Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov insisted he was in good health on Wednesday amid growing rumors he has been suffering from serious kidney problems and even the aftereffects of a poisoning attempt.
“I am healthy and full of energy,” Kadyrov said in a Telegram post, adding that he was “sorry to upset” anyone hoping he was “terminally ill.”
“As usual, I do sport, go hiking in the mountains, and solve issues important to the development of the republic,” Kadyrov said.
The health of the 46-year-old, who has ruled Chechnya with an iron fist since 2007, has been the subject of much speculation, especially since an article in German newspaper Bild earlier this month claimed he had summoned a specialist from the UAE to treat a serious kidney condition.
Addressing the reports, Kadyrov explained that the object he’d been seen wearing on his hand in recent months — which some had speculated was some kind of medical device — was in fact an electronic ring designed to keep track of the day’s religious activities.
Kadyrov's absence at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow on Feb. 21 only served to increase speculation about his health.
Earlier this month, Kadyrov revealed that his 17-year-old son Akhmat had met "unofficially" with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, prompting immediate speculation that Kadyrov could be laying the ground for a second generational transfer of power in Chechnya.
On Monday, Kadyrov was seen meeting rather awkwardly with Putin in the Kremlin where the two discussed Chechnya’s economy and the impact of Western sanctions.
A loyal Putin ally, Kadyrov has fully backed the invasion of Ukraine — even claiming to have sent two of his teenage sons to the front line — and has established himself as a vocal anti-Ukrainian hawk.