The Muslim factor in Tatarstan over the past 20 years has repeatedly become the object of interest of Western countries. If in the 1990s, the regional elite of Tatarstan sought to demonstrate the republic to the West as an example of peaceful coexistence of Islam and Christianity and try to share this experience, by the beginning of the 2010s, against the backdrop of increasing fundamentalism in the region, the attention of the West turned to the problems of Islamic radicalism, which clearly not beneficial to the republican authorities. The reason for this change of interest was the terrorist activity of fundamentalists in the region. The appearance in November 2010 of the militants in the south of Tatarstan, the subsequent series of terrorist attacks in 2012, the public street activity of Hizb ut-Tahrir activists attracted the attention of Western interested parties to the situation in the Islamic environment. As a result, over the past few years, the flow of foreign journalists, scholars, analysts and employees of diplomatic missions of Western countries visiting Tatarstan, often making not only official, but also private trips, has arrived. The purpose of such trips is the desire to assess the conflict potential of radical Islamism with the prospect of its possible support in the future from outside.
Based on the nature of the visits, methods of collecting information, topics of interest, we can conclude about the prospects of Western countries' assistance to the radical Islamists of Tatarstan. Moreover, this will be done by strengthening information support, which is already the case, to be true, so far through the legalization on its territory of the media and communication centers of the Islamists themselves, highlighting the events in Russia in a favorable form. Accordingly, in the future, there will be a shift in the assessment of the Islamists themselves: they are expected to characterize as a non-systemic opposition by identifying with the liberal and pro-Western social and political forces operating in the country.
The success of the anti-extremist work of regional and federal authorities on the eve of and during the Universiade in Kazan (6-17 in July 2013) reduced the activity of fundamentalists and made the sporting event safe. However, the increase in terrorism can be expected as a result of the return home of Russian Wahhabis fighting in Syria against the legitimate government. It is the latter that will become the human resource that Western countries can redirect to the Volga region to expand the front of terrorist activity from the North Caucasus to the Urals. Therefore, the reality of the danger of the potential of radical Islamism, assessed by foreign visitors, will be felt as a result of the war in Syria and the possible intervention of foreign powers in this Arab country. Regardless of the outcome of the war in Syria, the Russian Islamists, who have undergone combat training in it, can lead and strengthen the terrorist underground in the Volga region.
The degree of activity of covering the problem of Islamism in Tatarstan in the foreign press was associated with the attention of the Russian media to the situation in this region. Having their own contacts and coming to report to the republic, foreign journalists were looking for an opportunity to meet with the radicals. The latter themselves were interested in the possibility of accessing the air or giving an interview in order to gain fame and voice their position. There was a feeling in the desire of the foreign press to publicize the fundamentalists of Tatarstan. However, the estimates in the Western newspapers of this problem did not differ from the all-Russian ones. Moreover, the artificially created positive image of Tatarstan already looked like a fake against the background of a series of terrorist acts.
This caused concern among officials responsible for the region’s investment attractiveness, since the issue of security for foreign campaigns in their investment plays an important role. However, the latter sought to send their own analytical analysts to assess the risks of investments in the region.
The geopolitical interests of Western countries in creating a hotbed of instability in the Volga region do not negate the fact that the EU is concerned about the manifestation of extremism among its own Muslims from among the migrant population. Part of the diplomats visiting Tatarstan expressed the idea of studying the experience of opposing religious radicalism in Russia. In the West, they want to visually see how to solve the problem of fundamentalism in their own countries by using Russian methods of combating Islamic extremism. This desire should be used to ensure that at least some of the Western countries (first of all, the European states most vulnerable to this threat) did not perceive Russian Islamic extremists as “victims of political repression”, but tried to draw lessons from their domestic experience in confronting them.
