Magomed Daudov, the Chechen regime’s enforcer

Chechen parliamentary speaker Magomed Daudov is a key figure in the regime of Ramzan Kadyrov but lacks an independent power base.

Magomed Daudov

Chechen parliamentary speaker Magomed Daudov is an important member of the inner circle of Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, and a potential candidate to replace the ailing dictator. However, he appears to lack an independent power base or substantive ties outside the republic, significantly reducing his chances. Daudov is closely implicated in many of the regime’s worst human rights abuses and efforts to silence dissent in Chechnya, but has not yet been sanctioned by the European Union.

Date profile information last updated: 20 November 2023.

Magomed Daudov: A key figure in the Chechen regime

Magomed Daudov started the Second Chechen War on the side of the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (Chechenskaya Respublika Ichkeria, ChRI) but quickly switched his allegiance to the pro-Russian regime being built by Akhmat Kadyrov. Since Akhmat’s son, Ramzan, assumed formal leadership of Chechnya in 2007, Daudov has established himself as a key member of the Chechen elite (1, 2, 3).

Daudov has been speaker of parliament since July 2015 (4). He is simultaneously a permanent member of the Chechen Security Council; secretary of the Chechen branch of United Russia; a member of United Russia’s General Council Presidium and Leader’s Council; a member of the Russian Federal Assembly Council of Legislators; a member of the Russian Presidential Council Presidium for Developing Local Governance; and president of Akhmat FC (5, 6).

Daudov is often referred to in the media as “Kadyrov’s right-hand man” (7) and one of the most important people in Ramzan’s inner circle – alongside State Duma Deputy for Chechnya Adam Delimkhanov and Deputy Prime Minister Abuzayd Vismuradov (8).

Daudov implicated in many of the Chechen regime’s abuses

As a senior figure in the Chechen elite, Dadyrov has been implicated in many of the controversies and human rights abuses that characterise the Chechen regime. In particular, he has often been personally involved in the persecution of the regime’s critics and often responds on social media to alleged slights against the republic and its leadership. Some of the main scandals he has been involved are:

  • As a senior figure in the Chechen elite, Dadyrov has been implicated in many of the controversies and human rights abuses that characterise the Chechen regime. In particular, he has often been personally involved in the persecution of the regime’s critics and often responds on social media to alleged slights against the republic and its leadership. Some of the main scandals he has been involved are:
  • In 2011, Daudov – then first deputy prime minister responsible for the security bloc – publicly criticised members of a jury who had acquitted alleged insurgents. Daudov pledged that the suspects would be punished irrespective of the court’s decision (9).
  • In February 2014, activist Ruslan Kutayev organised a conference devoted to discussing the Stalin-era deportation of the Chechens, at which he criticised the policies of Ramzan Kadyrov. Daudov phoned Kutayev, but Kutayev ignored his phone call and did not attend a meeting at which Kadyrov criticised the conference’s participants. Kutayev was sentenced to four years in prison on drugs possession charges that human rights groups criticised as politically motivated. Kutayev accused Daudov, Chechen Deputy Interior Minister Apty Alaudinov, and Daudov’s bodyguard, Tamerlan Musayev, of torturing him. Daudov testified in Kutayev’s trial, denying both his involvement in torture and any political motivations behind the prosecution (10, 11, 12).
  • In October 2016, Novaya Gazeta and Kavkaz Realii alleged that Daudov beat up Takhir Murdalov, then acting chairman of Chechnya’s Supreme Court, demanding that he resign. Daudov reportedly threatened to kill Murdalov when he refused. A Groznyy TV report featured an audio recording in which Murdalov denied the claims (13).
  • Also in 2016, Caucasian Knot Chief Editor Grigoriy Shvedov filed a complaint with the Investigations Committee over apparent threats that Daudov made towards him (14).
  • In 2017, Novaya Gazeta alleged that many suspected homosexuals who had been interrogated in secret prisons as part of Chechnya’s persecution of local LGBTQ communities had identified Daudov as personally involved (15). Human Rights Watch issued a report containing similar accusations (16).
  • Also in 2017, Daudov responded to US sanctions against Ramzan Kadyrov with threats against alleged internal enemies who worked on behalf of the West. Daudov said: “I think it’s time to dispatch our enemies back to their bosses abroad or remove them from healthy society. If there weren’t a moratorium at present in Russia [implication: on the death penalty], it would be Salaam Alaikum to the enemies of the people and that would be the end of it” (17).
  • In 2018 and 2019, Daudov became involved in a public dispute with opposition blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov in response to the latter’s ongoing criticisms of the Kadyrov family and regime. In an audio recording posted on YouTube, Daudov declared a blood feud against Abdurakhmanov (18, 19).
  • In August 2019, Russian journalist Maksim Shevchenko apologised to Ramzan Kadyrov for disparaging comments he had made; his apology followed a call from Daudov (20). In the same year, Daudov – along with Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechen Nationalities Minister Dzhambulat Umarov, and a host of Chechen scholars and cultural representatives – criticised director Aleksandr Sokurov after Sokurov stated that Ramzan did not deserve the title Hero of Russia (21).

