Rais Suleymanov - Head of the Volga Center for Regional and Ethnoreligious Studies of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS). RISS provides analytical materials to public authorities. This is usually the level of the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation, the Foreign Ministry, and the Foreign Intelligence Service. RISI has 8 branches throughout the country. The Volga Center opened in Kazan in 2011 year. The main task of the center is to monitor the situation in the Volga region, analyze the foreign influence on the region (here it is more ethnoreligious) and inform the highest echelons of the Russian authorities directly, bypassing local authorities.
What is your education?
Historian. Initially he specialized in the study of the Middle East, initially on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and later on political Islam in the region.
What prompted you to tackle the issue of radical Islam?
Before working at RISS, when I was engaged in the Middle East, I began to pay attention to the fact that the processes that became common for this region began to manifest themselves in my native Volga region.
Are there any objective criteria for assessing how the situation with radical Islam is in this or that region?
Yes, there are such criteria. First of all, it is the degree of political activity, which manifests itself in the traditional form: the rally activity, the frequency of political statements and so on. When it comes to Islamic fundamentalists, this is also what we get in the short run, that is, terrorist acts.
If we consider the Volga region under these criteria, what will we see?
Even before I started working at RISI, in 2009, I, watching the processes in the region, came to the conclusion that what is happening is developing according to the North Caucasus scenario. If we look at specific signs, then we follow the Ingush-Dagestan scenario. In 2010, we held a conference “Salafism in Tatarstan: distribution, conflict potential, countermeasures”. We discussed this problem with other local experts and voiced this opinion. The conference was held on 2 December 2010 of the year, a number of near-Muslim characters came to it ...
... Local Tatar nationalists, activists of the radical Islamist movement of Tatarstan, who have a negative attitude to the traditional for the Tatars current of Islam ... In general, it was quite interesting to look at them. They did not hide their skepticism about what was happening and asked questions like "What else will you think?", "What is the North Caucasus here?", "This can not be!". The trouble is that the conference itself was held a few days after the Nurlat events. (The special operation to eliminate the militants carried out by the Tatarstan security forces 25 November 2010 of the year in the Nulatsky district of Tatarstan. - approx. navoine.ru )
It was obvious that the situation was unhealthy, but the conclusions of the conference and the opinions of the participants were ridiculed. They said that we are alarmists, that we are spoiling the beautiful image of prosperous Tatarstan. In the end, they began to accuse us of working for some destructive forces. In the future, the situation went exactly according to the scenario that we predicted.
How did the situation develop?
Mufti Gusman Iskhakov, a person who patronized the Wahhabisation of the republic, leaves the post of head of the Muslims' Spiritual Administration (DUM) of Tatarstan. Even when Nurlat events occurred, it would seem that as an official he should have condemned the militants, but he suddenly does not condemn them, but makes very vague statements, where he accuses some forces of what happened. Indirectly alluding to the Russian authorities, who allegedly seek to strangle Muslims. (Currently, the ex-mufti is an adviser to the Deputy Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs of Kuwait, Adel Falaha. - approx. navoine.ru).
In place of Iskhakov on an alternative basis, Ildus Fayzov is elected, who was the first deputy head of the former head of DUM, as well as the imam of the Kazan mosque Bulgar. Ildus Faizov was a staunch opponent of Wahhabism. The situation went so far that he had to start pursuing a policy of the devachabization of Tatarstan.
Was everything so serious?
Yes. First, the posts were held by people who did not hide their commitment to Wahhabism. For example, Almetyevskiy Mukhtasib Nail Sahibzyanov, who even boasted, said “yes, I am a Wahhabi, so what?”. In addition to the open Wahhabis, there were people who did not interfere with the Wahhabis to be active parishioners of their mosques.
And how many such active Wahhabi parishioners in the republic?
We calculated as follows: the average capacity of a small mosque is about 300 people. In any mosque there is an asset of regular parishioners, these are those who do not just go to pray, but those who participate in social and political life. If the Wahhabi mosque, then such an asset is 30-40 people. In large mosques, such as for example Kul Sharif with a capacity of 1500 people, such an asset was more than 100, maybe 120 people. Recounting such mosques, we got a figure for about 3000 people.
These are only those who go to the mosque. But there are still those who gather in the prayer rooms, equipped in the private sector, in apartments?
Yes. Now the practice of private Islamic centers is actively developing in the republic. The DUM of Tatarstan has parishes in its subordination. As a rule, the parish and the mosque are one and the same. The Muslim parish is a religious public organization registered in the Ministry of Justice and subordinate to the DUM of Tatarstan. The private spiritual and cultural center does not submit to any DUM. Usually, a businessman in a rented or owned area opens an Islamic spiritual and cultural center. For example, preschool or out-of-school education, or a leisure-cultural center, which is also used as a mosque. There are no legal levers of influence by the DUM on these private Islamic spiritual centers.
Private mosques are often created: this is when a person turns a cottage into a mosque, makes an extension in the form of a minaret, or the cottage itself builds in the appropriate form. At the same time, according to all documents, such a mosque is registered as a private cottage. The muftiate cannot influence them in any way. All the questions there are answered: “What are your complaints? This is a private cottage, private property. ”
There are still takfiris - this is the direction in Wahhabism - “Takfir-wal-Hijra”, they don’t go to mosques at all because, from their point of view, a mosque built with money from the Kaffer (wrong money, kafer - wrong, -app. navoine.ru), somehow controlled by the Käfer state and cannot go there.