The evolution of the attention of Western countries to the Islamic factor in Tatarstan
The interest in Tatarstan and its ethno-religious specificity in the West was still in Soviet times. And it was not about stories Tatar people, associated mainly with the medieval past of the time of the Golden Horde, and about the political development of the Soviet national-territorial autonomy. In many ways, Western Sovietologists drew this information from the writings of Tatar emigrants, many of whom became leading Turkologists in Turkey, the United States and Germany. Some of them even before the Second World War sought to draw the attention of foreign countries to the situation in the Volga region. The most prominent figure among the leaders of the Tatar emigrant wave, who sought to attract the interest of the West to the Tatars, was the writer Gayaz Iskhaki (1878-1954), the author of Idel-Ural (Volga-Ural), published in 1933 year in Berlin, then republished in France, Japan, Poland and Great Britain, which was a historical essay on the history of the Tatars and their current position in the USSR at the time of publication. The main thesis of the book, which was covered by Gayaz Iskhaki in his work, was the alleged desire of the Tatars to proclaim an independent state "Idel-Ural", which geographically went far beyond the borders of the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (included in addition to Chuvashia, Mari El, Orenburg region and Bashkortostan). However, the task posed by the author of the work was to try to convince Western countries that it was necessary to maintain separatist sentiments in the Volga region, since they have a real potential. This promise was picked up by Germany during World War II, which used these sentiments in the formation of military units from Tatar prisoners of war. It is remarkable that even the name of the legion formed from them was given the same as the name of the book of Gayaz Iskhaki. The curators of the Idel-Ural Legion became as emigre Tatars (Shafi Almas (1885-1954), Ahmet Temir (1912-2003), as well as those Tatars who were captured by the Germans, but switched from their ideological considerations to their side (Garif Sultan (1923-2011) and Temirbek Davletshin (1904-1983). After the war, the latter will remain on the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany and become the main interpreters of the events taking place in Tatarstan. Garif Sultan will become the head of the Tatar-Bashkir edition of the American Radio Svoboda, Temirbek Davletshin will work as an employee of the Institute for the Study of the USSR in Mun hen, will write and publish the book "Soviet Tatarstan: Theory and Practice of Lenin's National Policy" (London, 1974). They are joined by the second generation of Tatar emigration living in the foreign diaspora: Professor of the University of Marmara Nadir Davlet (born in 1944) in Turkey and the University of Wisconsin Professor Yulai Shamiloglu (born in 1958) in the USA This university professorship continues to remain the main interpreters in the West of events on the history and current situation of the Tatars. Through them, non-concealing their anti-Russian position, in foreign countries is given an idea of the Kazan Tatars.
However, in addition to these figures from the émigré circles, whose position and activity to induce hysteria around the current situation of the Tatars living in the Volga region was quite understandable because of their resentment of Soviet power and the perception of the policy of the Russian Federation as a continuation of the line of the USSR and even the Russian Empire researchers who have become experts in the history of Islam among the Tatars. The most prominent figures here are French-born historian, professor at the University of Chicago, Alexander Bennigsen (1913-1988), now alive American historian Allen Frank  and professor at the University of Amsterdam Michael Kemper . If both of the latter focused their attention exclusively on the historical past of the Tatars (they wrote books on historiography and Sufism in the Volga region in the New Age), Bennigsen specialized in the most recent history of his time - the Soviet period (his book “Muslims in the USSR” (1983) is most famous).
As a result, those who are from foreign researchers, take up the study of Islam in Tatarstan, prefer to consider it only as one of the components of the national culture of the Tatars, focusing mainly on the historical past.
