Moscow: Ramzan Kadyrov has given Mohamed Salah honorary citizenship in Chechnya, taking advantage of the Liverpool forward’s short stay in Russia’s most controversial republic.
Egypt’s national team are based in Chechnya for the World Cup despite outrage from rights organisations pointing to the region’s crackdown on political opponents and a widely reported anti-gay pogrom, which Kadyrov has denied.
The award came during an honorary banquet held for the Egypt team at Kadyrov’s palace in Grozny, a city he has rebuilt after two devastating wars, with ample support from the Kremlin.
“Mohamed Salah is an honorary citizen of the Chechen Republic! That’s right!” the Chechen leader wrote in a post released on social media, saying he had signed an official directive to that effect. “I gave Mohamed Salah a copy of the order and a pin at a celebratory dinner that I gave in honour of the Egyptian team.”
Video of the encounter released by the Russian state-funded news agency RT showed Salah smiling as Kadyrov gave a short speech and pinned a badge bearing the Chechen flag to the Liverpool forward’s shirt. Salah was also given a silver plate and a signed jersey from FC Akhmat Grozny, the football club that Kadyrov renamed in honour of his father last year.