It turns out that 3000 people are those who are visible, attend official mosques, and there are still an unknown number of people who gather in such cultural centers and private mosques. Or accounting of such people is also conducted?
Not. An 3000 person is an approximate total figure. And those who go to the official mosque, and those who do not go.
Is it a lot or a little?
This is enough. Because they recruit new supporters very easily. One must also understand that Islamism is a syncretic term. There are, for example, Hizb ut-Tahrir people who are not Wahhabis and promote political Islam in the legal field, but they are ready to support the actions of Wahhabis. There are classic Wahhabis or Salafis. Wahhabism and Salafism are words that are synonymous, like Nazism and Hitlerism. Nazism is an ideology, Hitlerism is the name of a phenomenon by the name of a person who implemented this ideology. In our case, there is Salafism as an ideology, and Wahhabism by the name of the person who implemented this teaching - Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab. There is a “Jamaat Tabligh” (“community of finishing”). When you see people in typical Pakistani clothes, then surely they are. There is Takfir-wal-Hijra - "community of accusations and resettlement." Part of their ideology is “that we cannot live on the territory of a non-Islamic state”, they call on Muslims to immigrate from Russia to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt and other Muslim countries. Now the representatives of this movement are returning back, having received certain, including military training, in Muslim countries. Then, the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimun), followers of Said Nursi (Nurists), Gulenists (they mainly work through various cultural centers), etc. The 3000 people voiced include almost all international organizations where radical Islamism is the ideology. And here is a very important point, despite the fact that these organizations have a number of fundamental contradictions among themselves, in Russia they have taken the path of pan-Islamism. At the time, postponing ideological differences, they act together.
Do they have some common authority that can influence these organizations?
There are such authorities abroad, for example, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who sits in Qatar, although not necessarily all radical Islamists can support him. In Russia, there is no such person to whom all Wahhabis would listen. Another thing is that some of them start to play or try to use them for some of their purposes. We can see it in the face of the Council of Muftis of Russia, whose representatives have repeatedly made compliments to the same tableovts. For example, the Mufti of the Saratov region, Mukaddas Bibarsov, the co-chairman of the CMP, held an all-Russian congress of Jamaat Tablig in 2009 in his own mosque in Saratov. The organization is recognized in Russia as extremist and terrorist.
Are all organizations that are considered radical Islamist banned or are there those who operate in the legal field?
There is ideology without an organization, and sometimes an organization with an ideology. Organization can be banned, but it is very difficult to ban ideology. Although it is possible. In Dagestan, Wahhabism was banned in the 1999 year, with the beginning of the Second Chechen War. But there they did it only on the scale of one republic, and not the whole country. Thus, it allows lobbyists to say that the republican law in Dagestan on the prohibition of Wahhabism is not constitutional.
Speaking of the lobby. In your works you often refer to the presence of the Wahhabi lobby in the country, tell us in more detail what it is?
This is a collection of people who are very active and persistent in the information space, in organizational and personnel matters, making administrative and state decisions, pursuing the line of legalizing and whitewashing Wahhabism and other forms of radical Islam in the country and in every way hinder traditional Islam. An example of the work of such a lobby is the events in Kazan 19 in July of this year, what happened after the terrorist attack. We see who plays the most important commentators here: Maxim Shevchenko and Heydar Jemal. Immediately after the terrorist attack, Maksim Shevchenko unfoundedly declares that it’s about money. Jemal declares that this is a matter of special services. Not a word about the problem of Wahhabism, they deny it altogether. Representatives of secular media for these ideas are very easy to buy. People, as a rule, are judged by themselves: “I will not do anything for nothing” and “money rules the world” or “this is the work of the special services”. Such an excuse goes well in the liberal media. In general, Wahhabi lobbyists in the media are those who deny the existence of the very problem of radical Islam, and exposing everything either as a confrontation between “good Muslims with an evil state” or as “money fights”.
A conspiracy thesis is being launched that the Russian state wants to destroy the Muslims and in general it is very often Islamophobic. If you follow this logic, it may seem that the security services are just sadists who have nothing to do, and they arrange bloody terrorist attacks, they blow up people just to blame someone for something. Such ideas are mainly promoted by liberal figures who are happy to be deceived in this way.
And how do people get along in their heads like that, with the same Shevchenko, a patriot-statesman, love for Wahhabis who oppose this state?
It is easy to get along, as it does not seem strange, the Wahhabi lobby is represented in various fields, including in patriotic organizations: "We must be friends with the Wahhabis, with the Islamists, because they are on the front line against the United States." Sometimes it takes just clinical forms, the same anti-Israelism. It reaches marasmus. If you look closely, Israel is attracting somewhere 70% of the attention of radical Islam. The same Hamas, which is now among our allies, financed Chechen militants. There would be no Israel, he would have thrown all his forces against our country. If you look objectively, now Israel is the only Middle Eastern country where the number of Christians is increasing demographically. In all other countries, flight, from Egypt to Syria.
