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Chechen Strongman Takes To Instagram To Search For His Lost Cat

Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov posted on Instagram that he has "completely lost" his cat.
Ramzan Kadyrov/Screenshot by NPR
Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov posted on Instagram that he has "completely lost" his cat.

Ramzan Kadyrov, known for ruling the Russian republic of Chechnya with an iron fist and stifling dissent, has appealed to his 1.8 million Instagram followers for help finding his lost cat.

The photo shows the strongman soulfully gazing into the feline's eyes. "We have begun to seriously worry," the caption reads, according to translation from The Guardian. Here's the full caption, according to the newspaper:

"We have completely lost our cat. He looked like a little tiger cub. Visitors have always said that he is very, very similar to a tiger cub. Ten days ago, he disappeared. We all thought that he would reappear, since he is very attached to the children and loves to play with them and go out with them in the yard. But now we have begun to seriously worry. Perhaps he is with someone nearby. That person may not know how to find the owners. I am sure that no one needs someone else's cat. Therefore, we would be grateful for any information. Thanks in advance."

Kadyrov, a staunch ally of Russian President Vladmir Putin, posts prolifically on his account but rarely shows his softer side. The offerings tend toward macho feats of strength, like this video of him apparently wrestling a crocodile:

He also regularly posts videos of his workout routine, which involves considerable weight lifting and boxing:

This isn't the first time he's posed with a feline:

As NPR's Corey Flintoff reported, Kadyrov once used the account to announce he would star in a Hollywood-style action film called "Whoever Doesn't Understand Will Get It":

"Kadyrov posted a trailer for the movie in which he's shown running across a mountain valley followed by a fleet of camouflage-painted SUVs. He's draped with ammunition belts and fires a heavy machine gun into the air. Kadyrov says on Instagram that the director of the movie is, quote, 'the author of famous Hollywood films,' but he declines to say who that might be."

Here's the trailer:

Kadyrov also regularly posts images of himself praying, participating in Chechen traditions, or meeting with government officials. As The New Yorker reports, the feed "is a cross between Presidential news service and a Hollywood film studio; his posts can be bureaucratic, theatrical, or seemingly playful." The magazine adds that the feed also reinforces his political position:

"For Kadyrov, Instagram is among his primary tools for demonstrating both his hold on power inside Chechnya and his continued usefulness to Putin, his patron and benefactor, the one man upon whom his rule depends. (He frequently posts portraits of Putin, or photos of the two of them together, with messages of fealty and outsized loyalty.) It is a case of virtual power and influence becoming real: an Instagram post that becomes a political sensation inside Russia only further proves Kadyrov's immutable role in the system Putin has created."

Kadyrov and his allies have faced accusations of torture and collective punishment from rights groups. He rules Chechnya "like his own private fiefdom," according to a recent Human Rights Watch dispatch. "In practice, Kadyrov's orders are the only law in Chechnya and those who disagree with his policies face terrible repercussions if they dare go public with even the slightest criticism."

And despite more than 650 comments and 30,000 likes, there's no word yet on the fate of Kadyrov's beloved cat.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.

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