Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov has made Egypt’s talismanic striker Mohamed Salah an honorary citizen of the southern Russian region at a farewell banquet held for the eliminated World Cup 2018 side.
Chechnya has been hosting the Egyptian team’s World Cup training camp and Kremlin-backed Kadyrov has seized on opportunities to appear alongside Salah.
“Mohamed Salah is an honorary citizen of the Chechen Republic.
“Yes, that’s right! Tonight I signed a decree conferring this high award on the great footballer and member of the Egypt and Liverpool teams,” Kadyrov wrote on Telegram.
Reuters reports that Salah was presented with a badge and a copy of the decree at the dinner on Friday night.
Kadyrov took charge of Chechnya in 2007, backed by Kremlin to impose tight control in the Muslim region where Russia had fought two brutal and costly wars to crush separatists since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In an interview with the BBC this week, he denied human rights abuses and laughingly rejected the idea he was using the presence of Salah for propaganda.
“We don’t use this kind of thing for politics. Our enemies are paid to write articles like that. I didn’t invite Mohamed Salah or the Egyptian team, they chose us themselves,” he said.