Russian media is reporting that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has been taken to hospital with suspected coronavirus.
He was flown to Moscow on Wednesday for treatment after developing flu-like symptoms. A source told the Ria Novosti agency,
“He’s in hospital in Moscow.”
The anti-gay authoritarian leader, who previously fought against Moscow, is now an ally of Putin’s.
His condition is unknown, although initial reports suggested his doctor had recommended he travel to the Russian capital.
A close ally of the Chechen leader, Grozny TV chief Akhmed Dudayev, was quoted by Tass news agency as saying Kadyrov,
“is personally in control of the situation, he is taking all necessary measures. The work of his headquarters is under his personal control”.
In an interview with local state-run media on March 23, Kadyrov said people who fail to self-quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 should be killed,
“The person who creates himself and created this problem, if you ask me, should be killed. Not only he gets sick, [but also infects] his family, his sisters, brothers, neighbors.
“People are losing sleep because a disease appeared in China … they are afraid they’ll get it and they’ll die. Don’t be in a rush, you’ll die anyway…”
Kadyrov has denied allegations about his anti-gay purges, claiming there are no LGBT people in Chechnya.
“This is nonsense. We don’t have those kinds of people here. We don’t have any gays.
If there are any, take them to Canada. Praise be to god. Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.”
On Thursday Russia’s reported death toll rose by 127 in the previous 24 hours to 3,099, with confirmed cases jumping to 317,554. It is the second highest number of recorded infections worldwide.
According to Chechen data, 1,026 people have been diagnosed in the republic and 11 have died.
Early on, Russia had been reporting a bafflingly low number of cases, which has left many critics openly speculating about under-reporting or a cover-up.