It seems Russian opposition leader, Sergey Udal'tsov, has found a new ingredient for the opposition solyanka. (1) Below I translate a part from the article linked above:
At the end of last week, (the article was published on 16 August) he (Udal'tsov) visited Kazan', where surprisingly, he found common language with the representatives of radical Islam and nationalists from the Tatar Youth Union "Azatlyk" (from the Persian word "Ozod" - "Freedom"). Appearing at an unsanctioned demonstration in the center of Kazan', Udal'tsov called on "Tatar opposition" to take part in the "March of the Millions" planned for September, and the leader of "Azatlyk", Nail' Nabiullin, suggested to the "white ribbon opposition" to support the protest movement in Tatarstan.
They came to understanding on this point, after that Nabiullin said that the "white ribbon movement" works "for the welfare of the Tatar nation". When on the press conference in hotel "Art", Udal'tsov was asked: "You are left-wing, and they call for the creation of an Islamic Caliphate", he answered that "it is important to consolidate all opposition forces, which work towards the weakening of the governing regime." He added that "on this account he harbours no prejudices."
What can you say? The enemy of my enemy is my friend and ally, and in terms of organisation, "Azatlyk" and "Hizb ut-Tahrir" can turn out to be rather beneficial. "Azatlyk" is famous for organising a thousand strong demonstration in support of the Imam of the Qolsharif mosque, Ramil' Yunusov. They are already building up contacts with similar organisations in other Muslim republics, and together with the Bashkiri movement "Kuk bure" they denounced "Moscow's genocide towards Muslim nations in Russia." And "Hizb ut-Tahrir" has a network of cells across the post-Soviet space.
But where is Moscow, and where is Kazan' and Ufa? And how can the mobilisation of radical Islamists influence Autumn offensive in the capital (that is Moscow)? They will all come to Moscow or what? Hardly, and besides, the radical Islamic opposition is not very numerous. It is not popular either in Tatarstan, or in Bashkiria, because there live normal people, and despite all pretensions towards Russian government, they prefer to maintain status quo, instead of ending up in an Islamic Caliphate.
The above is a typical article on Azatlyk and Udal'tsov in Russian media. They lump Azatlyk together with Hizb ut-Tahrir which I found rather strange, and quite frankly, a bit ignorant. I decided to do a little diversion here, to explain where my curiosity led me.
Azatlyk is a Tatar organisation which appears to conduct demonstrations, usually numbering no more than few dozens, in support of Tatar identity, with a toxic dose of Russophobia.
Source The placard at the back reads: "Suitcase, Train station, Russia..."
Hizb ut-Tahrir on the other hand is a pan-Islamic organisation with a goal of reestablishing the Caliphate. (2) Of course, such a goal has little to do with the goals of Azatlyk, Tatar separatism, and Tatar national identity. Hizb ut-Tahrir does not care one bit about Tatar language, Tatar identity (apart from Islam being part of it), and separatism is just means to an end.
Here is their UK website, UK is pretty tolerant to these people, they do their activities in the open here. Not so in Russia and many other countries around the world. In Russia they are banned. But since Hizb ut-Tahrir is largely non-violent, albeit radical, I think it can exist under the radar of authorities. In this case they apparently were even able to hide their true nature from Azatlyk.
I found an interview with the leader of Azatlyk, Nabiullin, which he gave recently to Tatar Zamani, (in Russian on a Muslim portal here) where Nabiullin explains his contacts with Hizb ut-Tahrir. He says that he was approached by some people from a certain mosque named al-Ihlas with a proposal to organise a demonstration in support of Muslims. Following recent assassinations of Muslim leaders in Tatarstan, the authorities allegedly arrested lot of people, which is as normal procedure in post-Soviet space, as is ignorance of Muslim issues.
The people who approached Nabiullin spoke Tatar to him, and expressed some understanding of Tatar issues. But then Nabiullin and his friend went to that mosque for Iftar, (3) and he began to have suspicions about the group's true nature. He noticed that all of the talk was about building the Caliphate. Go over to that UK website to get a taste of what that is like. Furthermore, this conversation was in Russian which Nabiullin found weird. Communicating Islamism in Russian however makes sense, the target audience of Islamists in Russia are Muslims, and what apart from Islam do Muslims in Russia have in common? They all understand Russian. I do not know whether non-Tatars were present at that event, but I am sure the participants read a lot of propaganda literature in Russian.
Things came to a head during the demonstration. Nabiullin was not included in the organisational committee, even though it was he who informed the authorities about it, and he considers himself responsible. Next the Hizb ut-Tahrir people asked that no Tatar flags be brought to the demonstration, as they find such things anti-Islamic. They also had some watchmen at the demonstration which ensured that men and women are properly separated. On Azatlyk demonstrations, women protest together with men, and more often than not without head-covering.
Azatlyk seems to appropriate some Islamist esthetics at their demonstrations. Look at the video below for instance, it is titled "Day of Remembrance", they are remembering sixteenth century Russian conquest of Kazan':
"Takbeer! Allahu Akbar!" is an electrifying slogan, but these punks are not some big nasty mujahedeen from the woods...
Nabiullin says that associating with Hizb ut-Tahrir was a big mistake and that they were duped by the people from al-Ihlas. He says that if they knew, they would never have agreed to working with them.
So much for the connection between Azatlyk and Hizb ut-Tahrir, for the sake of fairness, now back to Udal'tsov. His reaching out to Azatlyk is what I would call: "hunting for millions". They are planning yet another March of the Millions, but clearly do not have those millions, so they have to get whatever support they can get. Nemtsov thinks that if they bring one million out on the streets of Moscow, the government will be forced to hold roundtable talks with the opposition, and Udal'tsov just does some recruiting.
In the end they are just creating a diverse carnival of the dissatisfied, the reasons of their discontent however vary from group to group. For instance, Azatlyk appears to be more anti-Russian than anti-Putin. If Udal'tsov was the president of Russia, they would be anti-Udal'tsov. Not that they would be the only Russophobes there, turns out Ukrainian nationalists also take part in the protests. That mysterious Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) flag raised over Bolotnaya back in Winter seems to be just that, UPA flag raised by Ukrainian nationalists.
1) Traditional Russian meal, the term is often used when there is a lot of diversity.
2) I really hate the term used in the translation above, "Islamic Caliphate", there never was any other kind of Caliphate.
3) Evening meal during the month of Ramadan.