Chechen leader Kadyrov responds to criticism of the forced marriage of a 17-year-old girl in Russia

Ramzan Kadyrov Chechen PresidentMaxim Shemetov/REUTERSChechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov smiles during a government organised event marking Chechen language day in central Grozny April 25, 2013.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov responded to criticism of the forced marriage of 17-year-old Kheda Goylabiyeva to the republic’s police chief Nazhud Guchigov, who is 30 years her senior, by telling men to “lock in” their wives to prevent them from posting on WhatsApp.

The BBC reports that the former Chechen warlord turned key Kremlin ally, who was present at the wedding, said:

“Stop. Behave like Chechens. Family honour is the most important thing.

“Do not write such things. Men, do take your women out of WhatsApp. Lock them in, do not let them go out, then they will not post anything.”

The story has garnered fierce criticism in Russia since the Russian investigative paper Novaya Gazeta reported that Goilabiyeva was being forced to marry a local official. He reportedly threatened her parents, demanding that he marry her on the day of her 17th birthday, May 1, and even warned that he would kidnap Goilabiyeva if she attempted to leave her house.

Photos from the wedding last weekend quickly spread across social media, with commentators noting that the bride-to-be looked devastated throughout and keep her eyes fixed on the floor.

Guchigov is still married to his first wife, who was pictured alongside his new bride on the day of the wedding, with whom he has a son.

The Kremlin has also come under fire after the government’s children’s rights ombudsman appears to give his support to the union, despite polygamy being illegal in Russia. In a post on Instagram he said: “No crimes have been committed and information about the violation of the underaged girl’s rights has not been confirmed.”

Kadyrov previously claimed that the anger over the wedding was “ordered by some liberal gentlemen” and claimed that the Novaya Gazeta story was “full of lies.”

Given the Kremlin’s desire to keep the peace in the troubled North Caucasus region, it is unlikely to press the point with its friendly strongman who has pledged his life in support of President Vladimir Putin. However, it is highly unlikely that those who have campaigned against these forced marriages will be so easily calmed.

NOW WATCH: 11 amazing facts about Vladimir Putin

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.