Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Window on Eurasia: Russia’s Muslims Divided on What Medvedev Will Do, Internet Poll Suggests

Paul Goble

Baku, April 30 -- Russia’s Muslims are divided on whether incoming president Dmitry Medvedev will change course toward their community or continue the one that Vladimir Putin has set, according to a still open and far from representative sample in a poll conducted by the newest Muslim entry on the Russian web.
A little over 40 percent of those taking part say Medvedev will continue the same approach Putin adopted another third believe that he will improve things slightly or even adopt pro-Muslim policies, and just over a quarter say they are convinced that the new president’s approach to Islam will be even harsher than Putin’s has been (
No one should make too much of these numbers. On the one hand, Russia’s Muslims like everyone else simply do not know what Medvedev as president will want to do or even be able to do given the unprecedented power-sharing relationship he will have with Putin as prime minister.
And on the other, this poll is highly unscientific: Those participating are a self-selected subset of the subset of all of Russia’s Muslims – and perhaps others – who visit the new Russian language portal, And it is likely that some participants have voted more than once and that others are taking part to tilt the results in one direction or another.
But the very existence of such a poll on a Russian-language Muslim website calls attention to the appearance of an increasingly popular new portal for that community. According to statistics on the site, it already has featured some 147,397 posts on the site by some 15,394 participants.
In addition to polls like this one, the portal, which is an expansion of the news site, features video galleries, personal ads, news, groups, essays, blogs, and a forum. As a result, this portal almost certainly will play a far larger role in the life of Russia’s Muslims and especially the younger and more educated ones than any existing sites or traditional publication.

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