Is only Jemal and Shevchenko at the federal level lobbying Wahhabis, because there are still those who represent their financial interests, legal support?
Yes, there are such people at the regional and federal levels.
Can you name names?
For a wider audience not. But there are such people at the highest level.
Do they hold Wahhabi views?
Not. Yes, it is not necessary. It is a fallacy to assume that the Wahhabi lobby is Wahhabis who promote their interests. The same Jemal positions himself as Shiite. At the same time, Shiism and Wahhabism are opposing ideologies, and Wahhabis hate Shiites more than Christians. Although in the case of Jemal, it is not clear why Shiite acts as a Wahhabi lobbyist?
Is radical Islam in Russia a political force? Does he have political ambitions, what tasks does he set for himself?
Yes, first of all they seek legalization. They are currently trying to do this by joining the opposition movement. They have been attempting to join the belolentochny movement since the end of 2011, then they initiated the Islamic Civil Charter, which was signed by many representatives of the Islamist movement.
Once we remembered about the protests, this question: is it correct to consider events in the Volga region and in the Caucasus, as part of global events called the “Arab spring”?
Correctly, moreover, the way it is. See what happens. In July, 2011 after the terrorist attacks, the lobbyists and the part of the intelligentsia that support them, begin to vehemently deny the presence of Wahhabis in the republic. Police detained people. They were held for several days, released, but the unpleasant residue remained. The Islamists played on this discontent. They went to an alliance with local separatists (quite secular people) who have a wealth of experience in organizing protest actions. In order to organize a march or rally, we need knowledge and skills, how to apply, how and where to stand, and so on. Islamic fundamentalists at first had no such knowledge ..
29 July they organize the first picket "in defense of Muslims". Here they made the substitution of concepts - the fight against Wahhabism, they call the fight against Islam. Pro-Wahhabi resources write about the persecution of innocent Muslims, in fact - these are preventive measures against Wahhabis. The picket was held against the background of this hysteria and general discontent with the Russian authorities. It uses liberal human rights demagogy: "human rights, the rights of Muslims, the terrible Russian state that fights against Muslims." Very similar to Tunisia and Egypt, there, too, all the rally activity began with the slogans "for human rights" and "freedom for repressed Muslims."
Islamists came to the rally in Kazan with the flags of the future caliphate, they don’t even deny it. These are the very black cloths with white Arabic script, where shahada is written - evidence of the Islamic faith, or vice versa - white cloths with black letters. These are the flags of Hizb ut-Tahrir, and the members of this organization are with them. At the same time, they gathered legally, despite the fact that the organization itself was banned in Russia since 2003, as a terrorist one.
A week later, on August 5, they hold another rally, at which they already say that “we need an Islamic state, and secular authorities should be overthrown”.
Is there a risk that the radicals will be able to legally come to power at least at the regional level, for example, having received support from legal parties and organizations?
Perhaps there were examples in the 1990s, when radical Tatar nationalists were present in parliament.
And in the current situation, when we have a political monopoly of one party for a long time?
Not everything is forever, we had the experience when 74 of the year was the monopoly of one party. Now events are developing much faster, one year can be counted for 5 years. I would not rule out the possibility that the Islamists may officially appear in state bodies. They work for the future.
As I said in the political field, their key task is to legalize. And for this they will try by all means to dismiss the charges of terrorism. Thus, they will be able to work fully in the legal political field. The Memorial Human Rights Center, for example, helps them in this, and it is not the only one. They have long been trying to legalize Hizb ut-Tahrir. Consistently seek to cancel the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, which recognized the organization as terrorist. If they achieve their goal, the police will not have the legal ability to influence the members of the organization.
And now that threatens for membership in such an organization?
If a person does not hide membership and the fact is proved, then the minimum conditional term. For example, the imam of the Al-Ikhlas Kazan mosque Rustam Safin in 2009 was just sentenced to a suspended sentence of 2 for membership in Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Now, by the way, he is one of the active participants in all these rallies.
How do Russian Islamists contact their foreign counterparts?
Like all other people. Communicate on Skype, via the Internet, go abroad. Nobody forbids to leave the country, and, by the way, nobody forbids to enter the country. A very serious problem is foreign religious education. A person who spends a long time in a foreign society quickly penetrates Wahhabi ideas. He can be recruited without even noticing it.
How is it - without noticing it?
See what the danger of foreign religious education? A man who has just graduated from school is 17. Leaves to study in Saudi Arabia for 8 years. He sees the orders that exist there, and accepts them as true: "This is the real Islam, the real Islamic society, we must take an example from it." After 8 years he returns to his homeland. What does he see? He sees that Muslims and Christians live together, live peacefully, can marry. It is considered normal in Tatarstan to congratulate Russian Tatars on Christian holidays, and vice versa, Russians calmly congratulate Tatars on Muslim holidays. Give Easter cakes to each other for Easter or treat lamb to Kurban-bayram.
For the soaked up norms and rules of the society of Saudi Arabia, this is nonsense. In Saudi Arabia, Christianity is generally prohibited. There, even in relation to Muslims of other trends, outright discrimination is exercised. I mean Shiites. Their position there is even worse than that of migrant workers in Russia. Getting out of such a society in the modern Russian, a person experiences a cultural shock. He is trying to change the situation. How? Becoming the imam of the mosque, he begins with its minbar (pulpit) to promote the installations that he received while being trained.
