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Lion Tamers Are Tax Deductible (Or, Ramzan Kadyrov's Gross Income)

The entrance to Ramzan Kadyrov's mother's house
The entrance to Ramzan Kadyrov's mother's house
Who's this guy's tax preparer?!

Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov has declared his income for 2011. According to official documents, Kadyrov earned 4,105,876 rubles, or around $135,000, in 2011, compared with 4 million rubles in 2010 and 3.4 million rubles in 2008.

As in previous years, the only piece of real estate he admits to owning is a 36-square-meter flat in the capital, Grozny.

His palatial mansion in his home village of Tsentoroi, near Chechnya's second city of Gudermes, officially belongs to his mother. (If she's also living on the compound, does that mean Kadyrov still lives with his mom?)

PHOTO GALLERY: Kadyrov's Personal Displays Of Ostentation

RFE/RL correspondent Gregory Feifer visited Kadryov's compound in the summer of 2009:

Inside the complex, past a horseracing track and an artificial pond, two gold-colored lion statues guard the entrance to the residential compound. Inside, real lions prowl in cages, part of Kadyrov's extensive zoo of rare animals and birds. I can't help fixating on the rumor that the compound also houses a prison in which Kadyrov has tortured and killed with his own hands.

Kadyrov isn't ready when we arrive. So we wait in a small stone building housing his press service until we're called to his mansion next door. Passing a sleek black Mercedes by the front door -- one of Kadyrov's vast fleet of luxury cars -- we step into a massive, marble-floored palace, lined with ornate columns and luxurious silk wallpaper.

Even Kadyrov's loyal subjects know that the books are being cooked. As Ruslan from Grozny told RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service:

"I don’t know what exact salary they have, but I know that to build such houses, to buy the luxury cars which they drive, to have the gold and diamonds for their women, they need to have a huge salary. If [Kadyrov] has an income of only 4 million rubles, how can he give people all the gifts that he does?"

But Kadyrov's mansion does prove one thing, as we wrote about on our "Caucasus Report" blog last year:

From the outside, the building appears imposing and architecturally not displeasing, although stylistically it is more oriental than Chechen. Inside, it is tasteless, with marble pillars and ubiquitous gilding. In several rooms, including what appears to be the master bedroom, the wallpaper does not harmonize with the flooring. One of the several lavish bathrooms incongruously has what looks like a cheap rubber bath mat.

That is, money can't buy taste.

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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