War-ravaged Chechnya needs polygamy, says its leader

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The Independent Online

Russia's idiosyncratic loyalist strongman in Chechnya has said he wants to legalise polygamy and allow men to take up to four wives because there aren't enough males to go round due to over a decade of war.

Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya's acting Prime Minister, said the number of women in Chechnya was between 9 and 18 per cent higher than the number of men, and argued that polygamy was a practical way of replenishing the republic's war-ravaged population. "I think that it is necessary because we are at war. It is very important for the Chechen people. Shariah law allows this, it does not run counter to it. Therefore, each man who can provide for four wives should do it."

Chechnya, a largely Muslim republic, has been embroiled in a brutal on-off war of secession with Russia since 1994. The human rights group Memorial says 75,000 Russian and Chechen civilians have died since then, most of them men.

Mr Kadyrov, 29, has a wife and five children, and is the son of a former pro-Moscow president of Chechnya who was killed in a bomb attack.

Though polygamy is illegal in Russia it is reported to be informally tolerated in Muslim republics such as Ingushetia and Dagestan as well as Chechnya.

Mr Kadyrov's words were welcomed by the nationalist Russian MP Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who has long campaigned for the introduction of polygamy to tackle Russia's demographic crisis.

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