Salman Betyrovich Raduyev (or Raduev; Russian: Салма́н Бетырович Раду́ев; February 13, 1967 – December 14, 2002) was a Chechen separatist warlord considered to be one of the most radical and notorious rebel commanders of the period between 1994 and 1999. Arrested in 2000, he died in a Russian penal colony under mysterious circumstances.

Salman Raduyev
Native name
Салма́н Раду́ев
Nickname(s)Titanic,[1] Michael Jackson[2]
Born(1967-02-13)February 13, 1967
Novogroznensky, Soviet Union
DiedDecember 14, 2002(2002-12-14) (aged 35)
Solikamsk, Russia
AllegianceChRI armed forces (1992–1997)
General Dudayev's Army (1997–2000)
RankBrigadier General (1995–1997)(Reduced to private)
Unit6th Brigade (Gudermessky District)
Battles/warsFirst Chechen War (Kizlyar raid)
Second Chechen War

Early lifeEdit

Raduyev was born in 1967 into the Gordaloy teip (clan) in Novogroznensky near Gudermes in eastern Chechnya. During the early 1980s Raduyev was active in the communist youth league Komsomol of which he eventually became a leader for the whole Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.[3] After attending a high school in Gudermes, Raduyev served 1985-1987 in the Soviet Army as a construction engineer in a Strategic Rocket Forces unit stationed in the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, where he became a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.[4] After demobilization, he studied economics and worked in the Soviet construction industry.

After Chechnya declared independence, he was appointed the prefect of Gudermes in June 1992 by his father-in-law, Dzhokhar Dudayev, who was the president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.[3] He also married the daughter of Dudayev's sister.

Field commanderEdit

During the First Chechen War Raduyev became a field commander for the separatist Chechen forces. He fought in the battle of Grozny and was wounded in March 1995 during an attempt to capture him by the Russian special forces. In October 1995, he became one of the most important of the Chechen field commanders, leading the 6th Brigade based in the strategically important Gudermessky District and responsible for the Gudermessky, part of the capital Grozny and the town of Argun. On December 14, 1995, Raduyev, along with Sultan Geliskhanov, led a raid on the city of Gudermes.

On January 9, 1996, Raduyev, allegedly copying Shamil Basayev's 1995 Budyonnovsk attack in Chechnya, led a large-scale Kizlyar hostage taking raid into the neighboring Russian region of Dagestan, where his men took at least 2,000 civilians hostage. The raid, which made Raduyev world-famous, escalated into an all-out battle that ended with the complete destruction of the border village of Pervomayskoye, and led to other Chechen leaders criticizing the attack.[5] In March 1996, Raduyev was shot in the head and incorrectly reported dead;[6] Russian special forces claimed to have "killed" him in revenge for the Kizlyar attack,[3] while the other sources said he was shot in a Chechen feud. On March 7, 63 out of 101 deputies of the Parliament of Estonia sent condolences to Dudayev expressing "deep sympathy with the Chechen people" on "the loss of commander Raduyev,"[7] sparking a row with the Russian Duma. In fact, Raduyev just disappeared as he went for medical treatment abroad.


In the summer of 1996, Raduyev returned to the republic and refused the orders of Chechnya's acting president, Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, to stop carrying out terrorist operations (he claimed ordering bombings of trolleybuses in Moscow[8] and train stations in Armavir and Pyatigorsk), in light of the ceasefire and talks that would lead up to the Khasav-Yurt Accord. Raduyev even accused Yandarbiyev of treason for agreeing to a ceasefire and threatened to attack him.[9] Raduyev, his face deformed by injury and now hidden behind bushy red beard and black sunglasses, was the only field commander to announce openly that the "war without rules" with Russia would continue despite the signing of the peace agreement.

