Chechnya’s leader spars with Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver over his missing cat
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and John Oliver are engaged in a long-distance feud after the British comedian mocked the staunch ally of Vladimir Putin on his HBO show Last Week Tonight over his Instagram page, where he recently asked his 1.8 million followers to search for his missing cat.
“We have completely lost our cat,” the head of state of the Russian Republic of Chechnya posted. “We have begun to seriously worry.”
This led Oliver to devote an entire segment of Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight to Kadyrov and his many idiosyncrasies, including a penchant for wearing t-shirts emblazoned with pictures of Putin.
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The politician’s Instagram feed is filled with videos and images of him doing things like wrestling a crocodile, firing machine guns, starring in a trailer for an action movie, and demonstrating his vigorous work-out regimen.
“Kadyrov is basically like a can of Monster energy drink come to life,” Oliver said. “And honestly, I cannot recommend his Instagram feed enough.” However, he also pointed out that Kadyrov has a much darker side, adding, “It almost makes you forget he was once accused of beating a prisoner with a shovel handle before executing him. Almost, but not quite.” His forces have also been accused of torturing dissenters.
Oliver went on to mock him for an incident in 2014 where over 1,000 wedding guests were reportedly called in for questioning about the whereabouts of Kadyrov’s phone after he left it at the event, demonstrating that he’s willing to go above and beyond to locate a missing item.
“For the good of the Chechen people and stability in the whole region, we have to find this f*****’s cat,” Oliver concluded. The host then implored his viewers to flood Kadyrov’s social media accounts with photos of random cats asking him if they belong to him using the hashtag #FindKadyrovsCat, providing his own example on Twitter:
This angered Kadyrov, who took to Instagram to troll Oliver by altering the image above to remove the cat and replace it with a Putin t-shirt, along with text alongside the photo that read, “I’m tired of jokes. I want to care for cats in Chechnya. By the way, Putin is our leader!”
However, Kadyrov admitted that Oliver’s campaign to find his cat was met with a huge response. “I receive lots of photos. Some people say that they saw the cat in Vladivostok, Japan, Iceland, New Zealand, and even in the Oval Office of the White House!” he wrote in the caption. “I am grateful to all, but this is NOT my cat.”
In a lengthy post, he went on to defend his worship of Putin, criticized the U.S.’s foreign policy under the leadership of President Obama, and downplayed the concerns about the whereabouts of his beloved “tiger cat,” writing:
"“It happens in spring from time to time. He also needs to meet with friends, mingle and share news. By cat rumors he has in our district a familiar she-cat with which he’s going to start a family. I’m sure that after spring affairs, the cat will return to native walls. Perhaps, he’ll bring his sweet love with him.”"
This isn’t the first time Oliver has had a public spat with a foreign leader. Last year, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa described Oliver as an “oxymoron” because he was an “English comedian” and more “obnoxious than a diuretic,” after Oliver accused him of being thin-skinned for his alleged persecution of journalists and social media critics.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver will return on Sunday, June 5 at 11 p.m. on HBO.