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Vladimir Vasilievich Kvachkov
Kvachkov on the cover of his book Dangerous By His Faithfulness To Russia, 2006.
Kvachkov on the cover of his book Dangerous By His Faithfulness To Russia, 2006.
Born 5 August 1948(1948-08-05) (age 74)
Kraskino, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Education CSc→DSc[a] in military science
Alma mater Frunze Military Academy
Religion Russian Orthodoxy
Spouse(s) Nadezhda Kvachkova[1]

Anna Kvachkova,
Elena Kvachkova,

Alexander Kvachkov,
Kirill Kvachkov

Vladimir Vasilievich Kvachkov (Russian: Владимир Васильевич Квачков; born 5 August 1948) is an ex-colonel of Spetsnaz, and a high-ranked officer with the Russian Military Intelligence service, known as GRU (Kvachkov headed the Special Operations Division in the mid-1990s). He became widely known after he was arrested and charged with an attempted assassination of Russian politician and businessman Anatoly Chubais in 2005. After three years of imprisonment he was acquitted on 5 June 2008. Kvachkov himself did not admit, nor deny his leading role in the assassination attempt,[b] but instead he made a statement, in which he declared that he does not consider the killing attempt, a criminal action, and not even a misdemeanor. On the contrary, said Kvachkov, the elimination of Chubais is absolutely inevitable and justified, as is national upheaval and overthrowing of the present government.[c]

Early years

Kvachkov was born to a family of a military officer in the urban-type settlement of Kraskino in Khasansky district, Primorsky Krai, Russian SFSR. He spent his childhood as a military brat in the town of Ussuriysk, where his father was transferred.[2][3]

He graduated at Suvorov Military School in 1966 and the Higher Military School in Kiev in 1970.[2][3] Kvachkov started his military service as a commander of a Spetsnaz platoon stationed in Pskov. Later he served in the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany and Transbaikal Military District.[2]

In 1978 Kvachkov enrolled at the Frunze Military Academy and honourably graduated it in 1981.[2] He studied with the same group as Pavel Popovskikh, a military officer later charged and acquitted by court with the contract killing of journalist Dmitry Kholodov.[4]

Paratrooper′s badge
Col. Kvachkov’s ribbon chart:
click on the ribbon bar to see the award
Orden of Courage.png Orden of Courage.png Order redstar rib.png Ribbon 300 years to russian fleet.png
MilitaryVeteranRibbon.png 50 years saf rib.png 60 years saf rib.png 70 years saf rib.png
Jubilee Medal "200 years of the Russian Defense Ministry" Medal "For Impeccable Service," 1st Class Medal "For Impeccable Service," 2nd Class Medal "For Impeccable Service," 3rd Class
Order of Friendship (Democratic Republic of Afghanistan) Grateful People of Afghanistan Medal (Democratic Republic of Afghanistan) Medal "For Perfect Service" (Democratic Republic of Afghanistan) "Brotherhood in Arms" Medal, Gold Class (German Democratic Republic)
Medal "For Distinction in Military Training and High Combat Readiness" (German Democratic Republic) Jubilee Medal "10 Years of Tajik Armed Forces" (Tajikistan)

Military career in GRU

In 1981 Kvachkov served in Leningrad Military District. In 1983 he was transferred to Afghanistan to lead a brigade of Spetznaz GRU during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. The same year he was shell-shocked and had to undergo long medical treatment.[4]

In 1984–1986 Kvachkov served in Pskov, in 1986–1989 he was the Chief of the Staff of a brigade in the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany. In 1989 he became the commander of the 15th GRU Spetznaz brigade located in the Turkestan Military District (since 1992 in Uzbekistan). He took part in military conflicts in Azerbaijan (Nagorno-Karabakh War, 1990) and in Tajikistan (Civil war in Tajikistan, 1992).[2][4]

In the beginning of 1990s Kvachkov was a military consultant of the movie Black Shark devoted to Black Shark helicopter pilots and Spetznaz GRU. In the movie he also played a second plane role of a Spetznaz Colonel.[2][4]

In 1994–1999 Kvachkov worked in GRU. In 1997 Kvachkov and Popovskikh (at that time the Chief of Military Intelligence of the Russian Airborne Troops) organized a scientific conference Special Operations and the Need to create the Special Forces branch of the Russian Army (Специальные операции и необходимость создания сил (войск) специального назначения в Вооруженных Силах Российской Федерации). Kvachkov and Popovskikh advocated making spetznaz an arm of service of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. The reform they proposed was not accepted.[4]

