Chechnya’s leader has not been shy about using Instagram to exhibit his strongman bonafides. Ramzan Kadyrov has bedded with tigers
, straddled wolves,
and sparred, quite literally
, with bureaucrats.
But a photo posted on May 23 showing him cuddling up with three kittens in his Grozny palace has sparked a new battle with a top Moscow socialite.
Kadyrov announced on Twitter the next day that he and Russian TV host Tina Kandelaki had entered into an interminable debate about whose cats were cuter.
Kadyrov’s kitten, Zazulya, a name he described as "melodious and uplifting," took on Kandelaki’s cat, Brasiliya, in a battle to see whose Instragram post would reach 5,000 likes first.
Although the Russian celebrity's 255,000 followers far outnumber the Chechen leader's, Kadyrov seemed to have had more riding on the battle -- retweeting more than 50 messages in support of Zazulya and taunting Kandelaki in the process.
"Open your eyes," he implored
. "Now give this Brasiliya to someone else and get yourself a cute kitten."
Kadyrov, who said his cat was "closely following the vote," also said it would be unpatriotic
to vote for a cat named Brasiliya, Russian for Brazil.
Kadyrov’s cat was the first to reach 5,000 likes and Kandelaki, a Kremlin ally who co-owns a lucrative media production business, accepted defeat
"Of course, when you have the support of a strong man it’s much easier to win," she said.
Installed by Russian President Vladimir Putin to his post after the assassination of his father, Akhmed Kadyrov, the Chechen leader has been accused of ruling the republic with an iron fist and of committting human rights violations, including torturing opponents.
-- Glenn Kates