Abuzayd Vismuradov, Chechnya’s security provider

The influence of Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Abuzayd Vismuradov makes him an outside candidate to replace Chechnya’s leader.

Abuzayd Vismuradov

Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Abuzayd Vismuradov is a close ally of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and the media regularly identify him as one of the most influential men in the republic. His background in the security services and involvement in Chechnya’ mixed martial arts scene mean he has a more extensive network of connections than parliamentary speaker Magomed Daudov — arguably making him a stronger but still outside candidate to replace the ailing Ramzan. Vismuradov has repeatedly threatened the regime’s critics and has been sanctioned by the US and EU for his involvement in systematic human rights violations.

Date profile information last updated: 30 November 2023.

Abuzayd Vismuradov: Security provider to the Chechen regime

Abuzayd Vismuradov has been Deputy Prime Minister of the Chechen Republic with responsibility for the security services since early 2020. Prior to that, he rose through the ranks of the Chechen security services and acted as the personal bodyguard of Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov. He comes from the same village as Kadyrov and is a childhood friend, and he is widely viewed as one of his most loyal allies (2, 3, 4). Ruslan Kutayev, president of the Assembly of the Peoples of the Caucasus, argues that Vismuradov’s role as security liaison means he effectively controls relations with and access to Ramzan (5).

By comparison to some of his counterparts in the Chechen leadership, Vismuradov enjoys a relatively low profile in national and international media. However, BBC Russian Service identified Vismuradov as one of the three most influential people in the republic – alongside Daudov and State Duma Deputy for Chechnya Adam Delimkhanov – and noted that the three men appear alongside Ramzan and are covered by regime-loyal local media more than anyone else (6). As such, Vismuradov is among the contenders to replace Ramzan, who is widely rumoured to suffer from health issues and be considering the question of succession.

Vismuradov is closely implicated in the policies of the Chechen regime and its systematic abuse of human rights, as will be detailed below. He has supported Chechnya’s involvement in Russia’s war on Ukraine, frequently attending ceremonies for units ahead of their deployment, as well as visiting those already in Ukraine (7, 8, 9, 10).

Vismuradov involved in the Chechen MMA scene

Vismuradov has played a prominent role in the mixed martial arts (MMA) scene in Chechnya and beyond. Media reporting has repeatedly identified him as being in charge of the Akhmat fight club (11, 12, 13), which sponsors a network of MMA fighters and seeks the bolster the image of the Chechen regime. It is not clear whether he currently occupies a formal position at the club – he is not currently listed as part of its leadership on its official website (14). However, he has been a frequent attendee at MMA fights and he maintains an obvious connection with the club: His son, Ramzan Vismuradov, is president of both Akhmat and the Boxing Federation of the Chechen Republic, having been appointed to the former role in February 2022 (15, 16, 17).

Abuzayd Vismuradov’s involvement with the MMA scene, coupled with his career within the Chechen security services, means he boasts a more extensive and diverse network of connections in and beyond the republic than Daudov, another potential candidate to succeed Kadyrov. Indeed, those connections are probably more extensive than reported by the media, since many of his ties within the MMA scene and Chechen security services have not been explored in depth. He therefore appears a more likely replacement for Ramzan than Daudov, albeit still behind two key candidates from within the Kadyrov family: Adam Kadyrov and Delimkhanov.

Vismuradov’s relationships dominated by security services and MMA

Family

Abuzayd’s mother is Bekist Vismuradova. Ramzan Kadyrov, accompanied by his sons Eli (Zelimkhan), Akhmat, and Adam, visited her at home in April 2023 to congratulate her on Eid al-Fitr. Abuzayd’s father and Bekist’s husband is Zhandar Vismuradov (26).

Abuzayd has two brothers with a public profile: Abukhusayn, a Chechen MP, and Abushaykh, who was head of the Groznyy directorate of the Chechen Interior Ministry. Abushaykh reportedly died of coronavirus in June 2020 (15, 27); Abuzayd was rumoured to also be ill at the same time, although this was denied by Ramzan Kadyrov (28).

