The Rise of Radical and Nonofficial Islamic Groups in Russia's Volga Region
In the two decades since the dissolution of the USSR, Russian and Western experts, human-rights activists, and journalists have become accustomed to the political violence of the North Caucasus. Recent tragedies in Russia’s Volga region suggest that this sort of violence – and the Islamist terrorists who perpetrate it – may not be confined to the Caucasus.This has raised a question: How likely is it that the North Caucasus scenario will be repeated in the Volga region? Any attempt to answer this question is complicated by the variety of non-official Muslim groups of both local and international origin active there and the complex set of linkages between them.
This report sheds light on the ideological sources and resources of radicalism in the Volga region, nonofficial Islamic movements’ support among the regional population, and opportunities for the potential growth of different forms of Islamist activities. It describes the origins of different nonofficial Islamic movements as well as their post-Soviet development, ideology, and relationship with the authorities and official Muslim clergy. The report also offers practical approaches both for Russian domestic policy and for the U.S.-Russian security cooperation agenda.
Visiting Fellow, CSIS Russia & Eurasia Program
Gordon M. Hahn
Senior Associate (Non-Resident), CSIS Russia & Eurasia Program
Andrew C. Kuchins
Director and Senior Fellow, CSIS Russia & Eurasia Program