Are there any numbers, how many such preachers studied and study in Islamic educational institutions in Saudi Arabia and other countries?
Unfortunately, such statistics until recently no one led. I have a figure for 2010 year in Tatarstan, I take only this region. At 2010 year, we knew that only in Saudi Arabia does 120 Tatars study. These are only those who came into view. They can travel on a tourist visa or through other countries. A person travels, for example, to Egypt, and from there he moves to Saudi Arabia. In the 2011 year, I know that, bypassing the DUM, 20 people still left, for the 2012 year there are no numbers yet, but I do not exclude that the number is growing. Around 68 Tatars study in Wahhabi madrasah in Alexandria.
In addition to studying abroad, after all, there were also educational institutions in Russia where Wahhabis teach?
Yes. Back in the nineties and early zero, Islamic schools in Russia, established by Arabs, functioned. There were many people willing to receive an Islamic education then, but not all of them could provide travel, accommodation, food. Therefore, opened schools here, where they taught by textbooks from Saudi Arabia. Such madrasas functioned in Naberezhnye Chelny, Nizhnekamsk, Almetyevsk.
At the same time, when these madrasas were closed, their students and teachers did not disappear.
Exactly. They simply began to continue their educational activities in private. Here, the previously mentioned private Islamic cultural centers, are engaged in such activities. We have a village in the country High Mountain, it is 19 kilometers from Kazan. There is an Islamic educational center "Family." One of the teachers, Shavkat Abubakirov, was the imam of the Kazan mosque “Enilar”, he himself studied in Saudi Arabia, in one of his interviews he stated that all the Tatar traditional theological heritage (30 thousand volumes) is not worth half of those books that stand on his bookshelf (it was about literature brought from Saudi Arabia). After the traditional Muslims expelled him, he left for this private Islamic center.
It is a well-known fact that Wahhabis from Russia are involved in hostilities on the territory of other countries: in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine. You own the data, how many such fighters operate abroad, what is the scale of this phenomenon?
The first popular destination among the Russian Mujahideen abroad was Afghanistan. There even appeared a kind of fraternity. In the 1999, the "Jamaat of Bulgar" appears. It was founded by immigrants from Tatarstan. So named in honor of the medieval Islamic state in the Volga region - Volga Bulgaria. In the 2001 year, when the Americans entered Afghanistan, many of them took part in the hostilities. Some were even caught and sent to Guantanamo. (prison for captured representatives of the Taliban and Al Qaeda at the US military base in Cuba - approx. navoine.ru). If you remember, at the beginning of the 2000s, the Russian media widely discussed the presence of Russians in Guantanamo. These are the members of the “Jamaat of Bulgar”. They were later released, returned to Russia. Here they were represented as heroes, fighters against the “American military”. However, returning to Russia, they continued jihad. A vivid example is Ayrat Vakhitov. Returning from Guantanamo to Naberezhnye Chelny, he began to conduct Wahhabi propaganda via the Internet. I made video appeals. In the end, local prosecutors brought to justice. Now he is fighting in Syria in the ranks of the Wahhabis against Bashar al-Assad.
When the US Army established control over the territory of Afghanistan, the "Jamaat of Bulgar" moved to Waziristan (Northern Province of Pakistan). Specifically, in the settlement of Degon. Gradually not only Tatars began to come to Jamaat. Their leader, even at one time was Dagestani. There were moments when most were not immigrants from Russia, but our former compatriots from the countries of Central Asia. One of the leaders of the jamaat was an ethnic Uygur from Uzbekistan. One can even come across such a name “Bulgarian-Uigur Jamaat”. This association is not the only organization of this kind. It is interesting first of all because it is the first self-organized structure of our compatriots leading the “jihad”.
There are many who travel abroad to “jihad” through their own channels. With any localities such people do not contact. For example, the son of Ruslan Gelayev, who recently died in Syria, he is not alone. There, whole groups of our compatriots from the Caucasus and the Volga region are fighting. Many of them fought in Palestine, in Libya.
True, in Syria, the war turned out to be more difficult. Some of the militants who fought there returned to Russia via Turkey.
By the way, in August-September of 2012, the media included information that a group of militants who fought in Syria are in the Volga region, do you know anything about this?
First, they are here to wait, “lick” wounds. Fighting is also difficult psychologically, you need rest. Secondly, these people have an important quality - combat experience. The fact is that if we look at the local Wahhabis, they do not yet have this military professionalism. This is evident even in the terrorist attacks that they organized this year. An attempt on the mufti did not bring results. Self-explosions often occur during the production of explosive devices during transportation. Feels dilettantism in the organization. In general, people with such experience among local Wahhabis are in demand.
And how does the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the FSB react to the fact that participants in hostilities in the territory of a foreign state are in Russia?
Does not react, while only fixes. The fact of the presence of these militants in the republic was forced to recognize the head of the FSB department in Naberezhnye Chelny. He publicly stated at a round table at the local city executive committee that far from peace-loving people began to return from Syria. You understand that such a person can not directly say, but with hints says that some strange characters are returning from there. At the same time, these are not only Syrian Arabs, although there are such people too, these are our Russian citizens.
