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‘If they come round, shoot to kill’ Ramzan Kadyrov bans Russian forces from carrying out special operations in Chechnya

Source: Meduza
Photo: Elena Afonina / TASS / Scanpix

On April 19, suspected criminal Dzhambulat Dadayev was killed during a raid in Grozny. The next day, it turned out that the operation was carried out not by Chechen officials, but rather those from Stavropol, which angered Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen government. And so Kadyrov issued a new order, telling his men to shoot to kill in any future encounters with Russian police from outside Chechnya. Meduza explains how this happened.

On April 19, the news agency Interfax reported that police in Grozny killed a man named Dzambulat Dadayev, who allegedly tried to ram a police car and was shot and killed, when police opened fire.

Dadayev was charged with “deliberately inflicting grievous bodily harm on a person or his relatives while they were serving in the line of public duty.” It remains unclear whom exactly Dadayev wounded so grievously.

Interfax did not specify who carried out the special operation, and there was no media frenzy following the incident, as a suspect dying during a special operation in Grozny is far from unprecedented.

As it turns out, the operation was carried out by members of the Stavropol police and the Temporary Operational Group, which has been based just outside Grozny since 2000 and gets its marching orders from the federal, not Chechen, government.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya, was outraged about the special operation on Chechen territory. On April 20, he wrote on Instagram that police from neighboring regions could not detain anyone without the consent of Chechen law enforcement agencies, especially on a day when the city was hosting a big soccer game. “There are other serious violations that, in the interests of the investigation, cannot be made public,” Kadyrov wrote, without giving any details.

The next day, Kadyrov made a hardliner speech at a local police academy, saying Chechnya hadn’t agreed to live under the Russian Constitution just so its citizens could be murdered in the streets. He demanded that police shoot to kill, the next time they encounter Russian police conducting special operations in Chechnya without permission from the local authorities. Kadyrov then added that the Stavropol police were carrying out the orders of certain “rich people,” without elaborating what he meant.

“How can you use the operations group of Stavropol, SOBR, OMON, and all the organs of Khankala like that? I didn’t know about that. That isn’t going to happen in our territory. Those who think otherwise are mistaken. We paid very dearly for peace and order,” Kadyrov said.

Chechen police next opened a criminal case to investigate “the abuse of power by law enforcement officials.” So far, there are no suspects, but Chechen authorities clearly have in mind the Stavropol police officers and the federal Temporary Operational Group. Sergey Chenchik, the official who oversees the Interior Ministry’s operations in Russia’s North Caucasus region, has already visited Grozny to try to smooth things over.

According to the website Caucasian Knot’s source in the Temporary Operational Group, federal police insist that they broke no laws during the Grozny operation, when Dzambulat Dadayev rammed their roadblock and fired on their officers. According to Chechen Human Rights Commissioner Nurdi Nukhazhiev, however, Dadayev exited his vehicle with his hands up and did not resist arrest.

According to a local Chechen television station, Dzhambulat Dadayev grew up and lived in Chechnya, though he did spend some time working in Stavropol (about 250 miles northwest of Grozny), where he was recently stabbed in a brawl and placed under house arrest.

On April 23, Stavropol krai Governor Vladimir Vladimirov addressed Kadyrov’s shoot-to-kill orders, saying “people can take almost anything out of context,” and downplayed the tensions with Chechnya. “Under no circumstances should we presume to speak for another person,” Governor Vladimirov warned, assuring reporters, “I’m sure it’s all made up. It seems to me this is the wrong interpretation.”

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