Instagram deletes suspected Kadyrov account as Chechen-created clone app cracks

For the second time in 11 months, social media site Instagram has blocked an account associated with controversial Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov.

Chechen officials deny that the @ za_kadyrov_95 account, which was blocked on November 8, was personally linked to Kadyrov. However, it emerged in July – six months after Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, blocked Kadyrov’s personal account when he was subject to personal sanctions under US Magnitsky law – and shared photographs. and videos that were clearly taken by Kadyrov.

When the account was closed, it had around 1.5 million subscribers.

“This account was created by his supporters,” Chechen Minister Dzhambulat Umarov told Russian website Znak. “Yes, they cite him and cover the events he is present at and use excerpts from his personal records. I know this account and it was growing in popularity, but [Kadyrov] has nothing to do with it. “

Kadyrov, 42, was installed by the Kremlin as head of Chechnya after his father was assassinated in 2004. He has been widely accused of human rights abuses, including murder, torture and disappearances, as well. that massive corruption. He has been outspoken – including on social media – both in his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and in his opposition to Putin’s criticism.

“Instagram addicted”

Kadyrov has been one of the most active Russian officials on social media. He has consistently been listed among Russia’s Most Influential Social Media Figures, and a 2015 New York Times article described him as “addicted to Instagram”.

In December 2017, Instagram and Facebook both blocked Kadyrov’s personal accounts after he was placed on the US sanctions list. The move prompted Russian State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin to say that Kadyrov’s rights had been violated.

“They are afraid of public conversation and the truth,” Volodin said. “By deleting the account, they are depriving citizens of their right to know the opinions of bloggers and to communicate with them.”

Around the same time, Kadyrov announced the creation of a free social media platform called Mylistory which was created in Chechnya and carries a strange resemblance to Instagram.

“Dear friends, I created the account kadyrov_95 on Mylistory,” Kadyrov boasted on his Telegram account on December 23, 2017. “Now I will post all the important news, with photos and videos, on this app . “

“Employees of the [U.S.] The State Department will only be authorized with the authorization of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the leaders of the Chechen Republic, “he added.

“Checkered reputation”

Most Chechen officials and government agencies announced that they were deleting their social media accounts on Western platforms and moving to Mylistory with their leader. However, the Washington Post written in may that many managers “also remain very active on Instagram.”

Apparently authorized Mylistory accounts have been opened in the names of Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Screenshot of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s Mylistory account.

Mylistory has a checkered reputation, with many users leaving comments that it is unsafe and gives Chechen authorities access to users’ personal information.

Users posted screenshots of warnings saying that “the app could record audio using your phone’s microphone at any time without your knowledge” and “the app could take pictures or videos using your phone’s camera anytime without your knowledge, “RFE / RL North Caucasus Service reported.

Several users reported that it was impossible to delete an account once it had been opened.

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About Laura J. Bell

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