And how many of these potential militants from Syria are in Russia?
The FMS office says that 56 is a Syrian-born person.
Are there any figures, how many Russian citizens have experience in conducting military operations abroad as part of Islamist units?
It is hard to say. The Bulgarian Jamaat was from 120 man, but they had a big turnover, 120 man was the main core. Someone left, came, died. By the way, it is still functioning now; you can even enter “Bulgar Jamaat” or “Vkontakte” in “YouTube” and see their videos. Participants pose with weapons, they sing fighting songs in the Tatar language, which by their aesthetics attract many.
You mentioned that many immigrants from the former Soviet republics of Central Asia are included in the Bulgarian Dajamaat. And how common are radical views among those traveling as migrant workers to Russia?
Distributed very widely. It began after the end of the civil war in Tajikistan in the 1990s. The losers fled, part to Afghanistan, which was under the rule of the Taliban, part to Russia. They did not manage to escape to China: in this respect, the Chinese authorities did not stand on ceremony, but simply shot uninvited guests, because there were many religious extremists among them. Arriving in Russia, they found themselves in the position of migrant workers, went a long way of socialization. In the end, many of them settled down and took root here. You probably read about the incident in the village of Shumkovo, Rybnoslobodsky district of Tatarstan? A very significant case. When the Russian village was settled by Tajik migrants who adhere to Islamic fundamentalism.
That is, hiding from their dictatorships, religious fundamentalists are fleeing to Russia?
Yes, if you remember the events in Andijan in 2005? There were no ceremony with them.
How massive is this phenomenon and does it pose a serious threat to the citizens of Russia?
I will give the facts, and draw your own conclusions. When active Islamist street performances began in Kazan in the summer of 2012, the main core consisted of migrants from Central Asia. They were the most aggressive and active part of the crowd. For example, Abdulla Mumidjanov, himself a native of Uzbekistan, a migrant, one of the organizers of protest rallies in Kazan.
And in the Moscow region do you have information?
The situation is the most negative way. The process of ghetto formation is underway, a vivid example is Prospect Mira in Moscow. This can be seen even by the fact that the police do not control the situation there and is afraid to go there. We see the police, the riot police, from there they are being squeezed out, and I am afraid that the authorities can put up with it. It will turn out as in some cities of Western Europe, when in some quarters of Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, London, the police are afraid to stop by even in the afternoon.
And in such ghettos are spread including radical ideas?
Yes. It is foolish to deny that everything is smooth and peaceful there.
In your opinion, how fair is the statement that Asian people in Russia, on the contrary, are corrupted, begin to drink vodka, and morally degrade? Such people are not much disposed towards the preaching of Islam?
This is a stereotype. Yes, of course, there are such examples when the Russian reality decomposes. This is true not only in relation to migrant workers, but also to internal migrants. For example, those who come from the North Caucasus to the cities of Central Russia. We see how many position themselves as Muslims, but at the same time they can drink, smoke, enter into premarital sexual relations, which, according to Islamic norms, is considered haram (prohibition). But we must understand that with the migration of labor goes and religious migration. The percentage of fundamentalists moving with the general flow of migrants is gradually increasing. Those who can be called opposition to the secular regimes of Central Asia, unable to simply exist there, are fleeing to Russia. Live and integrate into society as labor migrants. Often they see their own identity through religious fundamentalism. They actively conduct their sermon among migrant workers. There are examples where such migrants even reached the post of mufti. We can see how in Siberia the posts of imams, previously historically preserved for the Tatars, are occupied by ethnic Tajiks and Uzbeks.
Such migrants have their own mosques or go to the official, state?
At first, go to those that are. In Moscow, for example, there is no particular choice. In Tatarstan, since there are 1300 mosques there is a choice. In Kazan, migrants attend both ordinary and fundamentalist mosques. Fundamentalist migrants naturally prefer those where the clergy hold similar views. For example, the Kazan mosque "Al-Ikhlas" or "Nurulla".
At the same time in Moscow, we see migrants in large numbers only 2 times a year: on Kurban-bayram and Uraza-bayram. In other cases, for example, on Fridays, there are not as many people crowded on Prospect Mira.
It must be understood that for serious problems it is not necessary that 100% of migrants become religious fundamentalists. One percent is enough. In relation to the total mass of migrants living in the country, this is a huge amount.
Let's go back to Tatarstan. The murder of Valiuly Yakupov and the assassination of Ildus Faizov. How did the authorities respond to these events? So much time has passed, how can we evaluate these actions?
They reacted very half-heartedly and very poorly. 3 August 2012 was held an extraordinary meeting of the local parliament, at which it was decided to amend the local law "On religious organizations." According to the amendments, religious organizations have the right to establish qualification requirements for their own employees. The purpose of these amendments is that any religious organization, in our case - the DUM of Tatarstan, could demand that there be no people on the posts of imams who do not have native Muslim education. Fundamentalists are trying to repeal this law. They are trying to sue, claiming that such a requirement is not constitutional.
The head of the Department for Cooperation with Religious Associations of the Office of the President of Tatarstan, Marat Gatin, known for not contributing to devakhabization of the republic, was removed.
Someone taken into custody?