In many respects, there was no close attention to the Islamic factor in Tatarstan in the post-Soviet period from the West in the 1990s. There was interest in the “model of Tatarstan” - a special form of relations with the federal center, characterized by almost complete independence, including foreign policy orientation. The trip of the first President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev in 1994 to Harvard University (USA), where he presented his region, showed interest in the republic precisely in the context of its relations with Moscow. A series of international conferences held in Kazan with the participation of foreign researchers was devoted specifically to the theme of federalism, sometimes interpreted by the authorities of Tatarstan as confederative relations. Established in 2001, the Kazan Institute of Federalism  with the financial support of the American John D. Foundation and Katherine T. MacArthur just became one of the main centers for promoting this “model of Tatarstan”, especially since it was headed by the then political adviser to the President of Tatarstan, Rafael Khakimov, who became one of the ideologists of the “sovereignty of the republic”. The latter was developed by the doctrine of Euroislam - a kind of rational version of Muslim dogma, which denies the main religious practices of Islam. Khakimov managed to attract the attention of foreign scholars precisely by the idea of Euroislam, the sources of which he sought for himself in pre-revolutionary Jadidism - the movement for secular education among the Tatars at the turn of the XIX-XX centuries. The attractiveness of this doctrine for Western visitors was caused, on the one hand, by the fact that it focused on the Western (secular) way of life, the denial of the fundamental dogmas of Islam (including even the need to pray), the constant appeal to the dialogue of civilizations, the cult of knowledge, and, on the other hand, the prefix "Euro-", as supposedly acceptable to the West version of Islam. This was especially appealing to Europeans and Americans, since by that time they were faced with an increase in the activity of their own Muslims from among migrants, among whom radical ideas of total shariatization of Western countries began to dominate. Against this background, the idea of Euro-Islam, which arose in the Volga region, located at the junction of Christianity and Islam, seemed very attractive. Some observers tried to compare it with the teachings of the Swiss professor Tariq Ramadan (born in 1962), advocating for the integration of Muslim migrants into the European community at the expense of rejecting a number of provisions of Islam incompatible with the values of secular Western society; others have found Khakimov's parallels with the Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen (born in 1941), who lives in the USA and masks his teaching under the idea of a dialogue of civilizations. It is unlikely that Rafael Khakimov borrowed the postulates of their teachings from both of them; most likely, he himself came to this, aided by his intellectual work. Khakimov’s critics called his teaching “drunken Islam”, hinting at alcohol abuse by the author of the concept of Euroislam. However, it should be borne in mind: the followers of Euro-Islam in Tatarstan are only one person, Khakimov himself. People could sympathize with him, but nobody shared his teaching completely.
Following this, the “model of Tatarstan”, the regional authorities tried to interpret more widely than just the economic separation of powers from the federal center, backed up by political independence. Creating a positive image, the ideologists of Tatarstan tried to present it as an island of interethnic and interreligious harmony, as a kind of crossroads of Christian and Muslim civilizations, where well-being has been built thanks to the wise policies of the current generation of authorities. By the way, such tactics really had a positive effect. The symbolism of the presence in the Kazan Kremlin of the Annunciation Cathedral and the Kul Sharif mosque built by 2005 remain a living confirmation of this image. Therefore, it is often Kazan that turns into a venue for various events (conferences, forums, round tables) on the issues of inter-religious dialogue and tolerance with the participation of foreign guests. Specifically, to form such a propaganda impression of Tatarstan in 2003, the Republican Agency of Mass Communications “Tatmedia” was created with an annual budget of 1 billion rubles, which provided informational support for the formation of a positive image of the republic. In practice, this resulted in a complete ban on discussing real problems in the ethno-religious sphere, their deliberate silence, unwillingness to discuss them openly, as a result of which the emergence of Islamic terrorism was a shock for the population and the federal center, whose vigilance was euthanized for a long time the news about Tatarstan as an “island of tolerance”, despite the fact that for many years experts tried to draw the attention of the state and society to what is happening in the mosques of the republic. As a result of such an information policy, at some point the leadership of Tatarstan began to believe that there were no problems in the ethno-religious sphere, and the security forces tried to ignore the repeated warnings, often blocking their work and asking them to intervene where it was impossible to implement a personnel decision without political leadership (remove one or another imam from the post of head of the mosque, remove the official, patronizing radical religious figure). Moreover, all the existing cases of radical activity, including armed antics, until 2010 were not only not accompanied by a wide discussion of the causes, nature and extent of religious extremism, but they were also tried to interpret them as an elementary misunderstanding, which has no serious reason to consider Wahhabism as real a problem.
It is the 2010 year that becomes the frontier after which interest in the destructive processes in the Muslim mind of Tatarstan becomes the most important for Russian society and foreign countries. The problems of federalism, the relations between the federal center and the regions, which so strongly attracted foreign experts and journalists in 1990-2000-s, are firmly pushed into the background, giving the Islamic subject first place.
