September 8, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10191

Chechen Leader Kadyrov's Reversal On Resignation Offer: A Failed Attempt To Pressure Putin Or A Political Power Move?

September 8, 2022
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 10191

On September 3, 2022, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov posted a video on his Telegram Channel announcing his desire to take an indefinite leave of absence. Kadyrov noted that he was the longest-serving regional leader and felt that he may have overstayed his welcome citing the proverb "No matter how respected and welcome a guest may be, if he leaves on time it will be still more pleasant for him." [1]

By September 6, 2022, Kadyrov had reversed himself and claimed that he had decided "to put an end to all the talk... In fact, I, of course, have no right to leave just like that. The people entrusted me with the leadership of the region. And to justify this trust is my sacred duty. I can leave only by asking the people and the President of Russia. Therefore, we will leave the talk of indefinite leave for the future. Now I won't even take my annual leave. I have said before that at this crucial time, when our country is fighting global Satanism in the Donbass, neither the regional authorities nor military personnel of all ranks can go on vacation."

Kadyrov explained that his previous post had been a trial balloon after he had seen some gripes about his long tenure. He wanted to see how his followers would react.[2]

Far from sufficing with 15 years in his post as head of Chechnya, Kadyrov was now intent on smashing the record for longevity as regional leader that currently stands at 27 years.[3] 

On the centenary of the establishment of the Chechen republic, the reinvigorated Kadyrov proudly announced: “We have not only restored the republic, but also built new cities, towns, erected schools, hospitals, thousands of residential buildings, roads, sports complexes, kindergartens, mosques, madrasahs, hafiz schools. The Chechen Republic is the only territory in the world where terrorism has been completely destroyed."[4]

Political commentators speculated on the reasons behind Kadyrov's resignation announcement. Some believe that the original announcement was an attempt to pressure Putin into promoting Kadyrov and the latter beat a retreat when Putin did not blink. Another theory is that Kadyrov benefitted from the media buzz and speculation about his next landing spots. The timing was chosen for the parliamentary elections where Kadyrov has been hankering for a spot on the United Russia national ticket further confirming his elevation to the role of national politician.

MEMRI's report on the short-lived Kadyrov resignation offer follows below:

Ramzan Kadyrov (Source:

The "Resignation" Was An Abortive Attempt To Pressure The Kremlin

Sergei Zhavoronkov, a senior researcher at the Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy, in a distinctly minority view, believes that Kadyrov was angling for a promotion to the ranks of a major federal official.". "The man [Kadyrov] was waiting for an appointment somewhere, for example, to the post of Minister of Defense. Time passes, there is no decree. He decided to back off." The irony, according to Zhavoronkov is that Kadyrov already enjoys the status of a federal politician thanks to Putin, who can issue pronouncement on Ukraine. But still "There are ambitions...Not everyone in Moscow is happy with these ambitions."[5]

Political scientist Andrey Gusiy believes that Kadyrov's toying with the Kremlin and public opinion was short sighted. First, his resignation threat did not elicit mass demonstrations in Chechnya beseeching him to stay on. Kadyrov's behavior appears childish, and the Kremlin does not respond well to extortion. Therefore, the episode will have negative effects on Kadyrov's prospects.[6]

The Episode Confirmed Kadyrov's Unique Status And Growing Power

The majority view among Russian commentators was that Kadyrov had used the episode to attract attention and validate his status. Mikhail Neizhmakov, a leading analyst at the Agency for Political and Economic Communications believes that Kadyrov already has the perfect job that permits him involvement on the security agenda and international issues. He recalls that Kadyrov had adopted similar tactics in 2016 and 2017 when he hinted about stepping down. Neizhmakov claims that Kadyrov is a throw-back to the heavyweight media-active governors of the Yeltsin and early Putin eras, before Putin had centralized power.[7]

Yevgeny Minchenko, head of the Minchenko Consulting research center concurred:

"Regardless of the extent of intrigue surrounding [Kadyrov's statement], and there was a great deal, the main point is that Kadyrov displayed his exclusive position. and also the fact that his political weight is higher than any of the regions' leaders, with the possible exception of Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin"[8]

Some of the reactions to Kadyrov's hint at resignation appear to buttress this view. Reacting to Kadyrov's initial statement Senator Vladimir Dzhabarov, First Deputy Head of the Federation Council's International Affairs Committee and formerly a Federal Security Service general claimed that Kadyrov’s resignation would be a loss for Chechnya and Russia.

Dzhabarov described Kadyrov "as one of the most outstanding modern leaders." He emphasized that Chechnya under Kadyrov’s leadership had become one of Russia's most stable regions, and had more than pulled its weight during the fighting in Ukraine. The senator stated that the Chechen leader enjoys well-deserved enormous prestige amongst his neighbors. “I believe that he is too young to leave [office]... He has an ironclad authority, everyone respects him. It would be a great loss if he were to leave, for the Chechen people and for Russia as a whole." [9]

Vladimir Dzhabarov (Source:

Speculations on Kadyrov's next job were equally flattering to Kadyrov. The pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergey Markov suggested that the Russian Imperial title of governor-general would be appropriate for Kadyrov. Kadyrov would be in charge of Ukraine's "liberated" regions following their annexation to Russia. In other words, Kadyrov could be counted on to stamp out anti-Russian resistance as he had done in Chechnya." I would grant him an office of Governor-General of all the liberated lands of the former Ukraine with unlimited powers. And in a year, everything would be fine there.” 

Sergey Markov (Source:

Markov's opinion was shared  by Dmitry Zhuravlev, a former official in the Russian presidential administration and currently General Director at the Institute of Regional Problem. Kadyrov's services were needed in areas more unsettled than Chechnya such as Kherson.[10]

Yevgeny Minchenko speculated on two alternative landing spots for Kadyrov. He could be made deputy head of the National Guard, a body that had disappointed Putin in the Ukraine. Alternatively, he could be made special representative for relations with Islamic countries, a post that would be attractive to Kadyrov.

Another possibility broached by Minchenko is that Kadyrov was not intent on a new job but on tangible recognition of his growing authority. "The most important thing to understand is that during the course of the special operation [in Ukraine], Kadyrov's authority has grown greatly outside of Chechnya." Kadyrov has become a rallying point for those demanding more extreme measures against Ukraine and those who support extensive "Forward to Kyiv!" war aims. Minchenko would not be surprised if Kadyrov ended up on the federal part of the "United Russia" list in the next elections to the State Duma,[11]  

Alexei Malashenko, a researcher at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations and the author of a book on Kadyrov believes that Kadyrov can get away with brinksmanship including on Islamic issues, because he knows that the Kremlin needs him Chechnya. "They want stability in Chechnya. Kadyrov copes with this task very well."[12]


[1], September 3, 2022.

[2], September 6, 2022.

[3], September 7, 2022.

[4], September 6, 2022.

[5], September 6, 2022.

[6], September 6, 2022.

[7], September 6, 2022.

[8], September 6, 2022.

[9], September 3, 2022.

[10], September 4, 2022.

[11], September 5, 2022.

[12], September 5, 2022.

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