the politicians who escaped unhurt from the attack. Kadyrov vowed to intensify the fight against militants in the republic, calling them "bandits". He also blamed the United Kingdom and Poland saying they were "harbouring criminals. Why do they shield bandits who have shed blood where there is western democracy? Where is the justice? ... Sooner or later Zakayev, Gakayev, Umarov, Vadalov and other criminals will get what they deserve ... I have no doubt that it was the drunk and alcoholic Akhmed Zakayev and his backers in London and other western capitals. I want to say that they will not achieve anything. The Chechen republic is still standing. It is a peaceful and stable region."
Head of the Chechen RepublicEdit
Kadyrov was nominated by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on 28 February 2011 and was unanimously elected for a second term by the Chechen Parliament on 5 March 2011. After his election, he stated that he was going to continue the current course of reviving the republic's economy and society.
On 8 March, he captained a Chechen football team which included current players of FC Terek Grozny, former players of Soviet Union national football team and former German midfielder Lothar Matthaeus in a match against the team Brazil XI which included ex-Brazilian footballers like Romario, Dunga, Bebeto and Cafu. Kadyrov scored twice during the match but his team lost 6–4 to the Brazilian side. Kadyrov said that he had organised the match to show that Chechnya had recovered from years of separatist conflict. He also said that the Brazilians weren't paid to appear but came out of goodwill and in return for a donation to flood victims in Brazil.
Kadyrov was sworn in as head of the republic on 5 April 2011. In November 2012, he visited Azerbaijan to sign intergovernmental agreements. In December 2012, he ordered the closure of the newspaper Kadyrov's Path after one of its reporters asked Putin a question about the violence once focused in Chechnya spreading to other republics and followed it up by asking about the fate of a local radio station. Kadyrov had reportedly taken a disliking to the question asked by the reporter to Putin.
Kadyrov termed former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's ouster as a "coup d'etat" and a deliberate attempt to exert pressure on Russia through Ukraine, however at the same time placed the blame on Yanukovych for the situation in Ukraine. On 28 February 2014 he affirmed his readiness to dispatch peacekeepers and a consignment of humanitarian aid to Crimea.
After the 2014 Grozny bombing, in which ISIL's hand was suspected, he said that he might block internet in Chechnya as anyone could easily find and listen to a sermon by a jihadist. After Kadyrov went on a tirade against ISIL on Instagram for threatening Russia, ISIL commander Omar al-Shishani put a $5 million bounty on him.
On 26 May 2015 he announced that he was going to star in a Hollywood thriller titled Whoever Doesn't Understand Will Get It which will be directed by a director of famous Hollywood films and also feature global film-stars. Kadyrov in July 2015 denied that ISIL had any territory in Chechnya and claimed that they never will. During an interview in October 2015, he suggested that Putin should send Chechen special forces to Syria claiming they will wipe out ISIL in weeks. On 3 December he promised revenge against ISIL for beheading of Magomed Khasiev. On 8 February 2016, he claimed that Chechen special forces had infiltrated ISIL cells.
Kadyrov announced on 27 February 2016 that he would step down at the end of his second term, which was set to expire on 5 April. However, he later decided to run in the elections that were to be held that September. Putin appointed him as the acting head of Chechnya until the elections in a decree signed on 25 March. He held a meeting with Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman's deputy Ahmed al-Khatib on 8 May relating to Saudi Arabia investing in projects in Chechnya and declared that relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia were at an "all-time high".
Kadyrov launched his reality show titled The Team with the first episode being aired by Channel One on 30 June. People from across Russia were invited by Kadyrov to register for the contest. The winner of the contest will go on to become head of Chechnya's Agency for Strategic Development.
On 18 September 2016, Kadyrov was re-elected with nearly 98% of the vote. Philip Varychenko, a native of Düsseldorf, was chosen as the winner of Kadyrov's reality show on 22 November and was appointed as a government aide. Kadyrov visited Saudi Arabia on 27 November where he met the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. During the meeting, they discussed Russia–Saudi Arabia relations as well as issues of common interest. He also visited the United Arab Emirates on the same day and met Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. The two discussed friendship, cooperation and strengthening ties. During his visits, he praised King Salman of Saudi Arabia for his "leadership of the Muslim world and efforts to combat extremism".
