A Russian leader known for torturing and purging gay men is reportedly devastated Instagram has booted him from the social media network.
Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of the Russian republic of Chechnya, was recently served a sanction from the US over human rights abuse. But what has really hit Kadyrov hard is losing his Instagram account, where he had more than three million followers.
It is believed that Kadyrov had been using his social media accounts to spread propaganda. His Facebook account has also been deleted.
Oleg Orlov, founder of the Russian human rights group Memorial, said Kadyrov was furious at the idea of his images being lost. "The closure of his Instagram account is a matter of Kadyrov's image, of his prestige," Orlov said, according to TheGuardian. "When he feels offended, nothing else is important to him – whoever gets in his way must be destroyed."
Kadyrov's posts include him playing with tigers, meeting Elizabeth Hurley and a video of pandas playing on a slide in China. He reportedly believes groups like Memorial led to his Instagram account being deleted.
Memorial's headquarters were attacked last week and several masked men stormed the building. They torched the office in Ingushetia and members have accused Kadyrov of being involved. They also alleged that official Chechen forces were part of the attack.
"We were held responsible for this by Kadyrov and his inner circle because we are one of the very few sources of information about rights abuses in Chechnya," Orlov said.
In July 2017, Kadyrov denied reports he was detaining and torturing gay people. He instead said the republic was completely vacant of any homosexuals and advised anyone in the area who was secretly gay to "move to Canada".
In October, a victim of Kadyrov's regime revealed he was tortured and humiliated by Russian police. Maxim Lapunov, who is from Siberia, said he was beaten with sticks and threatened by officers while held for 12 days in a blood-soaked cell.
He claims he was seized by officers in the middle of the night in March by two men he did not know. He was taken to a police station where he was interrogated for hours and constantly beaten until he named another gay man living in Chechnya.
"They burst in every 10 or 15 minutes shouting that I was gay and they would kill me," he recalled at a human rights convention in Moscow on Tuesday (17 October).
"Then they beat me with a stick for a long time: in the legs, ribs, buttocks and back. When I started to fall, they pulled me up and carried on," he said. "Every day they assured me they would kill me, and told me how."
He was released after 12 days when his family launched an appeal, distributing missing posters around the Chechen capital.