Post-retirement life

In 1998 Kvachkov retired from the active military service with the rank of colonel. He started to work as a Senior research fellow with the Center for Military and Strategic Research of Russian Defense Ministry. He worked on the theory and practice of the modern guerrilla war. The same year he received the Candidate of sciences degree (equivalent to PhD) for his dissertation Development of means and methods of special intelligence in the modern warfare. He prepared a doctoral dissertation, with emphasis on special forces.[4]

Rossiyskaya Gazeta asserts that during the 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Kvachkov presented Slobodan Milošević with his plan of an "alternative war". Milošević praised the plan but decided not to escalate the conflict.[3] Rossiyskaya Gazeta also asserted that Kvachkov was the author of the plan to mine the corridor which Chechen fighters led by Shamil Basayev used to break from the siege of Grozny during the Second Chechen War. He received an order for the plan.[4]

Assassination attempt

On 17 March 2005 Russian privatization czar Anatoly Chubais, head of the state run monopoly RAO UES and a major economic reformer respectively, narrowly escaped an ambush outside Moscow, when his convoy was blasted with roadside bomb and trapped under automatic gunfire. The armored car carrying Chubais was damaged by a remotely controlled Improvised explosive device. The damaged car was able to continue moving without stopping while the second car carrying Chubais's bodyguards was shot upon. Allegedly the assassins left the scene in the green Saab car.

Police investigators traced the green Saab reported at the scene, which turned out to be Kvachkov's wife car. The prosecution insisted not to divulge details of the case.[5]

Detention and charges

Soon Kvachkov and two other former Spetznaz troopers, Alexander Naydenov and Robert Yashin were detained under suspicion of involvement into the assassination. The Meshchansky District Court of Moscow approved ten-days-arrest for Kvachkov. Investigators did not have any direct evidence proving or indicating his guilt, but indirect evidence allowed the court to issue an arrest warrant. Igor Yartykh, a lawyer, who won a case involving former paratroopers accused of the murder of Dmitry Kholodov, took Kvachkov's defense.[6] According to the version of the investigators, Vladimir Kvachkov, Naydenov and Yashin as well as Vladimir Kvachkov's son, Alexander Kvachkov and Ivan Mironov, son of former Minister for Media and Information, Boris Mironov conspired to assassinate Chubais. The version was mostly based on the words of a single witness, Igor Karvatko.[4]

On 19 March 2005 Kvachkov, a specialist in explosives, was arrested as a suspect in the Statesman assassination attempt.[d] While the first search of Kvachkov's home discovered nothing crime related, the second search found firecracker[7] in Kvachkov's dacha. Kvachkov denied his involvement and refused to help the investigation.[4] On 25 March 2005 Russian prosecutors formally charged Vladimir Kvachkov, with an assassination attempt.[8]

First trial

In the spring 2006, the court hearings started. The accused maintained that the assassination was staged by Chubais himself. In November–December 2006 Karvatko changed his testimony accusing the investigators in undue pressure and threats. He said that he was abducted by police soon after assassination attempt and tortured. He agreed to slander defendants after his kidnappers threatened to imprison his wife and showed him a forged protocol of the search in his apartment alleging there had been found illegal ammunition and narcotics. He also provided audio recordings of some of his conversations with militia officers pressuring him. But the judge refused to make an examination of this tape and to file it to the case. Right away after that Karvatko statement the jury panel was dismissed at the request of the prosecutor who stated the jury could no longer remain unbiased when they heard how Karvatko's testimony had been obtained. Only the initial of Karvatko's testimonies had been considered valid by court.[9][10] While the lawyers of the plaintiff insisted that Karvatko was pressured by the suspects and their friends, Tatiana Mironova, mother of another suspect, Ivan Mironov, publicly accused investigators in torturing Karvatko. In December 2006 the court was restarted with the new jury. As on the December 2007, jury has been dismissed twice, and the hearings continued with the third jury.[11] Pro-Kremlin liberal media pleaded for "tough sentences," to cool 'folk avengers'[11] and finally, after three years of imprisonment Kvachkov, Naydenov and Yashin were acquitted by the court on 5 June 2008.[12][13]

Information, that surfaced during Kvachkov's trial, gave grounds to suspect federal involvement in terrorist bombings in Russia, instead of Chechen Insurgency, as it was widely believed before, though in 2002 a book has been published Blowing Up Russia: Terror from Within, almost about the same.[11] This information leak only fueled Kvachkov's broad popularity among the Russian people, as well as a growing distrust to Federal Government.

