Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Is Moscow about to Transform Occupied Crimea into an Islamist Enclave?

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 9 – Even as the occupation forces do everything they can to repress the Crimean Tatars, the most consistent opponents of Vladimir Putin’s Anschluss of their homeland, some in the Russian Duma are proposing to “open the peninsula to migrants from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan,” thereby creating Ruslan Gorevoy warns a radical Muslim enclave there.

            If the Duma’s plans are realized,  he says, the Muslim share of the population of the peninsula will more than double from 12 percent now to 25 percent in a few years, and those new arrivals will be introduce Islamist radicalism that will threaten Russian control from a new direction, the Versiya writer says (versia.ru/kak-krym-prevrashhayut-v-musulmanskij-anklav).

            (Gorevoy does not address it but Putin’s policies have already succeeded in transforming  the Chechen national challenge from a specifically ethnic one to a much larger Muslim and even Islamist one, and so it seems entirely consistent that Moscow will again pursue a self-defeating policy in Crimean by attacking ethno-nationalism and thus allowing Islamism to spread.)

            The Duma deputies seem set on this course because the draft bill “on the legal status of foreign citizens in Russia” contains a provision which allows Uzbeks and Tajiks who are distant relatives of deported Crimean Tatars to gain Russian citizenship without going through the checks that Moscow now insists upon for others from those Central Asian countries.

            Not only have the Duma deputies failed to focus on this opening to Islamist groups, Gorevoy continues, but they appear oblivious to the fact that this segment of the proposed law in fact reflects the ideas of some but far from all Crimean Tatar nationalists in the 1990s that to become a national republic, they must take in more Muslims and not just Crimean Tatars.

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