On 28 November, he stated that veterans of American special forces wouldn't be allowed to train security and intelligence personnel at a "tactical city" in Gudermes because "they weren't as good as Russian special forces and there were sanctions against all official structures from the United States." On 29 November, he claimed in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat that only a few dozen Chechens were fighting with ISIL, adding that most of them grew up in Western Europe. He also stated that measures taken by Chechen authorities had been successful in bringing back many young recruits before they reached Syria.
During an interview aired on 27 November 2017, Kadyrov stated that he was ready to resign as Head of the Chechen Republic, calling it his "dream" as he found the responsibility to be "too heavy". He announced on 5 December that no Chechen athletes will participate under a neutral flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
After an attack on the Church of Archangel Michael in Grozny on 19 May 2018, Kadyrov stated that he had personally overseen the operation to eliminate the attackers.
Chechen economic recovery and reconstructionEdit
In February 2010, head of the British delegation of the Human Rights Group Lord Judd, formerly "bitterly critical of the Russian authorities for the situation in Chechnya", pointed out a striking change for the better in the Russian North Caucasus republic. Judd said that changes which occurred since his visit as a member of PACE delegation in 2000 were "so overwhelming that sometimes you forget about what happened here until quite recently".
According to a 2016 report by Russian opposition leader Ilya Yashin, Kadyrov collected enormous wealth, primarily through theft of federal subsidies for Chechnya. Between 2001 and 2014 Chechnya has received over 464 billion roubles in subsidies, grants and donations with federal subsidies accounting for 80% of the republic's budget (and this does not include funds allocated for infrastructure managed at federal level such as roads). However, the administration of Chechnya is being criticized for spending public funds for their personal benefit—in 2010 Dmitry Medvedev noted that "federal funds often do not reach people; we know where they disappear; it is obvious-they are being stolen". For example, the fleet of official vehicles in Chechnya accounts for half of all official vehicles in all Northern Caucasus republics. Public funds are being funnelled through Akhmad Kadyrov Foundation, which—while being registered as a charity—has never produced or published any financial reports as required by Russian law. These violations are ignored by Russian Ministry of Justice, which in many cases has enforced them very strictly against other charities. The foundation operates a building company that services most of the publicly procured infrastructure projects in the republic and also collects a fee from all working citizens of Chechnya, ranging from 10 to 30% of their earnings, raising 3–4 billion roubles per year this way. Kadyrov himself declares annual income of 4.84 million roubles (2015), which is inconsistent with his lavish life-style, luxury vehicles, watches, race horses and mansions.
2009 assassination attemptEdit
An assassination attempt on Kadyrov and a parliament member Adam Delimkhanov was averted on 23 October 2009, by the police. Chechen Deputy interior minister Roman Edilov said the police shot dead the driver of a speeding car loaded with a 200-litre tank after firing warning shots shortly before Kadyrov was to arrive at a construction site. The driver of the car was later identified as a militant leader (so-called Urus-Martan emir Beslan Bashtayev). Said-Emi Khizriev, who played a role in organising the attack, was killed by Russian police who tried to arrest him in the Michurin village in Grozny. Khizriev planned and took part in explosions at two gas stations in Gudermes in the spring of the previous year, as well as in an armed attack at a sport club in the city.
Accusations of human rights abusesEdit
Kadyrov has been personally implicated in several instances of torture and murder. A number of Chechens opposed to Kadyrov have been assassinated abroad, and several witnesses (including Artur Kurmakaev and Ruslan Khalidov) report the existence of a 300 name "Murder List". Chechens who have been murdered, where Kadyrov's involvement is suspected, include Movladi Baisarov and Ruslan Yamadaev (both Moscow); Sulim Yamadaev (Dubai); Gazhi Edilsutanov, Islam Dzahnibekov, Ali Osaev (Istanbul); and Umar Israilov (Vienna).
Kadyrov stated in December 2009 that he had personally helped many of the murder victims and their families and was not their enemy. "I don't want to kill, who did I fight? I fought terrorists. Who did I protect? I protected the whole of Russia so that people in Moscow or St. Petersburg...could live in peace. They accuse me of killing women and children. It's not true."
- A mutinied commander, Movladi Baisarov, said that Kadyrov "acts like a medieval tyrant. If someone tells the truth about what is going on, it's like signing one's own death warrant. Ramzan is a law unto himself. He can do anything he likes. He can take any woman and do whatever he pleases with her. (...) Ramzan acts with total impunity. I know of many people executed on his express orders and I know exactly where they were buried". On 18 November 2006, Baisarov was killed in an ambush by members of Kadyrov's police on Moscow's Leninsky Prospekt, about two kilometres from the Kremlin.
