Alfred Kokh asked today when the debate on Kheda Goilabieva had devolved into one about age difference from a discussion on polygamy.
A 57-year-old police chief in Chechnya wanted a second wife, and chose a 17-year-old school girl, Kheda Goilabieva. Threatening her family if they did not hand her over. A social media campaign was begun to stop the marriage.
Unfortunately, the campaign was unsuccessful:
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov came out on his Instagram feed with a statement yesterday defending the decision, and making the issue the one about age that Kokh complained about, “people of all ages have been conquered by love”.
Back on Kokh’s Facebook post, Konstantin Sonin replied to Kokh’s question that it is “difficult for liberals to seriously condemn polygamy. If all the parties agree, then why must anybody else (society, state) get involved in this? But that fact that the girl might be forced to marry (a 17-year-old person, according to Russian law, is not able to independently make such a decision) — this is a problem.”
Sonin then pointed out that according to the law, you can marry at 18, but that before 18, you would be marrying “under duress”.
To me this discussion is not about polygamy, or about an age gap, or even about Chechnya’s so-called “special traditions”. This is about an authority figure abusing his power. And it is a symptom of not just what is wrong in with Kadyrov’s rule of Chechnya. It is also a symptom of what is wrong with the system of rule in the name of Putin. There is no rule of law in Russia today. Everything is permissible if you have money or power. This is the lesson of Kheda Goilabieva.