|Intro||Russian general and politician|
|Occupations||Politician Military leader|
|Birth||15 February 1957 (Barnaul, Barnaul Urban District, Altai Krai, Russia)|
|Education||Ryazan Airborne Command High School, M.V. Frunze Military Academy, Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia|
Vladimir Anatolyevich Shamanov (Russian: Владимир Анатольевич Шаманов, born 1957) is a retired Colonel General of the Russian Armed Forces, who was Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Airborne Troops from May 2009 to October 2016 and a former Russian politician. After his retirement in October 2016, Shamanov became head of the State Duma Defense Committee.
Vladimir Shamanov is a recipient of the Hero of the Russian Federation decoration for his service in Chechnya, but has been strongly criticized by human rights groups for alleged war crimes committed by the federal troops under his orders during the First and Second Chechen Wars. Shamanov was removed from duty in January 2000, quoting health reasons, and for a period he was a civilian politician, becoming governor of the Ulyanovsk Oblast region of Russian Federation.
As of 2007, Shamanov was a counselor to Russia's defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, and co-chairman of the U.S - Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs (USRJC) which seeks to determine the fates of U.S. personnel who remain unaccounted-for from World War II and the Cold War Era. In November 2007, his impending return to the military service was announced.
In August 2008, he commanded the Russian forces in Abkhazia during the 2008 South Ossetia war with Georgia. On August 12, 2008 he took control over 9,600 Russian servicemen in Abkhazia and led them during the fight with Georgian forces over the control over the Upper Kodori Gorge.
On 26 May 2009 Vladimir Shamanov became the new commander of the VDV, replacing Lieutenant-General Valeriy Yevtukhovich who was being discharged to the reserve. Shamanov was appointed by Dmitry Medvedev to neutralize discontent over the cuts and reorganisations as a result of the 2008 reform programme. Although Shamanov supported the programme, he cancelled all cuts and changes in the VDV and announced that the airborne troops would be reinforced.
On 4 October 2016, Shamanov retired from the Russian Armed Forces and became head of the State Duma Defense Committee.
Shamanov has an image of an "over-the-top" ruthless man among the other Russian military leaders, with certain insurgency-related sources calling him the "Butcher of Chechnya." Already during the First Chechen War, the Chechen Insurgency claimed Shamanov to be the reincarnation of Alexey Yermolov, alluding to the Russian Imperial general of the 19th century Caucasian War, who was famous in his time, for his merciless policy towards the local rebel fighters and their supporters among civilians.
As Gennady Troshev, another Russian commander in Chechnya, wrote in his book My War, Shamanov "was too hot-tempered and direct in his relations with the Chechen population" [preferring] "to choose the shortest way to victory (...) [which] resulted in numerous casualties among Russian soldiers."
Aslambek Aslakhanov, a retired MVD general who was Vladimir Putin's advisor on Chechnya, called Shamanov a "butcher" and a "one-man curse on the Chechen people": "Chechens talk about Shamanov like a plague that has descended on their heads, a disease like AIDS. He is drowning in blood. He cynically believes that all Chechens – men and women, even children – are bandits."
The director of the Moscow office of Memorial, the human rights group founded by the late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, said: "His subordinates are definitely guilty of war crimes, and I believe a serious investigation would show Shamanov’s direct guilt in war crimes as well, that he ordered them. He has a serious xenophobic streak. He’s cruel, but it comes from his sense of duty. He’s honest about it, but that doesn’t make it less frightening."
In December 1999 Shamanov was awarded his second Hero of the Russian Federation medal for actions around the village of Alkhan-Yurt earlier that month. However, Human Rights Watch (HRW) have asked the Russian government to open an investigation into his role the incident in Chechnya, which HRW has declared a "massacre." Shamanov was reported as threatening to shoot villagers who pleaded with him to halt the abuses. Later, he dismissed calls for accountability for the abuses, saying that the Russian soldiers were doing "a sacred thing". In a Novaya Gazeta interview published in June 2000, Shamanov eventually admitted there have been numerous cases of looting by the Russian military in Chechnya, but he also said he viewed his image as a "cruel general" as a compliment and that he believed the wives and children of rebel fighters to also be "bandits" who needed to be "destroyed". Nevertheless, he denied the accusations of human rights violations in the foreign media. In the 2004 The Washington Post interview, Shamanov rejected the allegations as "fairy tales" and suggested that human rights groups had planted the bodies in Alkhan-Yurt and "fabricated" a slaughter.
Shamanov's forces are also believed to have looted and pillaged and killed in the other places during the second Chechen campaign, among them at Katyr-Yurt (in 2005 the European Court of Human Rights held Russia responsible for civilian deaths during the indiscriminate bombing of Katyr-Yurt), Shami-Yurt and Gekhi-Chu.
In March 2000, Shamanov exhibited strong sympathy towards the war crimes suspect Colonel Yuri Budanov. Budanov, Shamanov trumpeted, was one of his "best commanders" and offered this challenge: "Don't put your paws on the image of a Russian soldier and officer." Later, Shamanov came to Rostov-on-the-Don to defend Budanov during trial and expressed his solidarity with him. Ultimately, Budanov was convicted for the March 2000 kidnapping and murder of the young Chechen woman Elza Kungaeva. On September 21, 2004, Shamanov, now the Ulyanovsk regional governor, backed a pardon for Budanov, sparking anger in Chechnya even among the pro-Moscow locals.
In March 2007 Shamanov met in the White House with the U.S. President George W. Bush, which was criticised by human rights groups. "This isn't someone the U.S. president should be meeting with. This is someone the president should be calling for an investigation of," HRW commented. Later, the White House explained that it was not aware of the allegations against the general before their meeting and that it is "unlikely" that Bush would have meet and pose to photo with Shamanov if he had been aware of the allegations.
In September 2010, MOD Serdyukov helped Shamanov out of a scandal when he tried to order a detachment from the VDV’s 45th Independent Reconnaissance Regiment to detain an investigator looking into the business of his son-in-law Anatoly "Glyba" Khramushin, a well-known criminal figure. Shamanov had to admit to "inappropriate behaviour" and only got a reprimand for this incident. He could easily have been dismissed.
On October 30, 2010 in Tula, general Shamanov's BMW 525 was hit by a MAZ truck. The general's driver was killed on impact, while he and two passengers (Shamanov’s assistant Colonel Oleg Chernousand and Colonel Alexey Naumets, the acting commander of the 106th Airborne Division) were seriously injured and hospitalized. Vladimir Shamanov had a brain concussion and had his arm broken. The same evening the general was visited by Vladimir Putin at the Burdenko hospital in Moscow. General Shamanov was discharged from the hospital on 27 December 2010.
Honours and awards
- Hero of the Russian Federation (Presidential Decree of 4 December 1999) - for the fighting in Dagestan in August - September 1999
- Order of Saint George, 4th class (№ 006, 2008)
- Order of Courage
- Order for Service to the Homeland in the Armed Forces of the USSR, 3rd class
- Medal "200 Years of the Ministry of Defense"
- Medal "For Distinction in Military Service" 1st and 2nd class
- Jubilee Medal "300 Years of the Russian Navy"
- Jubilee Medal "70 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
- Medals "For Impeccable Service" 3rd and 2nd classes
- Medal "In Commemoration of the 850th Anniversary of Moscow"