Muslim violence on upswing in Tartarstan

Aug. 26, 2012 at 10:18 AM
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KAZAN, Russia, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Analysts say radical Islamists have become more active in the Russian city of Kazan, which has enjoyed a reputation of being predominantly moderate.

A spate of bombings and political shootings this summer has the Kremlin and national-security scholars concerned about the stability of Kazan and the rest of the republic of Tartarstan, The New York Times reported Sunday.

"That radical direction exists in Tatarstan," Aleksei Malashenko of the Carnegie Moscow Center told the Times. "And it's dangerous."

The newspaper said Tartarstan has been considered a moderate buffer between the restive Caucasus and the rest of Russia, though Moscow's efforts to keep a lid on the growth of radical Islam have not been entirely effective.

The latest increase in violence began during Ramadan in July and resulted in the assassinations of at least two prominent Kazan clerics and the premature detonation of a bomb that destroyed a car with three armed men inside.

The stakes in Tartarstan are high for the Russian government. Russia is home to about 20 million Muslims, including 2 million who live in Moscow.

The government has been making a push to be more accommodating of Muslims through social programs and streamlining construction of mosques, which the Times said were in relatively short supply in Moscow. At the same time, police in Kazan have been arresting numerous individuals with suspected militant ties.

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