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. Last Updated: 01/29/2015

Ramzan Kadyrov

Ramzan Kadyrov

Ramzan Kadyrov (Рамзан Ахматович Кадыров) was born on Oct. 5, 1976, in Tsentoroi, Chechnya.

1996: Kadyrov became assistant and personal bodyguard to his father, Akhmad Kadyrov, Chechnya's head mufti, and fought for Chechen independence during the First Chechen War (1994-96). The younger Kadyrov led a unit of rebel fighters in the war.

1999: The Kadyrovs switched over to the Russian side during the Second Chechen War (1999-2000)

June 2000: President Vladimir Putin named Akhmad Kadyrov head of the Chechen administration. Ramzan was put in change of the presidential security service, a 1,500-strong paramilitary force that was accused of sowing fear throughout the republic and guaranteeing the president's grip on power (story). In this capacity, Ramzan took part in armed offensives against remaining rebels and negotiated conversions to the Russian side.

May 2004: Akhmad Kadyrov assassinated at a Victory Day celebration in Grozny (story). Shortly after, Ramzan was named first deputy prime minister and chief of the republic's security services. Human rights groups accused him and his forces, known as "kadyrovtsy," of abductions and torturing prisoners. At 27, Ramzan was too young under the Chechen constitution to replace his father as president (the minimum age being 30). Instead, the Kremlin chose Alu Alkhanov, the Chechen interior minister, to run in Chechnya's presidential elections that August.

February 2006: Became head of United Russia in Chechnya

October 2006: Anna Politkovskaya, a Kremlin critic who wrote critical investigative reports about human rights abuses allegedly committed by Kadyrov and his forces, was gunned down in Moscow. In July 2009, Natalya Estemirova, who worked at the Chechen branch of the rights watchdog Memorial was kidnapped and found shot dead several hours later. Memorial implicated Kadyrov in Estemirova's killing, prompting him to sue the organization. Kadyrov has described Memorial's members as enemies of the people, the law and the state.

Feb. 15, 2007-present: Appointed president of the Chechen republic by Vladimir Putin

March 2009: Sulim Yamadayev, a powerful Chechen commander and bitter opponent of Kadyrov, was shot dead in Dubai less than a year after his brother Ruslan was gunned down in Moscow. A third brother, Isa, blamed Kadyrov for the killings. Kadyrov's former bodyguard Umar Israilov was slain in Vienna, where he was seeking asylum, in January (story). Israilov told the European Court of Human Rights that he had personally witnessed Kadyrov torturing detainees, leading prosecutors to suggest that the Chechen president was behind the killing. Three Russians were convicted of complicity in Israilov's murder in June 2011. Kadyrov has denied any involvement in the murders.

April 16, 2009: The Kremlin declared that the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya was over, effectively ending a security regime imposed in September 1999 when federal troops poured into the North Caucasus republic and squashed separatists (story)

March 2011: Kadyrov receives a new 5-year term after being nominated by President Dmitry Medvedev and confirmed by Chechnya's parliament (story). Kadyrov's second term is the first in which he no longer officially bears the title "president." He announced his intention to change his title to "head" in fall 2010 after arguing that the country should only have one president.

Chechnya has achieved a semblance of stability under Kadyrov, with federal money pouring into major construction projects around the republic. The capital city, Grozny, has been largely rebuilt after two devastating wars.

But critics have said that the relative stability in Chechnya has been bought at the high price of letting Kadyrov rule with little regard to laws and human rights. They also note that attacks by Islamist militants have largely shifted to the neighboring regions of Ingushetia and Dagestan.

Kadyrov has set up a Center for Spiritual-Moral Education, and his forces have enforced Islamic rules that can violate the Russian Constitution. Alcohol is all but banned, and women must wear headscarves in state buildings. Women who choose not to wear headscarves on the street have reported being harassed and assaulted, including at a string of paintball attacks during 2010 (story). The authorities encourage polygamy.

Ramzan Kadyrov is married and has seven children.

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