People who fail to self-quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 should be killed, said Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of Chechnya, during an interview with local state-run media on March 23.

The threat — reported by a Chechen television journalist after a private meeting with the close political ally of Russian Vladimir Putin — was immediately taken as credible in Russian media circles because of Kadyrov's long history of crushing political dissent, and allegedly murdering people who displease him since he took near-total control of the region in 2005. Chechnya is a semi-autonomous republic within Russia's sphere of control.

"The person who creates himself and created this problem, if you ask me, should be killed. Not only he gets sick, but also infects his family, his sisters, brothers, neighbors," Kadyrov told a television reporter from the Kavkazsky Uzel media outlet. 

Photo gallery: Authoritative Chechen leader Kadyrov

Russia has reporting a bafflingly low number of cases, which has left many critics openly speculating about under-reporting or a cover-up. Chechnya, however, has taken aggressive measures to contain the deadly, fast-spreading virus despite only recording three cases so far.

The three cases which apparently came from people who had visited Mecca on a religious pilgrimage immediately roiled Russia's only Muslim majority province as wild rumors spread on social media and shoppers began to horde supplies.