The first visit to Tatarstan of specialists from the West, who set a goal to consider the problem of Wahhabism as it is, occurred in December 2010 of the year, almost immediately after the special operation in the Nurlatsky district of Tatarstan to destroy the 25 fundamentalists of November 2010 of the year. In the same year, the creation of the “Idel-Ural vilaet” as part of the Wahhabi “Emirate of the Caucasus” was announced earlier. Initially, the virtual project began to fill with real meaning in the form of the appearance of militants. A delegation of the American Council on Foreign Relations (Herman Pirchner, Elizabeth Wood and Ilan Berman) arrived in Kazan, a private research organization established in 1982 as the analytical center for the US Republican Party, however, not concealing that it provides advisory services to the entire White House. During meetings with Kazan experts in Islam and Muslim clergy, American analysts were convinced that the problem of Wahhabism appeared long before the emergence of militants in Tatarstan, it already has a second decade, and the positive image of Tatarstan, imposed by the authorities, misleads many who are not familiar with the internal specifics of the republic. The conclusion that was made by American experts was not encouraging. Comparing the situation in the Volga region with similar processes in other parts of the world, the leadership of the American Council on Foreign Policy suggested that the situation would only get worse.
The 2011-2013 years were the time of the highest attention from the West to Tatarstan. The region began to be visited by journalists from most of the leading foreign publications, including even such remote countries as Australia and Japan. The arrival of foreign journalists often had not only the banal curiosity of the reporter. Often under the guise of a foreign media employee, if not a member of the special services, then at least a former diplomatic worker who did not deny his work at the embassy or structures of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of his country, was hiding. Moreover, foreign journalists, in addition to meetings with experts from among the clergy and secular scientists, sought to meet with religious fundamentalists.
Thus, Director of France-Press Agency Russia and CIS countries Nicolas Miletic, who arrived in Tatarstan at the beginning of 2011, not only visited Kazan, but also specially traveled to Almetyevsk and Chistopol - the city of the Kama region of the republic, where the Wahhabi concentration is strongest.
At the beginning of June, 2012, on the eve of the terrorist attack in Kazan, arrived in Korea Flintoff, a correspondent for the American National Public Radio (“National Public Radio”), who was actively seeking meetings with one of the radical Islamists.
The thundered 19 attack of July 2012 in the capital of Tatarstan, during which the mufti machine of the republic Ildus Fayzov was injured, and his associate, one of the major theologians of traditional Islam Valiullu Yakupov, were shot by Wahhabis in the entrance of their own house, aroused great interest in the Islamists. Volga region. Foreign journalists sought to visit Tatarstan themselves. In August, the leading reporter of the French agency Kapa (Capa), Nicolas Tonev, arrives in August 2012, in November 2012, the Australian radio reporter Karen Percy visits Tatarstan, then in February 2013, the correspondent of ABC Norman Hermant goes to make a report. The approaching 6-17 Universiade July 2013 also attracts foreign journalists, not only to shoot sports competitions, but precisely to highlight the security issues of the upcoming event. In June 2013, the chief correspondent of the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Tanaka Hiroyuki arrives, who is exclusively interested in Wahhabism in Kazan, followed by the correspondent of the Dutch NOS television station David Jan Godfroid, who also focuses on Islamic fundamentalism in July. .
Often, members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir terrorist organization, who had their headquarters in the Al-Ikhlas Kazan mosque, became interviewees with foreign journalists. The latter were themselves interested in covering their public activities in the capital of Tatarstan, where in the summer of 2012, right after the terrorist attack, they launched a rally activity, so they were easily in touch with journalists.
However, the coverage of the topic of Wahhabism in Tatarstan in the foreign media began to actively attract foreign diplomats to the region, many of whom came to “test the waters” as part of their missions. When meeting with official representatives of the republican authorities, foreigners were well aware that they would receive a distorted and overly embellished picture of the real situation. This was especially confirmed during the round table organized by the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Republic of Tatarstan in early July 2012, with the participation of the political department of the European Union Representation in the Russian Federation. The Tatarstan host tried in every way to convince the Europeans that the situation in the Islamic sphere was stable in Tatarstan, but just a week after this meeting a terrorist act occurred during which the mufti of Tatarstan Ildus Fayzov was wounded and his associate was shot in the entrance of his house . A series of street rallies and pickets of Hizb ut-Tahrir (the “Party of Islamic Liberation”), a banned extremist organization in Russia, which, like the subsequent special operation in the residential quarter of Kazan to eliminate militants, which was already 24 on October 2012, completely refuted all official arguments the Tatarstan side that the region is safe in terms of security and can become a model from which the European Union should take an example.
