• Chalaev is a close associate of Chechen leader Kadyrov
  • Chalaev was awarded the "Hero Of Russia" title in 2019
  • He thanked Kadyrov for pulling him out of mental hospital 

Zamid Chalaev, the Chechen commander in charge of their troops in Luhansk, was pulled out of a psychiatric facility by the republic's leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who also helped him earn the title of the "Hero Of Russia."

Chalaev, a 41-year-old fighter from the Nozhai-Yurt district of Chechnya, is infamous for his alleged involvement in gross human rights violations in the republic, according to Caucasus Realities, a wing of Radio Liberty.

In 2019, he became commander of the Akhmat Kadyrov Special Purpose Police Regiment, where he previously held one of the leading positions. Around the same time, reports began to appear about Chalaev's brutal acts in the region.

According to a Novaya Gazeta report, dozens of detainees were reportedly executed by the Akhmat Kadyrov regiment. The details were provided to the paper by a former regiment member.

In May 2021, two months after the publication of more evidence of serious crimes, Chalaev was awarded the title of Hero of Russia. At an event held at Chechnya during the Benoevskaya Spring festival, Chalaev thanked Kadyrov for "pulling him out of the mental hospital."

“Today I stand here and accept this award. But how did I end up here, at this level? You pulled me out, brought me out of a mental hospital, then made me a regiment commander, and today you made me a Hero of Russia. May the Almighty be pleased with you for this," said Chalaev, comparing himself to a man who was "pulled out of the pit."

According to Bogdan Chechensky, head of the information service of the Sheikh Mansur Volunteer Battalion fighting in the defense of Ukraine, Chalaev's subordinates in Luhansk will perform the usual role of "protective detachments."

"Kremlin knows that it will be impossible to force a Russian officer to shoot deserters, and Chalaev and his subordinates, who killed and tortured their fellow Chechens, will do it with great pleasure, as long as the owner is satisfied," the source told Caucasus Realities.

Meanwhile, Mykhailo Savva, a member of the war crimes documentation group in Ukraine, said Chalaev is easily controlled and vulnerable to superiors. "He needs a "defender" at the top who would cover him. And in return, this defender is provided with any services. They expect him to unconditionally obey, to carry out any, even the most inhuman orders," he told the news outlet.

Ramzan Kadyrov, strongman leader of Chechnya, claimed on Telegram Monday that he had been in Ukraine alongside Chechen fighters
Ramzan Kadyrov, strongman leader of Chechnya, claims he had been in Ukraine alongside Chechen fighters. SPUTNIK via AFP / Alexey NIKOLSKY