Chechen leader Kadyrov in hospital with suspected coronavirus - GulfToday

Chechen leader Kadyrov in hospital with suspected coronavirus


Ramzan Kadyrov attends the plenary session at the United Russia Party's 18th convention in Moscow. File /AFP

Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov was on Thursday in hospital in Moscow suffering from suspected coronavirus, Russian news agencies reported.

"Ramzan Kadyrov was taken by plane to Moscow with a suspected case of coronavirus. Now (he) is under medical supervision," state news agency TASS reported, citing a medical source who also said Kadyrov was in a "stable" condition.

News agency RIA Novosti also quoted a medical source as saying Kadyrov, 43, was in hospital in Moscow, while Interfax quoted a Moscow medical source saying he was being treated and "suspected of having coronavirus."

If confirmed, Kadyrov would be the latest senior official to contract the virus after Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and several ministers.

There was no immediate comment from officials in Chechnya or Moscow.

RIA Novosti quoted an aide to Kadyrov, Grozny television chief Akhmed Dudayev, as saying the Chechen leader "is in personal control of the work of the coronavirus headquarters," without commenting on reports of his hospitalisation.

A crucial ally of President Vladimir Putin, Kadyrov took power in Chechnya after his father Akhmat Kadyrov was killed in a 2004 bomb attack.

Both father and son had fought against Moscow during the first bloody separatist conflict in Chechnya from 1994-96 but switched sides to support the Kremlin when it launched a second war there in 1999 under the watch of then prime minister Putin.

Kadyrov calls himself a "foot soldier" but is widely thought to enjoy carte blanche from Moscow, which turns a blind eye to heavy-handed tactics in his North Caucasus fiefdom in exchange for loyalty.

He has taken a characteristically high-handed approach to the coronavirus, calling doctors who complained of a lack of protective equipment "provocateurs" who should be fired.

He also likened Chechens who do not self-isolate and infect others to "terrorists" who should be buried in pits.

Russia has recorded a total of 317,554 coronavirus infections, the second-highest in the world after the United States, with 3,099 deaths nationwide.

Despite the high number of infections, officials say the situation is stabilising and the mortality rate is low, and have begun easing lockdown measures in many parts of the country.

Agence France-Presse

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