- On 13 November 2006, Human Rights Watch published a briefing paper on torture in Chechnya that it had prepared for the 37th session of the United Nations Committee Against Torture. The paper covered torture by personnel of the Second Operational Investigative Bureau (ORB-2), torture by units under the effective command of Ramzan Kadyrov, torture in secret detentions and the continuing "forced disappearances". According to HRW, torture "in both official and secret detention facilities is widespread and systematic in Chechnya". In many cases the perpetrators were so confident that there would be no consequences for their abuses that they did not even attempt to conceal their identity. Based on extensive research, HRW concluded in 2005 that forced disappearances in Chechnya are so widespread and systematic that they constitute crimes against humanity.
- Anna Politkovskaya, a veteran Russian reporter (murdered in 2006; case unsolved as of August 2018) who specialised in Chechnyan reporting, claimed that she had received a grainy video footage shot on a mobile phone of a man identical in appearance to Ramzan, saying that "the clips were the murders of federal servicemen by the Kadyrovites, and also kidnappings directed by Kadyrov. These are very serious things; on the basis of this evidence a criminal case and investigation should follow. This could allow this person to be brought to justice, something he has long richly deserved," she said. She was allegedly working on an article revealing human rights abuses and regular incidents of torture in Chechnya at the time of her murder. Some observers alleged that Kadyrov or his men were possibly behind the assassination.
- On 23 October 2006, a criminal case was registered on the basis of the video tape frames published by the Novaya Gazeta newspaper in Anna Politkovskaya's article. Sergey Sokolov, deputy editor-in-chief of the paper, told the Echo Moskvy Radio that it can be clearly seen in the video as to how "Kadyrov's military forces are beating federal soldiers" with participation of "a man looking like Ramzan Kadyrov". On 7 October 2006, Politkovskaya was found shot dead in an elevator in her apartment in Moscow.
- German human rights group the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV), which branded Kadyrov a "war criminal", has alleged that up to 75 percent of recent incidents of murder, torture, rape, and kidnapping in Chechnya have been committed by Ramzan's paramilitary forces.
- The Memorial group investigator stated in its report: "Considering the evidence we have gathered, we have no doubt that most of the crimes which are being committed now in Chechnya are the work of Kadyrov's men. There is also no doubt in our minds that Kadyrov has personally taken part in beating and torturing people. What they are doing is pure lawlessness. To make matters worse, they also go after people who are innocent, whose names were given by someone being tortured to death. He and his henchmen spread fear and terror in Chechnya. (...) They travel by night as death squads, kidnapping civilians, who are then locked in a torture chamber, raped and murdered".
- According to the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, many illegal places of detention exist in the Chechen Republic; most of them are run by Kadyrovites. In Tsentaroy (Khosi-Yurt), where the Kadyrovite headquarters is located, there are at least two illegal prisons functioning. One consists of concrete bunkers or pillboxes, where kidnapped relatives of armed Chechen fighters are held hostage while the second prison in Tsentaroy is evidently located in the yard—or in immediate vicinity—of the house of Ramzan Kadyrov.
- The Kadyrovites are often accused of working as a death squad against Kadyrov's enemies. Ramzan is rumoured to own a private prison in his stronghold of Tsentaroy, his home village south-east of Grozny. Fields around Tsentaroy are allegedly mined and all access routes are blocked by checkpoints. On 2 May 2006, representatives of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) alleged that they were prevented from entering the fortress.
- A video leaked out in which armed men, loyal to Kadyrov, displayed the severed head of a Chechen guerrilla (who was killed in July 2006) for public display in the village of Kurchaloi, marking the brutality of his forces. They mounted the head on a pipe, together with blood-stained trousers and put a cigarette on him. It was displayed for at least a day as they came back a day later to record it again. On 21 September 2005, a similar incident occurred, as published by Memorial as well as Kavkazky Uzel which described "shocking details" of a special operation conducted by forces loyal to Ramzan Kadyrov.
- On 1 March 2007, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group rights organisation, stated that Kadyrov was "to blame for kidnappings of many innocent people. Their bodies were found later with signs of torture."
