A spokesman for Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic, is denying reports that more than 1,000 people were searched or interviewed in an attempt to recover the leader’s lost mobile telephone.
Kadyrov’s press secretary called the reports “a lie,” saying on August 19 that Kadyrov has “two phones and they are both on his desktop.”
In a statement, the human rights organization Memorial said more than 1,000 people, including children, had been summoned at night and questioned until dawn over the lost phone.
Kadyrov had been attending the launch on August 16 of a new ethnographic museum on the outskirts of Germenchuk to the southeast of Grozny.
RFE/RL spoke to several officials who were present at the ceremony and appeared to confirm Memorial’s account, saying they had been frisked by Kadyrov's security detail.
The officials declined to be named or to comment further.