Mukhetdinov’s argument about the negative and continuing impact of Soviet-era mullahs and their approach on Russia’s Muslim communities is both true and important. But it is important to remember the following when evaluating them: Mukhetdinov is not only a leading Muslim commentator in Russia; he is Gainutdin’s first deputy in the MSD RF.
Consequently, what he is saying reflects Gainutdin’s aspirations rather than what the SMR has in fact achieved. There are still more than 80 MSDs in Russia and most are still dominated by people from the Soviet past and still relied upon by Russian officials. Even more important, the leaders of some of them and many officials reject Gainutdin and SMR out of hand.
And with Vladimir Putin’s increasing tendency to restore Soviet arrangements, even more mullahs and MSDs may adopt that position. Indeed, it is not impossible that Mukhetdinov’s celebratory words are in fact a kind of warning against a pattern that he sees now working against what he and Gainutdin have been trying to do.