The mystery surrounding Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s deteriorating health took another unexpected turn this weekend, with two videos released by the man known as Vladimir Putin’s “attack dog” just days after he was said to be in critical condition.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian military intelligence reportedly said this on Friday Observer that Kadyrov “is in a serious condition” following reports that the 46-year-old strongman had fallen into a coma last week. “The information is confirmed by various sources from medical and political circles,” the spokeswoman said. “He’s been sick for a long time and we’re talking about systemic health issues.”
But just two days later, two clips were uploaded to the Chechen leader’s Telegram channel showing Kadyrov alive and well. (The Daily Beast could not independently verify when the videos, which were taken at an undisclosed location, were filmed.)
In the first video, Kadyrov can be seen putting on a trench coat for a walk and smiling at the camera from an unknown location. In the second clip, the Chechen leader advises his viewers to stay active and do sports.
The second video post is accompanied by a caption that reads: “I strongly suggest that anyone who can’t tell the truth from the lies on the internet should go for a walk, get some fresh air, and get their thoughts in order. Rain can be wonderfully encouraging.”
Friday’s remarks sparked a wave of speculation about whether Kadyrov had already died by the time the videos were released on Sunday. The Chechen leader has often dismissed reports of his health problems dating back to earlier this year.
Kadyrov – long known as a staunch Kremlin loyalist and a key ally of Vladimir Putin – played a prominent role in the war in Ukraine, sending Chechen soldiers to fight alongside Russian troops on the front lines of the invasion. His alliance with Vladimir Putin is also seen by many experts as key to controlling the Russian president in Chechnya, a republic within the Russian Federation.
“Prolonged concerns about the health of the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, in the Russian information space underscore Russian President Vladimir Putin’s dependence on Kadyrov for continued stability in Chechnya,” the Russian War Institute said on Sunday. “Destabilizing Kadyrov’s government in Chechnya would be a major blow to Putin’s regime…Kadyrov and other Russian officials may be concerned that continued rumors about his health will affect the long-term stability of his, and by extension Putin’s, control over Chechnya. “
Moscow seems to be taking a silent approach to this mystery. When asked about Kadyrov’s news on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied curtly: “We have no information about that.”