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Did a Journalist Save a Chechen Teenager from Marrying a 57-Year-Old Police Captain? No.

Image edited by Kevin Rothrock.

Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya's leader, stops a “runaway bride.” Image edited by Kevin Rothrock.

Last week, RuNet Echo reported that a Russian independent journalist had succeeded in preventing a 17-year-old Chechen girl from being married against her will to a 57-year-old police captain. It now appears the marriage will go through, after all.

The young woman, Heda Goilabieva, and her family contacted Elena Milashina, a Moscow-based journalist at Novaya Gazeta, to help them against the advances of Nazhud Guchigov, a police captain in the village of Baitarki in Chechnya's Nozhai-Yurt District.

Milashina was able to bring attention to the case by writing about it in the newspaper and online. On April 30, when she called Guchigov to confront him about the allegations, he denied any wedding preparations.

Then, on May 6, Elena Milashina reported on Facebook that her efforts to stop Guchigov ultimately failed.

Вчера в новостях по грозненскому телеканалу “Вайнах” Рамзан Кадыров заявил: “Я лично послал людей, узнайте согласна она или нет?! Ничего не оставалось делать, люди … И эта девочка, ее мать сказала , что девочка согласна ! И дедушка по отцу дал слово и согласие ! И все завершено по этому вопросу ! Так говорят они!

Yesterday on the Grozny-based television channel Vainakh, Ramzan Kadyrov announced, “I personally sent people [to Baitarki] to find out if [Goilabieva] agrees or not. There was nothing else to do, people … And this girl, her mother said the girl accepts! And her paternal grandfather gave his permission and approval! And so this question has been settled! That is what they are saying!”

Milashina emphasized the fact that the girl’s relatives had in fact appealed to her to help bring Kadyrov’s attention to the matter. Goilabieva’s friends also tried to contact Kadyrov through his preferred mode of communication, Instagram, but they were unsuccessful.

Milashina says money might have played a role in the parents’ change of heart.

Жених – начальник Ножай-Юртовского РОВД… потратил большие деньги на подарки (покупку?) юной второй жены

The groom is the head of the Nozhai-Yurt Interior Ministry… [and perhaps] he spent a lot of money on a present for (or buying?) a second wife.

Milashina added that she felt the girl’s father to be most responsible; that if he had been resolute in his rejection of Guchigov’s advances, his daughter might have been spared. There is in fact a precedent for such defiance, Milashina says:

Кстати, этот жених раньше сватался к другой юной девушке в этом же районе. Но ее родственники оказались более смелыми и увезли девочку.

By the way, this man previously sought another young girl for marriage in the same district. But her parents turned out to be braver and took her away.

Facebook users—including some journalists based in the North Caucasus—commented on Milashina's post, mostly faulting the Goilabiev family for failing to do more to rebuff Guchigov's advances.

Zarema Gasanova, a well-known journalist from Dagestan, wrote, “After all, there really have been people who have said no [even] to Kadyrov without fear.” She added, however, “But then in this sense maybe Kadyrov is better than that cop.”

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