Abuzayd’s son, Ramzan, is president of the Akhmat fight club and the Boxing Federation of the Chechen Republic (15, 16, 17).

Khuseyn Bakarov is a traffic police company commander in Gudermesskiy Rayon and an unspecified relation of Abuzayd’s. He was detained in Dagestan in August 2021 for illegal arms possession (4, 19).

Business interests

None reported.

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The biography of Abuzayd Vismuradov

Basic details

Full name:Abuzayd Dzhandarovich Vismuradov
Variants and nicknames:Abuzayed Dzhandarovich Vismuradov; Abuzaid Dzjandarovitj Vismuradov; Abudzeyt Vismuradov; Patriot; Абузайд Джандарович Висмурадов; В, Абудзейт Висмурадов; Патриот; Абуподзад Висмурадов
Date of birth:21 December 1975 (29); 24 December 1975 (2, 3, 30).
Place of birth:Akhmat-Yurt/Khosi-Yurt (until May 2019, Tsentoroy) (2, 15).
Place of residence:
Citizenship:Russian Federation
Passport number:
Other identification numbers
Military/police rank:
Awards:Military action participation medal (2005); Order of Kadyrov (2006); Za otvagu medal (2006); For military comradeship medal (2006); For prowess on duty medal (2006); For excellence in protecting public order medal (2007); Order of Courage (2007, 2009, 2015); Interior Ministry commendation (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012); For Services to the Fatherland Second Degree (2010); For Services to the Fatherland (2011); For Services to the Chechen Republic medal (2011); Akhmat-Khadzhi Kadyrov Memorial medal (2017); For Services to the Fatherland First Degree (2021); Hero of Chechnya (2023); For Services to the Fatherland Fourth Degree (2023) (1, 31, 32, 33).

Education

  • 2007: Graduated from the Makhachkala Institute of Finance and Law with a specialisation in jurisprudence.
  • 2013: Graduated from the M.D. Millionshikov Groznyy State Technical University with a specialisation in automobiles and the automobile industry.
  • 2016: Graduated from the Russian Interior Ministry Academy, focusing on management preparation (1).

Professional background

The bulk of Vismuradov’s officially-reported career has been spent within the Chechen Interior Ministry, starting as a rank-and-file officer in Gudermesskiy Rayon and rising to become commander of the Special Rapid Response Unit (SOBR) Terek (subsequently renamed SOBR Akhmat). There is no media reporting covering his activities prior to 2002, by which point he was already aged 26.

  • July 2002-October 2002: trainee police officer, Gudermesskiy Rayon Interior Ministry branch.
  • October 2002 – May 2003: police officer, Gudermesskiy Rayon Interior Ministry branch.
  • May 2003-December 2003: platoon commander, Gudermesskiy Rayon Interior Ministry branch.
  • December 2003-March 2006: Senior inspector, OMON information and documentation group, Chechen Interior Ministry.
  • March 2006-April 2006: Senior criminal investigator, P Division of the Physical Protection Office, Special Purposes Detachment of the Centre for Combatting Terrorism (stationed in Nalchik), Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry for the Southern Federal District.
  • April 2006-June 2007: head of P Division of the Physical Protection Office, Special Purposes Detachment No.3 (stationed in Nalchik), Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry for the Southern Federal District.
  • June 2007-February 2008: Head of the P Division of the Terek Special Purposes Police Detachment (stationed in Nalchik), Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry for the Southern Federal District.
  • February 2008-April 2010: Head of the P Division of the Physical Security Division (stationed in Groznyy), Terek Special Purposes Police Detachment, Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry for the Southern Federal District.
  • April 2010-June 2010: Unspecified role in the Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry for the Southern Federal District.
  • June 2010-June 2011: Head of the P Division responsible for guaranteeing the security of persons entitled to state protection (stationed in Groznyy), Terek Special Purposes Police Detachment, Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry for the North Caucasus Federal District.
  • June 2011-July 2011: Unspecified role in the Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry for the North Caucasus Federal District.
  • July 2011-March 2012: Head of the P Division responsible for guaranteeing the security of persons entitled to state protection (stationed in Nalchik), Terek Special Purposes Police Detachment, Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry for the North Caucasus Federal District.
  • March 2012-March 2012: Unspecified role in the Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry for the North Caucasus Federal District.
  • March 2012-October 2016: Commander, SOBR Terek, responsible. for guaranteeing the security of persons entitled to state protection (stationed in Groznyy), Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry for the North Caucasus Federal District.
  • October 2016-March 2020: Commander, SOBR Terek, responsible. for guaranteeing the security of persons entitled to state protection, Federal Service of the Troops of the National Guard for the Chechen Republic (Rosgvardia) (1).

