Dissecting HBO’s Disturbing Interview With Chechen Leader

'Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel' lands rare sit-down with Ramzan Kadyrov.

July 19, 2017 2:15 pm
Dissecting HBO's Interview With Chechen Leader Ramzan Kadyrov
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (Alexei DruzhininTASS via Getty Images)

If you weren’t privy to the episode of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel that aired yesterday, now you are.

Just watching the episode’s preview is decidedly difficult, considering the subject-matter: the recent widely reported (and confirmed) “purge” of gay people in Chechnya. One man, who’s voice is distorted and face hidden in the video, says his genitals were electrocuted before being forced to admit he was gay.

Leader of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov told HBO’s David Scott that “This is nonsense … we don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada.” He denied the reports of the purge completely.

As Business Insider follows up, when Kadyrov was asked if America was seen as an enemy to Chechnya, he said, “America is not really a strong enough state for us to regard it as an enemy of Russia….Even if they completely destroy our government, our nuclear missiles will launch automatically.”

You’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with sports. Scott started by investigating Kadyrov’s love of mixed martial arts and its state-run program, eventually finding out about the purge.

He then went through the arduous process of pitching the story to the Chechen press secretary, who finally greenlit it, but told him he’d have very little lead time. Kadyrov stood HBO up the first time.

But the crew got a second chance, when it flew back to interview victims of the purge. Scott told Business Insider of the sit-down with the press secretary: “The first words out of his mouth, sarcastically, were ‘Well, I hope no one on your crew is gay, because you know we like to throw them in secret prisons and torture them to death,’” Scott said. “That’s how he opens a booking meeting.”

And apparently, Kadyrov had also been annoyed by a viral John Oliver video about the leader’s cat.

But they finally, obviously, landed the Chechen leader.

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