Islam in Russia: Full speed ahead

Street prayer in Moscow, 2014. Source:Twitter

Vladimir Putin has made religion a central part of his public image, using Orthodoxy as a way to bolster for his political agendas. But Orthodoxy is not the only religion that experienced a revival in the post–Cold War period; among other religions, Islam, once shunned by the Soviet state, has increasingly been embraced by the Russian state.

This was a major theme of an April 7 presentation at George Washington University’s Elliott School by Bulat Akhmetkarimov, a PhD candidate at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). At the event, titled “Islam and the Dynamics of Ethno-Confessional Regimes in Russia, 1990-2012,” Akhmetkarimov discussed the Russian state’s attitudes toward religion and how attitudes toward Islam have evolved in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

As the largest religious minority in Russia, Muslims make up roughly 11 percent of Russia’s total population. Based on statistics provided by Pew Research Center, this percentage is predicted to increase to roughly 13 percent by 2030 and nearly 17 percent percent by 2050, with about twenty million Muslims in Russia.

To highlight just how much has changed with respect to Islam in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Akhmetkarimov stated that the percentage of Muslim “believers” has increased dramatically over the last two decades or so.

He further asserted that there was a post-Communist Islamic revival in Russia around 1997, commenting that the number of mosques in Russia increased from 160 to 7,000 between the years 1990 and 1997. While these were mostly private initiatives, the increase in the number of these initiatives could have been indicative of a relaxing of attitudes in Russia towards Islam, and perhaps religion more generally…

  • Putin will likely not mess around.

  • David

    Cue the commie apologists.

  • Squashing Chechnya was fun. I’d love to do it again.

  • Shebel

    Muslims sure are smart.
    Even Putin in his quest for a Legacy-
    Will give them Free rein.

    I hope that I am wrong.

  • J. C.

    At least when the Muzzies ‘act up’, the Russians don’t pussy-foot around…

    17% by 2050? I have my doubts.

    • Frau Katze

      The birth rate is extremely low for the Russian ethnics.

      • dance…dancetotheradio

        What’s the AK-47 rate?

    • Guest

      ➤➤►➤➤I RECEIVED FIRST DRAFT OF $13000!@ak3:




  • Billy Bob Thornton

    Except Russia is not communist anymore. I love it when people say things they don’t understand because communism is stateless and is a proven failure of an ideology. What Russia is now is a nationalist state and why they are funding so many nationalist movements throughout Europe like Le Pen’s party in France and Greece’s Golden Dawn. The fact is Russia is very much skeptical of the US when it comes to the wars fought in the Middle East namely going into Iraq and Syria.

    • Billy Bob Thornton

      I also doubt Islam will gain in Russia on a massive scale. Usually nations outside France, Britain and the G20 tend to keep their identity. I say the main reasons why birthrates have dropped has to do with the fact that living standards are dropping. Blame government policies. Immigration inevitably has to happen.

    • And yet it backs Iran.

      • Minicapt

        If you mention such things, you’ll confuse Billy-Bob.


  • Putin has adopted Orthodoxy just as Stalin (whom Putin has revitalised) did.

    If Putin finds Islam so distasteful, why did he install a puppet leader in Chechnya and why does he deal with Syria and Iran?

  • Gettingby

    Russia is a country surrounded by Islamic states and who’s economic life depends on
    maintaining good relationships with them. Putin is pragmatic and if he can strike the right balance he will use Islam as an unofficial paramilitary force to deal with matters outside official channels, as agitators, enforcers, or as a means to divide and conquer. That you can bet your life on.

    • He’s not pragmatic. He is an autocrat and a hypocrite.

      • El Martyachi

        He’s pragmatic when it comes to getting in front of mass movements (so far).

        • He’s securing his power. Russia will give arms to anyone. Kadyrov is a puppet leader but keeps the Chechens out of Putin’s hair wisps for now. He has Europe in a choke-hold over resources. As I said, he is an autocrat.

  • no4

    There was a show on BBC last night, they sent a black guy to meet some Russian nationalists. It is one of the best documentaries I have ever watched.

    It is pretty full on. I would not like to be an immigrant in Russia with these guys around.


    • k

      very interesting
      be aware that Russian humour can be very sarcastic
      Russia also has a history of “quick changes”=it’s them
      This production did need to speak with the average nationalist guy in the street
      Nationalism is in most parts of the world, it is just in the West, where we have painted it all bad
      The winds of change are blowing and right now Western Individualism is NO MATCH against Nationalism.

  • Blacksmith

    This will not end well for Russians if they don’t keep a lid on it.