Said-Magomed Kakiyev

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Said-Magomed Shamaevich Kakiyev (Russian: Саид-Магомед Шамаевич Какиев, also spelled Kakiev; born 22 February 1970) is the leader of the GRU Spetsnaz Special Battalion West (Zapad), a pro-Moscow Chechen military force. Inside Chechnya his men are sometimes referred to as the Kakievtsy. Unlike the other Chechen pro-Moscow forces in Chechnya, Kakiyev and his men are not former rebels and during the First Chechen War were one of the few Chechen militants who fought on the Russian side.

Kakiyev has been declared a Hero of the Russian Federation four times, has twice received the Medal for Courage and was awarded two specially engraved guns from the Russian Ministry of Defense.[1] He is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Russian Army.[2]

He has been engaged in violent power struggles for overall military authority with the president of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov and Sulim Yamadayev.

Early years[edit]

Said-Magomed finished Grozny vocational school in 1989 and went to serve in the army. He was assigned to Nagorny Karabakh where he witnessed at first hand the devastating aftermath of the Soviet Union collapse. In the war, he acquired the rank of Major.[1][3]

He came home to a Chechnya in turmoil. Dzhokhar Dudayev had started a rebellion against Soviet, later Russian rule, but the Northern part of Chechnya where Kakiyev hailed from was not so enthusiastic about the secession.[citation needed] After allegedly witnessing atrocities, Kakiyev joined the opposition against Dudaev. In 1993 he was seriously hurt when a hand grenade meant for Dudayev exploded in his own hands.[1][2] He lost a hand, an eye and his nose and had to have his face reconstructed beyond recognition, at a hospital in Moscow's Arbat Street.[1][2] After the operation, Said-Magomed briefly studied at Alma Ata University and returned to Russia to take a tax police training course.

Later years[edit]

In 1994-1995, Said-Magomed returned to Chechnya to fight on the federal side in the First Chechen War. The most formative event in his life was the Dagestanskaya Street massacre on August 6, 1996, when 30 opposition fighters and militia officers defending the city mayor's office were shot and killed despite promises of free passage through the city. Kakiyev, who was the commander of the OMON unit, managed to escape. Kakiyev has consistently blamed Doku Umarov and Ruslan Gelayev for the Dagestanskaya massacre.

At the end of 1996, Aslan Maskhadov declared him an outlaw and put a price on his head: whoever killed him would receive the title of Hero of Ichkeria.[1] Kakiyev had to take his relatives into hiding and live in Moscow for almost three years.

When in September 1999, the Russian army entered Chechnya after the Chechen incursion in Dagestan and the Moscow apartment block bombings, Said was able to return to Northern Chechnya. With some of his fellow anti-Maskhadov rebels, he formed an armed detachment and entered Grozny. Kakiyev claimed his unit was the first to hoist the Russian flag in Grozny. During the battle of Komsomolskoye, forces commanded by Kakiyev managed to surround forces commanded by Ruslan Gelayev; Kakiyev was also involved in hunting down Gelayev during the winter of 2003-2004. [1]

Present[edit]

Kakiyev, who became a devout Sufi Muslim after his two escapes from death, is believed to be one of the more effective and disciplined of Grozny's commanders, and resents any suggestion of subordination to Ramzan Kadyrov or Sulim Yamadayev, themselves both powerful commanders loyal to Grozny. In recent interviews, he went so far as to put the Kremlin policy of amnesty for all defecting rebels into question.[1][3]

Though he has increased his power base with support from people who are tired of both the war and corruption, his unit "Zapad", unlike other pro-Moscow factions, still does not include defectors.

From at least June [4] until September 2008, including the 2008 South Ossetia war, Kakiyev's Zapad troops were present in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

References[edit]

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