Forest mojaheds of Tatarstan appeared. Headed by "Amir Mohammed," as he calls himself. Real name Rais Migaleev. He and his jamaat took all the blame. All those arrested, seven people, were released, despite the fact that there were different characters. From "Sheikh Umar" (real name - Ayrat Shakirov) to the ideologist of "prison jihad" Marat Kudakaev. The latter is known for working under Gusman Iskhakov as head of the department for work with prisoners of the SAD of Tatarstan. He walked around the zones and campaigned for jihad by the prisoners during 8 years. He had ideas that the Tatars should rise to holy war. But the majority of Tatars, as Kudakayev believed, are “sheep”, because they are too law-abiding. Therefore, emphasis should be placed on those who can take up arms, and criminals who are convicted, who are desperate by nature, who have already killed, are suitable for this role. In general, crime should be the vanguard of jihad. In principle, the ideology of "prison jihad" works: fundamentalism in their environment is spread like a virus.
What is the composition of the Mujahideen of Tatarstan?
Judge for yourself. “Amir Mohammed” is from Chistopol. There is a Zakam region in Tatarstan - this is the most Wahhabised part of the republic. Here in Chistopol had its own organized crime group in 1990-s, called "Tatarinsky". Mingaleev just entered there.
It turns out, the criminal group raised the banner of jihad?
Yes, there is a Wahhabization of crime.
Do you think this is a sincere impulse? Do these people believe or is it just a mercenary calculation?
How do Wahhabi organized criminal groups act in our country? If in 1990, they just came to the market and engaged in racketeering on the principle: “you trade - pay me a tribute, and I give you a roof”. Now everything is a little different. The same athletic build guys are suitable, only bearded. They say: "Pay zakat (alms)" - if the seller is a Muslim. If not a Muslim, Russian or Armenian, then “pay jizyu” is a tax for the wrong, “and we will defend you”. What is the difference with classic racketeers? I do not see much difference, only the gangster racket replaced the religious one, but the essence is the same.
Can we say how many forest trees there are in Tatarstan now?
On the first video, where Mingaleev spoke, you can see 7 people.
That is, at least 7 people?
So far, yes, but we must understand that many militants are not needed. How many militants do you think of Doku Umarov do you think? Really 200 man. The jamaat of mojaheds cannot be big. There can not be thousands of people. Even the stationary camp must be provided with food, weapons, ammunition. If desired, these seven people can create serious problems. In addition, in Tatarstan, where the woodland is not as thick as in the North Caucasus, a certain version of the guerrilla (urban war) is possible. You should not, in general, assume that "sitting seven people in the forest - what nonsense."
The “Caucasus Emirate”, for example, is not only militants, but also those who are in the legal field. These are those who finance, support morally, lead the recruitment of new supporters ...
Your forecast: how will the situation with radical Islam in Tatarstan develop? How will the Islamists behave? How will power react?
I'll start with the last one. Now there is a tendency to whitewash Wahhabism. In Tatarstan, the existence of radical Islam has long been denied. Remember, I first mentioned the 2010 conference of the year. Officials told us: “What is Wahhabism? What are you carrying?". Now recognized the problem, because it is impossible to silence. But now they are trying to advance another idea: “Tatar Wahhabis are not like Caucasian Wahhabis. They are such good, peace-loving and tolerant. ” Of course, I exaggerate, but the meaning of rhetoric is just that. Yes, they say, there are radicals among them, but their minority. This, they say, in fact, such dissidents. Do not pursue them, do not fight them, they must be legalized, you need a dialogue with them: blah blah blah and in the same spirit. Although the experience of Dagestan demonstrates to us that any dialogue with Wahhabis ends with terrorist acts. Then I do not see the difference between moderate and radical Wahhabi. Do you see the difference between a moderate and a radical killer? Me not.
As I understand it, the moderates do not blow up the stops, they do not kill people.
Maybe. But they finance and support those who kill. So how are they better?
On the part of the regional authorities, such tendencies towards attempts to whitewash local Wahhabism have emerged. They are trying to create the illusion that everything is wonderful here. Wahhabis, yes, there are, but they are under control. In general, they are moderate, just do not agree with the mufti. And the Mufti is guilty, which is amazing, they put up the fight against Wahhabism. The only normal mufti for the entire post-Soviet history Tatarstan, and officials are trying to blame him for his fight against Wahhabism. All the same, that the policeman to blame the fight against crime.
So after all, how will events continue?
You know, I really do not want to, of course, predict such a scenario, but, alas, it will most likely be. I think they will reproduce the experience of taking hostages like Nord-Ost or Beslan.
On the basis of what you came to this conclusion?
We are actively engaged in monitoring forums, blogs, social networks. It is interesting to observe when Tatar Wahhabis participate in them. How do they start to lead discussions? The terrorist acts that took place there simply caused an euphoria of joy. Basayev, who captured the maternity hospital in Budennovsk, is idealized. Reproduced the idea that "we can act the same methods." If we recall the seizure of the school in Beslan, no one put forward demands: "Give us money, and we will fly away by plane." The terrorists were well aware that death awaited them, anyway. Here is the same. The material does not play a role in the ideological component of Wahhabism. At least, not in the first place - that's for sure. And when you analyze, you are amazed how everything that happens in the Muslim environment of Tatarstan coincides with what happened in the North Caucasus. For example, you read how a seventeen-year-old kid at the Salafi Internet forum begins to reason: “Brothers! But my dad does not read namaz, he is a kafer, can I take out pocket money from him? ”If a person’s own parents have a head, their relatives are perceived as being alien, unfaithful, with all the attitudes towards them, then think about what might happen next. As in Dagestan. There was a very significant case. The son of a police colonel, who was under the influence of the Wahhabis, opened the door to his own apartment. They went in, killed his father, he knew this and made sure that they killed his own father as a kafera. This is a true story.
