Chechnya’s outgoing parliament moved Saturday to strip civil rights from those deemed to oppose the republic’s independence from Russia - even banning them from wearing the traditional lambskin hat.
The action came on the same day Chechens voted in a second round of elections for a new Parliament. An extremely low turnout threatened to send most or even all of the 58 undecided races to a third round.
The outgoing Parliament sent a clear message that it will accept nothing less than independence from Russia.
It adopted a law that allows for severely limiting the civil rights of people “who by deliberate actions oppose the cause of independence and strengthening the state of the Chechen republic.”
The punishments, to last for five to 10 years, would be meted out by an 11-member commission the parliament voted to create. How guilt will be determined was left unstated.
Those found guilty would be deprived of the right to vote, hold public office, work in the mass media, teach, carry or possess firearms, or “wear mustaches or papakhas.”
The papakha is the Chechens’ trademark lambskin hat, and a high percentage of men in the predominantly Muslim republic wear mustaches.
The new law underscores the legal and cultural shifts under way since secessionist Chechnya won a 20-month war against Russia - many of them emphasizing the region’s Muslim character. Chechnya already has established 20 Islamic courts, with separate courtrooms for men and women.
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