Daudov’s involvement in key Chechen policies and events

Beyond persecuting opponents of the Chechen regime, Daudov has also played a prominent role in many of its key policies. For example, he has been actively involved in Chechnya’s border demarcation efforts, which have resulted in disputes with the neighbouring republics of Ingushetia and Dagestan (22, 23). In July 2017, he was attacked by a crowd in the Dagestani village of Leninaul amidst a conflict between local Avar and Chechen communities (24). In 2019, local historian Zurab Gadzhiyev used social media to criticise the construction of a traditional watchtower on the border between Chechnya and Dagestan. In response, Daudov labelled Gadzhiyev a “sad excuse for a historian” and accused him of attempting to foment ethnic discord (25).

Daudov has also been a vocal supporter of Chechnya’s involvement in Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine and often – together with other high-ranking Chechen officials – attends ceremonies at Groznyy airport to mark their deployment. He acted as Ramzan Kadyrov’s deputy on a commission established in May 2014 to help people from Crimea and Ukraine who had left their permanent place of residence (26). Early in the latest war, he was appointed head of the “republican operational headquarters for the special military operation (27). In May 2023, Daudov was one of several Chechen officials to become involved in a public dispute with senior figures in the Russian private military company (PMC) Wagner (28).

Daudov lacks independent power base or ties outside the republic

Arguably the main obstacle to Daudov succeeding Kadyrov – who is rumoured to be in ill health – is the weakness of his relations, which are mapped in the section below. Unlike any leadership contenders from within the Kadyrov family – in particular, the Delimkhanovs or Kadyrov’s sons, Adam and Akhmat – Daudov does not have relatives who are known to occupy strategically important positions in the broader Chechen state infrastructure. Nor is there anyone within his network who emerges as an obvious ally with sufficient influence to support his claim.

The weakness of Daudov’s relationships is also evident in his lack of connections to figures at the federal level. Unlike Adam Delimkhanov, or even Ramzan himself, Daudov’s connections are almost entirely within Chechnya’s borders (29). Although Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed various appointments and awards for Daudov – including appointing him an Interior Ministry major-general in August 2023 (30) – the only photographic evidence of a meeting that is captured by a Yandex search comes from a Kremlin event in 2014 that was also attended by Ramzan (31).

This network mapping suggests claims made by journalist Maaz Bilalov in 2016 remain valid today: “Daudov’s clan is not build on classic principles, i.e. there are not clearly defined political or some kind of other force on which he could rely […]. Daudov’s clan is in the main his multitudinous security service, which is prepared to offer him any support – but only for so long as he remains in power” (32). Indeed, his position today is arguably weaker now than it was then, given that he no longer directly controls any security servie units.

Daudov’s key relationships – as many enemies as friends

Daudov’s family and personal background

Daudov is married and reportedly has twelve children (80). He was born in the village of Shpakovskoye (today Mikhaylovsk) in Stavropol Kray, but his native village is considered to be Geldagan in Chechnya’s Kurchaloyevskiy Rayon. Several initiatives in the village have sought to demonstrate his prestige: a street and school were named after him in 2007 and 2008 respectively, and in 2010, construction began on a mosque named after his recently deceased mother, Makka Uvaysovna Daudova. His father, Khozhakhmed Abdulvakhabovich Daudov, died in 2013 (81).

Abubakar Ustarkhanov, head of the police in Shalinskiy Rayon’s village of Avtury, was an unspecified relative on Daudov’s mother’s side of the family; he was shot dead on 3 January 2018 (82).

Some media sources refer to Ramzan Kadyrov’s children as Daudov’s nieces and nephews. This appears to originate from Daudov’s use of the terms in his Telegram channel; however, there is no blood relationship between them and Daudov is using this in a metaphorical sense (in the same way he calls Ramzan his “brother”). Daudov is a member of the Yalkhoy teip (83), whereas Ramzan is from the Benoy teip.

