Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, known for his pet lion and machine gun-toting entourage, has become an unlikely fan of the Instagram online photo-sharing service, posting pictures ranging from a trip to the dentist to family visits.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (C) wearing the national dress walks to take part in the Chechen Language Day holiday in Chechnya's capital Grozny, on April 28, 2012. Kadyrov, known for his pet lion and machine gun-toting entourage, has become an unlikely fan of the Instagram online photo-sharing service, posting pictures ranging from a trip to the dentist to family visits.
Kadyrov, 36, who has ruled Chechnya with an iron grip since 2007, attempted to reveal a softer side with shots of his small children, a visit to his mother and even having a dental checkup.
The broad-shouldered bearded leader, a devout Muslim, showed off his page to a Russian television journalist, in a report broadcast on Friday.
"You can show immediately what you are actually doing. I'm not really a fan of social networking, but I really liked Instagram," Kadyrov said of the application, beloved of American hipsters.
He has recently taken to social media, following the lead of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Mededev, who has experimented with Twitter, Facebook and video blogging, while President Vladimir Putin has expressed scorn for the Internet as "half pornography."
"(People) write to praise me and they write to scold me," Kadyrov told Russian television.
"I am open to talking with everyone who is open to constructive dialogue," he wrote on the page, which has more than 80 photographs.
In one close-up picture, two dentists bend over Kadyrov in a bib.
"I just came out of the central dental clinic. We have the best conditions and the best dentists," Kadyrov enthused, adding that dentists had praised his "excellent teeth."
Many of the pictures are simply portraits of the muscle-bound leader in jeans and loafers or a T-shirt. He also interacts with animals, riding a horse, cuddling a calf, hitting paws with a tiger cub and being nuzzled by a pet deer.
In one photograph he chuckles, staring directly into the eyes of President Vladimir Putin inches away, one arm round the president's back.
Kadyrov is credited with bringing a degree of stability to Chechnya after two separatist rules following the USSR's collapse but rights groups accuse him of using a thuggish militia that is allegedly responsible for disappearances and killings.
The page can be viewed at http://instagram.com/kadyrov_95/