Football legend Ronaldinho has snapped a grinning picture with the homophobic leader of Chechnya, who orchestrated the region’s anti-gay purge.
The Brazilian player, who played for Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Milan and the Brazilian national team, stunned fans with the picture over the weekend.
The footballer uploaded a snap with Ramzan Kadyrov, the Head of the Chechen Republic, who has been accused of violating human rights laws to ‘purge’ the region’s gay community.
Ronaldinho had visited Grozni, Russia, to attend the relaunch of the city’s football club. It is unclear how much he was paid by Chechen officials for the engagement.
The meeting comes the day after Kadyrov insisted that homosexuals are “not people” and should be eradicated to “purify” the blood of the region.
Kadyrov made the comments when he was challenged about the homophobic purge in an interview with HBO.
The 40-year-old tyrant said: “Why did he come here? What’s the point of these questions? This is nonsense. We don’t have those kinds of people here.
“We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada.
“Praise be to God. Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.
“They are devils. They are for sale. They are not people…. they will have to answer to the Almighty for this.”
It’s not the first time that Kadyrov denied that gay men lived in the region, claiming previously that gay people are “fake Chechens”.
Initial reports of gay men being detained in the region, which is an autonomous region of Russia, were revealed by the newspaper Novaya Gazeta earlier this year.
Journalists who exposed the purge have been forced into hiding as they have received numerous threats from the largest mosque in the region, which has declared jihad against the newspaper.
Following the initial exposure, it was revealed that authorities are forcing gay men into camps, sparking an outcry from LGBT and human rights activists across the world.
A number of heart breaking stories from the region have been shared, including stories of parents of gay people who were issued a warning to kill their children before police killed them in torture camps.
Tanya Lokshina, from the Human Rights Watch, said that Chechen authorities had been conducting “extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and cruel and degrading treatment” over the span of the last two decades.
Novaya Gazeta recently confirmed the names of 27 men who were killed on one night in the region.