Even dictators turn to Twitter

Remember about this time last year when the Taliban had its own Twitter account? They were using the service for a misinformation carpet bombing, sending dozens upon dozens of tweets out every day about how many vehicles they had successfully destroyed, despite the fact that no one else in the world was reporting anything similar.

Apparently, the group gave it up sometime in the intervening year and went back to posting propaganda only on its official website.

It does seem that everyone gives this “Twitter thing” a try at least once. And apparently warlord bosses of tiny former Soviet republics are no exception.

That’s right, everybody, warm up your hashtags Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has a Twitter account. After talking to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday, he suddenly got an urge to explore the Twitterverse.

Unlike the Taliban, Kadyrov has tweeted only a couple of times in each of the few days since opening the account. Mostly it’s innocuous stuff about how certain bits of government are running smoothly. One such tweet from June 21 says (courtesy of Google Translate, since he tweets in Russian):

“Today, traffic police chief ordered a CR at the Chechen sector of M-29 the most favorable conditions for transit vehicles and drivers.”

There’s no way to tell for certain what the intent is here. But if Kadyrov is trying to mask Chechnya’s rather extensive human rights abuse record, he is going to have to tweet about a lot more than the traffic.

It’s interesting that he has almost 7,000 followers but is following exactly nobody. I guess that dictator mentality also extends to social media.

You have to wonder who exactly his audience is, since most of his own country’s people have limited access to the Internet. It would seem more plausible that he is trying to rebrand his image on the world stage. Well, Mr. Kadyrov, good luck with that.

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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