After the acquittal of Kvachkov Chubais made statement telling that he has no doubts that Kvachkov was responsible for the assassination, and that it was Kvachkov, who personally tried to shoot him in March 2005.[14] On the other hand he believes that acquittal of the guilty is better than sentencing of innocent[15] Kvachkov, in retaliation, called the attack on Chubais the "first act of armed resistance in the national liberation war",[16]

After the acquittal, Kvachkov said "now I have a chance to finish what I started", meaning his doctoral thesis,[17] but some media quoted it out of context. Still he maintained that he did not participate in the assassination and that it was staged by Chubais himself to divert attention from his business problems[18]

The case returned to court again after the prosecution's appeal. The new trial started on 29 September 2008. The next court session has been postponed until 13 October because only 6 out of 500 potential jurors arrived to court on the day the jury selection was scheduled to begin.[19]

On 13 October 2008 the case was sent by court back to the prosecution after the judge received Kvachkov's case and Ivan Mironov's case as two separate cases. The judge sent both cases back to the prosecutor so that they would be merged into one case.[20]

The trial on a new merged case began on 23 November 2009.[21] On 21 August 2010 the jury has found that there is not enough evidence presented in the persecutor case and all the defendants were acquitted again.[22]

The Crossbow Coup

A crossbow, similar to one pictured here, was the only weapon, found by police investigators, while searching Kvachkov's militia. The crossbow was submitted to the criminal case materials as a main evidence of imminent crime, an armed coup d'état

On 22 December 2009, the Supreme Court rejected the prosecutor's appeal and confirmed jury verdict. The next day, Kvachkov's apartment was assaulted by FSB and he was arrested again on charges of rising an insurrection using crossbows. Such cases are processed without jury and secretly, so some media have speculated that the new sentence may not be as successful for the defendant as the first one.[23][24] Kvachkov denies the new charges and claims about the involvement of Chubais to his arrest. Chubais claimed that the new charges are very serious and that Kvachkov is insane.[25][26]

The Moscow City Court approved the arrest. Kvachkov’s lawyer Andrei Pershin said via the phone that he believed that the arrest of his client was Chubais's revenge "Considering the fact that he was already in pretrial detention, we expected this to happen,” Pershin said about the court decision to keep Kvachkov in pretrial detention for two months. He said that the defense planned to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. The charges were linked to the activities of the group of Kvachkov supposters, the People’s Front for Liberation of Russia, whose members in Tolyatti were accused of training with crossbows in a plot to overthrow the government. Thus Kvachkov faced literally decades behind bars on charges of assisting terrorists and planning an armed uprising. Terrorism-related charges also mean he cannot be tried by jury that time, which implies that now there will be a greater possibility of a guilty verdict.[27]

Political activity

2005 Duma elections

On 4 December 2005, Kvachkov, while in prison, took 30% and won the second place in the by-elections of the State Duma deputies at the North-East of Moscow.[4]

Kvachkov was adamant to entreats of his supporters to run for the Duma mandate, which would set him free, because elected representatives receive immunity from legal prosecution of any kind, whether it's criminal or civil. Kvachkov thought that it would make him looking guilty, and he continuously insisted that there was any wrongdoing in his actions, even if it was he, who stood behind the assassination masterplan, so he shouldn't look for any back-way, which could avoid him from jail term. However, a group of major nationalist groups nominated Kvachkov for the race without even asking his permission.[28]

Beginning was promising. Preliminary figures put Kvachkov's vote at 29 percent, which is quite an astonishing outcome.[29] But eventually, he lost race to Sergei Shavrin, a former Federal Security Service officer.[4] In the Preobrazhensky district in eastern Moscow, Shavrin, garnered 36.24 percent of the vote ahead of runner-up Vladimir Kvachkov with 28.91 percent.[30] Kvachkov, received every third vote in the district, despite that he was only known to the public because of his alleged involvement in Chubais' murder attempt.[31]

