Chechen leader says bride-stealing should stop
Chechnya's strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov said on Thursday bride-kidnapping had no place in his land and called on religious leaders to publicly condemn the ancient practice.
Like most regions in the North Caucasus, Chechnya is predominantly Muslim and its 34-year old former rebel leader has sought to impose Islamic values encouraging women to wear headscarves and men to take multiple wives.
Federal authorities frown upon Muslim traditions like polygamy, which are in conflict with Russian law, and Kadyrov's government has sought to discourage bride-kidnapping, an ancient tradition that has proved resilient in the modern-day Caucasus.
Top religious authorities in Chechnya said earlier this month a fine for bride stealing would be 1 million rubles (33,000 dollars).
On Thursday, Kadyrov said the ancient practice should cease to exist altogether.
"Bride-stealing happens nearly every day," Kadyrov told his government, adding that kidnapping often leads to bad blood among an intricate patchwork of clans.
"That is why it is necessary to put a stop to these disputes," he said in comments released by his office.
"There is a need to hold meetings in mosques, inform the population so that these cases will not happen again."
"After conducting public discussions -- regardless of the fact whether a victim lodges a complaint -- a kidnapper should be punished to the fullest extent of the law," he said.
The revival of Muslim traditions following the Soviet collapse coincides with an increase in insurgent attacks and is unnerving for the Kremlin amid signs that it is losing control over the region where authorities fought two full-scale wars with separatists in the 90s.
Another Caucasus region, Ingushetia, increased a price paid by a groom to the relatives of the woman he wants to marry known as "kalym" to 30,000 rubles (1,000 dollars) from 12,500 rubles (417 dollars) to keep up with inflation.
© 2010 AFP