MOSCOW—They were not celebrities; until a few weeks ago, nobody in Russia knew of the now sensational couple. She was a 17-year-old Chechen schoolgirl, and he a man 30 years her senior, a colonel in the Chechen police, a figure of authority in his region. Now theirs is the most discussed wedding of the year in Russia.
Among other things, it has drawn attention to polygamy in Muslim parts of the country, since the colonel made the girl his second wife. Is polygamy permitted by Russian law? No, it is not, but Chechnya is not Russia, many argue: it lives by its own morals, by its own laws, obeying the word of the republic’s boss, Ramzan Kadyrov.
A happy wedding or not, it was going to happen, because Kadyrov said so.
The atmosphere was tense at the marriage administration office on Saturday. During the official part of what Kadyrov personally called the “wedding of the millennium,” the bride did not smile even once. Her name is Louisa Goilabiyeva, known as Kheda to her family, a Chechen beauty with brown eyes, a soft smile and golden hair.
Press reports based on Goilabiyeva’s girlfriends’ comments on social networks suggested that her husband to be, Col. Nazhud Guchigov, had threatened reprisals against Goilabiyeva’s poor village family unless they allowed her marriage on the day of her 17th birthday, May 1st.