Two Chechens have been detained in the city of Surgut, in central Russia’s Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug, for extorting money from a local businessman of Chechen origin, Zubayr Zaynadiyev. The pair imitated the voice of Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov in order to convince Zaynadiyev to hand over money.
The extortionists demanded he donate two vehicles as well as cash, supposedly for the Kadyrov Fund. In order to make their demands more convincing, one of the men, Zelimkhan Khasimikov, used his talent for imitating Kadyrov’s voice, calling the businessman to express his dissatisfaction.
Zaynadiyev complained to the authorities, and soon after Chechen law enforcement agents caught up with the would-be impersonators, bringing them back to Chechnya’s capital, Grozny. The perpetrators, both natives of Chechnya’s Gudermes District, had also been living in Surgut. The detainees were taken to the office of the Chairman of the Parliament of Chechnya, Magomed Daudov, where they disclosed the details of their offence. In a video broadcasted on local TV, Khasimikov was forced to once again imitate Kadyrov’s voice, and repeat everything he said to the businessman. He then declared to the camera in his usual voice, that he and his friend were guilty of the attempt to extort money.
Daudov then warned others of trying to imitate Ramzan Kadyrov. He asked TV viewers to report such cases, noting that ‘No-one can escape punishment, even if they are 4,000 kilometres away from Chechnya.’
Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov published a statement on his Instagram page saying that crimes committed in his name have become more frequent. According to him, fraudsters use fake accounts in social media, noting that he wouldn’t allow his good name to be defamed by anyone:
‘Despite this case, impostors have spread false information under my name using the Periscope app, which is allegedly linked to some of my statements and actions. They deceive people using my name and spread fake phone numbers. They also create dozens of pages posing as Ramzan Kadyrov. To avoid confusion, I want to draw your attention to my official pages in social networks. I don’t use other accounts. Everything else is fake.’
‘Attackers tried to discredit the reputation of the Kadyrov Fund and the Kadyrov family, but it didn’t work, because everyone knows how we treat people — with honour and conscience’, Kadyrov’s post reads.
It wasn’t the first case of people using Kadyrov’s voice to extort money or to solve their problems. Each time it was reported that the guilty would be punished, but it’s unknown what kind of punishment was applied.
At the same time, the Chechen president isn’t opposed to having his voice imitated as a means to entertain people. He reacted positively to the recent parody of his voice and demeanor by famous Russian comedian Mikhail Galustyan. Kadyrov declared that he personally helped the comedian rehearse before his performance.