Chechen leader accused of child cruelty after entering pre-teen sons in televised cage fights
The hard line ruler of Chechnya is facing accusations of child cruelty after he entered three of his pre-teen children in a televised cage fighting competition.
The scandal broke when Ramzan Kadyrov, who has ruled Chechnya with an iron fist since 2007, posted shocking images of the event on his Instagram page.
Ahmad (10), Zelimkhan (9), and Adam (8) took part in the mixed martial arts bouts with other children in a packed arena, during a televised event in honour of Mr Kadyrov’s birthday.
The Kadyrov children all won their tournaments, to glowing praise from their father.
“Little Adam proved that he is a real lion!” Mr Kadyrov wrote under one Instagram video of the fighting.
“In the final of the Grand Prix Akhmat-2016 he met David Khalatov. His opponents were strong in will and spirit, but Adam won a decisive victory and claimed the champion’s belt. Congratulations Adam!” Mr Kadyrov wrote.
But others expressed outrage at the videos which showed the children dealing one another serious blows in fights without protective gear. At least one of the fights was reported to have ended with a technical knock out.
Russian children’s rights activists, sportsmen, and politicians condemned the images on Thursday, with several calling for a full investigation.
Fyodor Emelyanenko, the president of Russia’s Mixed Martial Arts association, said association rules require competitors under 21 to wear protective gear and bar under 12s from competing in MMA bouts completely.
“What happened in Grozny is unacceptable and impossible to justify,” he said in his own Instagram post.
“Under-twelves shouldn’t even be in the audience, and here are kids of eight years old beating each other up for the amusement of adults… I deeply resent that this happened in front of the president of Chechnya,” he added.
Pavel Kolobkov, a deputy sports minister, said putting under 12s in the ring is “illegal” and that authorities in Moscow were trying to work out exactly what happened at the tournament.
“If what was shown on TV is true, if it is true a child was knocked out, then of course that is something the relevant authorities should be interested in,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.