This forced Carlos Britou, an expert from the political department of the European Union’s representative office in the Russian Federation, to arrive at the beginning of 2013, six months later to make sure that the situation was far from ideal, which official circles presented to him.
He was not the only diplomatic official of the EU countries who expressed a desire to visit Tatarstan on a visit to assess the real situation. At the beginning of June 2013, the second secretary of the German Embassy in Russia, Carlos von Engel, arrived in Kazan (the second secretary in any embassy is a position related to the special services of his country). Of the large range of questions that interested the German diplomat (relations within the regional elite of Tatarstan, the confrontation between the teams of the former and current presidents of Tatarstan, Kazan’s attitude to the federal center, etc.), the issue of the threat potential of Islamism in Tatarstan to Russia's security came to the first place.
After him, literally a few days later, a delegation of the Polish Center for Eastern Studies, a major governmental analytical institution studying the post-Soviet space, arrived in Tatarstan. The delegation included Agata Vezhbovskaya-Myazga, Yadviga Rogozha, Eva Fischer and Wojciech Goretsky. Their visit was devoted to collecting information on writing a report on the ethno-religious situation in Tatarstan for the government. Of all the EU countries, it was the Poles who showed the most frequent and lively interest (Poland then presided over the European Union). In addition to the arrival of experts from this analytical bureau, the staff of the Polish Embassy in Russia, who did not hide their interest in Islamic subjects in the Volga region, were a frequent guest in Tatarstan.
At the same time, for many foreign visitors, interest in Wahhabism in Tatarstan stemmed from a report by Russian political analyst Sergei Markedonov, who now works as a visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington, USA). The report is entitled “The Rise of Radical and Nonofficial Islamic Groups in the Russian Volga Region” (“Raising Radical and Unofficial Islamic Groups in the Russian Volga Region”), was written in January 2013, published on the Internet . The Russian-American political analyst set out in detail and in detail the essence of the problem of radical Islamism in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. In conversations, foreign experts constantly referred to this report as one of the main sources of information on the situation in the Volga region. Markedonov himself compiled it on the basis of publications in the Russian-language Internet space.
Methods of information gathering by western interested parties
on Islamic topics in Tatarstan
on Islamic topics in Tatarstan
Foreign observers specializing in the study of the Islamic factor in Tatarstan are limited in their ability to obtain operational and detailed information from the region, unless it is assumed that there are agents of some kind of foreign intelligence services both from abroad and from among those recruited directly in the republic. locals. The latter is the place to be, as even local media reported. In particular, we are talking about Nazira Aukhadeev, the imam of the cathedral mosque of Almetyevsk (a city in the south-east of Tatarstan), who came into close contact with the special services of Saudi Arabia through the embassy of this country in Moscow. Receiving a small reward (just over 500 dollars per month), he informed the diplomatic missions of this Arab kingdom about the number of Muslims in the city, attitudes in their environment, relations with the rest of the population and officials. The presence of such a channel for obtaining information in the oil region of the region made it possible to be aware of the situation on the ground.
However, this way of collecting facts is not the only one. The most common practice is to analyze an open public information space (published in Russian-language media), travel under the guise of journalists, scholars or diplomats to Tatarstan, where personal meetings and interviews are held with local secular experts, officials, clergy and directly by the fundamentalists themselves in order to obtain useful information from first hand. Along the way, local scientists are involved through a system of grant support from foreign charitable foundations, which monitor and study topics of interest to customers. Scientists themselves usually perceive this as a natural form of support for their own scientific research, although they indirectly supply information from places for interested Westerners.