Business interests

None reported.

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Daudov’s rise within the Chechen elite

Basic details

Full name:Magomed Khozakhmedovich Daudov
Variants and nicknames:Lord; Timur Daudov; Магомед Хожахмедович Даудов; Лорд; Тимур Даудов; Magomed Hozhahmedovich Daudov; Magomed Hojahmedovich Daudov
Date of birth:26 February 1980 (84). Incorrectly stated as 5 October 1973 on UK sanctions designation (85)
Place of birth:Shpakovskoye (today Mikhaylovsk), Stavropol Kray (86). Incorrectly stated as Stavropol on UK sanctions designation (87)
Place of residence:
Citizenship:Russian Federation
Passport number:Not known
Other identification numbers
Military/police rank:Police major-general (88)
Awards:As with many senior Chechen officials, Daudov is routinely decorated. Among the more notable awards are two Orders of Courage (2005, 2006); Order of Kadyrov (2006); Hero of Russia (2007); Hero of the Luhansk People’s Republic (2022); Hero of the Chechen Republic (2023) (89).

Education

Daudov completed middle school in Geldagan (90). In 2004, he graduated from Dagestan State University with a qualification in economics and a specialisation in Finance and Credit (91). In 2009, graduated from the Makhachkala Institute of Finance and Law with a specialisation in jurisprudence (92). In 2011, he graduated from Management Academy of the Interior Ministry of the Russian Federation with a specialisation in jurisprudence (93).

Professional background

Daudov linked up with ChRI fighters in the First Chechen War but was only 14 when that war started. He started the Second Chechen War still on the ChRI’s side and reportedly tried to join infamous rebel leader Shamil Basayev, but he soon switched to the federal side in response to an amnesty offered by Akhmat Kadyrov (94).

After being amnestied, Daudov’s official biography lists various appointments within the Chechen branch of the Interior Ministry (95):

  • June 2004-February 2005: Company commander, 2nd Regiment of the Patrol and Checkpoint Service.
  • February 2005-November 2006: Battalion commander, Patrol and Checkpoint Service, Shalinskiy Rayon police.
  • November 2006: criminal investigator for especially important cases, section for combatting abductions and people trafficking, Operational Search Bureau No.2 for Combatting Organised Crime.
  • November 2006-April 2007: Deputy commander, head of the special forces police detachment headquarters.
  • April 2007-September 2007: Acting head of the Shalinskiy Rayon police department.
  • September 2007-March 2010: Head of the Shalinskiy Rayon police department.

The ‘political’ part of his biography began in 2010:

  • March 2010-May 2012: Appointed Chechen first deputy prime minister with responsibility for the security bloc (96).
  • December 2011-July 2014: Appointed head of the Administration of the Head and Government of the Chechen Republic (97).
  • July 2015-date: Elected speaker (chairman) of the Parliament of the Chechen Republic, after the death from illness of his predecessor, Dukuvakha Abdurakhmanov (98). Reelected in October 2016 and October 2021 (99).

Other controversies involving Daudov

In May 2015, Daudov – at the time head of the Administration of the Head and Government of the Chechen Republic — sparked controversy when he suggested that polygamy should be legalised. Daudov insisted he was speaking in a private capacity. His comments came shortly after the head of the Nozhay-Yurtovskiy police department Nazhud Guchigov married a 17-year-old woman, Kheda-Luiza Goylabiyeva, despite reportedly already being married. Daudov reportedly helped Goylabiyeva obtain a passport in which the marriage was recorded (100).

In July 2017, Kavkaz Realii accused Daudov of trying to extort R30 million from the head of the Chechen branch of Sberbank Rossii, Sayd-Magomed Dzhabrailov. The key meeting was reportedly attended by Apty Alaudinov and Sharpudi Abdul-Kadyrov and took place in the office of Yakub Zakriyev. Dzhabrailov was placed on the federal wanted list when he allegedly refused to pay (101).

Daudov has repeatedly expressed support for Adam Kadyrov, Ramzan’s son. In 2018, for example, he defended Adam over accusations the latter had participated in a rigged boxing match (102). In 2023, he backed him after a scandal erupted over a video showing Adam beating a detainee (103).

