Ramzan Kadyrov, the ruthless leader of Chechnya, took to Instagram on Thursday to assuage growing fears of a terror threat hanging over the Sochi Olympics by announcing the death of Doku Umarov, a rebel who leads the terror attack-fueled insurgency ravaging Russia’s south.
“Journalists ask me if Doku Umarov poses a threat to the Olympics in Sochi,” Kadyrov wrote. “I said before that he is no longer alive, and now we’ve received a recording of so-called emirs, where they speak of his death, sympathize with each other and speak about the candidacy of a new emir. They won’t reach the Olympics. So all this talk about threats to the Sochi Olympics are absolutely groundless.”
Concerns over the threat of terrorism in Russia, especially in the south of the country near Sochi, which will host the Winter Olympics next month, have grown since a double terror attack killed 34 people in Volgograd earlier this month. Russia has been plagued by terror attacks, particularly in its restive North Caucasus region near Sochi, for years, though news of them rarely reaches beyond Russia.
Kadyrov last proclaimed Umarov, the head of an umbrella rebel group called the Caucasus Emirate, dead on Dec. 18. He has been declared dead many times before, and at least twice in 2005 alone.
Kavkaz Center, the rebels’ online mouthpiece, did not strictly confirm or deny Kadyrov’s words, but ran a short article on his statements with a satirical tone. It also said: “Kavkaz Center’s sources in the mujahideen groups called Kadyrov’s tale a stupid falsehood.”
Kadyrov later told Interfax, a Russian news agency: “Now we have proof that he has really been destroyed, though we haven’t found his corpse, but we’re looking for it.” An unnamed source in the Russian security services told the news agency: “We can’t confirm the destruction of Doku Umarov. We have no further information.”
In his Instagram post — Kadyrov’s social medium of choice — the Chechen leader added the hashtags #Kadyrov #Umarov #StateDuma #Terrorism and #Law.