On January 13, the first deputy prime minister of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov proposed to legalize polygamy in Chechnya. According to him, that would improve demographic situation and solve the problem of lonely women. A long-standing admirer of polygamy Vladimir Zhirinovsky immediately expressed his solidarity with this initiative and stated his willingness to personally promote the solution of demographic problem in Chechnya by marrying two girls from Kadyrov’s native village. In ensuing days Muftis Talgat Tajuddin, Ismail Shangareyev and Nafigulla Ashirov spoke in favor of polygamy. Moscow mufti Ravil Gainutdin has reserved his judgement.
First deputy Duma speaker Lyubov Sliska and president of the Guild of Russian advocates Gasan Mirzoev made ironic comments on the rights of women who should be allowed to have several husbands in case the polygamy is introduced. Indeed, from scientific and legal point of view, polygamy implies both polygyny (practice of having more than one wife at a single time) and polyandry (practice of having more than one husband at a single time).
In August 1999, president of Ingushetia Ruslan Aushev issued a special decree that allowed polygyny in the republic. He proceeded from the reality as hundreds, if not thousands of men lived with several women. The decree was revoked in a year under pressure of the federal centre. The problem, however, has not been solved. At the moment Aushev’s work is being carried by one of the most authoritative Chechen politicians.
Judging by the mass media reports, the authorities and society have reacted calmly to Kadyrov’s initiative. Of course, polygamy in Chechnya is hardly to be legalized, but it unlikely that any struggle will be waged against it - the game is not worth the candle. The Chechen deputy prime minister and the muftis who supported him will be probably reproved, but politely and delicately, without any hysterical outcries about the ‘upcoming obscurantism’, a ‘threat to the secular character of the Russian state’ or an ‘anticonstitutional granting the status of a state religion to Islam’.
The main problem is different. The formation of proper islamic communities comes to fruition in Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia at present. They began to live according to the laws of their own. Moreover, local authorities are the major vehicles of these laws. Actual encouragement of polygamy, serious limitation on alcohol sale and spreading of gambling business, support of traditional family and censure of divorces, mandatory teaching of Islam in secondary schools (and often even in kindergartens) along with private, but very effective ban on the propagating of ‘family planning’, contraceptives and abortions create excellent conditions for birth rate increase. Both scholars, human rights advocates and authorities are well aware of it. They do not raise any claims, as they understand that it would be rather dangerous to keep the Dagestanias, Chechens and Ingushes from childbirth.
Let us say that a governor of the Belgorod region, for instance, would like to improve demographic situation by the ban on abortions and propagation of sexual perversions, while a local bishop would humbly ask for a limit on alcohol sales as well as a limit on entertainment performances at least during the Holy Week. No doubt, this might arose a storm of indignation among the liberally minded circles. Human rights advocates will write angry letters, and the U.S.Department of State religious report on Russia will be expanded with a whole section about violations of the rights and freedoms of relighious minorities and atheists. It is not difficult to imagine what this lead to.
And this is it.