Digital Daudov: An avid user of social networks

Daudov is highly active on Telegram, using the channel “Лорд.” (MDaudov_95). This was created on 27 February 2022. As of 14 November 2023, the channel had 1,000.669 subscribers and had posted 218 photos and 889 videos.

Daudov also runs a page on VK: https://vk.com/magomeddaudov

Daudov used to have an Instagram account, but he closed it in 2017 in response to Instagram’s decision to close the account of Ramzan Kadyrov (104).

Gaps in the international response to Daudov, a consistent violator of human rights

UkraineUnited KingdomUnited StatesCanadaEuropean UnionOther
NoYesYesNoNoYes

Daudov was sanctioned by the United States, alongside Alaudinov, under the Magnitskiy Act for the torture and kidnapping of Kutayev in 2014 (105, 106).

He was sanctioned by the United Kingdom on 10 December 2020 under the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020 for “the systematic arrest, torture, and murder of LGBT people in Chechnya since 2017. Daudov has also personally participated in the arrest, torture, and murder of LGBT people” (107).

Lithuania imposed an entry ban in 2017 under its version of the Magnitskiy Act (108), as did Estonia (109) and Latvia in 2018 (110).

Poland sanctioned Daudov after the invasion of Ukraine (111). Ukraine has not sanctioned him, although the Security Service of Ukraine opened a criminal case against him for participating in the creation of security service units engaged in aggression against Ukraine and travelling to Ukrainian territory occupied by Russia (112).

Remarkably, the European Union has not yet sanctioned him; nor has Canada.

Sources

Show sources

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(83) Heroes-russia.ru. See note (81).
(84) Caucasian Knot. See note (3).
(85) Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office. Undated. The UK Sanctions List. Accessed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-uk-sanctions-list on 15 November 2023.
(86) Caucasian Knot. See note (3).
(87) Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office. See note (85).
(88) Caucasian Knot. See note (3).
(89) Parliament of the Chechen Republic. See note (80).
(90) Caucasian Knot. See note (3).
(91) Parliament of the Chechen Republic. See note (80).
(92) Parliament of the Chechen Republic. See note (80).
(93) Parliament of the Chechen Republic. See note (80).
(94) Novaya Gazeta. See note (1).; Maaz Bilalov. Kavkaz Realii. See note (2).
(95) Parliament of the Chechen Republic. See note (80).
(96) Caucasian Knot. See note (3).
(97) Parliament of the Chechen Republic. See note (80).
(98) Caucasian Knot. 3 July 2015. Председателем парламента Чечни выбран Магомед Даудов. Accessed at https://www.kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/265003/ on 20 November 2023.
(99) Caucasian Knot. See note (3).
(100) Yelizaveta Mayetnaya and Artur Gromov. Gazeta.ru. See note (50).
(101) Kavkaz Realii. See note (33).
(102) Meduza. See note (54).
(103) Meduza. See note (54).
(104) Mikhail Aksenov. Life News. 23 December 2017. Спикер парламента Чечни удалился из Instagram после блокировки Кадырова Accessed at https://life.ru/t/%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B8/1073172/spikier_parlamienta_chiechni_udalilsia_iz_instagram_poslie_blokirovki_kadyrova/amp on 14 November 2023.
(105) Office of Foreign Assets Control. Undated. Sanctions List Search. Accessed at https://sanctionssearch.ofac.treas.gov/Details.aspx?id=17295 on 15 November 2023.
(106) Kavkaz Realii. See note (30).
(107) Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office. See note (85).
(108) Deutscher Bundestag. 25 September 2019. Public Hearing on Impunity on September 25, 2019 (Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid of the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany): Lithuanian case. Accessed at https://www.bundestag.de/resource/blob/659514/40b08e7743c3c8d7d49cd545a82da619/stellungnahme_pavilionis-data.pdf on 16 November 2023.
(109) Err.ee. 29 March 2018. Estonia imposes entry ban on individuals on Magnitsky List. Accessed at https://news.err.ee/692843/estonia-imposes-entry-ban-on-individuals-on-magnitsky-list on 16 November 2023.
(110) Caucasian Knot. 24 February 2018. Latvia bans Ramzan Kadyrov’s entry. Accessed at https://eng.kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/42464 on 16 November 2023.
(111) Kavkaz Realii. See note (30).
(112) Kavkaz Realii. 24 April 2023. СБУ предъявила подозрения Магомеду Даудову, приближенному главы Чечни. Accessed at https://www.kavkazr.com/a/sbu-predyavila-podozreniya-daudovu/32377162.html on 16 November 2023.