Staunton, May 16 – Because of the heightening of international tensions as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, the threat of Islamist extremism coming into Central Asia is on the rise and may soon spread beyond that region into Russian Federation, according to Central Asian and Russian specialists.
At a Bishkek conference last week, Iogr Shetakov, a Russian specialist on Central Asia who works at the Oy Ordo Center, said that extremist and terrorist groups are now entering Central Asia in such numbers that they will likely move on into Muslim region of the Russian Federation as well. Central Asian speakers agreed with him.
(For the remarks of both on this potentially explosive development, see nazarnews.org/ru/posts/foto-igor-shestakov-problema-i-popyitki-radikalnoj-islamizatsii-naseleniya-tsa-yavlyaetsya-aktualnoj-i-dlya-rossii and region.kg/article/marat_imankulov_aktivizacziya_terroristov_v).
Up to now, Shestakov says, Russia has been able to cope; but “the level of the threat continues to be significant and the struggle in the first instance for the minds of young people is actively taking place in social networks. This effort is being conducted … by experts” and thus the fight against it requires the joint efforts of Russian and Central Asian authorities.
Shestakov’s words suggest that his primary reason for raising this issue is not that the Islamist threat has increased but rather that the authorities in Moscow want to find another justification for expanding cooperation with Central Asian countries.