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Ramzan Kadyrov is the leader of Chechnya. He is a Putin proxy that has been in charge of the Russian republic since 2007. Recent reports have alleged that Kadyrov is systematically identifying and persecuting homosexual Chechen citizens. Many have fled the country in fear and have given interviews detailing his plans to kidnap, torture, and kill gay people. Despite the dark revelations, Kadyrov has continued to maintain an upbeat profile on Instagram, where he is a prolific user. Post by post, Kadyrov has used the social media platform to carefully craft a public image that distracts from his sinister behavior. Online he tends to post pictures of animals, selfies with friends, sports clips, and glamorous footage of Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. On the other hand, he also features imagery that hints at the darker aspects of his leadership. Kadyrov has a personal militia, called the “Kadyrovtsy”, and in various posts they can be seen shooting guns, performing training exercises, and practicing combat tactics. In doing so, he implies a clear threat to anyone who chooses to cross the Chechen leader. Two other common subjects are his religious faith and Vladimir Putin. Kadyrov is a devout Muslim and he leverages his faith to promote a strict interpretation of Islam: one that limits the role of women and endorses cruel punishment. He is also a fervent supporter of Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia. By featuring Putin in his posts, Kadyrov makes his deference to the Russian leader explicit. That is because Putin helped bring Kadyrov to power and affirms the authority of his Chechen subordinate. As long as Kadyrov maintains stability in the North Caucasus, Putin will continue to protect Kadyrov. That being said, if anyone is going to hold Kadyrov responsible for the troubling accusations about gay persecution, it will be Vladimir Putin. The more the world takes notice, the more Putin will have to, as well.
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