It is very characteristic that visiting observers in the region often seek to meet with religious radicals. It is clear that such meetings are necessary not only for the purpose of wanting to hear the point of view of the Islamists from themselves. Most often, such communication allows contacting with them for possible further cooperation, as well as assessing the real potential of the destructive capabilities of a particular group of fundamentalists.
Focusing on the Islamic factor of Tatarstan (especially its radicals) has become ubiquitous since 2010. The interest in the region as a special center for building relations with Moscow, its experience in interfaith coexistence goes to the background, giving way to the problems of Islamic extremism. Since from the official circles, which are also met by visiting observers, the already unconvincing rhetoric about the need for a “dialogue of religions” sounds, Western interested people seek opinions from independent scholars, since they often have information about the more real state of affairs.
During the meetings with foreign visitors it is very significant that they are already prepared enough, they have general information about the situation in the region, it is felt that they closely monitor the events in Tatarstan, they are not confused in the names of their main participants. The very method of interviewing the interviewee is very characteristic: the details of the invoice are carefully but consistently found out, which makes it possible to further model the development of the processes. Be sure to ask to evaluate the potential threat posed by a destructive force. This is done in order to understand how you can further predict the situation.
The nature and degree of activity of publications in the Western press materials on the problems of Islam in Tatarstan
The monitoring of the foreign press shows that 1990-2000-s interest in Tatarstan was entirely tied to the way the regional authorities sought to position it officially. The “Model of Tatarstan” - this brand, which meant a special status of the region in its relations with the federal center and at the same time an island of inter-religious tolerance, was used by the Western media to characterize the republic. Islam was rated as “moderate”, “tolerant”, “Euro-Islam”, it clearly emphasized its difference from the religious practices of the countries of the Middle East, while its experience of coexistence with Christianity in the Volga region was sought to be presented as a role model. This in its own way attracted, seemed curious to the foreign press. In general, the assessments made in the West were very positive, one felt sympathy for the authorities of Tatarstan in their attempts to preserve the legislative privileges of the “parade of sovereignties” of the 1990-s, which began to be abandoned as a result of the policy of restoring the vertical power that was accompanied by the harmonization of regional legislation to the federal and sunset era of rampant separatism. Since this initiative of Moscow caused rejection in Kazan of such a confrontation, obviously not in favor of the regional elite of Tatarstan, in the West they tried to present as "the struggle of the Tatar people against the dictatorship of Russia." However, this did not give any effect. The Islamic factor was considered as a peculiar zest of the local color, which managed to adapt to the experience of coexistence in the conditions of the Orthodox majority.
As a result, the destructive processes that took place in the Muslim environment of Tatarstan went unnoticed behind this façade of ostentatious tolerance. If before 2010, the assessment of foreign influence on Muslims of Tatarstan was generally neutral, they tried to give a natural support to fellow believers from Arab countries and Turkey, the appearance of armed militants in the south of the republic soon dispelled all this idyll. Most often, foreign publications did not aspire to deliberately and specifically present the whole picture of what is happening in the region in negative colors. First, they described the real facts of the terrorist threat of 2010-2012 that took place in Tatarstan. Secondly, publications in the foreign press followed what their colleagues in Russia wrote. Finally, thirdly, many of the foreign journalists themselves came to the region, respectively, received information from the field, and not by calls from editorial offices or bureaucrats in Moscow.
This flow of publications clearly did not like the authorities of Tatarstan. Soon the cherished image of Tatarstan as a place of interfaith harmony turned out to be far from reality. Moreover, the fears of the ruling elite caused a threat to the prospect of Tatarstan’s investment attractiveness abroad. This was publicly announced in August by 2012, the director of the Regional Investment Development Agency, Linar Yakupov, who noted that foreign investors are beginning to doubt the safety of their own deposits . Moreover, at the same time Tatarstan was visited by the chief analyst of the British agency “Control Risks” Stephen Ike, who met with a number of experts in Tatarstan, who are inclined to question the myth of the absence of problems in the ethno-religious sphere in the region. The very fact of the visit of such analysts, who are trying to analyze the safety of the contribution of foreign companies to this region on the spot, not trusting the advertisement of Tatarstan officials responsible for the investment attractiveness of the subject of the federation, is very indicative.
