The KRAsnaya Army' (from Kadyrov Ramsan Ahmatovich). How Kadyrov has surpassed Russian troops
Ramzan Kadyrov has formed his own private elite troops, which report directly to him. The Head of the Chechen Republic has announced that there is no regular army in Chechnya and has sworn his loyalty to the Russian President, however he is regularly showing fighters of the “KRA Army” (from Kadyrov Ramsan Ahmatovich).
There have been a lot of attempts to legalize private army in Russia for several years. In the December 2015, State Duma Deputy Gennady Nosovka re-introduced a bill "On the private military and security activity." His draft law "On private armies" had been criticized by specialists from the Defense Ministry, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Federal Security Service a year before, as many of its provisions contravened the Russian legislation. According to the author’s initiative, Russian private armies could protect economic interests of the country, for instance, in the Arctic and in the Middle East, to participate in peacekeeping operations, to protect citizens and their property abroad.
“Adoption of the bill will establish a legal framework for private military and security activity, guarantee of its legality, effectively protect the interests of individuals, society and the state on the territory of the Russian Federation and abroad,” - the document stated.
However, the state has a monopoly on the use of force in Russian Federation thus far. Only regular Army and force authorities have the right to protect the country and public order.
First private armies appeared in the 60-70s. They usually operate on the territory of a foreign state. Such private armies protect strategic sites or participate in local wars, defending political or commercial, and sometimes state interests.
The Blackwater private army has become the most notorious among others. It was renamed as the Xe Services LLC in 2009, and as the Academi a year later. The company has become widely known during the war in Iraq after killings of civilians, arms smuggling and other events. However, the army is still functioning successfully, often getting government orders.
Photo: The Blackwater private army
During 20 years period, there wasn’t an official calling up for military service of Russian Federation in the Chechen Republic. The first recruits arrived in a military commissariat only in autumn 2014. A limited number of recruits served in the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Also Chechen recruits could serve under contract.
Information on the number of officers of security forces in the Chechen Republic (militants of the Ministry of Defense, officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the FSB and the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor General's Office) differs. The estimated number is around 80 thousand people. In 2014, Kadyrov said in the program "Nedelya" on the Ren TV channel that in case of a relevant order he was ready to send 74 thousand of residents of Chechnya to Ukraine for putting things in order there. Also he admitted, "Chechnya is one of the federal subjects of the Russian Federation and, in accordance with the Constitution, does not have its own armed forces."
Highlighted text: Chechnya is one of the federal subjects of the Russian Federation and, in accordance with the Constitution, does not have its own armed forces.
And despite this fact Kadyrov’s army has regularly been mentioned in local and even federal media and named differently. An elite special force of Chechnya, special rapid reaction unit “Terek” was founded on 1 August 2013 on the personal instructions of Ramzan Kadyrov. Daniel Martynov, Ramzan Kadyrov's personal adviser for military affairs and former specialist in "Alpha", heads the unit. Previously, one of the best "Alpha" members was a personal bodyguard of the President of Chechnya. Mayor Daniel Martynov served in "Alfa" group for eight years. He received combat training with excellence, was awarded two medals. After the end of a contract he left his service. A few months later Martynov became an assistant of Chechnya’s head for military affairs. One should have a serious patronage to leave the “Alpha” so easily. Some people from “Spetsstroy of Russia” (the Federal Agency for Special Construction) said a word for Martynov, and he was transferred to the Caucasus not to a building site, but to prepare the "KRA Army."
According to the law and tradition, Heads of Chechnya and Ingushetia are supposed to be under protection of Special Forces of the FSB. As soon as Martynov came into his service in September 2013, Kadyrov gave up on protection of the federal security forces.
The "Terek" arsenal includes modern military equipment: armored cars of the new generation, "Bulat", "Tiger", "Patriot" offroaders , "Toyota", armored carriers, "Ural" and the most modern armored "KamAZ".
The issue of creating private armies was raised by deputy Alexey Zhuravlev in the State Duma in December 2013. After this, a conflict broke out with another deputy, Ramzan Kadyrov’s cousin and associate, former Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Adam Delimkhanov. The conflict turned into scuffle, in which Delimkhanov dropped a golden gun.
"He threatened me, saying that I should mind my own business and "it will end up badly". After I asked, "Isn’t Chechnya a territory of the Russian Federation?" - he hit my head with his fist by stealth, and I began to defend myself. My assistants and his guards ran up to us. After that Adam Sultanovich dropped his golden gun, I do not know from where. Then we stopped our brawl", - said Zhuravlev.The conflict was hushed up at the highest level and a question about the creation of elite units controlled by Kadyrov has not been raised since then.
Later the President of Chechnya once again swore his loyalty to Putin and said, that "thousands of young and well-trained fighters are ready to destroy any enemy who would encroach peace and stability of the Chechen Republic, as well as of any other territories, in case of an order of Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces Vladimir Putin."
The "Terek" group has proved its combat effectiveness during an annual competition of special forces, which took place in Jordan in April 2015. Chechen special forces, which represented Russia, won the first place. The "Terek" become the best among 43 teams from different countries.
Photo: Terek is the best special force in the world
A training base is located in the village of Tsentoroi. Young fighters of Kadyrov's army of mercenaries "Young fortress" are trained there. School-age boys are studying military science and the Koran. Every fighter gets Kadyrov's personalized sign
Video: Molodaya krepost (Kadyrov and his team)
Other law enforcement agencies, which employ the "KRA Army", are the "Severny" (North) battalion and the "Yuzhny" (South) battalion of the 46th Division of the Internal forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. About 2,000 of fighters serve in the units.
Moreover, there are two additional regiments of patrol and inspection service (1,200-1,500 officers in each) and a commandant offices' security troop (500-1000 men) in Chechnya. There is the Special Rapid Deployment Force (about 350 fighters) as well.
