Key Putin ally is sick with coronavirus after calling for COVID-19 patients to be killed: report
Ramzan Kadyrov (AFP)

Chechnya's strongman leader has been reportedly hospitalized for the coronavirus after calling for the killings of anyone who tests positive for COVID-19.


Ramzan Kadyrov, installed by Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2007, has not been seen publicly in 24 hours since Russian state media reported that he'd been taken to Moscow for treatment of coronavirus symptoms, reported The Guardian.

Baza, the state news agency that correctly reported that Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin was sick with the virus, has also reported that Kadyrov had suffered lung damage from the infection.

Local officials in the southern Russian republic have declined to give information about Kadyrov's health or location, and his online accounts have been dormant except for a perfunctory birthday greeting to Russia's defense minister.

The 43-year-old Kadyrov issued an unambiguous threat against a journalist who reported on the pandemic in Chechnya, where videos showed police patrolling the streets and imposing curfews with batons.

Kadyrov has said those who break quarantine should be "killed" and buried in pits, and he threatened journalist Elena Milashin with violence and asked the Kremlin to stop "non-humans" who write about the pandemic.

"If you want us to commit a crime and become criminals, just say it," Kadyrov said. "One (of us) will take on this burden, this responsibility, will be punished in accordance with the law... Don't make bandits and killers out of us."