47-year-old police chief marries 17-year-old teenager
An ally of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov married a 17-year-old girl on Saturday despite already having another wife, in apparent violation of Russian laws against polygamy.
Kadyrov, who has ruled Chechnya with an iron fist since being installed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2007, was said to have given his personal blessing for the marriage between a 47-year-old local police chief and the teenager.
The girl looked despondent as she entered the marriage registry office in the Chechen capital Grozny, an AFP journalist witnessed. She was asked three times whether she wanted to marry the police chief, Nazhud Guchigov, before finally responding yes.
The procession then carried on to a restaurant, where Kadyrov was present and celebrated with traditional dances.
Several of those in attendance told AFP however that they disapproved of the marriage owing to the difference in age between the two.
"I would have killed my daughter before letting her marry like that," one woman said on condition of anonymity. "I am against early marriages."
Announced in late April, the wedding led to an outcry in Russia, with several news reports alleging that the teenager had been forced into the marriage.
Kremlin human rights commissioner Ella Pamfilova had denounced the marriage as medieval and said she hoped that it would not take place. She called for sanctions if it were carried out.
Kadyrov however said on his Instagram account that "these publications are only lies! Love has no age".
Russia's child rights commissioner, Pavel Astakhov, said that the wedding did not violate laws on the minimum age for marriage, but he has not responded to questions regarding polygamy.
Kadyrov, 38, has helped the Kremlin battle an insurgency in the North Caucasus.
But the former rebel -- accused by human rights groups of overseeing torture, extrajudicial executions and corruption -- has shown an increased readiness in recent months to challenge Putin's authority.
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