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Over the past few days, the media, politicians, anonymous sources and telegram channels have been discussing the health status of the permanent head of Chechnya and President Putin’s “loyal foot soldier,” Ramzan Kadyrov. There are different assumptions: some say that Kadyrov is in the hospital, others even say that he is in a coma, and his press service publishes undated videos of walks in the park.
Why did these rumors start?
Speculations and rumors about the health of the head of Chechnya did not appear yesterday. His condition has been discussed over the past few years. For example, years ago, Novaya Gazeta sources spoke about “a serious disease that is difficult to treat, and in 30% of cases ends in death.”
This was not noticeable visually: Ramzan Kadyrov continued to appear in public, posting photos and videos. Sometimes, however, he would rapidly gain weight and then just as rapidly lose it, but this fact in itself does not mean that he has serious health problems.
But since the end of last year, Chechen telegram channels (as noted by journalist Elena Milashina, who is well acquainted with the situation in Chechnya, these channels are closely related to each other and are administered by the same people) began to spread rumors that the situation could be critical.
In recent months, Ukrainian and Russian bloggers, as well as Ukrainian intelligence, have joined the discussion.
A new round of this discussion began with a post from the Chechen telegram channel NIYSO – the authors wrote that Kadyrov allegedly fell into a coma. On the same day, the Ukrainian publication Obozrevatel published a note citing sources “in the Chechen diaspora.” This is usually how they write about Chechens living in Europe. But the absolute majority in the diaspora does not have access to this kind of information and cannot state this with full confidence.
And here the voices of the “sources” were joined by the representative of the main intelligence department of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, Andrei Yusov, who said that, according to his data, the head of Chechnya is “in serious condition.”
What is a “serious condition”?
The well-known Chechen opposition blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov, who lives abroad, assured that Ramzan Kadyrov may have kidney problems, which is why the leader of Chechnya is on dialysis, which “does not help.”
“It is possible that these are his last days,” Abdurakhmanov wrote on July 1.
In response, Ramzan Kadyrov and his cousin, State Duma deputy Adam Delimkhanov, recorded a video message. The entry, which was published on July 2, was clearly intended as a way to laugh at the rumors, since Delimkhanov was also declared “dead” for some time.
Kadyrov in the video comments on “various gossip” and says: “We live, we live slowly, we chew bread, if anything. Interesting life. And life in general is interesting when it is short. Therefore, we still don’t want to live long. We will live briefly, but with dignity.”
Anesthesiologist from Israel Mikhail Fremderman drew attention to what Kadyrov’s right hand looks like in this video.
“I looked at these footage in repetition and enlargement – Kadyrov’s entire right hand was punctured, there was a large subcutaneous hematoma. This means he is regularly given IV drips. Usually they are placed in the brush when other places are also punctured. These are precisely traces from an IV, and not from injections (for example, drugs) – the veins do not look like that from short injections. At the very least, we can conclude that Kadyrov is on very serious long-term intravenous therapy. This is not a diagnosis, but evidence that Kadyrov may be extremely unwell,” he told the BBC.
Adam Delimkhanov would later add that Kadyrov is “full of health and energy, actively involved in sports.”
The most popular version among those who discuss these rumors is a kidney problem. True, there were suggestions that heart problems could also arise. Former editor-in-chief of the closed radio station “Echo of Moscow” Alexey Venediktov (declared a foreign agent in Russia) claims that Kadyrov is now in one of the Moscow hospitals.
“Typical severe renal failure. Therefore, frequent hemodialysis is necessary. Which, apparently, is what is happening at the Central Clinical Hospital (Central Clinical Hospital of the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation),” writes Venediktov.
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What do we really know?
This year, Kadyrov has already officially gone on vacation three times: in January, in April (during Ramadan) and in July. The end date of the vacation was not specified.
On February 21, Ramzan Kadyrov did not appear at Vladimir Putin’s federal address in Moscow, which surprised journalists. And on March 3, Putin suddenly “unofficially” met with Kadyrov’s son, then 17-year-old Akhmat, and congratulated him on his upcoming marriage – Akhmat Kadyrov got married the day after his meeting with the president.
Bloggers then began to suspect that this meeting was filled with special symbolism: it was very reminiscent of 2004, when Ramzan Kadyrov came to the Kremlin after his father was killed. From this meeting, Kadyrov’s era as a politician began.
The children of Ramzan Kadyrov (and especially the eldest, Akhmat) have actually begun to appear more often in official communications lately, but hardly anyone seriously believes that the teenager will seriously lay claim to the role of head of the republic “if something happens.”
What exactly is happening to Kadyrov? Last year, a BBC interlocutor who maintains contact with a representative of the Chechen government (the security issue makes it impossible to clarify the competence of this person) confirmed that Kadyrov does have a serious illness.
Russian journalist Elena Milashina, of all independent journalists who has perhaps the most reliable information, with reference to her sources wrote: “This disease is life-threatening because it can lead to failure of other organs, primarily the kidneys and lungs (hence severe shortness of breath ). This disease is accompanied by excruciating pain attacks, due to which a person cannot sleep. Even strong painkillers, which are usually prescribed to terminal cancer patients, do not help.”
On September 17, a video appeared online showing Ramzan Kadyrov walking in the park.
“I strongly advise everyone who cannot distinguish truth from lies on the Internet to take a walk in the fresh air and put their thoughts in order. The rain is wonderfully invigorating,” says the caption to the video. True, in the video itself, Kadyrov does not respond in any way to rumors about his health, but says something abstract about walking a few kilometers, the benefits of sports and listening to the Koran.
The rainy weather in the video corresponds to the forecast in Grozny – about 16 degrees and precipitation. The Agency publication (declared a “foreign agent” in Russia) suggested that the recording shows a building similar to the residence of the head of Chechnya in Grozny.
The publication analyzed the latest publications and found that the last video related to current events appeared on September 1. After this, other videos were published, but it was impossible to tell when they were taken.