Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov had life-threatening kidney issues last month but has since recovered, the head of Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence agency (GUR) has said.
For weeks, rumors circulated that Kadyrov, who has ruled the predominantly Muslim southern Russian republic of Chechnya since 2007, was suffering from serious kidney problems.
Speculation about the Chechen leader’s health intensified last month when Ukrainian military intelligence spokesperson Andriy Yusov said Kadyrov had been unwell for a long time with systemic health problems. There were also rumors on social media that Kadyrov was dead or in a coma.
“He has health problems, it’s true. In the episode you just mentioned, he was really sick but recovered,” GUR head Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov told Ukrainian publication Ukrainska Pravda in an interview published on Thursday. “We must also admit this, whether we like it or not.”
Budanov added: “He has kidney problems. There was a threat to his life, but he passed it.”
Newsweek has contacted Russia’s Foreign Ministry for comment via email.
As speculation mounted over Kadyrov’s health, his Telegram channel released a video saying that he was alive and well, and that he had been going to the Moscow Central Clinical Hospital to visit his uncle, who was undergoing treatment there.
Kadyrov’s channel released a video of the Chechen leader sitting in a hospital room next to his uncle. In the clip, a person who appears to be a doctor says that Khas-Magomed Kadyrov has been in hospital for a fortnight and adds: “Today is September 20.”
And on September 28, the Kremlin released a video showing Russian President Vladimir Putin holding a sit-down meeting with Kadyrov.
State-run news agency RIA Novosti reported the pair discussed the situation in Chechnya and the participation of Chechen fighters in Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Kadyrov’s Chechen fighters have fought alongside Putin’s troops in the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“Give your best wishes to the guys. To their families, best wishes. I know that you are personally involved in these issues all the time, including supporting the families of our guys who are fighting on the front line—they are fighting confidently, well, courageously, heroically,” Putin said in their meeting.
Kadyrov said his fighters were in good spirits, and that they have been capturing Ukrainian soldiers and destroying equipment daily.
The Kremlin previously declined to comment on Kadyrov’s health, saying that it is not a matter for the Russian president.
Do you have a tip on a world news story that Newsweek should be covering? Do you have a question about the Russia-Ukraine war? Let us know via email@example.com.