Mayor Bans Firing Guns and 'Inappropriate Body Motions' at Chechen Weddings

The mayor of the Chechen capital city of Grozny has banned a long list of activities at weddings in area, including shooting firearms, cutting cake and "inappropriate body motions," as well as laying down strict guidelines for how young people should dance.

The list of 16 prohibited activities is documented in a decree, signed by mayor Muslim Huchiev and published by the city's department of culture last week but was only published online on Wednesday evening. The bans are largely geared toward young people as the document states they are intended to "promote a unified conception of the spiritual and moral upbringing and the development of the younger generation of the Chechen Republic."

Among the "strictly forbidden" activities are having an "unsober appearance" and "sporting clothing which does not correspond to the Chechen mentality," or making "various inappropriate body motions."

The list also contains a variety of new regulations on dancing. The bride is banned from dancing, while young guests are not allowed to begin dancing before a senior guest does. They are not allowed to ask permission to dance and are to keep others at least at an arm's length when dancing. They are also not allowed to change partners mid-dance.

Celebrations in Chechnya which involve dancing often do not require more than two people at a time on the dance floor, where the dancers do not need to be making physical contact with one another. Dances such as the Lezginka popular in Chechnya and across the Caucasus are performed at many celebrations and can be performed solo, by a couple or by a group.

According to the new regulation, another honoured aspect of Caucasus culture—the toastmaster—is to legally have a central role at Chechen weddings. The male toastmaster, known as "Chovs" in Chechnya is entrusted with watching that the guests observe the new regulations rules. He is also in charge of allowing boys the right to approach the dancefloor, while a female equivalent, "Zhovs," is in charge of the girls.

Staff servicing a wedding are also bound by the new Grozny city restrictions at weddings and the mayoral document states that the police must be called on occasions that the guests' behavior and actions violate the rules.

Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim-populated republic in Russia's North Caucasus, has grown increasingly conservative under the rule of regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov who was successfully nominated as regional president by Russian President Vladimir Putin himself in 2007, as soon as Kadyrov reached the minimum required age of 30.

While Kadyrov and his father were involved in the secessionist effort in Chechnya in the early 1990s, as the conflict lurched towards full-scale combat with Russian authorities, the two switched allegiances. Since the start of the millenia Kadyrov has been a devoted supporter of Putin.

In May, Kadyrov requested that men in Chechnya stop their wives from using the messaging app WhatsApp, after locals in the region managed to alert journalists of an allegedly forced wedding between a schoolgirl and a 47-year-old police chief, rumored to have still been married to another woman.

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