Fourth-grade students in a city in the Moscow region were given New Year’s gifts by a Chechen military special forces division, as a show of gratitude for their support for the unit.
Apti Alaudinov, the commander of the Akhmat special forces, announced that gifts were given to children at a school in Kolomna, a city around 100 kilometres southeast of Moscow, in a post on his Telegram channel on 3 January.
The ‘Akhmat’ special rapid response detachment is a unit within the Russian National Guard, run from and operating within Chechnya, and currently fighting in Ukraine. The unit is named after the first president of Chechnya, Akhmat Kadyrov, and according to Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, has over 30,000 soldiers in Ukraine.
Alaudinov wrote that children at the school had ‘for a long time’ made trench candles and camouflage nets, written letters, and sent soft toys to the Akhmat soldiers fighting in Ukraine.
‘We organised gifts for them for the New Year because we are convinced that such behaviour must be encouraged and shown that their work is not in vain and is very important’, wrote Alaudinov, below photographs of the children standing in front of the flag and holding their gifts.
Students were given mugs with a portrait of Akhmat Kadyrov and the slogan ‘Akhmat is power! For assistance to the front and contribution to victory!’, a Russian flag with ‘Akhmat’ and a declaration of ‘sincere gratitude’ written on it, and products produced by the Danone company, whose Russian subsidiary is headed by Yakub Zakriyev, Ramzan Kadyrov’s nephew who also serves as the republic’s Agriculture Minister.
Alaudinov is reported to have been involved in the torture of Ruslan Kutayev, a Chechen human rights activist, the execution of dozens of detainees in the republic, and beating the relatives of detained young people. In 2014, Alaudinov was added to the US’s Magnitsky sanctions list of individuals involved in human rights abuses or significant corruption.
Members of the Akhmat unit have also been accused of torturing activists within Chechnya.