2006 Duma elections

On 12 March 2006, Kvachkov stood for the State Duma again, now in the Medvedkovo district of Moscow. Andrey Savelyev from the Rodina faction announced that "Rodina members canvass Kvachkov’s candidature in earnest,” However, Rodina’s leader Vladimir Rogozin refuted the statement nearly at once. Kvachkov said he had never considered the chances of taking part in elections until 8 September 2005. There was still the same reason why Kvachkov didn’t rush to elections. Taking part in them could be interpreted as indirect acknowledgment of the guilt, Kvachkov pointed out, having good grounds for the supposition. Andrey Trapeznikov, member of RAO UES board, said "Should Kvachkov agree to be nominated, it would be an illustrative indicator that he feels his guilt and tries to avoid responsibility by using deputy’s credentials,”[32]

Kvachkov was not even registered as a candidate by the regional Electoral Commission. Protesting this decision, Kvachkov's devoted sidekicks Naydenov and Yashin kept a hunger strike in their prison.[4] By the time of beginning of the elections, detention term for Kvachkov as well as for his alleged accomplices was extended until 18 December, to pitch him out from the race.[33] Another applicant for the elections, Communist Party member Yelena Lukyanova, who is a law professor at Moscow State University and the daughter of top-ranked Soviet aparatchik Anatoly Lukyanov,[34] Lukyanova withdrew from the race, even though Rodina and the Union of Right Forces had considered backing her bid. Lukyanova said that she decided to leave the race because she believed it would be unfair. "I withdrew because I cannot take part in an election where a candidate does not enjoy the same rights I do," she said, referring to Kvachkov, who was in jail, left without any options to support his own candidature.[35]

Both times, in 2005 and 2006, Moscow branch of Labour Russia and Vanguard of Red Youth helped Kvachkov with his election campaign.[36] With Kvachkov, the authorities faced an unexpected opposition, the military opposition. Military elite, if more precisely. People, who are able to unleash real terror, twice ran for the mandate, and twice were near to be elected.[37]


  • Спецназ России (Russian Spetznaz), 2004, ISBN 978-5-93165-186-6
  • Спецназ. 55 лет соединениям и частям специального назначения Вооруженных Сил Российской Федерации (Spetznaz. 55 years of Special Operations Forces of Russian Federation), 2005, ISBN 5-366-00002-5
  • Опасен Верностью России (Dangerous By His Faithfulness To Russia), 2006 ISBN 5-9265-0231-4
  • “Special Operations: Basic Types and Forms.” Military Thought. 9(5): 70.

Honours and awards

Soviet Union

Russian Federation


Kvachkov's cell mate at the Matrosskaya Tishina detention facility was former business oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.[38] According to Kvachkov Khodorkovsky is an exception among the oligarchs: "I have not found him intriguing against the state", said Kvachkov.[4]

Khodorkovsky also planned to participate in the Duma byelections for the same seat as Kvachkov.[39] His plan was based on the legal loophole: a convicted felon cannot vote or stand for a parliament, but if his case is lodged with the Court of Appeal he still has all the electoral rights. Unexpectedly it took only a couple of weeks to process Khodorkovsky's appeal, invalidating any of his electoral plans until the end of his sentence.


  • a Kvachkov′s Doctoral thesis in military science has been already written and submitted to the General Staff Academy, but due to some certain circumstances, particularly to the current imprisonment, he is not allowed to defend doctoral degree, so the degree process is temporarily suspended.
  • b As he later commented his unwillingness to either admit or deny his involvement, was motivated by the concern, that court trial could be reopened "due to newly surfaced facts", in spite of the fact that he's already acquitted, and the acquittal itself isn't immutable, and would be contested by Chubais lawyers in case if Kvachkov admits some information related to his role in the assassination attempt.
  • c His exact words were: “you can’t kill a person, but you must eliminate the enemy.”
  • d The defense insisted on changing the charge formal formula "Statesman assassination attempt" to "Assassination attempt", because latter isn't a capital offense, and de jure Chubais doesn't hold any State position and thus isn't a statesman. However, that objection was dismissed by the judge.


