Moscow police swoop on fake 'bride kidnapping'

Moscow police patrol car Image copyright EPA
Image caption More than 180 officers were mobilised over what turned out to be a wedding tradition

Moscow police sprang into action when a witness reported seeing a group of men bundling a young woman into a minivan and driving off, only to discover they'd stumbled upon a wedding ritual.

As soon as they received the report, the police activated Intercept - a rapid-reaction plan to stop kidnappings, according to their official website. In the space of half an hour more than 180 officers checked 24 similar vehicles, before stopping the suspicious minivan in the north-east of the city.

They seized five men, only for the "happy young bride" to explain that they were simply acting out a "bride kidnapping", Russia 24 TV reports. It was merely a symbolic re-enactment of an ancient practice by which a groom would kidnap the woman he wanted to marry - often against her wishes - and hold her to ransom.

The ritual is still common in the Caucasus and Central Asia, where cases of genuine bride kidnappings also occur despite being illegal. Women in Kazakhstan have recently launched the "Don't Stay Silent" campaign to counter this and other forms of violence against women, the Tengrinews site reports.

Moscow police say this was the third time they've been called out over similar incidents in the past week, according to the official Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper. They now plan to make a "procedural decision" on how to respond to such eye-witness reports in future.

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