Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Mufti Albir Krganov – Putin’s Favorite among Muslim Leaders of Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 18 – Talgat Tajuddin, the last Soviet-era mufti still in office, will turn 75 in a few weeks. His most likely successor and someone who actually might have the power to create what some call a single “Muslim patriarchate” in Russia could be Albir Krganov, 46, who is a Soviet-style traditionalist and apparently Putin’s favorite among Russia’s Muslim leaders.

            When Tajuddin appeared on the verge of retirement in 2015, Krganov was tipped to succeed him; but the Ufa mufti was able to hold on. As a result, with the help of the Kremlin, Krganov had a new all-Russian Muslim organization created for him, the Spiritual Assembly of the Muslims of Russia (idelreal.org/a/32589432.html).

            Krganov first caught Putin’s attention at the start of the second post-Soviet Chechen war when he travelled to the front lines to provide support for the Kremlin’s aggression. After that, the mufti was included in various presidential council after the personal intervention of Putin himself.

            According to Rinat Mukhametov, an Islamicist who specializes on the politics of the MSDs, “Krganov occupies a special position: if Tajuddin is simply super-loyal, then [Krganov} is super-loyal to the powers that be even when none of them ask him to be. Given that and his age – he’s a generation younger than Tajuddin – he is clearly a prime candidate for preferment.

            Mukhametov says that Krganov “embodies ‘traditional’ Islam, that is its Soviet variant. He is oriented toward the older generation, engages in ceremonials without serious religious activity and without any theological content.” And he opposes Ravil Gainutdin, the head of the Union of Muftis of Russia, who is both activist and less servile.

            And in a move sure to please Putin and the Kremlin, Krganov has even joined the Two-Headed Eagle society of monarchists who routinely spout Black Hundreds ideas and support the creation of a neo-Soviet, Orthodox-Stalinist “Russia world.”

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