The prevailing opinion among independent observers seems to be that Zelimkhan Kadyrov died of natural causes, despite inconsistent reports from Chechnya’s pro-Moscow administration. Russian news agencies reported mid-evening on May 31 that the elder son of the late Akhmad Kadyrov had been found dead earlier that day. Ziyad Sabsabi, head of the presidential staff, told Kommersant that Zelimkhan suffered a heart attack while leaving his house and fell to the ground; doctors were summoned but arrived “too late.” The press service for the Chechen government, on the other hand, said that Zelimkhan lay down for a nap after lunch and died in his sleep. But in any case, as the June 1 Kommersant noted, Zelimkhan had suffered serious internal injuries in an October 2003 automobile accident and was known to be in poor health.
Unlike his younger brother Ramzan, the 29-year-old Zelimkhan was not viewed as a heavyweight. He had a history of irresponsible behavior: For example, in June of 2003 he was arrested for drunken and disorderly behavior, including attempted rape, at a hotel in the south-Russian town of Kislovodsk (see Chechnya Weekly, June 12, 2003.)