Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has banned President Obama from visiting the Russian Republic of Chechnya. The ban is a sort of sanction, as Kadyrov claims it is retribution for the wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Ukraine.
The Washington Post reported these sanctions and Kadyrov’s relationships with Hollywood celebrities, but they failed to mention his most prominent friend: Russian President Vladimir Putin. The West and Ukraine accused Putin of the rebellion in east Ukraine and claimed the missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 came from Russian territory.
In fact, Chechens were spotted and documented in east Ukraine during the presidential elections on May 25. The men told local journalists they came from Chechnya and their leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, sent them to fight with the separatists. Kadyrov denied sending anyone and said if there is a Chechen in Ukraine “he’s there on his own.”
However, people did not see a Chechen here or there. Trucks filled with Chechens entered Donetsk as early as Sunday, which was the day Ukraine held their presidential election. At first, Christopher Miller from The Kyiv Post said the men were part of the Vostok Battalion, but one woman asked the men where they were from and the men responded, “Chechnya.”
Courtney Weaver with Financial Times was able to interview a few of the fighters and they confirmed the group was from Chechnya. The leader of this group, Zelimkhan, said that “Russia can’t openly attack Ukraine” and “[E]verything is underground.”
“Our president [Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov] gave the order. They called us and we came,” said Zelimkhan.
Kadyrov was anti-Russia, but switched to pro-Russia during the second separatist war. His father was Chechnya’s first pro-Moscow leader.
There are a lot of Hollywood celebrities who are friends with Kadyrov. French actor Gerard Depardieu left France over tax issues and received Russian citizenship. He met Kadyrov through Putin and received a five-bedroom apartment in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. Kadyrov is huge on social media and posted pictures on Instagram. British beauty Elizabeth Hurley is in some of the pictures as well and she said she was there for a movie role. He is also friends with Steven Seagal and Oscar winner Hillary Swank attended Kadyrov’s 35th birthday party in 2011.