Taking hostages is one of the options. It is possible that they will shoot the representatives of the authorities, the police from simple district officers to generals. In addition, we often see the passivity of regional authorities. It was very clearly seen at rallies. When they came out with the flags of the terrorist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir and decided to hold a rally "according to the Shari'a": they divided the rally participants by gender. Women on the left, men on the right. At the same time, they created their own Islamic police, some of the participants wore green vests and went around, looking for women not to go to the male half, and men to the female. Even secular journalists were forced to stand on the women's side. And even those present at the rally of city police fundamentalists forced to obey and take the male side. And they obeyed. And at a rally from the podium, shouting about the need to overthrow the secular power and build a caliphate. Well, someone from these protesters really punished? I answer: no.
What is your forecast for 2013 year?
First, we have a very important event in Kazan in 2013. This is the Universiade. This is a major sporting event, the second largest after the Olympics. The Universiade in Kazan is a kind of exam for Russia, on the eve of the Sochi Olympics-2014. Delegations from all countries of the world will come to this event, great attention will be attracted to it. This is the best way for Wahhabis to express themselves. At the same time, we do not see that the security situation for the Olympics is improving. It all began with the Nurlat events, where the militants sat in the forest. Then the explosions were on the outskirts of Kazan. In January, the home laboratory for the production of explosives was discovered in the village of Mendel of the same Vysokogorsky District, 2012. It was the cottage where Rustam Yusupov lived, he himself came from Uzbekistan (and, as a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, he was wanted in Uzbekistan). Yusupov made explosives at home, she exploded with him, he was frightened by the police arrival and went on the run. During the arrest, Yusupov resisted, wounded the policeman with a knife in the neck, and Yusupov was eventually shot to death. So he did at home shahid belts. This is near Kazan. After that, explosions occur already in Kazan itself. The mufti was wounded; in the doorway of his own house, his deputy Valliulu Yakupov, a famous Tatar theologian, was shot at close range. Bombs are found in other cities of the republic, some of them explode and injure people (it passed in Memdel, where the father of the terrorist Yusupov blew up on the bomb of his son, this is in Almetyevsk, where the woman's arm was torn off). We even found a car filled with explosives near the Interior Ministry building. 20 August 2012 was hit by a car in which fundamentalists were driving, by the way, among them were the participants of this summer rally. Apparently, when they were transporting a bomb, they accidentally exploded from them. There is a certain dilettantism among Tatar terrorists. Here we see that now the explosion occurred in Almetyevsk. The situation is getting worse, explosions are already occurring in Kazan, there is no evidence that something will improve by the Universiade.
Another very important point. By their actions, the Wahhabis inflict fear on people. The murder of Valiuly Yakupov and the terrorist attack against the mufti intimidated many traditional imams. It turned out that in order to subordinate all it is not necessary that each mosque have an imam-Wahhabi. Wahhabis come to the mosque, where the traditional imam, and begin to dictate the terms: "If you surrender us to the police or complain, you will not be left alive." People are afraid. I personally some imams reported threats to them. But they do not know what to do in this situation. The demoralization of the clergy was achieved by the Wahhabis.
Is the police not responding?
Not. Yes, and how she can respond. The imam to the district police officer complains, he will say: “You know, I have an 10 person going to the mosque, they are very strange, Wahhabis, take action.” Well, what will the police do? How will she react? Come, talk, and what?
How do you assess the work of the special services to investigate the terrorist attack?
Let us pay tribute: security forces act like professionals. I very positively characterize General Artem Hochorin (Ministry of Internal Affairs for Tatarstan) and General Alexander Antonov (UFSB for Tatarstan). I really appreciate their work. But they often have their hands tied due to the fact that the local regional leadership does not have the political will to fight Wahhabism. We sometimes have to hear from the security forces: “We know that this one is a Wahhabi, but we cannot arrest him, we do not have formal grounds for this.” There are experts who are of the opinion that it is necessary to go on temporary restrictions of some constitutional norms. But liberals and self-proclaimed human rights activists of every kind there will immediately begin to howl, shrieking, they begin to dream that the state will take advantage of this to simply destroy the unwanted.
Are siloviki sincere people?
There are those who can be called patriots who are really very sincere about the cause. And there are those for whom it would be better not to have this problem. I even know that from the side of some siloki one can hear such: “That’s Suleymanov created a problem for us”. Or: “So Suleymanov created additional work for us”.
That is, they are dissatisfied with your activity, with the fact that “you need the most”?
