Staunton, February 21 – Anatoly Rudy, deputy head of Russia’s prison system, says the number of followers of “aggressive trends of Islam” is growing rapidly because of the activities of 29,000 Uzbeks, Tajiks and Kyrgyz now behind bars in Russia. The situation is so dire that he has appealed to Muslim Spiritual Directorates (MSDs) in those countries for assistance.
In the past, Russian penal officials have placed the blame for this problem on Muslims from the North Caucasus who have been sentenced for “extremism” and who some jailors would like to see segregated out from the general prison population. Rudy’s remark is intriguing because it links extremism to gastarbeiters (lenta.ru/news/2018/02/16/islam/).
“In one colony,” Rudy says, “where half of the condemned consist of people from the republics of Central Asia, disorders have occurred. The religious community has entered into conflict with ‘the common jail subculture’ and as a result, force had to be used to address” this challenge to the order of the prison.
“We have fascists and nationalists and we know how to work with them,” the prison official said. “But with people who profess aggressive forms of Islam, we do not know what to do.” If Muslim officials from these countries or from Russia can help, that would be extremely welcome, Rudy concluded.
The penal official’s comments will undoubtedly help to power a new upsurge in anti-Central Asian attitudes among Russians.