The Controversial Rise of Chechnya’s Young President Ramzan Kadyrov

The Controversial Rise of Chechnya’s Young President Ramzan Kadyrov

The assembled contestants for the 2007 "Mrs. World" competition, a spin-off of the better-known "Miss World" contest, gathered in late-February in Gudermes, Chechnya, where they were feted by the republic's guileful young President, Ramzan Kadyrov. Staged as part of an ongoing attempt by the Kremlin, and its proxy regime in Chechyna, headed by Kadyrov, to showcase the supposed "normalization" of Chechen society after 15 years of turmoil, the whole affair made for a quite an absurd spectacle.

The collection of beauties, dubbed the "world's most beautiful married women," made quite an impression on President Kadyrov. As Chechnya's acting president -- he was officially confirmed to the post on March 2 -- Kadyrov was apparently especially taken with "Mrs. Kenya," Caroline Verkaik. In apparent jest, he issued a marriage proposal to Mrs. Verkaik.

Or could it have been, given Kadyrov's well-known pro-polygamy sentiments, that the president was quite serious? In any case, Mrs. Verkaik quite ably deflected her rambunctious suitor. As the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported: "Aware of the Chechen marriage custom of redeeming the bride, the Kenyan lady asked for money for redemption. Ramzan Kadyrov went away but soon appeared with two horses, a white goat and a couple of hens. Mrs. Verkaik was so surprised that she hugged the president and promised to be back next year."

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