Friday, August 20, 2021

Muslim Draftees in Russian Military Increasingly Disobeying Orders on Religious Grounds, Colonel Says

Paul Goble

            August 17 – Sergey Ivaneyev, a retired lieutenant colonel who advises Russia’s Federal Agency for Nationality Affairs, says that Muslim draftees in the Russian military are increasingly refusing to obey orders on religious grounds, action that compromise unit cohesion and military effectiveness.

            Writing in this week’s NG-Religii, the member of that agency’s public advisory council, he says that such “unhealthy tendencies” are increasingly in evidence in the Russian armed forces and urges that commanders and the government as a whole take steps to stem such actions before they spread still further (

            According to Ivaneyev, “supports of the idea of the global Islamic world by means of social networks and personal contacts are seeking to intensify the religious and nationalistic feelings of Muslims in Russia and to galvanize them with the idea of ‘the holiness’ of the Muslim faith.”

            Unfortunately, he continues, mid-grade and senior officers can think of nothing better to offer than to talk about tolerance, an approach that fails to address the problem and reflects their fundamental ignorance of the emerging Islamist threat within the ranks they command. And they do little to promote the kind of secular attitudes on which a multinational army must rest.

            Unfortunately too, the military advisor says, “in the North Caucasus as in the country as a whole has evolved a spiritual and moral atmosphere when the propaganda of religious convictions is considered the norm and the promotion of secular, scientific and materialist values is treated as a deviation.”

            As a result, “it has become common for draftees from the North Caucasus to disobey the orders of commanders and insist on national customs which violate military rules, and refuse to be examined” by Russian doctors. Many of them now “refuse to shave because they consider themselves ‘true Muslims.’”

Indeed, Ivaneyev says, “most of these recruits show themselves open to the ideas of radical Islam,” something that threatens both the military and Russia as a whole. The spread of such pernicious views must be countered not by the work of other religions but rather by the promotion of secularism as such.

If that doesn’t happen, he suggests, there is a risk that some units will not be able to carry out their orders, especially if those orders involve using force against Muslims.

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