Terrifying Russian-appointed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov—known internationally for his republic’s alleged concentration camps for gay men—had his Facebook and Instagram accounts taken down this weekend, and his buddies in the Kremlin are asking some questions.
Per The Guardian, Russian internet regulator Roskomnadzor is demanding an explanation for why Kadyrov’s accounts were removed, though the answer is likely US sanctions piled upon the leader last week for alleged human rights abuses. Kadyrov styles himself as something of an influencer on social media, with over 3 million followers to his Russian-language Instagram, as well as 75,000 followers on Facebook. But in response to news of the lockout he’s simply redirected his followers to use a somewhat sketchy-looking Chechen social media network, Mylistory, which he called “just as good.” Here’s his full quote as (machine-translated) from Russian publisher TJ:
There is also good news. I learned that in Chechnya in the testing phase there is a new social network Mylistory, which is in no way inferior to the overseas. It will begin to function after the new year.
Kadyrov isn’t quite right—you can get on Mylistory right now for all your hot Chechen nationalist content, provided you have a Russian address linked to your App Store or Google Play account. It’s pretty much Instagram with fewer features, right down to a ripoff of Instagram’s old golden logo and font. It has basic functionality like the ability to post photos, comment and send direct messages, though there’s no way to share content on the site externally, and the app lacks features like Stories. Also, according to TJ, it’s riddled with ads for things like “stickers for cars or cases for smartphones” alongside a fair amount of pro-Kadyrov content.
In other words, it is not “in no way inferior” to its US-made equivalent. But that’s fine, because Instagram is stupid and ruining our society anyways.
According to regional news site Caucasian Knot, some 30,000 people have registered Mylistory accounts since Kadyrov, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Prosecutor’s Office of Chechnya migrated their accounts there, while Chechen MPs have led a call for a boycott. So for better or worse, blocking Kadyrov’s Instagram account seems to have touched a nerve, though this particular phase of escalating US-Russia tensions doesn’t really seem like a productive use of anyone’s time.