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Chechen Leader Says He's Healthy But Doesn't Deny Hospital Stay For COVID-19

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov chair a meeting in Grozny on May 26
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov chair a meeting in Grozny on May 26

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov says he is feeling well, in an apparent attempt to dispel media reports about his hospitalization with COVID-19.

"I'm an absolutely healthy person," the Chechen leader said in an interview on May 27 streamed live on Instagram with his aide Akhmed Dudayev.

In an apparent reference to media reports that pointed to a catheter visible in his right arm during a televised meeting in Grozny on May 26, he argued that there was nothing special about it but didn't deny having been in the hospital.

“Even if I fell ill, millions of people in the world were infected with the coronavirus, tens of thousands have died, and am I not a human?” he said. “Don't I have the right to fall ill? Don't I have the right to have a catheter to boost my immunity, my hemoglobin level?”

During the interview, Kadyrov stretched his arms out and turned his palms up and down when he was asked about rumored evidence that he has received treatment.

Russian news agencies said last week that Kadyrov, 43, was flown to Moscow and hospitalized due to suspicions of a coronavirus infection. On May 23, Chechen parliament speaker Magomed Daudov rejected the reports.

Kadyrov has run predominantly Muslim Chechnya with an iron fist since 2007. He is a loyal ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has been accused of wide-ranging rights violations in the North Caucasus region.

He was absent over the weekend during the end of Ramadan but issued a recorded message congratulating Muslims on Eid al-Fitr.

Kadyrov did not appear in that video but he expressed gratitude to the people of Chechnya for supporting measures imposed to halt the spread of the coronavirus. He urged everyone to follow medical advice to counter the pandemic.

Kadyrov has sought to project an air of authority amid the coronavirus pandemic. As of one week ago, Chechnya had officially reported 1,046 confirmed cases, and 11 fatalities from the disease.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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