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September 24, 2017 No.
7105

Pro-Rohingya Protests In Russia: A Political Vehicle For Kadyrov? – Part II

Protests in support of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims have inflamed Russia's heavily Muslim Northern Caucasus. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov exploited the situation to position himself as a religious-political leader, by acting as the guarantor of Muslims' rights. According to the Russian media outlet Gazeta.ru, the authorized September 4 demonstration in Grozny, in which more than one million people participated, took Kadyrov's political agenda to a new level. Grazeta.ru stated that the leader of Chechnya established himself as an official voice of the Muslim Ummah in Russia, while simultaneously demonstrating his mobilization capabilities.[1]

Commenting on the pro-Rohingya rallies, Russian analyst Fyodor Lukyanov stated that considering the growing role and influence of Russia' Muslim communities, the authorities cannot ignore their moods. Lukyanov further said: "Moreover, Ramzan Kadyrov, an influential Muslim-politician, expresses the moods [of the Islamic community in the Russian Federation]." He then warns that until now Kadyrov acted within the framework of state policy, but by supporting pro-Rohingya rallies, the Chechen president tries to impose on Moscow his own foreign policy, placing Russia in a difficult situation vis-à-vis its partner, China, which is also Myanmar's sponsor. This is a new and dangerous development. [2]

The following are excerpts of an analysis on Kadyrov's growing political ambitions, titled "The President Of Russian Muslims," and published by the Russian newspaper Vedomosti:[3]


Ramzan Kadyrov with Russian President Vladimir Putin (Source: Stav.kp.ru)

"Ramzan Kadyrov has hinted for some time that he wouldn't mind being a religious –political leader ona greater scale, than the Chechen presidency. The new project of protecting Myanmar's oppressed Muslims displays this ambition as well as appropriate resources more vividly…

"It's not the first time Kadyrov speaks on behalf of all [Russian] Muslims… He also tries to develop friendly relations with the ruling elites of the Persian Gulf monarchies, supports the haj of the [Russian] Muslims to Mecca and protects the rights of the Muslim population. Positioning himself as a 'defender of Muslims' opens new horizons – not only to his republic, but also on a state scale.

"Compared to official heads of Russian Islamic organizations, who are no more that loyal clerks, going unnoticed by the media, Kadyrov looks like a young, active and military leader.

"Apparently, this is Kremlin's problem. Russia and China in January 2017 blocked the draft resolution of the UNSC, condemning the government of Myanmar… Definitely, on the official diplomatic level Russia's position is not going to change, but Kadyrov makes no claim to the official level. So the question is what to do with his fast growing unofficial status and resources - millions of Russian Muslims are apparently influenced by him and not only Russian Muslims…

"[The September 4] demonstration in Grozny attests to Kadyrov's ambitions to receive a new status and authority, his desire to alter his status from a regional leader to the status of an internationally recognized religious–political leader, says Alexey Malshenko, expert in Islamic affairs… Kadyrov has created a very attractive image for Islam-oriented youth, which perceives him as a leader who violates – with impunity– a code of conduct of a regional leader. His influence goes far beyond the Chechen borders…

"This is a very dangerous development. First, it gives a regional republic leader access to international politics, which is disproportionate to his formal status and is the domain of the president himself. Second, this is a situation of a potential conflict with official Islamic leaders, who traditionally call on Ummah to practice moderation and condemn radicalism. Here, Kadyrov pops up with quite radical statements… If, let's say, any Imam said that during a sermon in the mosque, he would be criminally prosecuted… It's clear that Kadyrov utilizes any possibility to be sought-after, while this new role is just another chance to enhance his political capital. He gets additional resources, one more agenda – in a sphere of low potential control by the state. This in turn intensifies the risks of reduced governability."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Gazeta.ru, September 4, 2017.

[2] Kommersant.ru, September 5, 2017.

[3] Vedomosti.ru, September 4, 2017.