Brides-to-be planning weddings in Chechnya should add extra place settings for a few uninvited guests at their marriage celebrations: groups of Chechen law-enforcement officials who will attend weddings to rein in the guests’ behavior.
A bride dancing at her own wedding, for example? Well, that’s taking it a little bit too far.
Authorities in the capital of Grozny have sent out a list of fresh expectations to restaurants and other venues that host weddings to ensure there are no misunderstandings about what is and isn’t allowed. Chechnya is semi-autonomous Russian republic, ruled by Ramzan Kadyrov, a warlord loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Some of the banned activities take aim at the very heart of most weddings: Guests are not meant to get drunk, trade dance partners, fire their guns, or, of course, allow the bride to dance.
“We will set up special working groups, whose representatives will be present at weddings in public places, and check that the demands of a traditional wedding are met,” a Chechen Ministry of Culture representative told Russian state news agency Tass. “If they see clothes that do not match our mentality, or incorrect dance movements, they will intervene.”
These rules will likely not, of course, apply to Kadyrov himself, who has overseen a number of lavish weddings and even controversially encouraged the marriage of a 17-year-old girl to a local police chief last year, saying that “love is for all ages.”
And among a cache of U.S. diplomatic cables released to the public by WikiLeaks was a memo from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow that recounted how Kadyrov attended a wedding in Dagestan in 2006, and “danced clumsily with his gold-plated automatic stuck down the back of his jeans.”
Still, the fact Chechen officials are now going so far as to deploy wedding monitors indicates they’re taking the whole crackdown quite seriously. Last year, they announced a number of similar bans on wedding activities, including cutting the cake and partners dancing closer than an arm’s length from each other. It’s unclear what the guests were supposed to do with the cake if no one was allowed to cut it, but the government apparently sent out some pilot squads last year to see if they would do the trick. Clearly, guests must have kept breaking the rules if the government is now adding extra cops to make sure weddings say above board.
“Some have the impression that this is a human rights violation, but this is not the case,” the head of the Chechen government’s cultural department Dina Shagidayeva told Russian news agency RIA Novosti last year.
Photo credit: ILIA VARLAMOV/AFP/Getty Images
Correction, Oct. 27, 2016: The diplomatic cable was sent from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow after officials attended a wedding in Dagestan. A previous version mistakenly said it was sent from the U.S. Embassy in Dagestan. The United States does not have a diplomatic mission in Dagestan.