On March 14, Elon Musk challenged Vladimir Putin to single combat for the fate of Ukraine on Twitter. Hours later, brutal Chechcan dictator and Putin lapdog Ramzan Kadyrov called Musk out on his Telegram channel.
“Don’t measure your strength against that of Putin’s,” Kadyrov said, according to a translation shared by Musk. “[Putin] will look unsportsmanlike when he beats the hell out of you, a much weaker opponent.”
In the message, Kadyrov also referred to Elon as “Elona” and offered to bring Musk to Chechnya and put him through a training regiment that would help him in the fight. Kadyrov’s training schedule includes Russian Special Forces University, Akhmat Fight Club, and a final stop at the Grozny Chechen State Television Radio Broadcasting company where, according to Kadyrov, they will teach Musk about “‘black PR’ and …how to monitor and update your social network accounts.”
“You will return from the Chechen Republic a completely different person, Elona,” Kadyrov said.
Musk then changed his Twitter display handle to “Elona” and accused Putin of being afraid to fight. On Telegram, Kadyrov praised Musk for changing his Twitter name to Elona and complimented the billionaire for refusing to block Russian sites on his Starlink network.
This feud between the world’s richest man and a horrifying dictator is kayfabe bullshit. Musk is playing a game online with the leader of one of the most repressive regimes on the planet and it sucks. One thing these two have in common is that they are extremely online shitposters when they have no reason to be. Musk is an ostensibly very busy billionaire who inserts himself to many online controversies by tweeting outdated memes, while Kadyrov is famous for his now banned Instagram account, where he shared videos of himself working out and flaunting his wealth like a gauche influencer.
But that persona covers a man who is deeply involved in alleged crimes against humanity. Under his direct leadership, Chechnya has conducted anti-LGBTQ purges of its population. Gay people are rounded up and tortured, forced to either flee the country or risk persecution and death. Some gay men have been put in camps or turned over to family members who later murder them. Bloggers and journalists critical of Kadyrov’s regime have been murdered for speaking out. Some have fled the country ahead of literal assassins.
Musk has publicly denounced the war in Ukraine and shipped Starlink terminals to the country to help it stay online. In the past few days, he’s also been shitposting milquetoast contrarian Reddit memes on Twitter, the kind of stuff a South Park fan would roll their eyes at. And now he’s playing games online with one of the most horrifying dictators in the world.