As a result, literally in three years, there was a sharp transformation of the image of Tatarstan: from awe and sympathy as an oasis of stability of intercivilizational relations to the next “hot spot” on the planet. It is characteristic that the first attack in 2010 year by a group of terrorists has not yet caused such an unequivocal assessment of the situation in the region. A number of experts in Islamic studies, including those who worked in branches of Western scientific centers of Russia (in particular, the Carnegie Moscow Center), were inclined to repeat the well-established notions of Tatarstan as a prosperous region, far from the problem of Islamic extremism. However, subsequent events, especially the 2012 attacks of the year, finally convinced, including these Russian experts, that the denial of this phenomenon is no longer possible.
The approaching Universiade (6-17 July 2013 of the year) set before the authorities, including the federal ones, the task of changing a similar assessment of Tatarstan. In general, the right decision was taken in the direction that it was necessary to take measures to eliminate the headquarters of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Kazan, located in the Al-Ikhlas mosque. Since the latter were striving for public activity, without hiding their views, the authorities went, however, six months after they entered the republic’s social and political arena (a series of rallies, pickets, collective pilaf meals in city parks with sermons), to close 30 January 2013 the year of arrival of the mosque and even the complete demolition of its building (a new mosque building is now being built there). Following this, there was a tendency to try to negotiate with the part of the radicals who can sit peacefully for the time of the Universiade. By making a concession, the regional authorities motivated the resignation of the mufti of Tatarstan Ildus Faizov, an implacable opponent of the Islamists, and the election of the little-known 28-year-old Camil Samigullin, as it turned out later, belonging to the Turkish fundamentalist order "Ismail Aga". The latter immediately announced his policy towards Islamic radicals, called “tea diplomacy” (“We Tatars, we will be able to resolve all our differences over a cup of tea”). The result of this policy was the inclusion of several Wahhabis in the staff of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Tatarstan, and in order to gain popularity in the Islamic environment, the new mufti began to actively support the hijabization of secular schools. Such populist steps brought some definite success: at the time of the Universiade, Islamist speeches (with the exception of a number of shares of Hizb ut-Tahrir members from the former Al-Ikhlas mosque, in particular, demonstrative walking in a caliphate ") did not have. At the same time, it remained completely incomprehensible where the mojaheds of Tatarstan, who committed the attacks in 2012, had gone. Their last "Amir" Abdullah, who announced the continuation of terrorist activities, was not caught, like the rest of the bandit group. Apparently, they lay temporarily on the "bottom" (later members of this group, known as the Chistopol Jamaat, were involved in setting fire to churches in Tatarstan, shelling homemade rockets at a petrochemical plant in Nizhnekamsk, some of which were detained, others were eliminated. - approx. .).
In many ways, heightened security measures (30 thousands of policemen from all over the country), a number of measures to eliminate the gathering of extremists in Kazan and an agreement with their sane part ensured peace of mind during the international sports event. Large investments in the organization of the Universiade and the magnificently conducted opening and closing provided positive responses in the foreign press, which allowed Tatarstan to return its former image now as a sports center of Russia. The themes of the Islamic factor began to be perceived, as before, in line with tolerance, with the reservation to the need to resist extremism from abroad.
The reasons for the interest of the countries of the West situation
in the Islamic environment of Tatarstan and possible scenarios of their further policy towards Islamism in the region
in the Islamic environment of Tatarstan and possible scenarios of their further policy towards Islamism in the region
The transition of Islamic activity in Tatarstan towards a terrorist threat has caused general attention to the region in the West. It was caused, first of all, by the destruction of a long time-shaped stereotype about the republic as the crossroads of Christian and Muslim civilization, where Islam can live in peace with Orthodoxy. The thundering explosions and shots were a signal that the Islamists in the center of Russia are determined to turn the Volga region into one of the “hot spots” of the planet. Previous assessments made by Tatarstan were no longer relevant. Visits by foreign analysts only confirmed the first suspicions that the situation with the development of Islam took the path of radicals going over to active actions. In this regard, Western countries have tried to find out how serious the threat posed by the terrorist underground in the Volga region, and how it is necessary to build their policies to this form of religious fundamentalism.
