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Chechen Leader Has His Ministers On The Ropes

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov throws a hook at his sports minister, Salambek Ismailov.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov throws a hook at his sports minister, Salambek Ismailov.
According to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, there is no better place to resolve government issues than in the boxing ring.

Because he is a fervent social-media user, the public is well aware of Kadyrov’s athletic physique. He is not one to shy away from posting photo after photo of his workouts.

Perhaps that is why Kadyrov felt comfortable challenging one of his employees to a bout in the boxing ring.

After visiting the Culture and Sports Ministry on April 22, Kadyrov took to Instagram to express his dissatisfaction with the aesthetic appearance of the building, saying it was "deteriorating."

He then promised that the building would undergo a complete overhaul within the next two weeks, but not before Salambek Ismailov, the minister of physical culture and sports, received his punishment.

Wearing military cargo pants in a photo he posted to his Instagram account, Kadyrov can be seen throwing several punches at Ismailov while Russian Minister for Labor and Social Protection Maksim Topilin and Chechen Labor Minister Mohmad Akhmadov can be seen in a combo photo observing the match from the sidelines.

The next day Kadyrov updated his followers on the boxing match.

“During our dialogue -- more like sparring -- I softly and gently threw a right hook and with my left I explained to him using my fingers, or actually fists, that he needs to work with his head.”

After initially saying that he would not let Ismailov wear headgear, Kadyrov changed his mind during the match.

“After all, he has to work tomorrow,” Kadyrov said.

The Chechen leader also issued a warning directed at Labor Minister Akhmadov ahead of a meeting the two men were supposed to have the following day.

“Whether Akhmadov will be punished in the ring or not will only be clear after tomorrow’s meeting," Kadyrov wrote.

A close Kremlin ally, Kadyrov has been accused of human rights violations, including personally torturing his opponents. Although his name did not appear on the public Magnitsky list which was initially published by the U.S earlier this month, Chechnya’s Kadyrov reportedly made it onto a classified list of people subject to similar sanctions.

Earlier this year, Kadyrov also lost his temper in the middle of a heated soccer match of his hometown Terek Grozny and the visiting team, Tatarstan's Rubin Kazan. He hijacked the stadium’s public-address system to shout:

"Referee, sellout...jerk [or, more precisely, goat]."

Tired of shouting, it now appears that Kadyrov has resorted to more “physical” reprimands.

-- Deana Kjuka

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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