Staunton, May 30 – In 2007, Moscow gave Tehran a choice over where it could open a consulate, St. Petersburg or Kazan. Because of the economic position of the former, most people expected Iran to choose the northern capital; but it chose Kazan to be in a position to influence Russia’s Muslims, Ismagil Gibadullin says.
Gibadullin, now Tatarstan’s leading specialist on Iran, worked as a translator at the Iranian consulate there between 2009 and 2012. He says Iranian diplomats were quite active during that period in countering the influence of Turkey but for some reason are much less so now (business-gazeta.ru/article/511142).
“As far as I know,” he said, “Iran had a choice to open a consulate general in Kazan or in St. Petersburg. Economically, possibly, it would have made more sense to do so in the Northern Capital, but the Iranians chose Kazan. I think the decision was considered by cultural considerations.”
Tehran may have assumed, he suggests that “through Kazan, it would be more possible to build bridges with Russia’s Muslims especially since [the Iranians] could see that the Turks were actively working in this direction.” And despite the widespread view, many Muslims in Russia, including Tatars, are interested in and have a positive view of Iran.
Consequently, it made eminent sense for them to choose to locate their mission in Kazan, the distinguished translator of Persian and Turkic works and editor of the Kazan-based Islamospere portal (islamosfera.ru/) which carries news and information about Muslims in the post-Soviet states and more broadly.