How A Cat Sparked A Fight Between John Oliver And The Leader Of Chechnya

The claws are out.

25/05/2016 6:08 AM AEST | Updated 25/05/2016 6:12 AM AEST

Comedian John Oliver has found himself in the middle of an online feud with a violence-prone, Kremlin-backed dictator who has repeatedly been accused of having his enemies tortured and killed.

The host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight” took aim at Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov in a five-minute segment of his popular satire show that aired on Sunday. Oliver made fun of Kadyrov for posting an emotional plea to Instagram last week, asking the Chechen people to help find his missing cat.

“We all thought that he would reappear... But now we have begun to seriously worry,” the autocratic ruler wrote in an emoji-filled caption accompanying a photo of himself holding the cat in his arms. It's unclear when the feline disappeared.

"I'm presuming [Kadyrov] searched the most common locations for cats, such as lying in a sunbeam, or staring right at you with murder in its eyes," Oliver joked. He then turned his attention to the many other unusual posts on the controversial leader's Instagram page, such as videos that show him lifting weights and purportedly attacking a crocodile.

The account, followed by 1.8 million people, also made headlines earlier this year when Kadyrov posted a video that appeared to show Kremlin critic Mikhail Kasyanov, an opposition leader, being targeted by a sniper. The video, which Kasyanov described as "incitement to murder," was eventually taken down by Instagram, angering the Chechen leader.

In 2014, Kadyrov reportedly lost his phone at a museum opening event, and had authorities question more than 1,000 guests about the whereabouts of the device. He later denied doing so.

"Just think, if he is willing to do that for a cell phone, just imagine what he is willing to put the Chechen people through for a cat," Oliver said, after mocking how Kadyrov is "absolutely obsessed" with Vladimir Putin, who appointed him as leader in 2007. 

Россия и США договорились о перемирии в Сирии. Об этом в специальном обращении сообщил Президент России Владимир Путин. Режим прекращения огня и начала перемирия вступает в силу с 27 февраля. До полудня 26 февраля все участники конфликта, согласные с таким решением, должны сообщить об этом России и США, а также сложить оружие. В этом случае ВКС РФ и коалиционные силы не будут действовать против них. Есть одна важная деталь, которой интересовался весь мир. А как же с Иблисским государством, "Джебхат ан-Нусра" и другими террористическими организациями? Операция против них продолжается в полном объёме. Руководство России будет работать с Башаром Асадом, а Вашингтон с поддерживаемыми ими оппозиционными силами для начала процесса политического урегулирования в Сирии. Это свидетельствует о том, что Президент России Владимир Путин наряду с военной операцией ищет пути достижения мира и согласия между Дамаском и теми, кто готов отказаться от насилия и сесть за стол переговоров. Надежда на прекращение кровопролития в Сирии появилась. Мы полностью поддерживаем усилия нашего Президента! #Кадыров #Россия #Чечня #Сирия

A photo posted by Ramzan Kadyrov (@kadyrov_95) on

Oliver pointed out how often Kadyrov posts photos of himself wearing shirts that feature Putin's face. But he wasn't done there. The comedy show host then took to Twitter to post a photo of himself holding a cat, asking Kadyrov: "Is this your cat?"

Oliver also encouraged his viewers to respond to Kadyrov's plea for help by either commenting "I have seen your cat" or "I have not seen your cat" on the original Instagram photo, or tweeting a similar message with the hashtag #FindKadyrovsCat. Many have obliged.


Kadyrov was not amused. It was not long before Oliver himself graced the Chechen leader's infamous Instagram page, with Putin's face photoshopped onto his shirt.

Recently my “tiger cat” has left the house. 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. I got used to share with my friends in Instagram with all news, including cat issues. And this time I didn't want to leave as a secret the cat's adventures. 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! I am grateful to all, but this is NOT my cat. It became known that even the American TV channel “HBO” joined to search. The anchorman comedian - John Oliver asks millions of viewers to look for a cat. I knew long ago that in the USA unevenly breathe to my younger friends. One day horses aren't allowed to jump, the other - a cat is a real star of a show. Oliver laments a fact that we put on t-shirts with a photo of the President of Russia - Vladimir Putin. Yes, millions of people rejoice t-shirts with the image of the national leader. For this purpose, there is a good motivation. Vladimir Vladimirovich is a wise, courageous, resolute Head, who managed to withstand unfriendly campaign, which is conducted by the USA and its assistants. Thanks to Putin, we have crushed terrorists among whom there were also citizens of the USA, and European citizens. The country directed by Obama under the guise of peacekeeping operations spark new wars and bloody internal conflicts, in which die millions of people. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria... That's why there is nothing surprising that Oliver also got a wish to appear publicly in a T-shirt with an image of Putin, but not Obama. #Kadyrov #Russia #Chechnya #USA #HBO #Oliver #findkadyrovscat #Ihavenotseenyourcat #IHAVESEENYOURCAT

A photo posted by Ramzan Kadyrov (@kadyrov_95) on

The text: "I’m tired of jokes, I want to care for cats in Chechnya. By the way, Putin is our leader!" was added to the photo, along with a confusing English caption that praised Putin, explained the cat simply needs to "meet with friends," and concluded with "#IHAVESEENYOURCAT."

Let's hope this bizarre catfight ends here.

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