Staunton, April 23 – Roman Silantyev, a specialist on Islam who works for the World Russian Public Council, said five years ago that “700,000 Islamists” are currently living and working within the Russian Federation and that for the good of the country, they must be “liquidated” (golosislama.com/news.php?id=31080).
“If the number of Muslims physically “destroyed’ on the basis of this policy has fallen far short of the figure Silantyev called for,” Kharun Sidorov says, “the total number of [Muslims so identified by the state] killed, arrested and expelled from the country is not very much less.” Worse, the numbers continue to grow (idelreal.org/a/31817427.html).
The Prague-based analyst says that it is clear that Moscow understands Islamism to be any view at odds with what one should call “Russian state Islam,” that is, Islam organized under muftiates controlled by the government in general and the special services in particular. Everything else is extremism.
Since coming to power, Vladimir Putin has followed this line, closing Turkish lycees, arresting followers of Nursi, and charging Muslims who disagree with the state system with being extremists, incarcerating a large number and forcing others to leave Russian for residence abroad, Sidorov continues.
When Ukraine’s Crimea was occupied by Russia in 2014, the Russian authorities cracked down on all independent Muslim activities with massive repression, an approach that the Putin regime has since extended to the regions of the Russian Federation.
Sidorov notes that such repressions have not been limited to Muslims but also have extended to Jehovah’s Witnesses, Protestant denominations, and all Orthodox groups which refuse to subordinate themselves to the control of the Moscow Patriarchate.
What is striking in all this is the regional approach Moscow has employed. “If repressions against Salafites have occurred mainly in the Caucasus and against communities and academic institutions with Turkic roots in the Turkic republics of the Middle Volga, then repressions against Christian, quasi-Christian and new religious movements have been most common east of the Urals.”
But in the last two years, there are clear signs that the Kremlin is extending this repressive policy to the major cities. In 2021, it arrested the head of a leading Islamic publishing house in Moscow, and its latest arrests of Tatars has involved people who have been living in St. Petersburg.
One can perhaps be permitted to hope that as arrests and other forms of repression come to the capitals, more people will pay attention to and denounce the unconstitutional and illegal actions of the Putinist state in this regard.