Putin loyalist accuses Ukraine of kidnapping favourite horse

Ramzan Kadyrov with his horse Zazu.
Ramzan Kadyrov with his horse Zazu. Copyright Ramzan Kadyrov - Telegram
Copyright Ramzan Kadyrov - Telegram
By Joshua Askew
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Ramzan Kadyrov, who leads the Chechen Republic, said the amount demanded as a ransom was "mere pennies" to him.


A key ally of the Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Ukraine of kidnapping his favourite horse. 

Ramzan Kadyrov, head of Russia's Chechen Republic, said his stallion Zazu was stolen by Ukrainian "special services" from a stable in the Czech Republic and ransomed back to him for nearly $20,000 (€18,400). 

Announcing the "good news" that Zazu was "fine" and on his way back, the 46-year-old wrote in a Telegram post on Monday that he could "tell what really happened" to the horse. 

Zazu - who he called "the first to bear the brunt of European sanctions" - had reportedly been "imprisoned" in a Czech stable for years near Krabčice. 

At the beginning of 2023, Kadyrov claimed he was approached by the Ukrainians, through intermediates, who offered to buy out the 16-year-old English Thoroughbred.

"They knew about my attachment to the horse," he wrote on Telegram. "Of course, I agreed." 

However, rather than transferring the horse officially, the Chechen leader claimed the Ukrainian "secret services had a daring plan - they simply staged his theft from a stable in the Czech Republic in collusion with the Czech police."

"It seemed strange to everyone then how an expensive horse could simply disappear," he wrote. "It turns out it can."

It reportedly cost Kadyrov $18,000 (€16,550) to secure the horse's release, which he described as "mere pennies" - given its "excellent pedigree". 

Zazu had been seized with Kadyrov’s other European assets as part of EU sanctions slapped on the Chechen leader in 2014 for his alleged role in widespread rights abuses.

The sanctions stopped Zazu — formerly a famous stallion in the racing scene — from competing and meant the horse was effectively detained alongside several of Kadyrov's other racehorses.

"Now Zazu is on his way home," according to Kadyrov. 

"Friends, if you need to bring something from Europe, contact the Ukrainian special services. Quickly, professionally, inexpensively, bypassing sanctions," he wrote on Telegram. 

Euronews cannot independently verify Kadyrov's claims.

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