FSB Preparing to Close Muslim Institutions in Occupied Crimea, Silantyev Says

July 1, 2014
A Crimean Tatar arrives for Friday Prayers at the Khan Chair mosque in Bakhchysaray. Photo by Reuters

Staunton, June 30 – Roman Silantyev, notorious for his attacks on Muslims in the Russian Federation but close to the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian security agencies, says that the FSB plans for “the liquidation of radical Islamic organizations in Crimea.”

Silantyev told Rosbalt last week
that the Russian security services were preparing to do so because they have identified extremist groups in several mosques and Muslim educational institutions in Crimea and will close them because they have become “bases for religious extremists”.

The Moscow activist’s words are worrisome not only because he has an expansive definition of Muslim “extremism” – it often seems he includes in that category any Muslim trend he and the Russian authorities don’t like – but also because he has repeatedly attacked the Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) of Crimea as extremist and “a branch” of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis.

As Golos Islama [Voice of Islam] points out, Silantyev recently attracted widespread attention by his call to liquidate what he said were 700,000 Wahhabis in Russia in order to prevent “the threat of terrorist actions” there. Apparently, the site added, “Silantyev still hasn’t calculated how many Muslims need to be killed in Crimea.”

But despite the flamboyance of his language, Silantyev often has been among the first Russian commentators to talk about crackdowns by the Russian security services and thus his predictions for what will happen next in Crimea and to its Muslims, most of whom are Crimean Tatars, needs to be taken seriously.