- Umar Israilov was assassinated in Vienna on 13 January 2009. Israilov was a former Kadyrov bodyguard, who cooperated with The New York Times, extensively detailing abuses committed by Kadyrov and his associates. Israilov had told Austrian authorities in 2008 that he had been threatened by an agent sent by Kadyrov to drop his lawsuit against the Chechen leader at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. On 27 April 2010, the Austrian prosecutor’s office announced that they believed Ramzan Kadyrov had ordered the kidnapping of Israilov and Israilov had been murdered while attempting to escape. According to the investigation, there was evidence that Otto Kaltenbrunner (adopted name of Ramzan Edilov), one of the suspected kidnappers, had been in contact with Kadyrov personally. Kadyrov's office denied the accusations.
- On 15 July 2009, Natalia Estemirova, a member of Memorial society, who investigated the alleged abuses by government-backed militias in Chechnya, was abducted and shot to death. Memorial's chairman Oleg Petrovich Orlov accused Kadyrov of being behind the murder, and claimed that Kadyrov had openly threatened her by saying: "Yes, my arms are up to the elbows in blood. And I am not ashamed of that. I have killed and will kill bad people". Kadyrov denied any involvement in the killing and promised to investigate the killing personally. He condemned the killers, and in response to Orlov's accusations, said: "You are not a prosecutor or a judge therefore your claims about my guilt are not ethical, to put it mildly, and are insulting to me. I am sure that you have to think about my rights before declaring for everyone to hear that I am guilty of Estemirova's death." It was later reported that Kadyrov would be suing Memorial for defamation and slander, targeting Orlov personally with his complaint.
- Memorial said in a statement on 19 August 2014 that when Kadyrov had lost his mobile phone during a wedding ceremony on 16 August, the police questioned thousands of people who had attended the wedding into early hours of the next morning in an attempt to find it.
- A man who criticised local officials and apparently Kadyrov in a YouTube appeal to the Russian President became a target of many threats due to which he had to flee to the neighboring republic of Dagestan. In May 2016, his house was burnt down by a group of masked men and his family was dragged out, put in a car and were thrown under a bridge. His wife also stated that they threatened the other residents with burning down their houses as well if they reported about the matter to anyone. Later, the Chechen police cordoned off his village in order to hunt him down. Kadyrov's spokesman denied these deports were true. The complainant later publicly apologised to Kadyrov and accused the media of distorting his remarks in his video complaint. He again fled to Dagestan in November 2016. According to human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina, he had to flee after Chechnya's Deputy Interior Minister Apti Alaudinov personally threatened to kill him.
- After Memorial's Chechnya head Oyub Titiev was arrested in January 2018 over drug possession, Oyub's supporters claimed the charges were fake and were made-up by the Chechen authorities to suppress critcism of Kadyrov. Kadyrov called Oyub a "drug addict" while criticising those working with human rights activists and warned them off from working in his region.
Rounding up, torture and execution of gay menEdit
Kadyrov has previously encouraged extrajudicial killings of homosexual men by family members as an alternative to law enforcement – in some cases, gay men in prison have been released early specifically to enable their murder by relatives.
In April 2017, international media reported that gay men in Chechnya were being arrested, detained and tortured as part of a region-wide pogrom. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on 5 May that he would personally ask the Russian Prosecutor General and Interior Ministry to help Kremlin rights ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova check the reported abuse. UK Deputy Foreign Secretary Sir Alan Duncan told the UK Parliament he had been informed of alleged plans to eliminate Chechnya's gay community by the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which commenced on 26 May 2017.
Chechnya has denied the reports, with its interior minister calling the allegations an "April Fools' joke". Kadyrov's spokesman Alvi Karimov rejected the allegations and described the report in the Russian newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, as "absolute lies and disinformation", basing his denial on the claim that "you cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic. If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn't need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning." Vladimir Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov also said that there had been no evidence found to support the allegations, adding that he had no reason to doubt Kadyrov's claims that no one under his rule has been persecuted for their sexual orientation.
On December 20, 2017, the United States imposed sanctions under the Magnitsky Act on five Russian nationals including Kadyrov, accusing him of personal involvement in repression, torture and murder. U.S. officials accused him of heading "an administration involved in disappearances and extrajudicial killings," and that one or more of his political opponents were killed at his direction. He was added to United States Department of the Treasury's blacklist which also included a Chechen security official Ayub Kataev along with three other Russian individuals for their criminal involvement in a corruption case uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky.
In response, Kadyrov mocked the sanctions on his Instagram account. "A sleepless night is waiting for me." He further stated, "I can be proud that I'm out of favor with the special services of the USA," and added, "In fact, the USA cannot forgive me for dedicating my whole life to the fight against foreign terrorists among which there are bastards of America's special services."
President Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the sanctions "illegal" and "unfriendly" stating, "We consider these sanctions illegal, we consider them unfriendly, and we do not agree with them." He also stated that it was highly probable that Russia would retaliate by accusing U.S. officials or citizens of rights violations and banning them from the country.
The number of subscribers to Kadyrov's social networks in 2016 was more than three million people, including three million followers of his Instagram account, according to the Chechen leader's press service. It said that he had 500,000 followers on the Russian VK social network, 760,860 on Facebook, 331,000 on Twitter and 5,447 on LiveJournal. Besides his Instagram postings, it was said that he had also made almost 5,000 on Twitter and 2,300 on VK. The Russian News Agency TASS said that Kadyrov had been "recognized as the most quoted Russian blogger."
In August 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that Kadyrov had posted nearly 8,000 pictures on Instagram, which made him the online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing, and social networking service's "most prolific political strongman."
The New York Times called Kadyrov's Instagram account "bizarre if strangely compelling", and Newsweek said it was "flashy." In a 2015 article, The New York Times said that Kadyrov was "Instagram-addicted."
The Russian programme director of Human Rights Watch said in an October 2016 article in The Guardian that "even the mildest criticism on social media [is] ruthlessly punished through unlawful, punitive detention, enforced disappearances, cruel and degrading treatment, death threats, threats against family members, and physical abuse of family members." She said that a social worker from a small town in Chechnya made a WhatsApp recording that went viral among Chechen users "imploring" Kadyrov "to look into the plight of ordinary people pushed below the poverty line" by local officials. The article stated that the woman, with her husband, "found herself hauled into the studio of Grozny TV, the state television and radio broadcaster" to face Kadyrov in person, "to apologise publicly for her lies." A "severe and sweeping repression by the local authorities is designed to remind the Chechen public of Kayrov's total control," the article claimed.
In May 2015, Kadyrov gave a stern televised lecture to a group of Chechen men and women who were accused of using the WhatsApp messaging service to comment on the impending marriage of local police chief to a teenage girl some three decades younger than him. The wedding had been widely discussed across Russia on reports that the young woman, Kheda Goylabiyeva, was being coerced into marriage with the chief, Nazhud Guchigov.
"Behave like Chechens", Kadyrov was reported as telling the assemblage of about a dozen people standing in the marbled courtyard of a building that seemed to be his government palace. "Honor of the family is the most important thing. Don't write such things any more. You, men, keep your women away from WhatsApp." In its coverage of the incident, The New York Times reported:
"Lock them in, do not let them go out, and they will not post anything", Mr. Kadyrov said in a video to a sheepish group of men and women who kept their arms folded across their chests and their eyes firmly on the ground during the harangue.
In December 2015, a female Chechen social worker criticised Kadyrov in an audio message posted on WhatsApp, after her boss tried to force her to put aside some money as collateral for her next month's payment. Three days after posting the message, she appeared on Grozny TV along with her husband, where she was publicly berated by Kadyrov as well as parliament speaker Magomed Daudov, presidential administration head Islam Kadyrov and her boss. The couple apologised on live television for her message.
In May 2016, Kadyrov engaged in a brief Instagram dispute with comedian John Oliver.
He had posted a message on Instagram asking for help in finding his cat, which had gone astray. The posting led Oliver to make a five-minute segment on HBO's Last Week Tonight dealing with the cat's disappearance and, according to The Guardian, Kadyrov's penchant for posting of, for example, "regular videos of his work-outs in the gym," also on Instagram. As well, Oliver teased Kadyrov "for his propensity" to wear T-shirts bearing the image of Russian President Vladimir Putin. After the show, Oliver posted a photo of himself holding a cat, captioned "@RKadyrov Is this your cat?"
Kadyrov responded in English, according to The New York Times – or a "rambling" one, according to the Daily Mail – along with a doctored photo of Oliver wearing a Putin T-shirt, captioned, in part, "I am tired of jokes. I want to care for cats in Chechnya. By the way, Putin is our leader."
Kadyrov stated that he found his Russian-language Instagram and Facebook accounts were not working on December 23, 2017, and he never received a response from Instagram after sending a request for service support. His English-language Instagram account remained unaffected however. Kadyrov accused them of bowing to pressure from United States after he was sanctioned.
He wrote on Telegram in response, "Instagram's move, which still wants to pretend it is independent from officials of Washington is weird." He added, "They wanted to stir my indignation, but were wrong, and this is the only thing which pleases me in actions Instagram and their patrons in the White House are undertaking. I have planned already to quit the network. But I thought I could fail my friends and subscribers, as on Instagram and Facebook I have more than 4 million followers."
