February 3rd 2009 · Prague Watchdog / Dzhambulat Are · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS · ALSO AVAILABLE IN: RUSSIAN 

Adat for pre-schoolers (weekly review)

Adat for pre-schoolers (weekly review)

By Dzhambulat Are

GROZNY, Chechnya – Until recently it seemed that Kadyrov and his clique had almost reached the limits of their fertile imaginations, introducing more and more new prohibitions into the lives of a Chechen population that has been tormented to death by wars and local sondercommandos. But perfection knows no bounds. The omnipresent inspectors have now discovered another area of public life that paternal concern has left untended.

This time the tentacles of the indefatigable octopus have spread to Chechnya’s so-called “pre-school educational institutions”, or nursery schools. After making an in-depth study of the life and mores of pre-school children, the head of the republic’s Department of Preschool Education, Khamid Kalayev, arrived at a disappointing conclusion: it turns out that Chechen toddlers, like the irresponsible representatives of some other age groups, are cheekily ignoring the nation’s customs and traditions – the Adat. They play as they please, have their fun on very questionable pretexts, and are more or less being allowed to run wild with the Program of kindergarten education and instruction written back in Soviet days by the educationalist Mikhail Vasilyev.

Kalayev has decided to correct this defect, and to develop new rules of conduct which are in keeping with Ramzan Kadyrov’s general policy on the upbringing of the young. It is no secret that the head of the republic devotes serious attention to this problem. For two years now the "Ramzan" fan club has been active in Chechnya, supporting the President’s various initiatives aimed at improving the moral calibre of Chechen youth.

In his reflections on the moral health of the younger generation Kadyrov also looks beyond the republic. Last week in an interview for the Internet news agency Regnum he proposed that spiritual and moral education should be introduced for young people throughout the whole of Russia, to strengthen the patriotism of its citizens. "If a person has no patriotism, it does not matter where he works – in the police, in government, in local administration – if he does not love his nation, his religion, his Motherland, he will never give proper service. He will serve merely as his purse prompts him.” Kadyrov perceives a general impoverishment of spirit, "a disaster – prostitution, drugs, women turning into men and men into women."

As for Chechnya, it has had to fulfil the harsh requirements of Kadyrov’s regime for several years now. There are, however, doubts about the effectiveness of the system of ethical standards the President has put in place. For one thing it is not clear how in conditions of arbitrary violence where no one feels safe men can preserve their dignity, the sense that they are men. For another, Kadyrov’s brand of patriotism is plainly not a concept that unites people: a big part of the republic’s population has fled abroad.

But this is not to deny that there are also successes. In Chechen institutions of higher education the female students have long worn headscarves that bear the symbol of their alma mater. After the President issued some decrees, the republic’s Ministry of Education developed a strict code of regulations. The students’ behaviour is carefully monitored by representatives of the Muftiate. No one can hide from the gaze of the mullahs: neither the student with low grades who "slips away” from lectures, nor the attractive female student who stays too long at the hairdresser’s, nor the teacher who goes off on the sly for a cigarette in a secluded corner.

Rules of much the same kind have been introduced in Chechnya’s schools. The schoolgirls one sees today in a Chechen mountain village have little in common with the free-spirited maidens whose beauty was celebrated by the poets. The typical image is that of a girl lugging an excessively bulky schoolbag on her back as she makes her way through the mud and dirt of the street, her hand on the headscarf that is falling over her eyes.

A similar fate apparently now awaits pre-schoolers, too. Speaking on Chechen television, Khamid Kalayev announced that Vasilyev’s book is to be revised and enlarged “in accordance with the norms of national etiquette.”

The new method will take account of the ancient mountain laws and rules of conduct, or at any rate those that are considered important by the head of the republic. In the firm conviction that it has been appointed for eternity, the current Chechen government intends to shape a new type of human being.


Previous weekly reviews can be read at

(Translation by DM)




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