Reality TV Contestants Line Up to Be Assistant to Chechen Strongman Ramzan Kadyrov
Kadyrov, who got into an Instagram battle with 'Last Week Tonight's' John Oliver over his lost cat, will pick his new assistant via the 'Apprentice'-style show, which premieres Oct. 5.
Everybody, it seems, wants to be the one to skim the froth of a strongman's cappuccino.
A producer of a new reality TV show looking to find a new assistant for Chechen strongman — and Instagram sensation — Ramzan Kadyrov, has been "flooded with applications" by would-be contestants. The show, which premieres Wednesday on Russian state-run channel Rossiya 1, will see contenders compete in various tasks — including participating in a traditional Chechen wedding — with the winner named Kadyrov's new assistant.
"The idea for the show came spontaneously," Natalia Nikonova, the show's producer, tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Several years ago, me and [TV presenter] Boris Korchevnikov filmed a program about Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya, and we were impressed with how well his team worked."
The show, called Komanda, or Team in English (a reference to the term Kadyrov uses for his entourage), will be the first-ever reality show on Russian television to feature a regional leader or a top governmental official.
"It consists of like-minded people, focused on the same idea, who are totally dedicated to their work," she added. "They understand each other perfectly well, are motivated and ready to implement any task."
According to Nikonova, they wanted to show to the entire country how a system of picking the most talented people for government work is used in Chechnya.
"Men and women educated in any field, who could think in a large scope, possess organizational skills, can make planning and conduct negotiations, are creative and bold in their individual decisions are welcome to apply," says an announcement on the show's website.
Corporate spin aside, Kadyrov is infamous for his allegedly brutal and authoritarian rule. He reportedly told his security forces to deal with drug abusers by “shooting them dead" and human rights organizations have accused him of being involved in state-organized torture and disappearances.
But, surprisingly, the strongman is also a star on Instagram, where he regularly posts photos and comments on his life as the head of the Chechen republic, a position he's held since 2007. He also has a film credit to his name, having starred in a short film called Volshebny greben (Mysterious Ridge) about Chechnya's history.
Kadyrov also told his 1.8 million Instagram followers that he will star in a full-length action movie titled Kto ne ponyal, tot poymet (Those Who Didn't Understand, Will Understand), named after Kadyrov's favorite saying. Kadyrov published a short clip from the film, featuring him running across a desert landscape with a machine gun, followed by several sport utility vehicles. Further details of the movie were not announced and remain unknown.
Kadyrov also is known for his fondness of foreign actors who have shown loyalty to the Kremlin. Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme have been his frequent guests in Chechnya, and Gerard Depardieu was given a luxurious apartment in a skyscraper in the republic's capital Grozny.
John Oliver recently mocked Kadryov on his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, after the Chechen leader called for his 1.8 million Instagram followers to help him find his lost cat.