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Report: Chechen women attacked with paintball guns for 'immodest' dress

According to Human Rights Watch, Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov has launched a 'virtue campaign' that includes punishing women for 'immodest' dress.

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A salesclerk adjusts a headscarf on a mannequin in a shop at Grozny's central market, Chechnya, on Thursday, March 10. Chechnya's strongman Ramzan Kadyrov has imposed an Islamic dress code on women, and has sent vigilantes into the streets to attack disobedient women with paintball guns, according to a report.

Musa Sadulayev/AP

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Chechnya's Kremlin-installed strongman Ramzan Kadyrov has ordered Chechen women to wear "modest attire" that covers their entire bodies, including their heads, whenever they go outdoors, and has sent vigilantes into the streets to attack disobedient women with paintball guns, according to a report just released by New York-based Human Rights Watch.

The often violent "virtue campaign" that Mr. Kadyrov launched in 2006 contravenes Russian law and violates the basic constitutional rights of Chechen women, who are Russian citizens, the group says. Yet both the Kremlin and Kadyrov's main sponsor, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, have remained silent about the issue.

Although Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office has directed Chechen authorities to look into the paintball attacks, the federal authorities have not otherwise taken any steps to put an end to the Chechen leadership’s enforcement of a compulsory Islamic dress code in Chechnya.

The Kremlin has fought two bloody wars against separatist insurgencies in the past 17 years, aimed at forcing mainly Muslim Chechnya to remain under Russian sovereignty. Two years ago Moscow declared victory and withdrew most troops, leaving Chechnya under Kadyrov's control.

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