Polygamy in Russia

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Polygamous marriages are not recognized in the Russian Federation. The Family Code of Russia states that a marriage can only be contracted between a man and a woman, neither of whom is married to someone else.[1] Furthermore, Russia does not recognize polygamous marriages that had been contracted in other countries.[2] However, under Russian law, de facto polygamy or multiple cohabitation in and of itself is not a crime.[3] Due to the shortage of men in Russia's population, it is not uncommon for men to father children with multiple women, and sometimes that results in households that are openly de facto polygamous.[4][5]

A number of Russian politicians, including Boris Nemtsov,[6] Vladimir Zhirinovsky,[7] and Ramzan Kadyrov,[8][9] as well as Muslim religious leaders such as Talgat Tadzhuddin,[10] have advocated granting legal recognition to polygamous marriage.

In July 1999, Ruslan Aushev, at the time the president of Ingushetia, signed a decree allowing men in the republic to marry up to four wives, in accordance with the Islamic tradition. Russia's justice minister immediately criticized the regional decree as unconstitutional since it directly contradicted provisions of a federal law (the Family Code).[11][12] Aushev's decree was struck down by the courts a year later, by which time over 15 men in Ingushetia had taken advantage of the right to officially register their marriages to multiple women.[13]


  1. ^ "Family Code of the Russian Federation, Articles 12 & 14" (in Russian). Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  2. ^ "Family Code of the Russian Federation, Article 158" (in Russian). Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  3. ^ Neither bigamy, nor polygamy, nor cohabitation is listed as a crime or offence in the Criminal Code of Russia or the Offences Code of Russia
  4. ^ "Russians beating demographics with polygamy". RT. 26 July 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  5. ^ Mira Katbamna (26 October 2009). "'Half a good man is better than none at all'". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  6. ^ Dmitri Gordon. Мужской разговор [A talk between men] (in Russian). Boris Nemtsov. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  7. ^ "Zhirinovsky: When One Wife Is Not Enough". The St. Petersburg Times. 6 February 2001. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  8. ^ "Ramzan Kadyrov Calls for Polygamy in Chechnya". Kommersant. 13 January 2006. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  9. ^ "Kadyrov Says Polygamy Reduces Promiscuity". The Moscow Times. 26 January 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  10. ^ Верховный муфтий России — за многоженство [Chief Mufti of Russia supports polygamy] (in Russian). Rosbalt. 13 January 2006. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  11. ^ "Russia says no to polygamy". BBC. 21 July 1999. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  12. ^ Многоженство в Ингушетии: президент разрешил, Минюст России против [Polygamy in Ingushetia: permitted by the president, opposed by the Ministry of Justice of Russia] (in Russian). gazeta.ru. 22 July 1999. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  13. ^ В Ингушетии отменили многоженство [Polygamy cancelled in Ingushetia] (in Russian). Lenta.Ru. 14 July 2000. Retrieved 6 August 2012.