Voices from Russia

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Putin Met with Muftis of Russia’s Muslim Spiritual Administrations

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During a trip to Ufa, President V V Putin met with muftis from the Muslim spiritual administrations. Meeting participants discussed current problems relating to cooperation between the government and Muslim religious organisations. Putin said:

I think that it’s important that we meet regularly and discuss issues that interest Russian Muslims, holders of other faiths, and all the citizens of our country in general. Today, in Ufa, we celebrate the 225th anniversary of the foundation of the Muslim Spiritual Assembly established by imperial decree. At that time, at the end of the 18th century, Islam won official recognition as a traditional Russian religion. Naturally, this helped Muslims become true Russian patriots. Islam became a significant factor in our social and political life and made an invaluable contribution to our society’s spiritual and cultural development. Once again, I congratulate you on this historic date.

I’d like to thank you for your work and talk to you about current global trends, including in religious life. Today, an active, and not always positive, process of politicising religion is underway at the global level. This occurs in different directions and in different religions, including Islam. In these circumstances, government authorities and the Russian Muslim community have new problems and challenges. Of course, we can only resolve them together; we’ve talked about this together many times now. Some political parties use Islam, or rather its radical tendencies (which, incidentally, are historically foreign to Russian Muslims), in order to weaken our state, to create zones of so-called externally-driven conflicts in Russian territory, to encourage friction between different ethnic groups and within the Muslim community, and to fan separatist sympathies in the regions. I’m convinced that we must counter such attempts to create divisions using Russian Muslims’ faith in their historical traditions and partnerships with other religions, particularly the Russian Orthodox Church.

Of course, hierarchical command structures are alien to Islam (as, to be frank, they are to many other world religions), which has a variety of different schools and movements. However, Russian Muslims have always been united in their service to society and the state, and against external enemies and all forms of extremism. I am sure that we can maintain and strengthen this unity, even today. We should see Islam’s new “socialisation” as developing traditional Muslim lifestyles, thinking, and views in accordance with current social realities, as opposed to the ideology of radicals, bringing believers back to the Middle Ages. New forms of work… through Muslim cultural centres, Islamic science and education centres, and youth and women’s clubs… are important here. I believe that you can make an important contribution to the social adaptation of people who come to live and work in Russia. Many of them share your religion. They need to hear your voice and feel your presence; otherwise, they become victims of propaganda from various fundamentalist sects.

I also believe that the voice of Russian Muslim leaders should resonate louder in the international arena, amongst the global Islamic community. Today, tensions between the West and the Islamic world are on the rise. Some people try to mess around with this issue and throw fuel on the fire. I want to tell you straight away… we aren’t interested in this. However, at the same time, today, Russia’s presence is in increased demand in the Middle East and the Islamic world as a whole. Moreover, we need to be more proactive, debunking harmful attempts to manipulate humanity using countries and peoples, information and public consciousness. Russia isn’t interested in splitting up or redrawing the Islamic world; on the contrary, it maintains a consistent steady position in favour of strengthening its unity.

In order to meet the challenges of our time successfully, it’s necessary, firstly, to ensure the high credibility of Russia’s Muslim clergy and its Islamic theological schools. Today, there are 82 centralised registered Islamic religious organisations in Russia. Muslims are well aware of the first sura of the Quran, according to which there is no other prophet except Muhammad. However, at the same time we all understand that we mustn’t forget the spiritual leaders themselves… firstly, they’re people with moral authority that they must use for beneficial purposes. The clergy should be educated and enlightened people who can give a clear and impeccable canonical assessment of the most severe challenges and threats we face today. This initiative should be yours; we can’t pass it on to informal leaders who’re actively involved with the faithful. There are individuals who tend to support theological schools and extremist ideas alien to our country, seek to undermine traditional Islam’s position here, the unity of Russian society, and ultimately desire our country’s collapse.

Based on centuries of national experience in religious education and its rich theological heritage, Russian Islam has everything necessary to have its say in development. Therefore, one of our most important tasks is to reconstruct our own Islamic theological schools, which would ensure the sovereignty of Russia’s spiritual space. Most importantly, the majority of international Muslim scholars would recognise such a move. Such schools must respond to the most recent developments in Russia and the world, and evaluate them in ways that are both understandable and credible for believers. I’m sure that if we can achieve this, it’d help you to provide a clear moral assessment of both good and criminal acts.

