Staunton, July 10 – With the departure of American forces from Afghanistan and Kabul’s loss of control over ever more of the territory of that country, Central Asian and Russian governments have been concerned that the Taliban will follow up on its victories there are move first into adjoining countries and then into the Russian Federation.
As a result, the governments of these countries have sought reassurance that the Taliban has no such plans, and Taliban representatives have provided assurances that they will respect national borders, although it is far from clear to anyone what these promises are worth (jamestown.org/program/taliban-controls-afghanistans-northern-borders-unsettling-countries-near-and-far/).
What is clear is this: the Taliban has sympathizers and even activists not only in Central Asia but in the Russian Federation, at least if one is to judge by cases the authorities have brought against Muslim activists there since 2003 when those the authorities viewed as threats began to be linked to the Taliban.
Three journalists from Zona.Media, Aleksandr Borodikhin, Yuliya Suguyeva, and Anastasya Yasennitskaya, now provide a description of seven such cases in the intervening period, cases which suggest that the Taliban or at least those whom the authorities charge to be its associates has been active in Russia already for 18 years.
As the journalists note, it is not always clear that these charges are justified or are being used by officials to justify repression. But the number of them over such a long period does suggest that there is at least some Taliban infrastructure already in place in Russia. To the extent that is so, more arrests and an expanded crackdown are now likely.