Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov was assassinated on May 9 during a Victory Day celebration in Grozny. He was 52.
Kadyrov was killed while attending a parade commemorating the 59th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany during World War II. A bomb planted inside a concrete pillar underneath the V.I.P. section of the stadium exploded, killing Kadyrov and at least five other people. On Sunday, the Kremlin appointed Chechen Prime Minister Sergei B. Abramov as acting president.
Kadyrov was studying at a Muslim university in Oman when a rebellion in Chechnya forced him to return home. During the first Chechen war (1994-1995), he rose to the position of chief mufti, or Islamic religious leader. Kadyrov then proclaimed a jihad (holy war) against Russia and commanded a rebel force fighting for Chechen independence.
When the Russians withdrew and Chechnya gained autonomy, Kadyrov broke away from the rebel factions because he felt the resistance leaders were fostering Islamic radicalism. Aslan Maskhadov, the elected president of the republic, branded him “enemy number one” and took away his mufti ranking.
In 1999, Russian troops again invaded Chechnya, and ousted Maskhadov. Russian President Vladimir V. Putin then appointed Kadyrov the administrative head of the new pro-Moscow government in Chechnya. Last October, the former rebel leader was elected the republic’s president.
Kadyrov made many enemies for siding with the Russians during the 1999 invasion, and Sunday’s bomb blast was not the first attempt on his life. In 2002, two car bombs destroyed his headquarters in Grozny. He was not there at the time, but the failed assassination attempt killed 72 people. Last May, a suicide bomber tried to murder Kadyrov at a religious festival in the village of Iliskhan-Yurt. That attack also missed its mark, but killed 17.