State Duma deputy links terrorist attacks against Muslim spiritual leaders to foreign special services

Yaroslav Nilov, chairman of the State Duma committee on public associations and religious organizations, believes the murder of Muslim theologian Said al-Chikeri (Atsayev) was aimed at fanning religious conflicts in Russia.

"The purpose of this crime was to destabilize the situation in the country. Unfortunately, such things have happened in the Northern Caucasus before. Such abominable terrorist attacks against clergymen have taken place in calm Tatarstan. This clearly indicates an attempt to destabilize the religious situation," Nilov told Interfax on Wednesday.

"There is a war going on with Russia. In this case, it's an attempt to fan religious conflict. Ethnic conflicts periodically take place in our country," the parliamentarian said.

The parliamentarian believes the tensions are being fuelled mainly by forces from abroad.

"There is a geopolitical motivation here. Consequently, some foreign special services and some world centers are working on decisions to finance and use radical citizens of our country. Some people who are radical Muslims receive sufficient funding to engage in sabotage," he said.

Nilov believes the situation may necessitate certain amendments to legislation, but there is generally a need for a comprehensive approach.

"We need to adopt a comprehensive approach to this decision. Some changes should, of course, be made at the legislative level. However, I don't support automatic toughening of punishment. For this reason, we should use all measures to fight this," Nilov said.

To keep the situation under control, the authorities should conduct harsh operations against terrorists while at the same time conducting dialogue with all trends in Islam that deny terrorism and extremism," Nilov said.

The parliamentarian believes the killings of prominent theologians and clergymen have been carried out to "compromise the authorities and traditional Islam and increase contradictions in the Muslim community."

On August 28, a 30-year-old woman called Aminat Kurbanova (Saprykina) came to the house of well-known religious figure Said Afandi Atsayev in the village of Chirkei in the Buinaksk district at around 4 p.m. on Tuesday and activated an explosive device attached to her body. The explosion killed Atsayev and six other people who were nearby and caused significant damage to the property.

"The power of the explosive device was equivalent to approximately 200 grams of TNT, the bomb was filled with shrapnel in the form of metal pieces," the Investigative Committee said.

A criminal inquiry has been launched under the Russian Criminal Code Article 205 (terror attack), Article 105 part two (the killing of two and more persons), Article 222 (illicit arms trafficking), Article 223 (illicit manufacture of a weapon, ammunition and explosive devices) and Article 167 (intentional damage to property). The investigators believe the killing is likely linked to the theologian's religious activities.

On July 19, Tatarstan's Mufti Ildus Faizov was wounded and Valiulla Yakupov, the head of the education department of the Spiritual Directorate of the region's Muslims, was killed in Kazan. The unknown attackers blew up the mufti's car and opened fire on Yakupov as he was leaving his house. The investigators believe the attack is most likely the spiritual leaders' professional activities.

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