Russia’s interior ministry strongly condemned an order Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov made to Chechen soldiers on Monday to “open fire” on any outside security forces who operate in Chechnya without properly notifying his government. Kadyrov was responding to an April 19 incident in which police and federal security forces from neighboring Stavropol shot and killed a man in Chechnya’s capital, Grozny, without consulting with his autonomous government.
“The Russian Interior Ministry believes it inadmissible for the leader of the Chechen Republic to make statements on a possibility of shooting to kill at law enforcers from other regions if they carry out special operations in Chechnya without authorization from the local agencies of law and order,” the Interior Ministry said on Friday.
Kadyrov, 38, is known as an openly violent strongman who runs Chechnya with absolute authority. He is fiercely protective of Chechnya, defending it with what is essentially a private army. He is a strong supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, having more than once vowed to defend Putin with his life, but his often fiery criticisms of federal security apparatuses has caused friction with Moscow in the past. On Monday, Kadyrov ordered an investigation into “the abuse of power by law enforcement officials,” and offered an ominous warning to outside security forces who want to operate in Chechnya.
“On our territory this will not be happening, anyone who thinks it will is mistaken,” he said. “If someone appears without your knowledge—it doesn’t matter if he’s from Moscow or Stavropol—I order you to shoot to kill.”
The Stavropol-based special operations group was reportedly trying to arrest a wanted man named Djambulat Dadaev, but Dadaev reportedly rammed a police car and opened fire when they moved in to arrest him, according to Caucasian Knot.
Kadyrov came to power as deputy prime minister of Chechnya in 2004 after his father, then-president Akhmad Kadyrov was assassinated. His father himself became president after he and his rebel militia defected from the larger Chechen Muslim insurgency movement to fight them alongside the Russian military. Much like his father, Kadyrov is a devout Muslim.
The incident comes just a month after Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, arrested a former Chechen police officer and soldier for the murder of prominent Russian oppositionist Boris Nemtsov. Kadyrov appeared to defend the suspect, calling him a “true Russian patriot,” and devout Muslim who could have killed Nemtsov for his support for the victims of the January Paris terror attacks.