Vladimir Shamanov

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Vladimir Anatolyevich Shamanov
Владимир Анатольевич Шаманов
2nd Governor of Ulyanovsk Oblast
In office
January 19, 2001 – November 15, 2004
Preceded by Yuriy Goryachev
Succeeded by Maria Bolshakova (acting)
Sergey Morozov
Personal details
Born February 15, 1957
Barnaul, Altai Krai, Soviet Union
Nationality Russian
Political party United Russia (2003-2004)
Spouse(s) Lyudmila Shamanova
Awards Hero of the Russian Federation medal.png Orden of Courage.png
Order for Service to the Homeland in the Armed Forces of the USSR
Various medals
Signature Vladimir Shamanov's signature
Military service
Allegiance  Soviet Union
Service/branch Russian Airborne Troops
Years of service 1978 – present
Rank Colonel General
Battles/wars Nagorno-Karabakh War
First Chechen War
Second Chechen War
2008 South Ossetia war

Vladimir Anatolyevich Shamanov (Russian: Владимир Анатольевич Шаманов, born 1957) is a Colonel General with the Russian Armed Force, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Airborne Troops since May 2009[1] and a former Russian politician.


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 has been announced.[2]

In August 2008, he commanded the Russian forces in Abkhazia during the 2008 South Ossetia war with Georgia.[3] 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.[4][5]

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.[6] 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.[7]


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."[8] 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.[9]

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."[10]

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."[11]

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."[11]

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."[12] 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".[13] 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,[14] 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".[10] 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.[15]

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[16]), Shami-Yurt and Gekhi-Chu.[11]

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."[8] 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.[17]

In March 2007 Shamanov met in the White House with the U.S. President George W. Bush, which was criticised by human rights groups.[15][18][19][20] "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.[21] 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.[22]

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.[7][23]

Car crash

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 Alexei 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.[24][25] General Shamanov was discharged from the hospital on 27 December 2010.[26]

Honours and awards


  1. Russia Promotes Officer Accused of War Crimes. Time. June 4, 2009
  2. Генерал Владимир Шаманов возвращается в Минобороны (in русский). lenta.ru. 2007-11-13. Retrieved 2007-11-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Russia's symbolic move: Vladimir Samanov to lead peace keeping troops in Abkhazia, ITAR-TASS, 12 August 2008
  4. "Persoverzicht Tsjetsjeniл - augustus 2008". bartstaes.be. Retrieved 2009-06-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "The Battle for Upper Kodori". kommersant. Retrieved 2009-06-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. http://www.silobreaker.com/general-shamanov-appointed-as-commander-of-the-russian-airborne-forces-5_2262366120428175381
  7. 7.0 7.1 Åslund A., Guriev S. and Kuchins A. (2010) Russia after the global economic crisis The Russia Balance Sheet Project. ISBN 978-0-88132-497-6
  8. 8.0 8.1 A MILITARY "SUPER-HAWK" SPEAKS OUT ON CHECHNYA., The Jamestown Foundation, November 20, 2000
  9. Interview with Ruslan Alikhadzhiev, United States Marine Corps, 1998
  10. 10.0 10.1 From Military Butcher to Political Loser: A Portrait of General Shamanov, The Jamestown Foundation, April 5, 2007
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Russia’s ‘Cruel’ Soldier Comes Home, Los Angeles Times, January 19, 2001
  12. U.S. President Must Press Russia on Chechnya Abuses: Criminal Investigation Urged on Role of Top General in Massacre, Human Rights Watch, 06/14/01
  14. Russian general admits looting in Chechnya, BBC News, 19 June 2000
  15. 15.0 15.1 Bush, Smiling With the 'Butcher of Chechnya', The Washington Post, March 30, 2007
  16. European Court Rules Against Moscow, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, March 2, 2005
  17. Russian Governor Backs Colonel's Pardon, Associated Press, September 21, 2004
  18. Bush Meets Russian Faulted For Atrocities, The Washington Post, March 29, 2007
  19. Bush Visit Prompts an Outcry, The Moscow Times, 30 March 2007
  20. Russian Visitor an Embarrassment to Bush, Kommersant, Apr. 02, 2007
  21. Bush’s meeting with ‘Chechens’ killer’ causes concern, Daily Times, March 30, 2007
  22. HRW: Bush visitor responsible for rights abuses in Chechnya, The Jerusalem Post, Mar 29, 2007
  23. http://russiandefpolicy.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/shamanov-sides-with-serdyukov/
  24. http://russiandefpolicy.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/shamanov-update/
  25. Putin visits Airborne Troops Commander Shamanov in hospital
  26. http://russiandefpolicy.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/shamanov-leaves-hospital/