CHECHNYA

Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov laments about burden of Instagram

The 36-year-old has become the unlikeliest internet star since opening an account on the photo-sharing site, uploading several photos a day

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 March, 2013, 3:43am
 

Chechnya's leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has a difficult life. Not only is he the ruler of an impoverished country only now rebuilding itself after years of bitter civil war but he is also regularly forced to fend off accusations of rampant human rights abuses and runaway corruption.

This weekend, however, Kadyrov admitted that he is also struggling with an additional burden: Instagramming.

The 36-year-old has become the unlikeliest internet star since opening an account on the photo-sharing site, uploading several photos a day.

In the past week alone, he has shaken hands with a white tiger, dined several times with his many wives and identically dressed children, and stood, arms outstretched and unsmiling, on a number of roads. On Sunday he posted a picture of himself leaning over some hens. The caption read: "I just fed a chicken!"

The cuddly oversharing appears inconsistent with Kadyrov's reputation as a ruthless dictator who suffers no political dissent.

Yet it is in keeping with the massive personality cult Kadyrov has built for himself in Chechnya, where many buildings and roads (usually named after his father and predecessor, Akhmad Kadyrov) bear his image.

"It's actually a very useful thing," Kadyrov said of Instagram during a press conference in Grozny on Monday. "I now have the opportunity to monitor public opinion in real time." He made clear that it wasn't all fun and games, however. "If, for people, Instagram is just entertainment, for me it's an additional burden," he said.

I now have the opportunity to monitor public opinion in real time

During a recent visit to Grozny by Gerard Depardieu, Kadyrov flooded his feed with pictures of the French actor and recently turned Russian citizen - here is Depardieu embracing Kadyrov, here is Depardieu looking at a model plane, here is Depardieu with a table of food.

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