The Speaker of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin stated that the decision by Facebook and Instagram to suspend Kadyrov's accounts violated his rights, stating, "They are afraid of a public conversation and the truth. Such decision cannot be explained in another way… The thing is that to read bloggers in social networks one needs to be their subscribers. By deleting an account, they deprive citizens of their right to know about bloggers’ opinion and to communicate with them."
Russia's telecommunications overseer Roskomnadzor on 26 December asked Facebook to explain why they had suspended his accounts. Facebook issued a statement on 28 December that it did so after he was sanctioned by United States Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control as these came under trade sanctions.
On 12 March 2006, a Chechen separatist website posted a short video shot on a mobile phone of a party in a sauna involving two alleged prostitutes and several men, including one who looked and sounded like Ramzan Kadyrov, seen dancing with a young, half-naked woman and trying to rip her bra off. Another man then starts masturbating in front of them. Andrew Osborn, Moscow reporter for The Independent, reported that "Mr Kadyrov's aides have laughed off the grainy video ... as a 'provocation'".
Call to quarantine proceeds of horse raceEdit
On 3 November 2009, a horse owned by Ramzan Kadyrov, Mourilyan, came third in the Melbourne Cup winning about US$380,000 in prize money. The leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown, immediately called for the Government of Australia to quarantine the prize money until assurances are received as to how the money will be used. Concerns had been previously raised that the Melbourne Cup could be used to launder money by overseas individuals.
In 2009, Kadyrov stated his approval of honor killings, based on the belief that women are the property of their husbands. In an interview with David Scott of HBO, he condoned honor killings of homosexuals in July 2017 stating, "If we have [gay] people here, I'm telling you officially their relatives won't let them be because of our faith, our mentality, customs, traditions. Even if it's punishable under the law, we would still condone it."
On 28 November 2010, a classified Wikileaks cable named Kadyrov as a "starring guest" at some of Dagestan's most elaborate weddings, which indicates the political "Caucasus power structure" in these weddings. In 2006, leaked cables from an American diplomat recounted a lavish wedding attended by Kadyrov in Russia's Caucasus region in which guests threw $100 bills at child dancers, and which had nighttime "water-scooter jaunts on the Caspian Sea", and a report that Ramzan Kadyrov gave the newly married couple a "five-kilo lump of gold".
Charlie Hebdo cartoonsEdit
In January 2015, Kadyrov said he would organize protests if a Russian newspaper published the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, saying "we will not allow anyone to insult the Prophet [Muhammad], even if it will cost us our lives." He also stated that Alexei Venediktov "will be brought to account" after his radio station Ekho Moskvy took a survey of readers on whether to publish the cartoons. Venediktov stated he would ask the authorities to intervene against Kadyrov's threats. During a protest rally against the cartoons attended by hundreds of thousands of people in Chechnya, he accused those backing Charlie Hebdo of using "false slogans about free speech and democracy".
Kadyrov supports polygamy in Muslim-majority republics in Russia, and believes that Muslims who speak out against the practise are not true adherents to their faith. According to Kadyrov, men legally marrying more than one wife would be more honest than having lots of mistresses, and would resolve Russia's demographic problem. In April 2018, he stated that all Muslim men are permitted by Allah to have four wives but discouraged having the marriages officially registered. He also denied reports that polygamy would be legalised in Chechnya.
Boston Marathon bombingEdit
After the Boston Marathon bombing, Kadyrov expressed sadness for the victims but denied the suspects had any ties to his region in a statement on his Instagram. He suggested that the suspects were products of American upbringing. Kadyrov accused the CIA of framing Dzokhar Tsarnaev on 18 March 2015, after he was handed a death sentence for the Boston Marathon Bombing and said that they could not have conducted the bombing without CIA's knowledge.
Threats to opposition politiciansEdit
On 31 January 2016, Kadyrov posted a video of Russian opposition politicians Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Vladimirovich Kara-Murza in the crosshairs of a gun on his Instagram blog. In a few days after multiple complaints Instagram removed the video prompting Kadyrov to criticize the decision: "This is the much-boasted freedom of speech in America! You can write anything but cannot touch those American dogs, those friends of the Congress and the State Department".
