Chechens cheer leader Kadyrov's fighting young sons

Boys' martial arts event in Grozny - video still Image copyright Instagram grab
Image caption Excited Chechen men and boys gave boisterous support for the leader's sons

Three young sons of Chechnya's authoritarian leader Ramzan Kadyrov have been filmed pummelling opponents in a brutal martial arts contest, drawing criticism from Russia.

Russia's Sports Ministry says it is investigating the fights. Mr Kadyrov features them on his Instagram page.

The mixed martial arts contest in Grozny resembled professional boxing, the boys gesturing to an excited crowd.

Mr Kadyrov's boy fighters are Akhmad, aged 10, Eli, nine, and Adam, eight.

"We will find out about this situation, and request information on it," said Russian Deputy Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov.

Mr Kadyrov is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has ruled Chechnya since his forces, helped by massive Russian firepower, defeated separatist rebels in 1999-2009.

His much-feared militia, called the "Kadyrovtsy", have been accused of kidnapping, torture and other human rights abuses.

Mr Kadyrov watched the martial arts bouts sitting next to Alexander Zaldostanov, another political ally of Mr Putin. Nicknamed "The Surgeon," Mr Zaldostanov heads a nationalist biker gang called the Night Wolves, fiercely loyal to the Kremlin.

Image copyright Instagram grab
Image caption Eli "The Panther" Kadyrov (right) is nine years old

The boy fighters in Grozny did not wear helmets or other protective gear. Their fights included blows to the head.

The head of the Russian Mixed Martial Arts Union, Fyodor Yemelianenko, condemned the competition, saying it was "unacceptable and cannot be justified".

Mr Kadyrov posted boastful comments along with the Instagram video clips, such as: "Little Adam showed that he's a real Lion!... The opponents had strong fighting spirit and will, but Adam won a confident victory and won the champion's belt. Congratulations, Adam!"

In Russia's parliamentary and regional elections last month Mr Kadyrov won in Chechnya with 98% support.

Image copyright Instagram grab
Image caption The competition was professionally organised, with flags, posters of the fighters and strobe lights
Image copyright Instagram grab
Image caption Russia's most famous biker, Alexander Zaldostanov (left), sat alongside Ramzan Kadyrov (centre)
Image copyright AP
Image caption Ramzan Kadyrov (centre) claims to be a devout Muslim who defends Chechen traditions

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