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Russia’s Most Notorious Enforcer Looks Set to Get One Hell of a Promotion

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Amid a flurry of changes in the Russian government this week as Vladimir Putin carries out his post-inaugural reshuffle, something strange and potentially dangerous happened in Chechnya: Ramzan Kadyrov’s longtime righthand man, Magomed Daudov, suddenly up and quit.

“After a meeting with the head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov, I decided to resign as chairman of the parliament of the Chechen Republic,” Daudov was quoted as announcing on local television.

He gave no further explanation for the move. Kadyrov, bizarrely, claimed that after nearly 10 years on the job, Daudov had simply decided it was time to “search for himself in other spheres.”

Experts say there’s something more alarming going on, however—and that Daudov, accused of torturing and hunting down dissidents in the Chechen Republic, is about to get one hell of a promotion.

It’s likely, said Ruslan Kutaev, chair of the Assembly of the Peoples of the Caucasus, “that Daudov was relieved of his post as speaker of the Chechen parliament in order to be appointed to a federal position.”

“In the coming days it will become clear,” Kutaev told the Caucasian Knot, adding that such an appointment would mean “Kadyrov and his people are sought after on the federal level.”

Kadyrov and his allies are said to be angling for Daudov to get a gig as a deputy defense minister, according to the well-connected VChK-OGPU Telegram channel, citing an unnamed source.

If he does see his star rise, according to political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin, it would mean the Kremlin “wants a closer look at him.” They want “to see what he is capable of, his potential. And then they will be able to think about how to use him further, in what regions and in what capacity,” Oreshkin told the Caucasian Knot.

For those familiar with his track record, such an appointment would be alarming.

Daudov, who received the Hero of Russia award in 2007, has long been accused of acting as Kadyrov’s enforcer to quash dissent and carrying out some of the worst human rights abuses in the Chechen Republic.

Known as “Lord” for his nickname while fighting during both Chechen wars—at first on the side of the rebels, and later the government—he was accused of ordering and overseeing the torture of young men during a so-called anti-gay purge in 2017 that is believed to have claimed several people’s lives and forced many others to flee.

Victims interviewed by Human Rights Watch recalled hearing their abusers cite orders handed down by Daudov, and several others said they’d spotted him at detention sites while torture was being carried out.

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