Russian Council of Muftis Organises “Muslims in Support of President Putin” Movement

A curious brief item from Interfax-Religion, consisting of a one-paragraph quote from a press release:

“At a working meeting of the Council of the Muftis, its members instructed Abdul-Vahed Niyazov, the head of the Islamic Cultural Center, to organize a Muslims in Support of President Putin movement and ensure its membership in the National Movement in Support of President Putin,”

According to this site, the purpose of the Council is

a) organizational consolidation of Russia’s Muslim religious unions with a view to joint solution of the most important problems concerning the entire Muslim community in the country; b) coordination of activities and mutual assistance of its member organizations in their relations with institutions of central and local government, organizations representing other religions and international and foreign organizations…

Nothing there about fanatical devotion to the president. However, the Council of the Muftis is not the only religious organisation to suck up to “Polonium” Putin. As I’ve blogged in the past, Jewish leader Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar awarded Putin with a medal in Auschwitz, while Pentecostal leader Sergei Ryakhovsky takes an unswervingly pro-Kremlin line. Both in turn have received backing from the government; I noted in 2005 that

Lazar’s dodgy election was backed by the Kremlin, since when Lazar has been continually close to Putin; various Pentecostal groups have complained about enforced membership of Ryakhovsky’s Union, while Ryakhovsky has accused critics of Putin of working for foreigners and has denounced the change of government in the Ukraine.

Both men are also part of a wider Interreligious Council of Russia, which also includes the Council of the Muftis. As well as this, of course, there is a growing symbiosis between the Russian Orthodox Church and the state, which I blogged most recently here. This includes a cult of Putin, and a few months ago the church where his parents were baptised underwent a restoration.

A couple of days ago the Guardian’s “Comment is Free” site ran a piece by Simon Tisdall about democracy in Russia, drawing on observations by former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov:

“Increased regulation of political parties, civil society and NGOs, the cancellation of elections for regional governors, changes to the Duma election procedures, and raising the threshold for parties to win parliamentary seats are all measures that have advanced this cynical approach,” Kasyanov said.

Absolute, centralised controls on internal security forces, on expanded state monopolies and on the electronic mass media were also part of Putinism’s toolbox, he said.

…Speaking to the Russia Foundation in London today, Kasyanov warned that a “KGB spirit” was dominating and haunting his country. If Russian voters and the outside world “swallowed” parliamentary elections that were certain to be deeply flawed, and accepted the theft of the presidential poll as well, then a “dark totalitarian future” awaited Russia.