Over the weekend, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov reportedly lost his iPhone, which he uses prolifically to soften his strongman image, particularly on Instagram.
A leading Russian human rights group has claimed local police took the matter extremely seriously, saying they interrogated more than 1,000 people throughout Saturday night in an attempt to recover the phone.
Kadyrov posted footage from the opening, attended by “thousands of people” from all over Chechnya, to Instagram, where his frequent and often bizarre postings have acquired a cult following and allowed him to play down his brutal image.
Towards the end of the evening, however, a loudspeaker informed departing guests that Kadyrov had lost his phone, according to the Memorial group, which cited local residents. None of the guests had seen it, and Kadyrov’s security services then let them go home.
Later that night, however, Kadyrov’s senior aides demanded local authorities provide the names of everyone from all over Chechnya who had attended the event and demanded they search for Kadyrov’s phone. “People were asked if they were at the event, where they were standing and if had they found a telephone or ‘another unattended item,’” the group wrote in a statement. Police did not let the majority of them go until the next morning.
Kadyrov has ruled the war-torn province of Chechnya with absolute dictatorial power since he succeeded his warlord father in 2005, during the second of two brutal separatist wars. Memorial is one of several respected human rights groups that have provided credible evidence of complicity in torture, kidnapping, and murder — including the unsolved abduction and shooting of its senior Chechnya researcher, Natalia Estemirova, in 2009. The Kremlin is happy to turn a blind eye in exchange for guarantees of security against a simmering Islamist insurgency.
Kadyrov’s spokesman denied the claims in a phone call to BuzzFeed. Speaking of the Memorial group, Alvi Karimov said: “They’re nuts. Only a crazy person could say things like that… Kadyrov’s phone is in his pocket.”