Authorities in Russia’s Chechnya Republic are claiming success in an unconventional, sweeping campaign to compel people who have divorced to reunite, for the sake of the children — and, they say, to help in the fight against terrorism. Chechnya is not an independent country, but one of Russia’s federal republics, with its own government.
President Ramzan Kadyrov claims children of divorced parents are more likely to become Islamist terrorists, and so ordered a programme of ‘family reconciliation’,which the country’s president claims will help defeat ISIS. The reconciliations have been pushed through even in cases where the ex-husband has remarried, forcing former spouses to become their second wife.
He launched his ‘family reconciliation’ scheme in June, claiming that children of married couples were less likely to become radicalised and turn to Islamist extremism.
‘We’ve got to wake people up, talk to them and explain. We’ve got to return the women who left their husbands and reconcile them. This is a priority,’ Kadyrov said according to The Independent.
He claimed that most of the young men who had committed crimes in Chechnya in recent years grew up in “incomplete families” and argued that “out of 100 of those families, at the most five or six are normal”.
“Our first task is to return women who left their husbands, reconcile them,” Mr Kadyrov said.
Chechen state television announced this week that “948 families have been reunited” by a special commissions of government, law enforcement and religious officials, which some residents have said pressure people to live together even in adverse circumstances.
Several residents have told Russian publications that couples are often coerced into getting back together.
“If you refuse then you’re going against not just religious institutions and traditions, but also against President wishes. It’s this form of pressure,” a woman in Grozny named Zarema told the independent news site Caucasian Knot. “Clearly there’s nothing to do but agree when they pressure you from all sides.”
Another divorced Heda, who divorced from her ex-husband years ago, said she was talked into returning to him after Islamic clerics came to her house to convince her to do so. She said she did it to be with her children, who live with him.
“A mother will put up with anything for her children,” she said. “Hopefully now everything will work out.”