Divorced Chechens forced to ‘retie the knot’
Hundreds of divorced Chechen couples have been forced to make up after the regional president, Ramzan Kadyrov, black-listed marital separations as a perceived cause of social instability.
State television said 948 couple had retied the knot following orders in the mainly Muslim Russian province for a strict programme of “family reconciliation”.
The Chechen leader claimed that most of the young men who had committed crimes in Chechnya in recent years grew up in “incomplete families” and said that “out of 100 of those families, at the most five or six are normal”.
Kadyrov launched the scheme in June saying children raised by married parents were less susceptible to extremism, according to Latvia’s Meduza website.
The dictatorial Kadyrov and his security agencies have been accused of human-rights violations, including forced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killings of suspected members of the gay community.
“We’ve got to wake people up, talk to them and explain. We’ve got to return the women who left their husbands and reconcile them. This is a priority,” the strongman said.
Kadyrov was appointed to the top job in Grozny by Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, and has since claimed to be suppressing any Islamist insurgency in the Caucasus.
Special commissions “for the harmonisation of marriage and family relations” were reportedly established with religious figures to push through the changes.
Several residents have told Russian publications that couples were being coerced into living together again.
“If you refuse then you’re going against not just religious institutions and traditions, but also against [the authorities’] wishes. It’s this form of pressure,” a woman in Grozny referred to as Zarema was reported saying by the Caucasian Knot website. “Clearly there’s nothing to do but agree when they pressure you from all sides.”
Rustam Abazov, head of the department for communications with religious and public organisations, told Grozny TV that divorced spouses were invited to the programme’s headquarters for meetings with a mullah and urged to repair their relationships.
He added that divorcees and couples who had separated were being reported to commissioners via a confidential hotline.
Abazov told the broadcaster: “The programme was developed so clearly by Ramzan Akhmatovich Kadyrov that absolutely no problems occurred in its implementation. I would like to emphasise that no country in the world has ever had such a programme.
“This is something new in history. It’s the only time that people have responded on such a mass scale to the calls of the region’s leader.”
Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. Picture credit: Wikimedia