Report by Ilya YashinEdit
Russian opposition leader Ilya Yashin authored a report against Kadyrov released on 23 February 2016 during a press conference which was repeatedly interrupted by police and hecklers. He also claimed that Kadyrov had murdered Boris Nemtsov. The report titled A National Security Threat claimed that Kadyrov poses a threat to Russia. It included allegations of corruption, authoritarian rule, secret prisons, rigging votes in favour of Vladimir Putin, stealing from the country's national budget to enrich himself, enforcing Sharia law over Russian law, his lavish lifestyle, building and maintaining a personal army of about 30,000 fighters, purported ties to organised crime figures, and his involvement in politically motivated murders of journalists, human rights activists and political opponents. The report also contained 20 questions which Yashin had invited Kadyrov to answer but was refused. Kadyrov dismissed the report calling it "nothing but idle chatter" and posted it on his social network accounts before its release. His spokesman filed a request with the Russian Prosecutor General and the Investigative Committee for Yashin to be arrested for the report saying it contained slander and insults against Kadyrov.
A conference of Islamic scholars funded by the Tabah foundation in the United Arab Emirates, was convened by Kadyrov in Grozny in late August 2016. The conference was attended by notable Islamic scholars including the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb; Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shawki Allam; ex-Grand Mufti of Egypt Ali Gomaa, Usama al-Azhari who is the religious adviser to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi; Habib Ali al-Jifri and the mufti of Damascus Abdul Fattah al-Bizm. The conference was convened to discuss the alleged abuse of Islamic ideas to propagate extremism and to establish the criteria for determining who are the true followers of the Sunnah. The assembly of scholars issued a fatwa which declared that those who abide by the Kalam, belong to the four madhhabs and follow the path of moral self-perfection espoused by distinguished Islamic teachers, primarily the Sufi sheikhs, were the only true believers. The fatwa called the sect of Salafism as a "dangerous and erroneous contemporary sect", along with the extremist groups like Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Hizb ut-Tahrir and Habashis. The conference also issued two further documents. In the first one, it appealed to President Vladimir Putin to ban Salafism and term any condemnation of "traditional Islam" as "extremism". It also proposed the fatwa be regarded as the considered opinion of "leading Russian experts" when evaluating the activity of Muslim organizations and the preaching of individual clerics. The second one issued a resolution calling for the establishment of a Council for Islamic Education and also a Council of Ulema, which would rule on who is and is not a true follower of Sunni Islam.
The ruling created a controversy, with both Islamic theologians and secular commentators condemning it, with some seeing it as a bid by Kadyrov to divide Russian Muslims into those who accept the importance he places on teachings of the Sufi brotherhoods as well as probably also what he considers as "traditional Islam" without question, and those who don't with "erroneous" views. Many of the key participants also disavowed the resolutions. Mukkadas Bibarsov, mufti of Saratov Oblast stated that the question of who was a true follower of Sunni Islam was resolved "centuries ago". He also added that the fatwa failed to take into account the crucial differences between Russia’s Muslims, specifically that some Muslim communities did not follow Sufism. Liz Fuller writing for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty commented that the fatwa seemed to be giving permission to Kadyrov to take any action he likes to punish those whose religious views don't match with his own. Yaroslav Trofimov writing for The Wall Street Journal described it as a "new fracture emerging within Islam". Many Saudi clerics and citizens expressed outrage at the fatwa on social media. The Muslim Brotherhood expressed "deep sorrow" over the fatwa, stating that it “ignited fires of discord among Muslims around the world.”
Threats to Russian police officersEdit
In 2015, Kadyrov ordered Chechen security forces to “shoot to kill” if they encountered police officers from other parts of Russia on the territory of the Chechen Republic. Kadyrov said: "I would like to officially state: Open fire if someone from Moscow or Stavropol — it doesn't matter where from — appears on your turf without your knowledge. We have to be reckoned with. … If you are masters of your territory, then you must control it." According to Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, "Some critics claim that Mr. Putin now fears Mr. Kadyrov because he knows any serious attempt to challenge the Chechen leader’s position might lead to a third war."