Vismuradov is a member of the United Russia party (34).

Vismuradov’s official biography dates his appointment as deputy prime minister to 23 March 2020 (3). However, Kadyrov announced his appointment on 20 February 2020 (35). The reasons for the discrepancy are unclear, as there is no reference to the initial appointment being of an acting nature or subsequent media reporting on it being confirmed by parliament.

Vismuradov involved in traffic accidents and human rights violations

In 2012, Vismuradov was a passenger in a car that was involved in an accident; the driver died in the crash. Vismuradov was treated for serious injuries in Moscow and Germany (25).

In 2016, Vismuradov was involved in another traffic accident, this time sustaining serious injuries in a race. Yuriy Troshin, the former Alpha commander who served as an advisor to Kadyrov, was killed in the incident (25).

In 2017, Novaya Gazeta accused Vismuradov of personally participating in torture and extrajudicial killings, including as part of Chechnya’s campaign against suspected members of the LGBTI community (23, 24). In 2021, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), a German NGO, and the Russian LGBT Network filed charges against Vismuradov – as well as Daudov, Argun police chief Ayub Katayev, and two other individuals whose names were not publicly reported – for their involvement in LGBTI persecutions (36).

In 2018, a video circulated on social media showing Vismuradov driving with a German resident, Adam Takhayev, and MMA fighter Magomed Bibulatov. In the video, Vismuradov threatens Chechens who live abroad and “gossip,” claiming they “do not have long left” (20).

In February 2021, Vismuradov threatened extrajudicial reprisals against any Chechens detained for drink-driving. He claimed they would be “destroyed” and could expect “additional punishments” beyond legally prescribed fines, arrests, and loss of driving licences. Shortly afterwards, Chechen traffic police began carrying out anti-alcohol searches of cars and fining people for bringing alcohol into the republic (37, 38).

In 2022, Vismuradov was among a number of Chechen officials to publicly criticise the Yangulbayev family, claiming they would be held to account (39). The Yangulbayevs have been persecuted for their outspoken criticisms of the Kadyrov regime (40).

Abuzayd Vismuradov’s online presence

Unlike a number of his fellow Chechen officials, Vismuradov does not maintain an account on Telegram. He previously ran the “vismuradov_95” (https://www.instagram.com/vismuradov_95_/) and “za.vismuradov_95” (https://www.instagram.com/za.vismuradov_95/) accounts on Instagram, but both were shut down by Instagram (15, 23, 41).

Vismuradov on the world stage

UkraineUnited KingdomUnited StatesCanadaEuropean UnionOther
NoNoYesNoYesNo

Vismuradov was sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury under the Magnitsky Act for human rights violations in May 2019. The statement accompanying the designation cited his involvement in LGBTI persecutions as justification, asserting that, “as the commander of the Terek Special Rapid Response Team in the Chechen Republic, Vismuradov was in charge of an operation that illegally detained and tortured individuals on the basis of their actual or perceived LGBTI status.” The Terek unit was sanctioned on the same basis (42). Vismuradov claimed he “considered it an honour” to be designated and was “even a little bit offended that until now I was not on the list” (43).

The EU sanctioned Vismuradov in March 2021 under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime, again citing his involvement in LGBTI persecutions (44). Russia promised a “proportional response” to the designation (45).

Vismuradov has not been sanctioned by the UK, Canada, or Ukraine.

Sources

Show sources

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