In 1997, the newly elected Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov stripped Raduyev of the rank of brigadier general to private. However, further action was blocked by a public opposition from Raduyev-led war veterans, including a prolonged rally in Grozny. This rally ended in a shootout, resulting in the deaths of both the commander of Raduyev's militia, Vakha Dzhafarov, and of the Chechen security forces chief Lechi Khultygov.[10] Meanwhile, Raduyev kept claiming responsibility for every explosion in Russia, including even official gas leaks. He claimed that Dudayev, who had died in 1996, was still alive,[9] and issuing orders to him from "a secret NATO base in Turkey" with the goal of the "liberation" of the entire North Caucasus. Raduyev's eccentric behavior, however, was not widely popular in Chechnya.[11] Many openly doubted his sanity:[12] in an interview in 1997, Maskhadov described Raduyev as "mentally ill";[13] even Basayev, who has been Raduyev's ally in the opposition against Maskhadov,[14] reportedly called him "crazy." In October 1997, Raduyev was again severely injured by a car bomb which killed three other people. Previously, he had survived at least two other assassination attempts, in April and July 1997.

In May 1998, the Chechnya's Islamic court sentenced Raduyev in absence to four years in prison for allegedly attempting to overthrow Maskhadov,[15] but made no attempt to arrest him.[16] In September 1998, Raduyev announced a "temporary moratorium" on acts of terrorism.[17] As a sign of his good gesture towards Russia, Raduyev claimed that it was he who had freed nine kidnapped Russian servicemen from their captors.[18] He also became conflicted with the Islamist circles and called for a ban of "Wahhabism" in Chechnya.[19] In January 1999, he backed the republic's parliament in its conflict with the Sharia Court.[20] His private army-style militia, some 1,000-strong and called "General Dudayev's Army",[3] was reportedly involved in several train robberies.[21]

In early 1999, Raduyev vanished from public again while undergoing a major plastic surgery operation in Germany, in effect acquiring a new face. The alleged implants of titanium earned him the nickname of "Titanic" in Russia, while in Chechnya he became popularly known as "Michael Jackson", a reference to his plastic surgery.[13] Still seriously ill and recovering from surgery, Raduyev vowed "reprisals" against Russia for the March 1999 sentencing of two Chechen women.[22] In September 1999, at the start of the Second Chechen War, Raduyev organized a rally in Grozny attended by 12,000 people where he urged residents to stay home and prepare to defend the city.[23] His militia was reported to be virtually destroyed by a series of serious setbacks during the early fighting in late 1999, and he stopped talking about planning and organizing new attacks afterward.[4]

Arrest and trialEdit

Raduyev was captured in March 2000 by the Russian special operations FSB unit Vympel in his home in Novogroznensky; During the second war Raduyev was very ill and had to go for treatment abroad, so he shaved his beard and moved to a house near the borders in preparation for the exit. One of his men, however, informed the Russian forces about his location, he was arrested without incident. Russian president Vladimir Putin said that Raduyev had confessed to trying to assassinate Eduard Shevardnadze, the president of Georgia.[24]

Raduyev was tried on 18 different charges, including terrorism, banditry, hostage-taking, organization of murders and organization of illegal armed formations.[16] He pleaded not guilty,[25] maintained he was only following orders,[26] claimed to suffer from no mental disorders whatsoever and said he hoped to be released from prison in some 10–12 years.[27] Dozens of witnesses were called to testify, but many of the alleged victims of his actions refused to participate.[16] In December 2001, he was sentenced to life in prison.[28] His appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in April 2002.


In December 2002, Raduyev died in the White Swan penal colony in Solikamsk from internal bleeding.[29] The Russian authorities said he was not beaten to death,[30] but died due to "serious and protracted diseases".[31] Raduyev's body was not returned to his family because of a newly introduced Russian law barring the release of bodies of people convicted (or accused) of terrorism.

