Vienna, July 23 – Russia’s Muslims strongly back independence for Kosovo, according to a leading Moscow analyst, and many of its members see Moscow’s opposition to that development not only as ineffective but a slur on their status as full-fledged citizens of the Russian Federation.
Although polls suggest that most Russians support the Kremlin’s opposition to Western plans for the independence of Kosovo – see the latest Levada Center sampling at http://www.levada.ru/press/2007072301.htm -- Russia’s more than 20 million Muslims reportedly have a quite different opinion.
In an interview posted online today, Ruslan Saidov, who is both a Muslim and a Russian political scientist, argues that Moscow’s opposition to the independence of Kosovo is a mistake on two grounds. On the one hand, he says, “the independence of Kosovo from Serbia is inevitable however much the Kremlin tries to interfere.”
And on the other – and much more seriously – the way in which the Russian government has chosen to justify its position – as a “defense” of fellow Orthodox Christians and Slavs – is deeply offensive to many of Russia’s Muslims who support independence for their fellow Muslims in Kosovo.
The Kremlin’s justification of its position, Saidov argues, “in the multi-national and poly-confessional Russian Federation, among whose citizens are 20 million Muslims, almost all of whom are not Slavs, sounds extremely insulting to these people” (http://forum.msk.ru/print.html?id=365467).
“Why should the Chechens or the Tatars or the peoples of Daghestan or the Adygei support the Serbs against their fellow believer Albanians?” Saidov asks rhetorically, and he continues, “Or does the Russian government not consider the Muslim peoples of Russia full-fledged citizens of the country?”
And he concludes: “The Islamic community of the Russian Federation today firms demands from the Kremlin an end to the insulting of the religious feelings of Russia’s Muslims and to its efforts to torpedo the decisions of the UN Security Council to give to the fraternal Kosovo Albanian people independence.”