Mixed martial arts tournament involving child fightersEdit
A mixed martial arts tournament involving children was held as an "exhibition fight" on 4 October during the Grand Prix Akhmat 2016 in Grozny and broadcast on Match TV. Ramzan's three sons, all of whom are aged under 12, fought in the tournament with Ramzan sitting in the audience and none of the fighters wore any protective gear. One of the fights ended with a technical knockout. He also posted images of the bouts on his Instagram account. The event caused an outcry especially against Ramzan allowing his children to compete in the tournament. Fedor Emelianenko, the president of Russian MMA Union, criticised the event as "inexcusable", stating that rules stipulate fighters under the age of 21 have to wear protective gear while children under the age of 12 are not allowed to compete. Vadim Finkelstein, the head of MMA promotion M-1 Global also backed Fedor's comments. Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for President Putin, stated that the fact that one of the fights between the children finished with a technical knockout was “a reason for the appropriate oversight agencies to inquire about this incident.” Deputy Minister of Sports Pavel Kolobkov stated that participation of children under the age of 12 in MMA competitions was illegal while stating that the incident was being investigated. Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko also stated that the event will be investigated. MMA fighter Jeff Monson however backed the organisers stating that there was nothing wrong with it.
Several Chechen officials responded to Fedor's criticism with insults and accusations including Timur Dugazayev, general director of Akhmat MMA promotion, Member of Parliament Adam Delimkhanov as well as Kadyrov himself. The Ministry of Sports found on 18 October that Kadyrov's promotion had violated regulations. It also found that the event was actually an unlicensed show with no regulatory oversight. The promotion was directed to coordinate with the Ministry of Sports and other regulatory bodies to “prevent such irregularities in conduct” and handed a letter detailing its failure to comply with the legislation.
Comments about gays, Russia's nuclear arsenal and tensions with the United StatesEdit
In an interview with HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Kadyrov denied his government detained and tortured gay men, while stating they weren't human and didn't exist in Chechnya. He further stated that if they existed, they should be sent to Canada. Kadyrov also commented about Russia's nuclear arsenal and tensions between USA and Russia. He stated, "America is not really a strong enough state for us to regard it as an enemy of Russia, we have a strong government and are a nuclear state." He also stated, "Even if our government was completely destroyed, our nuclear missiles would be automatically deployed. We will put the whole world on its knees and screw it from behind."
Kadyrov has previously encouraged extrajudicial killings of homosexual men by family members as an alternative to law enforcement. Since February 2017, over 100 male residents of the Chechen Republic (part of the Russian Federation) assumed to be gay or bisexual have been rounded up, detained and tortured by Kadyrov's government on account of their sexual orientation. These crackdowns have been described as part of a systemic anti-LGBT purge in the region. The men have been held and allegedly tortured in what human rights groups and eyewitnesses have called concentration camps. Kadyrov has denied these reports, while also characterizing gay people as "not human" and claiming that they "don't exist in his region".
The New Yorker says that over the years Kadyrov has tried out various personalities: "the merciless warrior in fatigues who leads special operations to kill anti-government rebels; the jolly Caucasus baron who spars with Mike Tyson and shows off his private zoo; the family man and observant Muslim who has banned alcohol, ordered that women wear head scarves in public buildings, and boasts that his six-year-old son has memorized the Koran." He enjoys boxing and once met with former heavyweight-boxing champion Mike Tyson.
In 1996, Kadyrov married Medni Musaevna Kadyrova. The couple are parents of twelve children. His oldest daughter Aishat and another daughter Khadizhat have earned the title of hafiza. Khadizhat was recognised as the most gifted student in Chechnya in 2016 and qualified for participation in pan-Russian contest "Student of the Year 2016" on 20 February 2016. Medni launched her fashion line called "Firdaws" in March 2012 in Dubai. Aishat too presented her own fashion collection in March 2017 and has also taken over her mother's fashion enterprise Firdaws.
Kadyrov is a noted collector of sports cars. He owns a Lamborghini Reventón, one of only 20 made. He is also known for his extensive collection of Chechen daggers. On 5 October 2011, he celebrated his 35th birthday in a lavish fashion in the presence of several Hollywood stars, including actor Jean-Claude Van Damme and actress Hilary Swank as well as British violinist Vanessa-Mae, singer Seal and many others. When asked where the money for the live-televised celebration were coming from, he reportedly laughed and said "Allah gives it to us", before adding: "I don't know, it comes from somewhere".
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- Original Russian text: Того, кого я должен был убить, я уже убил. А тех, кто за ним стоит, буду всех убивать до последнего, пока меня самого не убьют или не посадят. Я буду убивать, пока жив... Путин — красавчик. Он о Чечне думает больше, чем о любой другой республике. Когда отца убили, он лично приезжал, на кладбище ходил. Путин войну остановил. Путина надо пожизненно президентом назначить. Власть твердая нужна. Демократия — это американские выдумки... Русские никогда своих законов не соблюдают. Воровали все, а сидит один Ходорковский.
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