27 January 2018

RMC Russian Mufti Council

https://muslim.ru/en/articles/127/4804/

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Russian Bears Searching Remote Villages for Food

00 bear in a tree. 28.08.13

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Wildlife authorities in some of Russia’s more remote and wild regions warn residents to stay inside after dark after several encounters with wild animals resulted in attacks on humans, livestock, and guard dogs. Authorities in areas such as Kamchatka and Bashkiria said that they shoot aggressive animals, even from the air. The situation worsened with the arrival of the cold season. Hungry predators search for food as their resources in the forest become increasingly difficult to find, so, the animals search for food in the villages. In Kamchatka this year, authorities recorded a large number of anomalous bears that didn’t go into winter hibernation. So far, the bears killed three people and seriously injured two more.

However, the bears’ main target is livestock and poultry. Local scientists and hunters said that they believed that the bears are unable to hibernate because they’re still hungry. This year, rivers in Kamchatka had few fish, and bears had a hard time finding enough berries in the forests. Many predators didn’t have time to store up fat; now, they roam in search of food, even near settlements. Kamchatka Krai introduced a special decree… the authorities decided to shoot all bears not in “voluntary” winter sleep. They’ve already killed 140 predators. In Bashkiria in mid-October, a bear attacked and killed a mushroom collector.

Whilst bears remain a problem, some authorities consider wolves to be a greater threat. Primarily, their victims are pet dogs in yards. Usually, dogs are on a leash, so, they can’t fight the wolves. In the Komi Republic, wolves bit three pet dogs. In Kaliningrad Oblast, wolves ate 35 sheep and 20 cows. In Tuva, there were 15 attacks by wolves on livestock. In Lugansk Oblast, wolves tore up nine sheep. According to locals, this is the first case where predators attacked domestic animals within inhabited areas. In areas where wolf attacks are random, local authorities don’t issue formal permits for killing predators. They tell frightened residents to follow simple safety precautions. Don’t go out at night, don’t let children out unaccompanied, lock pet dogs inside the house, and call the authorities if you encounter a wild animal. Bears, unlike wolves, rarely go to towns, so, precautions to follow in regards to them are different. Don’t go into the woods alone, and if you walk in the woods, talk loudly, or even sing, so that the animals can hear you. If you see a bear, don’t make any sudden movements; move away slowly and smoothly. If a bear attacks, it’s better to fall on the ground and pretend to be dead. Chances of escaping from a bear or hiding in a tree are negligible.

However, there are regions where these recommendations aren’t enough. If the number of dangerous animals exceeds established standards, one must reduce their number by force. By law, killing wild animals is punishable by fines from 2,000 to 5,000 Roubles (61-153 USD. 64-162 CAD. 67-169 AUD. 44-110 Euros. 37-93 UK Pounds). The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment does issue permits for “prey hunting resources in order to regulate herd numbers”. The police or hunters can do the shooting. Under federal law, you can only kill wolves with a gun… the law strictly forbids using traps and poisons. For these purposes, the government allots separate funds for the regions. For example, in Yakutia, the struggle with wolves will cost 32 million Roubles (976,000 USD. 1.034 million CAD. 1.078 million AUD. 708,000 Euros. 596,000 UK Pounds). Besides guns, local authorities want to use light aircraft to shoot wolves.

However, according to Nikolai Vyshegorodskih, the Head of Protection and Use of Wildlife, Aquatic Biological Resources, and Environmental Safety of Oryol Oblast, regulating wolf populations by violent means is necessary only in exceptional cases. He said, “Wild wolves attacking humans is extremely rare. Sixty percent of the diet of these animals is rats and other small animals. They’re afraid of people”. In his view, wolves play an important role in the food chain, saying, “Let’s take, for instance, Oryol Oblast. Once wolves come here, then, it sharply reduces the number of stray dogs, cats, and rabid foxes. Sometimes, they eat pet dogs. However, from the viewpoint of natural selection, it’s a normal process. Dogs are socially adapted to people and poorly adapted to life in nature, so, a stronger link in the food chain kills them… the wolf, and in the Far East, it’s the tiger”. Vyshegorodskih noted that as soon as a territory becomes free of wolves, rats, foxes, and wild dogs take their place, which assume the role of predator, and attack humans. He said, “In this situation, wolves are rather good”.

7 December 2013

Anastasia Maltseva

Russia Behind the Headlines

http://rbth.ru/society/2013/12/07/russian_bears_searching_remote_villages_for_food_32359.html

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