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What's The Price Of Love?

According to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, you first have to calculate the inflation rate.

Early this week, a council of Muslim scholars met with the president of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, in that North Caucasus republic to discuss reforms.

They agreed on a few things:

1) raising the kalym, the dowry under Shari'a law, from 12,500 rubles ($400) to 40,000 ($1,200) rubles;

2) upping the price of settling a blood feud to 1 million rubles ($32,300).

A government website claims that raising the kalym "would make grooms more responsible."

In a televised meeting with Yevkurov on July 7, Putin worked out some calculations for the North Caucasus leader. The price of a dowry, he said, had risen more quickly than the national inflation rate of 6 percent.

"You don't need to nurture the inflation rate," Putin joked with Yevkurov.

But behind all the humor, there is at least one glaring question: What is a dowry system still doing in Ingushetia?

Technically, the Republic of Ingushetia exists under the Russian Constitution, which has no provisions for dowries or for polygamy, which, while illegal under the Russian Constitution, is prominent in the Caucasus.

Last year, Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed leader of the Chechnya, openly voiced his support for polygamy, saying that "if it is allowed in Islam, it is not up for discussion."

Originally, critics and commentators suggested the Russian government was simply turning a blind eye to the region's observance of Shari'a in exchange for stability in the North Caucasus. But Putin debating the kalym in terms of Russian economic policy seems like the pre-nup between Shari'a law and the Russian government.

-- Ashley Cleek