Russia and Ukraine: Is Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov really sick?
In the last few days, the media, politicians, anonymous sources and telegram channels have been discussing the health condition of Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya, loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
There are different assumptions: some say that Kadyrov is in the hospital, others even say that he is in a coma, and his press service publishes undated footage of him walking in the park.
How did the rumors start?
This is not the first time in recent years that there have been rumors about the allegedly impaired health of the Chechen leader.
Many years ago, the sources of Novaya Gazeta talked about "a serious disease that is difficult to treat, and in 30 percent of cases it ends in death".
This could not be noticed: Ramzan Kadyrov continued to appear in public, publishing photos and videos.
Sometimes, however, he would gain weight quickly and then lose it just as quickly, but this fact in itself does not mean that he has serious health problems.
But since late last year, Chechen Telegram channels have started spreading rumors that Kadyrov's condition "could be critical."
In recent months, Ukrainian and Russian bloggers, as well as Ukrainian intelligence officers, have joined the discussion.
A new round of this discussion began with the publication of the Chechen Telegram channel NIISO - the authors wrote that Kadyrov allegedly fell into a coma.
On the same day, the Ukrainian publication Obozrevatel published this information, citing sources "in the Chechen diaspora", which they often use when writing about Chechens living in Europe.
Allegedly, this media reported, the doctors in Moscow are powerless to help Kadyrov and that the plan is for him to go abroad for treatment, "most likely to the United Arab Emirates".
But the majority in the diaspora do not have access to such information and cannot unequivocally confirm these rumours.
The voices of the "source" were joined by the representative of the main intelligence department of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, Andrey Yusov, who said that, according to his information, the head of Chechnya "is in a serious condition".
What does "severe condition" mean?
The well-known Chechen opposition blogger Tumso Abdurahmanov, who lives abroad, assured that Ramzan Kadyrov may have problems with his kidneys, which is why the leader of Chechnya is on dialysis, which "is not helping him".
"It is possible that these are his last days," Abdurahmanov wrote on July 1.
In response, Ramzan Kadyrov and his cousin, State Duma deputy Adam Delimkhanov, recorded a video message.
The message was published on July 2, with the apparent intention of mocking these rumors, since Delimhanov had previously been declared "dead".
Kadyrov comments on "various gossip" in the video.
"We live, we live slowly, we eat bread. We lead an interesting life. And life is generally interesting when it is short. So we don't want to live long. We will live briefly, but with dignity."
An anesthesiologist from Israel, Mikhail Fremderman, drew attention to what Kadyrov's right hand looks like in this video.
"I watched these recordings several times, zoomed in on them - Kadyrov's entire right arm was in holes, he had a large subcutaneous hematoma. This means that he is given regular infusions and these are the clues.
"At the very least, we can conclude that Kadyrov is on very serious long-term intravenous therapy. This is not a diagnosis, but evidence that Kadyrov may not be well," he told the BBC.
Adam Delimhanov then adds in the video that Kadyrov is "healthy as a dog and full of energy, that he is actively involved in sports".
The most popular version among those who discuss these rumors is a kidney problem.
There were also hints that it was a matter of heart problems.
The former editor-in-chief of the closed radio station "Echo of Moscow" Alexei Venediktov, who was declared a foreign agent in Russia) claims that Kadyrov is now in one of the Moscow hospitals.
"Typical severe renal failure. Because of this, frequent hemodialysis is necessary, which, apparently, is done at the Central Clinical Hospital (Central Clinical Hospital of the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation)," writes Venediktov.
What is really known so far?
This year, Kadyrov has already officially gone on vacation three times: in January, in April - during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan - and in July.
The end date of the holiday has not been specified.
On February 21, Ramzan Kadyrov did not appear at Vladimir Putin's address in Moscow, which surprised journalists.
And on March 3, Putin suddenly "unofficially" met with the son of the Chechen leader, then 17-year-old Akhmat, and congratulated him on his upcoming marriage - Akhmat Kadyrov got married the day after the meeting with the president.
Bloggers then began to suspect that this meeting was filled with special symbolism: it was very reminiscent of 2004, when Ramzan Kadyrov came to the Kremlin after his father was killed.
From that meeting, the era of Ramzan Kadyrov as a politician began.
Ramzan Kadyrov's children, especially the eldest Akhmat, have actually started to appear more often in official communications lately, but hardly anyone believes that the teenager will seriously claim the role of the head of the republic "if something happens. "
What is exactly happening with Kadyrov?
Last year, a BBC interlocutor who maintains contact with a representative of the Chechen government (for security reasons, the BBC Russian service does not provide more details about that source) confirmed that Kadyrov does indeed have a serious illness.
Referring to her sources, Russian journalist Elena Milashina wrote that "this disease is life-threatening because it can lead to the failure of other organs, primarily the kidneys and lungs."
"This disease is accompanied by terrible pains, because of which a person cannot sleep. Even strong painkillers, which are usually prescribed to patients with terminal cancer, do not help," wrote this journalist, who is considered one of the best informed when it comes to the situation in Chechnya.
On September 17, a video appeared on the Internet showing Ramzan Kadyrov walking in the park.
"I strongly advise everyone who does not distinguish truth from lies on the Internet to take a walk in the fresh air and get their thoughts in order. The rain is wonderfully invigorating," the comment on the video reads.
In the video, Kadyrov does not respond to rumors about his own health in any way, but says something abstract about walking a few kilometers, the benefits of sports and reading the Koran, the holy Muslim book.
The rainy weather in the video corresponds to the forecast in Grozny - about 16 degrees and precipitation.
Media in Russia have suggested that the video shows a building similar to the Chechen leader's residence in Grozny.