How strange this is, but foreign analysts who came to foreign countries tried to convey the idea that their countries also faced the problem of Islamic extremism. The growth of radical sentiment in the migrant environment of European countries is obvious to all. The employees of the political department of the European Union’s representative office in Russia, who arrived twice in Tatarstan, tried to convince the Tatarstan side that their visit and information gathering is necessary to show the EU’s common problem of Islamic fundamentalism for the whole European continent and not to consider the Russian Islamists as opposition or regime of Vladimir Putin ". In his opinion, the realization of this by both sides could find common ways to exchange experiences, and the countries of Europe, whose history of Islam begins in the second half of the twentieth century, need to take a closer look at how in the Volga region, where the Christian population is the majority, West, trying to solve the problem of extremism in the Muslim environment. Carlos von Engel, the second secretary of the German Embassy in Moscow, tried to convey a similar idea, who made it clear that they in Germany themselves did not know what to do with their own Wahhabis.
However, such complaints should be treated with a great deal of skepticism. It is naive to believe that Western diplomats will extend a helping hand to Russia in its confrontation with the internal Islamists. Of course, one cannot deny that Europe is trying to see if Moscow will be able to overcome and in what way its fundamentalists, so that later, perhaps, to learn from it, but the fact that the real purpose lies in how much and how the West can support it with transformation of the Volga region in the analogue of the North Caucasus in Russia. The true reasons lie more in assessing the potential of this problem. Given that the headquarters of a number of Islamist organizations (such as Hizb ut-Tahrir or Jamaat Tablig) are located in Europe, the question is about the beginning of information support for the coverage of the situation in the Volga region. Moreover, the Hizb ut-Tahrir information center, which is located in Stockholm (Sweden), broadcasts in Russian, almost every fourth of its news bulletin telling about the situation in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, freely available on the Internet, seeks to portray Islamists as a non-systemic opposition opposing the political dictatorship of the official government. It is worth expecting that in the near future a similar trend of assessment (“Islamists are not gangsters, and this is just an out-of-system opposition”) will continue, merging the perception of fundamentalists with the liberal and pro-Western opposition as “fighters with the regime”. Similar manifestations have already taken place in 2012 during the visit of the Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov to Kazan, when he did not oppose contacts with local Islamists and nationalist separatists.
It should be considered that the interest of the West in the activity of Islamists in Tatarstan is also due to the possibility of their subsequent support, at least through the information support of the activities of fundamentalists. Combat training of terrorists from Tatarstan, while clearly not very professionally skilled in organizing terrorist attacks with the achievement of defeat objectives, is likely to occur in Syria. Potentially ready for the start of hostilities, Islamists are currently in the ranks of gangs in the Syrian Arab Republic. Having received combat experience, they may well return to their homeland in order to deploy terrorist acts at home. To make the return possible, a campaign is gradually being launched to justify the Russian Wahhabis fighting in the Middle East. They are trying to present them as fighters against the “dictatorial” regime of Bashar al-Assad, and for the Russian audience they are trying to equate to Russian volunteers who fought in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. In the near future, we should expect in the Russian press a series of sentimental reports on how, by their stupidity and naivety, young Russian Muslims (including ethnic Russians) set off from good intentions to fight in Syria, and now they want to return home, to mom, start peaceful life. Such broadcast stories will serve as a mitigating circumstance and a reason for their return home. True, there is absolutely no guarantee that these Russians, who participated in the killings of people in Syria, will become civilians in Russia. However, if this begins to happen, the terrorist underground in the Volga region will receive reinforcements. As a result, the West, initiating the return of Russian Islamists to Tatarstan, will help turn it into a zone of terrorist threat, which will work on the country's instability and undermining its national security.
Thus, the interest of Western countries in the Islamic factor in Tatarstan is caused by the desire to assess the potential of its threat to the integrity and peace in the center of Russia with a view to its further use by material, human and informational support to weaken the national security of our country.