Friday, January 14, 2022

Ingushetia Only Federal Subject whose Official Muslim Structure Operates Openly but Illegally, Chaiyeva Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 25 – Ingushetia is the only place in the Russian Federation where the Muslim hierarchy exists openly and outside of the Russian legal field, creating the basis for dual power split between religious and secular authorities in a republic that is still wracked by the 2019 land deal with Chechnya and the trials that have resulted from it, Tanzila Chabiyeva says.

            The Caucasus specialist at the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology says that this remarkable situation has arisen because former Ingush head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was not able to ban the local Muslim Spiritual Directorate and current republic head Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov has simply ignored the issue (

            As a result, and because the Spiritual Center of Muslims of the Ingush Republic (as the republic MSD or muftiate is called) enjoys widespread popular support, it continues to function as it did in the past even though it has been banned, something that further undermines the already weak position of the government there and its current head Kalimatov. 

            Until a decade ago, relations between the Ingush muftiate and the civil leadership of the republic were developing on the basis of “a completely positive dialogue,” Chabiyeva says. But the situation deteriorated after the appointment of Yunus-Bek Yevkurov as republic head in 2008 because the republic’s mufti was sharply critical of many of the government chief’s actions.

            To weaken the muftiate and set the stage for its disappearance from the scene, Yevkurkov in 2016 transferred its functions to an Administration for Religious Affairs in his own office. The muftiate was then banned shortly after Yevkurov left office but relations with his successor Kalimatov deteriorated further.

            Kalimatov is generally unpopular because he has “ignored all kinds of attempts by society to attract his attention to the more serious issues in the republic” and he has not gotten rid of obviously corrupt officials. In short, the Moscow scholar says, the secular power and religious leadership in Ingushetia now “ignore one another.”


            In this situation, the muftiate has continued to function because the government has not made that impossible, the share of the population which follows Islam exceeds 98 percent and is a thus a powerful resource, and the functions the Islamic leaders provide need to be met by someone, Chebiyev says.


            “It is obvious that this situation, which it is difficult to imagine in any other region of Russia must be corrected,” she concludes. ”In Ingushetia, there must be a centralized Muslim religious organization existing in the legal field of Russia,” rather than acting on its own outside of that field.

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