The most large-scale demonstration of Kadyrov's army combat effectiveness was a snap check of Chechen police reediness in Grozny stadium Dynamo in 28 December 2014.
20,000 people in uniform with full ammunition were gathered in one place, showing their readiness to «fulfill an order of Supreme Commander, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Minister of Internal Affairs of Russia V.A. Kolokoltsev and Head of the Chechen Republic ... R.A. Kadyrov on protection of the interests of the Russian Federation anywhere in the world.» Kadyrov called his "KRAsnaya Army" " Vladimir Putin's combat infantry."
Photo: Kadyrov gathered 20 thousand gunmen at the Dinamo stadium
The meeting ended up with taking the oath of allegiance to the President of the Russian Federation. Every Chechen law enforcement officer signed an appropriate paper. Formally, they come under command of Moscow law enforcement, but, in practice, are ruled by Kadyrov and his attendants only.
The document (translation)
To Minister of the Interior of the Chechen Republic, lieutenant general R.Sh. Alhanov
I, local police chief of The District Police Department and Juvenile Affairs Department
of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for (hidden) district of the Chechen Republic and Police captain, (name hidden), report that I am ready to fulfill an order of Supreme Commander, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Minister of Internal Affairs of Russia V.A. Kolokoltsev and Head of the Chechen Republic, Hero of The Russian Federation R.A. Kadyrov on protection of the interests of the Russian Federation anywhere in the world.
Local police chief of The District Police Department and Juvenile Affairs Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for (hidden) district, Police captain
(Name, signature hidden)
Maintenance of such army requires a lot of money. Federal subsidized money would not be enough for all of Kadyrov's ambitious projects. Answering questions, Kadyrov is traditionally referring to Allah. In fact, funding comes from the "Akhmat Kadyrov Fund." As journalists of the "Otkrytaya Rossiya" has found out, there is a special tax in Chechnya, which supports the fund. It's not only the Chechens who are paying the "tribute", but all Russian citizens as well.
State employees transfer up to 10% of their salary, employees of private companies - 30%, private business must pay at least a half of their income. Everyone is obliged to pay. Experts estimated that monthly sum of the donations reaches 3-4 billion of rubles. “KRA Army” fighters are responsible for collection of money.
These data are presented in a report of journalist Ilya Yashin, who is now under risk of prosecution. Kadyrov’s spokesman Alvi Karimov have appealed to the Prosecutor General's Office and the Investigative Committee, saying that the document "contains coarse slander, insults and baseless accusations against the Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov," and the report itself is "provocative, aggressive and is directed against Kadyrov and Chechen people."
Besides exactions, the “KRA Army” deals with many internal and, if necessary, external, issues. These people destroy homes of terrorists’ families. They intimidate and make away with people, who are "unwanted" for local authorities.
Chechen security forces are oprichniks (guardsmen of Ivan Grozny), first of all. And, like the oprichnina of Ivan Grozny, it is aimed at performing specific tasks. If an aim is to burn houses of militants' relatives, houses will be burned. If there is need in torture, they can torture. Nobody has the right to offend or "accuse" a fighter of the “KRA Army”. And if tried, they will be punished. A fighter of the “KRA Army” is always right.
Photo: KRA army fighters
Here we should remember history of the conflict between Kadyrov and human rights defenders. In December 2014, when the President of Chechnya personally ordered to demolish homes of terrorists, which had taken refuge in the Grozny Printing House, a human rights activist Igor Kalyapin asked the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor General's Office to verify Kadyrov’s words. This displeased the authorities and a thousand-strong rally against Kalyapin was held in Grozny. And then unknown set fire to the office of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture. These unknown men were the "KRA Army" fighters. They also attacked the human rights office due to murder of Chechen businessman Dadaev in 2015. Kadyrov claimed that human rights defenders had "deliberately provoked the incident, their goal was to strike attention of the world press and become owners of a new US-sponsored grant."
Video: Unknown attacked human rights activists office in Inigushetia
In March 2016, a bus with human rights defenders and journalists was attacked and burned without any a reason. A few days later, Igor Kalyapin was poured with green paint and pelted with eggs, cake and flour at the entrance to the hotel.
Photo: Igor Kalyapin
Unknown Chechens threw a cake at Mikhail Kasyanov after a scandal with a video posted by Kadyrov, which shows the oppositionist under the gun of a sniper rifle. "Kasyanov has arrived in Strasbourg to get money for the Russian opposition. Whoever does not understand, they will understand!"- The Head of Chechnya commented, but a few days later he removed the post.
Video from Kadyrov Instagram
It is pertinent to note that Russian Investigation Committee officially considers ex-fighter of the Chechen battalion "Sever" (North) Ruslan Mukhutdinov as an orderer of Boris Nemtsov’s murder.
The other interesting fact is that the Chechens live permanently in the "President Hotel" in Moscow, located in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They are officially engaged in protection of high-ranking Chechen officials. The CrimeRussia has already written how fighters of Kadyrov's army settle "economic disputes" and act as collectors under the guise of the human rights organization "Za spravedlivost" (For the justice).
Photo: Kadyrov fighters in Moscow
Before their service in the units of the Chechen Ministry of Interior Affairs, many of today's fighters were militants and fought a war with Russia. When Kadyrov, Sr managed to convince federal government to begin to draw militants away, “repentant terrorists" flooded a new Chechen army.
A lot of experts are keeping watch over growing might of the "KRA Army". How long Kadyrov will stay loyal to Putin is not clear, especially considering the fact that his term has formally expired. Against who will Kadyrov's private army go, in case relationships between Moscow and Grozny go wrong?
Moreover, as one of the most warlike people of the Caucasus, the Chechens honor tradition of vendetta too much.