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Kadyrov, a Chechen critic of the Russian army’s decision to ban beards

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Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has criticized the Russian military’s recent ban on wearing beards, joining the mercenary group’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in his criticism of the military leadership.

In an interview with the RBC news site on Wednesday, Viktor Sobolev, a retired lieutenant general and member of the Russian parliament, defended bans on beards, smartphones and tablets as an “essential part of military discipline”.

“Apparently, Lieutenant General Viktor Sobolev has a lot of free time because he has nothing to do but re-read the military code of conduct,” wrote the bearded Kadyrov on Telegram, who spoke about the role of his troops in Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Kadyrov called Sobolev’s remarks an “obvious provocation”, saying that his Muslim soldiers wear beards as part of their religious duty.

Wagner boss Prigozhin, whose feud with the defense establishment became more public in the past week, called Sobolev’s comments “ridiculous” and “outdated from the 1960s.”

Kadyrov and Prigozhin, whose forces in Ukraine operate largely independently of the high command, have become more vocal in their criticism of Russia’s military leadership since Moscow’s armies suffered a series of consecutive defeats in the fall.

The two men formed a tacit alliance, increasing their criticism of each other’s senior military officers and calling for more vigorous prosecution of the war.

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