Thursday, August 26, 2021

Russian Experts Fear Influx of Afghan Refugees and Upsurge in Anti-Muslim Attitudes

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Augusts 25 – Experts at a Social Chamber roundtable devoted to the ethnic situation in Russia in advance of the Duma elections say they are worried that many Afghan refugees will come through Central Asia into the Russian Federation and that there will be an upsurge in anti-Muslim attitudes in the country.

            While most participants said they expected the primary refugee flow from Afghanistan will go toward Europe and the United States, many argued that large numbers will come north into Central Asia and then, because Moscow has no visa restrictions on these countries into the Russian Federation (

            And echoing Vladimir Putin, they expressed concern that among these refugees would be terrorists who might then launch attacks inside Russia. To counter that, the experts called for the siloviki to step up efforts to filter any refugees who do come north before they can launch any such attacks.

            At the same time, participants in the roundtable said that they fear there will be a rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric in Russia because of the fears many have about the possible influx of Muslim refugees from Afghanistan and that this migrantophobia will also be directed at Muslims already living in the Russian Federation.

            That creates a potentially explosive situation, especially as the country approaches an election and some candidates seek to exploit Russian fears to attack the government or win support for themselves. 

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