Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov urged men in his country that they ban their wives from using popular instant messaging application Whatsapp, the website of TV station Russia Today reported on Thursday.
Kadyrov made the remarks as he spoke to a group pf people who had been caught “gossiping” about a marriage between a 46-year-old Chechen police commander and a 17-year-old girl, which made international headlines.
“Be Chechens, think of your children. Family honor is the most important thing, don’t let anyone slander it. Don’t write in WhatsApp. Men, make your women leave the [WhatsApp] groups,” he told a crowd of men and women.
Many Russians expressed outrage over the nuptials, causing a firestorm in the media and putting Kadyrov – a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin – on the defensive.
The wedding went forward over the weekend anyway, the bride deathly pale and her voice barely audible as she agreed to marry Nazhud Guchigov, who reportedly was taking her as his second wife as allowed by Islamic, but not Russian, law.
Kadyrov’s chief of staff played the best man, clutching the bride by the elbow to control her every step, and Kadyrov himself danced a folk dance at the wedding reception.
Kadyrov has enjoyed an exclusive relationship with Putin, who saw him as the linchpin for peace in Chechnya after two devastating separatist wars that killed tens of thousands. In exchange for restoring stability, Putin gave Kadyrov, a former rebel, carte blanche to run the region in the North Caucasus as his personal fiefdom and funded a costly reconstruction.