War-torn Chechnya must embrace polygamy to counter a gender imbalance caused by years of armed conflict, says the pro-Kremlin head of the militia that enforces control in most of the republic. Ramzan Kadyrov (29), a father of five and acting Prime Minister of Chechnya, said there were at least 9 per cent fewer males than females. ``[Polygamy] is necessary because we have a war here,'' he said in an interview with the Ekho Moskvy radio station. ``It's allowed by Sharia law: every man who can maintain them must have four wives. I welcome that.'' Polygamy is illegal under Russian law.Years of fighting between separatists and Federal forces, poor health care and migration have robbed Chechnya of many young men. Up to 200,000 persons have died in the conflict since 1994. Muslim leaders in Moscow backed Mr. Kadyrov, saying polygamy should be rolled out across Russia.

- Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005