Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s North Caucasus region of Chechnya, has issued a recorded message congratulating Muslims on Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the monthlong Ramadan fasting.
The video and audio message was released on Kadyrov’s Telegram channel on May 23.
Kadyrov’s whereabouts are unknown, although Russian media reported on May 21 that he had been taken to a Moscow clinic with suspected COVID-19.
On May 23, Chechen Parliament Speaker Magomed Daudov rejected reports of Kadyrov’s illness.
“What they say is untrue,” he told Interfax. “There is nothing…. I am saying this to pacify all those concerned.”
Official Russian media have not confirmed the reports. President Vladimir Putin did not mention them on May 22 when he participated in a video conference with senior officials.
Kadyrov does not appear in the video released on May 23, but he expresses gratitude to the people of Chechnya for supporting the measures that have been imposed to halt the spread of the coronavirus. He urged everyone to follow medical advice to counter the pandemic.
Kadyrov, 43, has ruled Chechnya with an iron fist since he was installed as the region’s leader by President Vladimir Putin in 2007.
He has been widely accused in Russia and abroad of massive human rights violations, including abductions, disappearances, assassinations, torture, and extrajudicial killings.
With reporting by Interfax and AP