  1. Полковник Квачков на свободе!. (6 June 2006) (Russian)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Biography Official site of Kvachkov. Retrieved on 27 May 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Sergey Ptichkin. Досье полковника Квачкова. — Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 21 March 2005 [1]
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 Квачков, Владимир collection of materials by (Russian)
  5. "Russia: Charges In Attack On Energy Chief". 26 March 2005. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  6. Aleksandr Zheglov, Vlad Trifonov, Ivan Saf. (2005). "Pensioner Gets Ten Days for Attempted Murder of Anatoly Chubais". Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  7. Квачков молчать не будет. (30 June 2010). Retrieved on 27 May 2012.
  8. Arkady Ostrovsky (26 March 2005). "Murder case appeal planned by former Yukos security chief as life sentence is sought". Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  9. Свидетель исчезнет вслед за Чубайсом. (5 December 2006). Retrieved on 27 May 2012.
  10. Свидетель отрицания. (27 November 2006). Retrieved on 27 May 2012.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Afanasy Sborov (26 December 2007). "Ten Cases in One Year". Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  12. Присяжные вынесли оправдательный вердикт по делу Владимира Квачкова. (Russian)
  13. Three men accused of assassination attempt on Chubais acquitted. (17 March 2005). Retrieved on 27 May 2012.
  14. "Kvachkov 'Should Walk'". 16 June 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  15. Заявление Председателя правления РАО "ЕЭС России" Анатолия Чубайса на вердикт присяжных по делу Квачкова и других. (5 June 2008). Retrieved on 27 May 2012.
  16. Arkady Ostrovsky (30 December 2005). "Russian liberals fear the rising threat of nationalism". Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  17. Каспаров.Ru | Суд оправдал всех участников покушения на Чубайса. (5 June 2008). Retrieved on 27 May 2012.
  18. Kvachkov interview to Echo of Moscow (Russian)
  19. "Colonel's shoulder-straps weigh upon the jurors". Kommersant. 30 September 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2008. 
  20. "Criminal cases of assassination attempt on Chubais to be merged". Kommersant. 14 October 2008. Retrieved 17 March 2009. 
  21. "New staging of old play". Kommersant. 24 November 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2009. 
  22. "Присяжные оправдали полковника Квачкова". 21 August 2010. 
  23. Ъ-Газета – Дело о покушении на Анатолия Чубайса не удалось. (23 December 2010). Retrieved on 27 May 2012.
  24. Квачков не признает себя виновным в подготовке вооруженного мятежа | Суды | Лента новостей "РИА Новости". (23 December 2010). Retrieved on 27 May 2012.
  25. Журнал А. Б. Чубайса – Моего «друга» Квачкова опять арестовали. (24 December 2010). Retrieved on 27 May 2012.
  26. Чубайс: обвинение Квачкова в мятеже – дело нешуточное. (24 December 2010). Retrieved on 27 May 2012.
  27. Alexander Bratersky (19 January 2011). "Kvachkov in Jail for Alleged Crossbow Coup". p. 2. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  28. Nabi Abdullaev (20 September 2005). "Inmates Ready To Enter Local Election Race". pp. 1–2. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  29. Arkady Ostrovsky (5 December 2005). "Kremlin-backed United Russia party ahead in Moscow polls". Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  30. Carl Schreck (6 December 2005). "Film Director Beats Satirist in State Duma By-election". pp. 3. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  31. "Scenes from an election". Jan/Feb 2006. pp. 7. 
  32. Alexander Zheglov (9 September 2005). "Election Campaign in Matrosskaya Tishina Detention Facility". Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  33. "Man charged with attempted murder against Chubais posts cash bond to run for parliament". Society. RIA Novosti. 8 October 2005. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  34. Francesca Mereu (13 January 2006). "17 Hopefuls Line Up for a State Duma By-Election". Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  35. Francesca Mereu (24 January 2006). "Calling Race Unfair, Communist Withdraws". Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  36. Chubais Really Deserved It.; 12 March 2006; retrieved on 27 May 2012
  37. Ilia Milstein (2 March 2006). "Colonel Kvachkov′s Trench [2]". In Editor-in-Chief Alexander Pumpyansky. pp. 24. 
  38. Election Campaign in Matrosskaya Tishina Detention Facility. (9 September 2005). Retrieved on 27 May 2012.
  39. Khodorkovsky to stand for Dumas, "CNN;" 31 August 2005; accessed 15 June 2008

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