Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Window on Eurasia: Muslims Join Anti-Putin Movement

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 10 – Although Kremlin loyalists in the predominantly Muslim republics of the Russian Federation may by one means or another deliver high vote totals for Vladimir Putin in the upcoming elections, some Muslim activists are now supporting the anti-Putin movement and have issued a call for others in the community to do the same.

            In today’s “Tatarskaya gazeta,” journalist Khalida Khamidullina notes that “many Muslims as citizens have not remained on the sidelines at the all-Russian protests against the falsification of elections” and that some of them have now drafted an Islamic Civic Charter (www.tatargazeta.ru/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=233:2012-01-10-10-37-45&catid=4:2010-11-04-15-26-09&Itemid=11).  

            On December 26, Vadim Sidorov, one of the leaders of the National Organization of Ethnic Russian Muslims (NORM), and his colleagues drafted what they call “the Islamic Civic Charter,” a document that repeats many of the same demands that the two major waves of demonstrations against the falsification of elections and Putin already had.

            Specifically, that document makes the following demands: It calls for “the immediate liberatin and full pardon of prisoners of consciences and political prisoners,” the annulment of paragraphs 280 and 282 of the Russian criminal code, the elimination of “all subidivisions of law enforcement organs and special services involved with suppressing dissent under the form of the struggle with extremism” (islamhartiya.livejournal.com/415.html).

            In addition, it calls for the elimination of “lists of prohibited literature and the practice of banning literature, the annulment of the 1997 law on freedom of conscience and religious organizations, and the replacement of the current law on political parties to allow such groups to be formed “on a regional, religious and nationality” basis.

            The charter also calls for “honest and transparent elections [in Russia] under the control of international organizations and human rights advocates,” “a return to the principles of real federalism,” including budgetary federalism, and an end to efforts to “solve national and religious questions by the application of crude military and police force.”

            And it concludes by demanding “the political resolution of the Caucasus problem by means of broad dialogue with social forces and the participation of authoritative mediators,” all points that go beyond the specific demands of the calls for honest elections and an end to Putin’s dominance in Russian politics.

            Yesterday, the authors of this charter met with Ilya Ponomaryev, a Just Russia Duma deputy, to reiterate this points, secure his promise of assistance, to announce plans for a website advancing these goals, and to declare their plans to participate in protest meetings on February 4 (islamhartiya.livejournal.com/892.html).

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