Kadyrov is a 30-year-old former rebel and son of murdered Chechen leader Akhmad Kadyrov. The Kadyrov clan split from separatist groups during the Second Chechen War and sided with Moscow.
Kadyrov carries considerable baggage with him into the Chechen presidency. He is widely believed to have illegally profited from his political and military connections, amassing wealth from corruption, extortion, kidnapping and ransoms. Human Rights Watch maintains that Kadyrov's paramilitary forces illegally detain individuals "secretly at unlawful detention facilities, and use illegal methods of interrogation, including torture and ill-treatment." HRW described some of these torture methods:
With very few exceptions, all interviewees who were detained by Kadyrov’s forces told Human Rights Watch that they had been brutally tortured. The most common methods of torture they described were the use of electric shocks and beatings through punching, kicking and the use of clubs. Victims, interviewed separately, consistently described the administration of electric shocks through a portable device with a handle for producing electricity and wires that the torturers attached to the victims’ fingers, toes, ears, or other body parts.Mark Franchetti of The Sunday Times interviewed a human rights investigator - who remained anonymous out of fear of retribution - who weighed in with his opinion of Kadyrov.
"Considering the evidence we have gathered, we have no doubt that most of the crimes which are being committed now in Chechnya are the work of Kadyrov’s men," said the unnamed investigator. "There is also no doubt in our minds that Kadyrov has personally taken part in beating and torturing people. What they are doing is pure lawlessness. To make matters worse they also go after people who are innocent, whose names were given by someone being tortured."