05/15/2015, 00.00
RUSSIA
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Chechen official wants a minor as a second wife, the Kremlin turns a blind eye

by Nina Achmatova
Polygamy and marriages with minors are prohibited by Russian law, but Kadyrov's Chechnya continues to live according to its own rules, also in violation of international law. International groups: "The state is doing nothing to protect the girl."

Moscow (AsiaNews) - For weeks now Russian media has been full of articles on the story of a senior middle-aged official of the Chechen police, who wants to take a girl who is a minor as his second wife. Russia has banned both polygamy and marriage with minors but, despite the outcry over the case, the Kremlin has hardly intervened in the affair. The Russian government sees the 'governor' Ramzan Kadyrov as a close ally in the turbulent Muslim majority Caucus region.

The news was first reported by the opposition paper Novaya Gazeta and later by independent TV Dozhd, with a succession of claims and denials. According to Novaya, the police officer threatened to kill the girl's family and to prevent the bride from fleeing, has placed checkpoints at the entrances to the village where she lives.

The story

The protagonist is Nazhdu Guchigov, head of the Nozhay-Yurt police department, very close to Kadyrov, already married and a family man. The man, 57, plans to marry Kheda Goylabieva, who is just 17 years old. Although Russian law does not permit either polygamy or marriage before age 18, Guchigov seems to want to marry the girl with Muslim rites, according to  which she would thus become his second wife. Since such a marriage is not recognized by Russian law - points out the activist Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch - the young woman will have no legal rights or property. Islam and the Adat (traditional law) allow polygamy, but both prohibit forced marriages.

In late April, Guchigov denied even knowing Goylabieva. A claim that was echoed by Alvi Karimov, spokesman for the Chechen leader, who had told the Kommersant FM radio that he knew nothing of the case reported by Novaya Gazeta.

Kadyrov’s support

On May 5, however, Kadyrov intervened in person, who since the discovery of the 'Chechen trail' behind the murder of the opponent politician Boris Nemtsov, is accused by many of having set up a parallel state with its own Army militia, in which everything is allowed, even outside of Chechnya. Kadyrov said on television that his envoy to the girl’s village reported that the young woman and her family are happy about the marriage and awaiting the happy event.

"In recent years, as part of its 'campaign for the virtues of women' – explains Lokshina - Kadyrov has ignored Russian law and openly endorsed polygamy, encouraging local officials to practice it. Despite promises to eradicate the practice of marriages with minors in Chechnya, it now appears he is willing to make an exception for his trusted chief of police. "

A Russian television believed linked to the intelligence services, Lifenews, sent its first and only interview with Kheda, where the teenager with her head covered by a scarf, sitting next to her mother, whispered she knew Guchigov a year ago, that she finds him interesting and that it is not a problem that he already has a wife. "We can only imagine what kind of pressure Kheda and her family have suffered - continues the HRW activist – Kadyrov’s intolerance of dissent is well known, so the young woman and her family have no alternative, but to agree. "

So far the mediator for the child's rights Pavel Astakhov has intervened on the matter, according to whom in the case of " Chechen bride " has been distorted and the parents have not been subjected to coercion and violence. Astakhov has also promised that the situation of children will be discussed with Kadyrov during a June visit to Chechnya.

"So far, the State seems to do nothing to protect the girl who will be deprived of her basic rights guaranteed by national and international law and whose life and growth opportunities will be irrevocably altered."

 

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