On 19 April, Chechen Head Ramzan Kadyrov told Russian state news channel Russia Today that civil registration of marriages ‘destroyed families’ and was evidence of mistrust between spouses.
At the same time, Kadyrov denied that polygamy is legal and widespread in Chechnya, as is widely speculated in Russia. According to him, polygamists don’t violate Russian law, because they don’t register multiple marriages, and no-one’s passport says that they have two or three wives.
He expressed surprise that Russian society so categorically rejects polygamy. ‘If a man who lives in Russia has 20 mistresses, or three, or one, as a family man — it seems normal. But if you legalise these relationships and [a woman] becomes, according to Islam, your second wife, then it is a “crime”’, he said, adding that those who accuse Chechnya of violating the law have no evidence.
According to Sharia, men can have up to four wives. However, there are strict regulations which must be observed. A man only has the right to have multiple wives if he is able to provide all his wives with ‘prosperity and equal attention’. Most ordinary Chechens, due to economic reasons, cannot afford to support multiple wives.
In Chechnya, most polygamists are men from local power structures. Most men close to Chechnya’s head, including Kadyrov himself, have several wives. Officially Kadyrov has eight children, although there is speculation that the number is closer to twelve.