ISSN 2330-717X

‘Islamization Of Russia Won’t Happen If’ Harsh Measures Taken Now – OpEd

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To avoid the Islamization of the Russian Federation, Andrey Soshenko says, Moscow must immediately “change its migration policy” to limit the influx of people from Central Asia and the Caucasus, force the leaders of “Russian territories to stop searching for ‘multi-nationality,’ and “not allow in the legal code the concept of the civic Russian nation.”

The president of the Kaluga section of the Russian Assembly offers a laundry list of changes Russian nationalists have long wanted, but several of the details of what he says are especially intriguing and likely to have exactly the opposite impact on the fate of Russia that he hopes for (ruskline.ru/news_rl/2017/07/03/islamizacii_rossii_ne_proizojdet_esli/).

Soshenko accepts Roman Silantyev’s dismissal of recent polls showing that already 30 percent of the Russian population identifies as Islamic, but he says that the specialist on Islam may be guilty of exaggerating the growth in the number of ethnic Russians because the data he offers are old.

But in addition to calling for filtering out non-tradition Muslims from the gastarbeiter influx, the Russian activist calls for something the full implications of which he may not understand but that flows from the Moscow Patriarchate’s notions about “canonical territories,” that is areas which are historically Orthodox and thus within its jurisdiction.

Soshenko extends this idea to Islam. He argues that “state support of Islam (along with Orthodoxy) must occur on the territories of the historical practice of this religion but not on ethnic Russian territories. But in practice in Russia today, everything is mixed up and just the reverse is being done.”

Moscow’s current Strategy of Nationality Policy and its program for Strengthening the Unity of the Russian Nation and the Ethno-Cultural Development of the Peoples of Russia promotes the idea that Russia should become a melting pot of ethnicities in which all will be combined into something chimerical.

No one is defending the ethnic Russians against the corrupting influence of this process. But what Soshenko proposals, dividing the country up into areas defined as Russian with only Russian institutions and others defined as Muslim with only Muslim institutions would have the effect of dividing the Russian Federation far more profoundly than anything up to now.

In this Russian nationalist’s view, today “there is no long left to defend the interests of ethnic Russians on historically ethnic Russian territories., there are no Russian communities and organizations or very few.” Instead, there are government agencies that protect and promote the interests of everyone else.

Soshenko certainly would be pleased to have his ideas lead to a ban on the construction of mosques in areas where Muslims do not have a long history; but he would almost certainly be less pleased by a ban on Russian Orthodox institutions in areas where Russians do not have a long history at the same time.

Indeed, his ideas are a recipe for something that has never happened in Russia before: a religious war, one that would be far nastier than any ethnic conflict there has ever been and one that almost certainly would produce exactly the opposite of what he hopes for, tearing the country apart in the name of holding it together.


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Paul Goble

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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