November 4, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10300

Russian Columnist Accuses Chechnya Head Kadyrov Of Mixing Personal Ambition With His Criticism Of Russia's Top Brass

November 4, 2022
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 10300

Following the fall of the strategic city of Liman to the Ukrainian forces on October 1, 2022, the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, and the owner of the Wagner Private Military Company Yevgeny Prigozhin called for the head Colonel General Alexander Lapin the head of Russia's Central Military District and accused the general staff of covering up Lapin's failures.[1] Kadyrov's Chechen fighters and Prigozhin's Wagner forces have played an outsize role in the fighting in Ukraine, and this has enhanced their influence. Moreover, they have formed a mutual admiration society where each endorses the views of the other.

Prigozhin (l) with Kadyrov (Source:

When Prigozhin renewed his attack on certain generals at the ministry of defense, Kadyrov promptly backed him: "Dear BROTHER [upper case, original] Prigozhin is a born warrior, his [Wagner] fighters are true professionals and patriots of Russia, fearless, stubborn, courageous. These are really valuable combat units. Therefore, it is necessary to pay close attention to the assessment of just such people, to listen, to draw conclusions. They already know for sure what is right and wrong in war."[2]

Kadyrov pressed his attack on Lapin repeating his earlier charges that in the crucial moments Lapin was nowhere to be seen:

"I want to talk to him [Lapin] about the enemy's recent breakthrough in the area of ​​​​the defense line of the settlements of Terny, Torskoye and Yampolovka, where 5 [Ukrainian] armored personnel carriers and 50 neo-Nazis [Kadyrov's appellation for Ukrainian troops] crossed without a fight and where Lapin was responsible." [3]

Shortly afterwards, it was announced that Lapin was sacked and replaced by Andrey Mordvichev. Ramzan Kadyrov has had good relations with Lapin's successor. In March during the battle for Mariupol in Kherson province Kadyrov paid a surprise visit to the area and met with Mordvichev and heard about "the significant successes of the fighters". Kadyrov posted a video showing him and Mordvichev hugging each other and Mordvichev praising Kadyrov's Chechen units.[4]

When Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu appointed Sergei Surovikin as the supreme Russian commander in Ukraine. Kadyrov and Prigozhin rushed in to announce their approval of Surovikin because he departed from the mold of the generals whom they criticized.

Kadyrov lauded Sergei Surovikin as "a real general and warrior, an experienced, strong-willed and far-sighted commander...I welcome and am pleased with this appointment." According to Mr. Kadyrov the troops are now in "safe hands." Kadyrov added "Well, of course, we will help him in solving the tasks set."

 Prigozhin, for his part, called Mr. Surovikin "a legendary person"and "the most competent commander in the Russian army." Prigozhin noted that Surovikin's numerous predecessors had not transferred the situation in optimal fashion, but he recalled Surovikin's participation in the abortive coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991 "Surovikin is the officer who, without hesitation, having received an order, got into a tank and rushed to save his country." He, Prigozhin, was then one of the deluded liberals who opposed the coup, but now rued his previous stance.[5]

Prigozhin and Kadyrov's intervention in military matters has encountered pushback. Retired General Vladimir Boldyrev claimed that the accusations by the two could have unpleasant consequences and interfere with the fulfillment of a common task. "These statements, both by Kadyrov and Prigozhin, are completely useless in this situation. They bring only harm, interfere with concentration...and lead to discord. It's untimely. In a war, as in a war, there are successes, there are failures, mistakes, but to take it to the public plane, especially in difficult moments to start such a showdown, is wrong." [6]

Aleksander Khodakovsky, a former commander of an elite unit of Ukraine's security service (SBU), who defected after the pro-Western demonstrations toppled the pro-Russian government in Kyiv and became a leader of the separatists in Donetsk also criticized Kadyrov's attacks on Lapin. Khodakovsky, who now commands the Vostok battalion claimed that a talented commander may fail, while another, to the contrary, may be lucky.

In any case, depicting senior commanders as "incompetent mediocrities" would not further motivate anyone.[7]

Aleksander Khodakovsky (Source:

Prigozhin however pursued his line of attack: "Those fighters who act effectively today have experienced dozens of wars. And many of those who are the so-called high-ranking officers, have not learned anything except how to click their heels, wear bling medals and write beautiful reports, although among them there are extremely worthy people, such as Surovikin, and not only him." [8]

Moskovskiy Komsomolets columnist Dmitry Popov, a strong supporter of the war waded into the controversy and claimed that Kadyrov (and Prigozhin as well) had gone too far and had allowed personal ambitions and grievances to taint his legitimate criticism. The open controversy was dangerous in wartime and would contribute to demoralization. Popov wrote:

"Ramzan Kadyrov did what others try to avoid: he made public the exact number of losses in a particular battle. In the Kherson Oblast 23 Chechen fighters were killed and 58 were wounded. So, one can understand his harshness with respect to particular generals.

"This is not the first time that Kadyrov has accused a specific general of a series of failures, and the system as a whole for the lack of [sound] personnel-policy conclusions. He’s not alone in his opinion.

"'Here’s Yevgeny Prigozhin’s words, 'Many of the so-called "professional soldiers" haven't learned anything except how to click their heels, wear bling [on their uniform], and write beautiful reports. And I couldn’t agree more with Ramzan Akhmatovich [Kadyrov] on that.

"'We must work on our mistakes, including tactical and personnel mistakes. Let the ploughmen [in this context the hard-working generals] continue to work for victory and the minimization of casualties, while the deadbeats – Ramzan Akhmatovich knows whom I am referring to – must get out immediately'”

"The two men who personify the hard line [in Russian power circles] and, who, obviously, have the ear of men at 'the very top' are essentially saying the same thing. But Kadyrov, who is pained by voicing his losses (and he can't help it, as the Chechens won't understand silence), is overdoing the hard line.

"Because personal ambitions and grievances have been densely intermixed with the criticism, to the pointing out of mistakes (which Kadyrov has an undoubted right to). It’s like as if he’s saying, 'they won’t talk to me, I can’t get in touch with them, they don’t do what I believe is necessary.' Is it worth making all this public?

"Therefore, one can agree with the words of [Aleksander] Kombat Khodakovsky, whose authority no one doubts, 'When we turn to discrediting someone personally, f someone, who makes decisions and behind whom stand important people, it means we are overdoing things... Framing the senior general staff as incompetent mediocrities, certainly, doesn’t add motivation to anyone, especially, in the mobilization process.'

"'Even a talented commander can step on the "rake of failure," while an untalented one can be fortunate. So, how then can competence be defined? Therefore, whatever were the reasons that prompted the person, who took the liberty of making a judgment, he should’ve followed the instructions of the “cookbook” clearly.'

"The fact that excuse me, a "showdown" rather than merely constructive criticism, occurred in a public space is a rather disturbing fact, which suggests that the system lacks the speed of reaction to identified errors. This is what needs to be corrected, after all these are no longer peaceful times, and a hardline policy that is being bent too far won’t break, but will spring back and strike [the advocate of such a policy] painfully.[9]


[2], October 27, 2022.

[3], October 27. 2022.

[4], October 30

[5], October 9, 2022.

[6], October 5, 2022.

[7], October 28, 2022.

[8], October 30, 2022.

[9], October 30, 2022.

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