Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the Russian republic of Chechnya, marked his landslide reelection this weekend in a manner that somehow seemed befitting.
To no one's surprise, he was ahead with about 98 percent of the vote after a partial count of ballots from the Sunday election was announced. Rights groups accuse Kadyrov, in power since 2007, of ruling the Muslim-majority republic with an iron fist as a loyal lieutenant of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2011 parliamentary elections, about 99.48 percent of Chechnya's vote went to Putin's ruling United Russia party. Their relationship is not dissimilar to that of a feudal lord and his vassal.
Maybe that's what Kadyrov had in mind when he showed up at a ceremony on the evening of the vote clad in a suit of medieval armor, with a conical helmet, a longsword strapped to his waist and a spear in his hand. The event was billed as a "solemn reception" in honor of Chechnya's women. In the video above, you can see Kadyrov strutting around in his chain-mail finery; he is conspicuously the only person in attendance dressed in armor.
The Chechen strongman is known for his eccentric social media presence and extravagant antics, including his very public wooing of Western celebrities such as Steven Seagal and Elizabeth Hurley. He is also known for the harsh practices of the security forces under his watch, thought to carry out widespread torture, kidnappings and extrajudicial killings of political rivals and dissidents.
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