Staunton, Mar. 21 – The Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) of the breakaway Luhansk Peoples Republic and its nine parishes of Muslims, most of whom are Tatar, Bashkir and North Caucasian mine workers there, have decided to break its relationship with the Ukrainian MSD and is seeking to become part of the MSD of Russia.
The Muslims of Luhansk say they are taking this step because they do not agree with the criticism Ukrainian Mufti Said Ismagilov has levelled at Russian military forces now active in Ukraine and believe that transferring their allegiance to the Russian MSD is thus “completely logical” (interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=78784).
But they may be jumping the gun. The statue of the MSD of Russia does not include any provisions for accepting membership from Muslim communities beyond the borders of the Russian Federation; and consequently, any consideration by it of the Luhansk MSD’s request is likely to be postponed until Moscow decides to annex the Luhansk Peoples Republic.
Indeed, while that may happen, the MSD of Russia has announced that for the time being, any such request will lead to an expansion of ties between itself and the Luhansk Muslims but not the inclusion of the latter in the Russian Muslim Spiritual Directorate. Nonetheless, the Luhansk action is a sign of that Russian-created statelet’s aspirations and expectations.