The circumstances surrounding the death of Raduyev are not clear, and according to his family and other separatists he was murdered in prison after he refused to talk about the accusations against Akhmed Zakayev, then arrested in Denmark.[32] Kommersant daily said that "the real reason for Raduyev's death will probably never be known," while Vremya Novostei suggested that, after being forced to give all the information requested from him, he was therefore "no longer needed" by the Russian authorities and killed.[33] Amnesty International has called for a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death[34] but the request was ignored and his body not exhumed.[31]

Salman Raduyev was survived by his wife and two sons – Johar and Zelimhan, living abroad.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Chechen warlord dies in Russian jail
  2. ^ Paradise lost
  3. ^ a b c d Obituary: Salman Raduyev, The Independent, Dec 16, 2002
  4. ^ a b Salman Raduyev, “terrorist number 2,” was renowned as a “talking head” in the terrorist environment Archived 2005-04-22 at the Wayback Machine, Pravda, 16.02.2005
  5. ^ Chechen rebels survive, prolong hostage crisis, CNN, January 24, 1996
  6. ^ Chechen rebel leader killed, reports say, CNN, March 6, 1996
  7. ^ Jaanus Betlem (11 March 1996). "Riigikogu ei toeta terrorismi". Postimees. Archived from the original on 2007-06-26. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ Raduyev Resurfaces To Claim Bus Blasts, The Moscow Times, July 19, 1996
  9. ^ a b Chechen rebel back from dead to wage holy war, The Independent, Jul 19, 1996
  10. ^ A serene sky over Ichkeria Archived 2008-06-12 at the Wayback Machine, Chechen Republic Online
  11. ^ Maskhadov under attack Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, NUPI, 30.09.1998
  12. ^ Russians seize warlord for show trial on TV, The Independent, Mar 14, 2000
  13. ^ a b Paradise lost, Haaretz, 15 July 2007
  14. ^ Chechen opposition demands Maskhadov's suspension Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine NUPI, 26.10.1998
  15. ^ Chechen Islamic court sentences Raduyev Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, NUPI, 05.11.1998
  16. ^ a b c Rebel Chechen leader on trial, CNN, November 15, 2001
  17. ^ Situation in Dagestan remains tense Archived February 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, NUPI, 16.09.1998
  18. ^ War clouds Chechnya's horizon Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, NUPI, 15.10.1998
  19. ^ Raduev calls for ban on "Wahhabism." Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, NUPI, 06.01.1998
  20. ^ Field commanders back parliament against Sharia Court Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, NUPI, 08.01.1999
  21. ^ Chechen warlord captured, BBC News, 16 March 2000
  22. ^ Senior Russian interior ministry official abducted in Grozniy Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, NUPI, 08.03.1999
  23. ^ RUSSIA/CHECHNYA, Voice of America, 29-Sep-1999
  24. ^ Russia claim capture of Chechen warlord[dead link], The Independent, 13 March 2000
  25. ^ Raduyev Testifies in Court, Pleads Not Guilty, The Moscow Times, November 19, 2001
  26. ^ Raduyev Maintains He Was Only Obeying Orders Archived September 5, 2005, at the Wayback Machine, The Moscow Times, March 18, 2000
  27. ^ Captured Rebel Leader Raduyev Hopes for 10 Years, 2001/11/13
  28. ^ Raduyev Gets Life Term for Terrorism and Murder Archived February 27, 2005, at the Wayback Machine, Associated Press, December 28, 2001
  29. ^ Chechen warlord dies in jail, BBC News, 15 December 2002
  30. ^ Russia says Chechen was not beaten, BBC News, 16 December 2002
  31. ^ a b RADUYEV'S BODY NOT TO BE EXHUMED, RIA Novosti, 17/ 02/ 2005
  32. ^ Russians attempt to conceal Raduyev's murder Archived August 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Kavkaz Center, 16 December 2002
  33. ^ Russia: Relatives, Chechen Leaders Question Official Version Of Raduev's Death, RFE/RL, December 16, 2002
  34. ^ Russian Federation: Amnesty International calls for an independent investigation into Chechen fighter's death, Amnesty International, 16 December 2002

External linksEdit