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GROZNY, Russia – What makes for a proper wedding in the eyes of Chechen authorities? No gunfire, keep the men and women at a distance on the dance floor and don't let the bride cut the cake.
These are among the recommendations issued last month by Department of Culture in the capital, Grozny, to safeguard the "spiritual and moral development" of the republic's young people. Although they don't have the force of law, the recommendations carry significant weight as Chechens are increasingly pressured to adopt conservative and Islamic ways under strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
In recent years, young people have become increasingly liberal with their behavior at weddings, neglecting more conservative Chechen traditions, said Madina Shagidaeva, a member of the city's culture department.
"I don't want to see immoral behavior," Shagidaeva said. "I want to see a dress code."
Restaurant and banquet hall owners will be encouraged to enforce the new regulations and discuss expectations with clients beforehand about how guests should conduct themselves. If guests don't behave on the dance floor, the music will be shut off until order is restored, said Zubair Bairakov, owner of a local wedding planning agency.
Shooting from any sort of weapon is also now considered undesirable behavior, according to the codex.
Traditionally at Caucasian weddings, members of the wedding party fire guns into the air to celebrate. However, this practice has been met with increasing annoyance in Russia's capital where an influx of Caucasian immigrants has brought with it an increase in Chechen weddings.
Chechen weddings are traditionally paid for by the groom and attended by his family members. The groom's friends and family members pick up the bride from her parents' house and bring her to the ceremony, where she is allocated a special place at the event, but does not take part in the dancing or other celebrations.
According to tradition, the groom should be absent from the ceremony entirely, meeting his bride after the festivities away from prying eyes.