Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on Thursday, according to a state television reporter, three days after Kadyrov said he was proud of his 15-year-old son for beating a prisoner accused of burning the Koran.
A short video posted by television reporter Pavel Zarubin showed the two men exchanging opening remarks, without any reference to the beating episode that drew condemnation even from some Kremlin hardliners.
Putin said there was a “positive dynamic” in Chechnya, largely thanks to Kadyrov and his team. He showed himself to Kadyrov handing him some papers from a file.
Putin has given Kadyrov free rein to run the southern Muslim region as a personal fiefdom in exchange for keeping it stable and loyal after wars in the 1990s and 2000s in which he tried to break away from Moscow. Kadyrov has cultivated an image as a ruthless ally of Putin and an aggressive cheerleader for Russia’s war in Ukraine, but some commentators suggested he had crossed a line this week by backing his son Adam’s attack on prisoner Nikita Zhuravel. He posted a video in which the youngest Kadyrov was seen punching and kicking Zhuravel while the prisoner cowered in a chair, and said he was proud of his son for having acquired “adult ideals of honor, dignity and defense of his religion.” “.
The alleged Quran burning did not take place in Chechnya, but Russian investigators claimed they transferred Zhuravel to Chechen custody because Muslims there considered themselves victims of the incident.
The beating exposed Putin to accusations that he had handed over an ethnic Russian “to be devoured by the Chechens,” former Kremlin speechwriter Abbas Gallyamov, now a harsh critic of Putin, said this week. Even pro-Kremlin war commentators described the episode as an outrage.
Kadyrov, 46, has been the subject of intense speculation about his health, and rumors circulated this month that he was dead or in a coma. Last week he published a post on Telegram in which he stated that he was fine and that the reason for his trip to a Moscow hospital was to visit a sick uncle.