2013-05-15 10:16:00

Russian analysts: immigrants, guest workers fertile ground for radical Islamism

Moscow, May 15, Interfax - The head of a Russian policy think tank has argued that immigrants and guest workers who have come to Russia from Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union are potentially a fertile environment for radical Islamist ideas and called for tighter restrictions on immigration and guest labor.

"The migrants are hostile toward the society they have ended up in. This is a splendid environment for the dissemination of religion-based fascist ideology," Mikhail Remizov, president of the National Strategy Institute, told a news conference at the Interfax headquarters in Moscow in presenting a report on ethnic and religious threats in Russia's North Caucasus and Volga Area.

He said Russia's government today calls mass immigration guest labor a problem though a year and a half ago it didn't.

"Some measures are being taken, tiny little moves. These moves are absolutely insufficient ways to solve the problem of mass migration," Remizov said. "It's impossible to get anything done without a visa regime and serious pressure on employers."

He attacked the relatively loose immigration laws. "Legally, instead of making it easier for Russian speakers [ethnic Russians from other countries] to obtain [Russian] citizenship there will be something completely different - easier naturalization for citizens of the former USSR. This can only be changed by revising the law on compatriots [ethnic Russians living outside Russia]," he said.

Besides tighter limits on immigration, he suggested that the Kremlin end its alleged practice of connivance at radical Islamism, and that Russia fight alleged discrimination against ethnic Russian communities in former Soviet republics.

Roman Silantyev, a religious research specialist and lecturer at one of Moscow's universities, suggested banning Wahhabism as an essential way to fend off the alleged threat of radical Islamism being disseminated in Russia.

"A ban would at least make this possible. Fortunately, it's still curable," he told the news conference.

The head of the Volga Centre for Regional and Ethno-Religious Studies of the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, Rais Suleimanov, said radical Islamism is spreading in the Volga area and that this has brought into being a situation there that is similar to that in the North Caucasus 15 years ago.

"It seems that this scenario will reach Siberia, where hotbeds are arising already," he told the news conference.