The Daghestani Muslim Woman Who Would Be Russia’s President – OpEd


More than three dozen candidates have registered or plan to register to run against Vladimir Putin for the office of Russian president, but perhaps the most striking is Ayna Zairbekovna Gamzatova, the wife of and advisor to Akhmad Abdulayev, the head of the Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) of Daghestan.

Her supporters have announced plans for a meeting on December 30 in Makhachkala so that she can file registration documents in Moscow by January 1 (

Gamzatova is an impressive figure in her own right. She is a member of the Russian journalists’ union, the chief editor of the republic journal Islam, and the head of a media holding in that North Caucasus republic which owns television, radio and print outlets. But she is most widely known as the wife of the Daghestani mufti.

Because of that, some Daghestanis oppose her candidacy because they do not think that the wife of a mufti should be running for the presidency of Russia.

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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