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Strange Putin ally videos reignite health speculation

Recent footage of Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov has added to ongoing speculation that the health of the close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin is ailing.

Rumors have abounded for months about Kadyrov. He runs the predominantly Muslim Russian republic in the Caucasus with an iron fist and has been accused of human rights abuses by international organizations. Fiercely loyal to Putin, his troops fight with Russian forces in Ukraine.

Speculation about Kadyrov’s condition gained momentum last September when Ukrainian military intelligence spokesperson Andriy Yusov said that the Chechen leader had been sick “for a long time,” while Ukrainian publication Obozrevatel said Kadyrov had fallen into a coma and was flown to Moscow.

Newsweek has emailed the Kremlin for comment.

Kadyrov later posted an unverified video on his Telegram channel walking in an unspecified location. He wrote that those “who cannot distinguish truth from lies on the internet to take a walk in the fresh air.”

Ramzan Kadyrov and Vladimir Putin

Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov (right) speaks with Vladimir Putin at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, on August 31, 2019. Video of the Chechen leader has fueled speculation about the state of…
Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov (right) speaks with Vladimir Putin at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, on August 31, 2019. Video of the Chechen leader has fueled speculation about the state of his health. ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/Getty Images

While there has been no independent confirmation about the state of Kadyrov’s health, clips over the last few days have added to the intrigue, according to Agentstvo. The independent Russian news outlet said footage probably intended to dispel rumors about the deteriorating health of the head of Chechnya, “instead, can only strengthen them.”

One clip captioned April 1, Kadyrov can be seen walking past a construction site at the Grozny Palace of Celebrations without saying a word. Another short clip shows him giving a short greeting to people waiting for him.

Agentstvo noted his reticent demeanor during an evening meal in which everyone is clapping strongly while he just weakly taps on the table. The agency compared this footage with a similar event in 2021 when he clapped with all his might.

Video of Kadyrov receiving guests from Jordan shows him moving uneasily and while visiting the grave of an Islamic theologian, he moves with a cane, the agency said.

In February, Kadyrov missed Putin’s address to Russia’s Federal Assembly, in which top officials attend, for the second year running.

The Russian daily newspaper Kommersant reported that Kadyrov had caught a cold. However, Novaya Gazeta Europe, an independent newspaper, said that Kadyrov’s absence may have been because he was undergoing another course of treatment.

On March 27, Agentstvo analyzed videos on Kadyrov’s Telegram channel since the start of the year. These had only brief close-ups of the Chechen leader, where previously he would be shown much more frequently and for longer.

Kadyrov’s plane has been flying to Moscow regularly since February, according to flight tracking data reported by the outlet. However, the VChK-OGPU Telegram channel, which claims to have links with Russian intelligence, said these flights were no longer needed because equipment has been installed in Grozny, and now doctors travel to him.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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