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Kadyrov Most Cited Regional Leader, Ranking Says

Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov was crowned the regional leader most cited by Russian media in February as the popularity of his candid Instagram account grows, according to a ranking of regional leaders with blogs published by Medialogia.

Kadyrov jumped two places in the monthly rating, beating out Chelyabinsk region Governor Mikhail Yurevich, even despite the interest generated when a large meteorite struck the southern Urals on Feb. 15.

Accused of presiding over a repressive Chechen regime guilty of widespread human rights violations, Kadyrov opened an account on Instagram, a photo-sharing social network site, late last year.

He has since posted a series of pictures that feature his family, official meetings and shots of him feeding rare white tigers, working out and standing atop mountains.

His account, called kadyrov_95, has an archive of 229 photographs and 67,232 followers. New photographs are frequently linked to his official Twitter account, which has 28,895 followers.

Kadyrov has said he was encouraged to begin using Instagram by Georgian-born Russian television presenter Tina Kandelaki, who has featured regularly in his photographs.

But Kadyrov does not use the site merely for his own personal enjoyment, and has said it is an effective way of connecting with the Chechen people.

He has set up a committee to resolve issues raised by Instagram users, who can send messages to a special cell phone number.

Kadyrov has also taken a nighttime stroll through the Chechen capital of Grozny with a young admirer he met on the photo-sharing site and given out 17 apartments to people and families who have appealed to him with requests for help finding accommodation.

But social media popularity might be a double-edged sword for Kadyrov, who has complained that Instagram has increased his work load.

"If for most people Instagram is just entertainment, then for me it's an additional burden," he told reporters in Grozny last week.

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