Vladimir Vasilievich Kvachkov was born on August 5, 1948, Kraskino, Primorsky Krai, Russian SFSR, the son of a military officer, and spent his childhood as a military brat in the town of Ussuriysk, where his father was transferred. Kvachkov graduated from Suvorov Military School in 1966 and the Higher Military School in Kiev, Ukrainian SSR in 1970. Kvachkov started his military service as a commander of a Spetsnaz platoon stationed in Pskov, and later served in the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany and Transbaikal Military District. In 1978, Kvachkov enrolled at the Frunze Military Academy and honourably graduated it in 1981. He had studied within the same group as Pavel Popovskikh, a military officer later charged and acquitted by court with the contract killing of journalist Dmitry Kholodov.
In 1981, shortly after his graduation from the military academy, Kvachkov began serving in Leningrad Military District. In 1983, he was transferred to Afghanistan to lead a brigade of Spetsnaz GRU during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, where he became shell-shocked and had to undergo medical treatment.
From 1984 to 1986, Kvachkov served in Pskov, and from 1986 to 1989 he was the Chief of the Staff of a brigade in the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany. In 1989, Kvachkov became the commander of the 15th GRU Spetsnaz brigade located in the Turkestan Military District, and took part in military conflicts in Azerbaijan during the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1990, and in Tajikistan during the civil war in 1992. Kvachkov later served as a military consultant for the movie Black Shark, devoted to Black Shark helicopter pilots and Spetznaz GRU, where he also played a role as a Spetznaz colonel in the film.
In 1997 Kvachkov and Pavel Popovskikh (at that time the Chief of Military Intelligence of the Russian Airborne Troops) organized the scientific conference Special Operations and the Need to create the Special Forces branch of the Russian Army. Kvachkov and Popovskikh advocated making Spetsnaz groups an arm of service of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. The reform they proposed was not accepted.
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, working on the theory and practice of modern guerrilla warfare. 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. In 2005, he prepared a doctoral dissertation, with emphasis on special forces.
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. 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.
On 17 March 2005, Anatoly Chubais, head of the state run monopoly RAO UES and a major privatization economic reformer, narrowly escaped an ambush outside Moscow when his convoy was blasted with roadside bombs and trapped under automatic gunfire. The armored car carrying Chubais was damaged by a remotely controlled improvised explosive device, but was able to continue moving without stopping while the second car carrying bodyguards was shot upon. Allegedly the assailants 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.
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 or indicating his guilt, but indirect evidence allowed the court to issue the warrant. Igor Yartykh, a lawyer who won a case involving former paratroopers accused of the murder of Dmitry Kholodov, took Kvachkov's defense. 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.
On 19 March 2005, Kvachkov, who was a specialist in explosives, was arrested as a suspect in the Chubais assassination attempt. While the first search of Kvachkov's home discovered nothing crime related, the second search found firecrackers in Kvachkov's dacha. Kvachkov denied his involvement and refused to help the investigation. On 25 March 2005, Russian prosecutors formally charged Kvachkov with the assassination attempt.
Court hearings began in spring 2006. 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 illegal ammunition and narcotics had been found. He 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's 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. 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 a new jury. As of December 2007, jury had been dismissed again, and hearings continued with the third jury. Pro-Kremlin liberal media pleaded for "tough sentences," to cool "folk avengers" and finally, after three years of imprisonment Kvachkov, Naydenov and Yashin were acquitted by the court on 5 June 2008. After the acquittal of Kvachkov, Chubais made statement saying 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. On the other hand, he believes that acquittal of the guilty is better than sentencing of innocent Kvachkov, in retaliation, called the attack on Chubais the "first act of armed resistance in the national liberation war", Around the same time, Kvachkov said "now I have a chance to finish what I started", meaning his doctoral thesis, 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 The case returned to court again after the prosecution's appeal. The new trial started on 29 September 2008. The next court session was 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. 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 could be merged into one case. The trial on a new merged case began on 23 November 2009. On 21 August 2010 the jury found that there was not enough evidence presented in the persecutor case and all the defendants were acquitted again.
On 22 December 2009, The Supreme Court rejected the prosecutor's appeal and confirmed the jury's verdict. The next day, Kvachkov's apartment was assaulted by FSB and he was arrested again on charges of raising 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. Chubais claimed that the new charges are very serious and that Kvachkov is insane.
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 also stated 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 supporters, 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 meant he could not be tried by jury that time, which implied that there was a greater possibility of a guilty verdict.
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.
Kvachkov was adamant to entreats of his supporters to run for the Duma mandate, which would set him free (elected representatives receive immunity from legal prosecution of any kind, whether it's criminal or civil). Kvachkov thought that it would make him look guilty. He continuously insisted that there was no wrongdoing in his actions, even if it was he who stood behind the assassination masterplan, so he shouldn't look for a way to avoid jail time. However, a group of major nationalist groups nominated Kvachkov for the race without even asking his permission.
Beginning figures were promising. Preliminary figures put Kvachkov's vote at 29 percent, quite an astonishing outcome. But eventually, he lost race to Sergei Shavrin, a former Federal Security Service officer. 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. 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.
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 a reason, however, why Kvachkov didn't rush to elections: Taking part in them could be interpreted as indirect acknowledgment of guilt, Kvachkov pointed out, having good grounds for the supposition. Andrey Trapeznikov, member of the 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"
Kvachkov was not registered as a candidate by the regional Electoral Commission. Protesting this decision, Kvachkov's devoted sidekicks Naydenov and Yashin went on hunger strike in their prison. By the beginning of the elections, detention term for Kvachkov as well as for his alleged accomplices had been extended until 18 December, to pitch him out from the race. Another applicant for the elections, Communist Party member Yelena Lukyanova, a law professor at Moscow State University and the daughter of top-ranked Soviet aparatchik Anatoly Lukyanov, 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.
Both times, in 2005 and 2006, the Moscow branch of Labour Russia and Vanguard of Red Youth helped Kvachkov with his election campaign. With Kvachkov, the authorities faced unexpected opposition from the military elite. People who were able to unleash real terror twice ran for the mandate, and twice were nearly elected.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.
Order of the Red Star
Medal "Veteran of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
Jubilee Medal "50 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
Jubilee Medal "60 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
Jubilee Medal "70 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
Medal "For Impeccable Service", 1st, 2nd and 3rd classes
Two Orders of Courage
Jubilee Medal "300 Years of the Russian Navy"
Kvachkov's cell mate at the Matrosskaya Tishina detention facility was former business oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. According to Kvachkov Khodorkovsky is an exception among the oligarchs: "I have not found him intriguing against the state", said Kvachkov.
Khodorkovsky also planned to participate in the Duma byelections for the same seat as Kvachkov. 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.