Chechen Police Chief Nazhud Guchigov married 17-year-old Kheda Goylabiyeva, a teen 30 years his junior, in North Caucasus, Chechnya. She became his second wife just days after her 17th birthday.
News of the mismatched nuptials spread like wildfire via WhatsApp and other social media. Harsh criticism of the unmatched marriage, mostly by women, soon followed.
Responding to the widespread condemnation of the marriage, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov lashed out at men to control their women.
Kadyrov not only presided over the wedding but told the men: "Stop. Behave like Chechens. Family honor is the most important thing. Do not write such things. Men, do take your women out of WhatsApp. Lock them in, do not let them go out, then they will not post anything."
Kadyrov is an authoritarian leader and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin (that sort of speaks volumes about his obstinate nature).
Keeping in mind that Kadyrov has in recent years outlawed the abduction of brides and underage marriage; his pal Nazhud Guchigov allegedly refused to allow his teenage bride to leave the house before the wedding.
The wedding isn’t illegal however. According to Russian law, the minimum legal age to marry is 18. However, "in exceptional situations" the law allows for the minimum marrying age to be "established by regional authorities."
So it is 17 in Chechnya, 14 in Bashkortostan and 16 in Moscow Oblast, etc. There are also places where there is no minimum age to marry at all.
According to Pavel Astakhov, Putin's ombudsman for children's rights, in the Caucasus Mountains region, "emancipation and sexual maturity happens earlier."
"Let's not be hypocrites," he said. "There are places where women are already shriveled at age 27, and by our standards they look like they're 50. And, in general, the [Russian] Constitution forbids interference in citizens' personal lives."
So the fact that the girl did not want to marry the gentleman means nothing. She reportedly told a newspaper that Guchigov threatened to kidnap the girl if her parents did not bless the union. The girl later publicly agreed to marry him. No one knows what caused the change of heart.
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So, the wedding took place. Ramzan Kadyrov even shared his two bits of sentiments on Instagram justifying the act and trying to find poetic justifications for it quoting a famous line from Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin: "All ages are to love submissive."
Ramzan Kadyrov also supports polygamy. Chief of police Guchigov has also petitioned for a law allowing polygamous marriage in Chechnya. "It all has to be in keeping with Sharia," explained one of his aides. "If a man can support more than one wife, then why not?" he added.
It’s a shame to see there are societies in this day and age where women and girls can be coerced in to unwanted relationships. But in view of the strict segregation and conservative gender policies in Chechnya, it comes as no surprise.