Two activists accused Russia’s government of encouraging prosecutors to target Muslims on trumped charges of terrorism and extremism, saying that the abuse could lead to anti-government unrest. Sergei Komkov, president of the non-governmental All-Russian Education Fund, asserted the Kremlin was trying to pin social ills on innocent Muslims and warned it could backfire against President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Komkov said that authorities in Russia’s southern regions are increasingly convicting Muslims on trumped charges of terrorism and extremism, in an effort to satisfy what he called “quotas from the central government.” Experts and activists said prosecutors began unfairly targeting Muslims after Moscow’s Dubrovka theater siege in 2002, and the Beslan school hostage seizure in 2004. Islamic militants were involved in both terrorist attacks, which killed some 500 people.
Komkov and activists said hundreds of investigators work for police and counterterrorism units created by then-President Putin after the attacks, and claimed they continue to prey on the innocent to justify their paychecks.