Almost 1,000 divorced couples in Chechnya have been pressured to get back together after comments made by the region’s leader.
Earlier this year after Ramzan Kadyrov, whose official title is Head of the Chechen Republic, declared that divorce was the cause of many social problems in the region. Speaking recently on the subject, he said the government’s “first task is to return women who left their husbands, reconcile them”.
His government then launched various commissions made up of both religious leaders and law enforcement officials to combat divorce. This week Chechen state television proclaimed that 948 families “have been reunited” as a result of measures taken by these groups.
However, the commissions have reportedly put pressure on couples to live together even if they do not want to. One woman told independent news site Caucasian Knot that “there’s nothing to do but agree when they pressure you from all sides”. However members of the government deny this is the case. Rustam Abazov, head of the Department for Communications with Religious and Public Organisations, insisted that “here in Chechnya there are no human rights violations and there can’t be any”.
Situated in the southernmost part of Eastern Europe, Chechnya is classified as a ‘federal subject’ of Russia and has a Muslim-majority population. Since Kadyrov took over as Head, it has become increasingly authoritarian and right-wing. As an appointee of Vladimir Putin, Kadyrov is believed to have the freedom to act as he wants as long as he keeps the threat of an Islamic insurgency at bay.
As a result of his authoritarian attitude, his government has been repeatedly criticised by Amnesty International. The human rights campaign group claims that since Kadyrov assumed power in the region it has become “a common practice in Chechnya for people who complain or express dissenting views to be forced to apologise and repent publicly”.
Photo of Grozny, capital of Chechnya, by Alexxx Malev via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.