Moreover, they are asked for it. Many may lose their posts and epaulets. Sometimes it comes to insanity: discussing not how to solve the problem I’m talking about, but how to discredit me, eliminate or silence. The logic of the officials of the Kazan Kremlin: let's not discuss the problem - and it seems there will be no problems. And the one who says that in Tatarstan there is a problem of Wahhabism, he is an enemy of Tatarstan. This is evidence of the ultimate ideological misery of local authorities. Now they are following this tactic - they are going to neutralize me with the help of judicial reprisal. Some little-known nationalist organizations are writing complaints to the prosecutor’s office to be held accountable “for inciting hatred towards the Tatar people” - this is what the call for the fight against Wahhabism and terrorism is now called.
After the attack, did any organizational conclusions for the power block of Tatarstan follow?
In some areas, it comes to the fact that law enforcement agencies are beginning to "protect" Wahhabis. “They are normal guys, that you touch them? Well, yes, they are orthodox, but, nevertheless, normal ”- this is what we hear from the siloviki. This is shocking. Or there was a case when we met Ensign SOBR (now - OMSN). He sits, not drunk, nothing and in all seriousness begins to argue on the topic: "Yes, it would be good to live according to Sharia." Here you look at this and think: "But if they give him an order to shoot?" What will he do at a crucial moment? We, of course, notified the security officials, but we don’t know if there were any organizational conclusions, but nevertheless, this fact in itself is very indicative.
When you reveal it, they look at you like an idiot, as if I am an alarmist. Besides, I cannot voice some things in public or speak openly about some things. Especially when you talk about who “protects” Wahhabis in Tatarstan at the level of officials. If I talk about this, I will criticize them, they will just “soak me” and then dump them on Wahhabis. You are faced with a situation, you see that this is the very Wahhabi holding, by which the late Valiulla Yakupov understood the merging of Wahhabism, business and bureaucracy.
By the way, do you think that the appointment of Vladislav Surkov as a curator on the interaction of the state and religious organizations will be able to improve the situation?
Time will tell. On the one hand, some say that Surkov is a skilled technologist in politics. On the other hand, in practice, it happens that you sit with some officials, tell them about the problem of Wahhabism, and they: “Why should we support traditional muftis? We artificially support them, and Wahhabis are popular among young people; maybe we can better agree with them and support them? ” And this is said by high-ranking bureaucrats. It turns out that if you follow this logic, then let's support not Putin, but Navalny, he is also popular with a certain part of the population. This is if you exaggerate to insanity. They say that “it is not necessary to compare, the analogy is not appropriate,” and I think it is very appropriate. It should be in people in the public service, to have a state sense. I am not a blind apologist for the current Russian reality. I don't like a lot either. Starting from corruption and ending with many others. But you start to think: today's Russia is better than what caliphaters want to build.
Are you personally threatened?
Yes, constantly. Not every day, of course, but often. At first it was very unpleasant. They send threats on social networks, via e-mail, and from fake accounts or specially instituted for these threats. They write messages either personally and straightforwardly (“Your corpse will soon swim in Lake Kaban”), or indirectly, using religious rhetoric (“Allah will punish you!” Or “Allah kills the infidels!”). Sometimes they call by phone and the number is not reflected.
Samih attempted yet. The only case is when a Wahhabi attacked me during a rally. 1 April 2011 was a rally organized by Wahhabis, I came to take pictures, watch. They recognized me there in the face, surrounded me and tried to attack, one was able to spit in the face, started yelling that he was a hero after that, spat once at “the main fighter with Wahhabis”. There, by the way, the police approached and the situation escalated. They surrounded me, they could have lynched, but the police intervened, took this camel aside, and I was asked to leave the rally, and it would be dangerous to remain. We understand ourselves: "My militia protects me." By the way, this camel publishes a newspaper in Elabuga, he even wanted to get a job at the press service of Kazan Federal University.
Do you have the image of such a fighter against the Wahhabis?
Yes, but not because I want it myself. So it goes. Believe me, when they can bang you, you begin to prepare for everything. We also talked about this topic with the late Valliula Yakupov. He, too, was threatened by the mufti too. They wrote to him, but he did not pay attention to it. We even joked, we have a black such humor appeared on this basis. We said, “Well, you understand, Valliula-hazrat, that we are playing with fire.” He reasoned like this: "For all the will of Allah, for all the will of the Most High, it is he who decides everything." Here, too, the same thing, of course, precautions must be observed; one should not be such a stupid fatalist. Yes, really, go, once again look around. God cherishes.
The level of aggression on the part of the Wahhabis is enormous. Moreover, I do not exclude that if Wahhabis kill me, it will also be beneficial for some representatives of the regional government. It even turns out that now I have given you this interview, and you see that it does not make up a very good image of Tatarstan, and local officials do not like it. They want to continue to create the illusion of stability in Tatarstan, which is long gone.
And even friends tell me: “Rais, why do you need this? The Wahhabis banged you. Leave you alone from them, let them alone, and you alone. Live in peace. ” I answer them: “Listen, don't you understand that in the end they will force you to obey. While they are weak, they can mimic, but when they are strong, they will no longer stand on ceremony with you. You will either submit or leave. ” You will see when they kill me, they will still be more frightened. Of course, there will be some of my ill-wishers popping that, they say, Suleymanov himself is to blame. However, the majority will get scared. Just because no one else will raise the problem of the threat that has long been hanging over the Muslims of Tatarstan and the whole of Tatarstan as a whole.