After the liberation of Kherson by the Ukrainian Army, Crimean collaborators, together with the aggressor’s special services, stepped up repressions and persecution of the local population.

In this material, we will analyze a rather specific, but at the same time important sphere for the Crimean Tatar People, through which the Russian invaders also criminally try to influence public opinion and impose their own narratives.

We are talking about the religious life of the Crimean Tatars. It should be recognized that attempts to use religion to establish and maintain the aggressor’s criminal regime of were recorded at the beginning of the occupation.

However, after the start of a full-scale invasion in 2022, the Kremlin significantly stepped up this area of work. The realities of today were analyzed in detail by the experts of the Association of Reintegration the Crimea.

Since 2014, Crimean collaborators, having enlisted the support of the Kremlin, began to divide Muslims into “loyal and disloyal” to the occupation regime. The fact is that Muslims have become a big problem for the invaders, because they began to actively participate in anti-Russian rallies and condemned the war against Ukraine.

An important criminal task for the Crimean collaborators since February 24, 2022 has been the establishment of total control over the religious communities of the peninsula in order to prevent any manifestations of anti-war sentiment. “Ideally,” they eagerly sought not only to establish control, but also to approve the so-called “special military operation” by religious communities, that is, Russian aggression.

For an aggressor state, this is a typical practice, since at one time the muftis controlled by the Kremlin “blessed” the war in Syria [1]. In general, such a policy is quite expected, because in Russia itself, religion has long been serving the interests of the state, even despite the condemnation of these interests by the entire civilized world. Unfortunately, the occupied Crimea got no exception to the rule.

To implement their criminal plans, the Crimean collaborators are trying to create a parallel reality in the religious life of the Crimean residents. In particular, in 2023, it is allegedly “planned to open the Cathedral Mosque” in Simferopol. Characteristically, the construction of the mosque began in 2015, and every year “the date of completion of the work was extended.”

However, this criminal activity intensified precisely after the start of a large-scale invasion. The head of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Crimea, Ayder Rustemov, explained this situation by saying that the construction of a mosque for the aggressor is an attempt to “legitimize” the occupation regime [2].

That is, the invaders believe that the mosque is a kind of symbol of recognition of their criminal power and the assertion of values. In fact, the aggressor government had been applying a similar policy since the end of the 18th century, when the Russian Empire occupied the Crimean peninsula. Then Catherine II used the Muslim organizations of Crimea to create the concept of dividing Islam into “traditional” and “non-traditional” [3].

The Kremlin probably has similar ideas even now, because representatives of Islam, loyal to the occupiers, have become part of the propaganda of the aggressor state. In particular, from the beginning of the “mobilization” in the occupied Crimea, pro-Russian “Islamic leaders” criminally called on the Crimean residents not to avoid it and “pay back” to their alleged “motherland”. One of these “leaders” Emirali Ablaev generally visited the military units of the aggressor with the criminally “mobilized” and asked the Crimean Tatars “to be humble and pray” [3].

In addition to engaging in propaganda, the aggressor state increased pressure on the religious life of the Muslims of the Crimea. In particular, the punishers of the invaders even “coordinated” the texts of sermons in the Crimean mosques. Particular attention is paid to the topic of war, which, according to the criminal instructions of the punishers, must also be covered from a certain perspective. For example, a prayer that mentions the deceased Ukrainian military or civilian population is already “outlawed” [4]. That is, it is not just about control of the territory or the economy. The Russian occupiers criminally seek to control the consciousness of the Crimean Tatar People, and through religion they are trying to impose an appropriate model of behavior based on complete obedience.

Any disobedience is immediately classified by the occupiers’ punishers as “high treason”. Thus, in December last year in Yevpatoria, collaborators reported the alleged “seizure of a local mosque by a sect financed from Kyiv.” In reality, criminal groups operate in the occupied Crimea, creating sects for their own enrichment at the expense of the property of believers [5]. And this is already a “question” of local collaborators, who simply cannot but know about such a “business”. But the Russian occupiers always try to use even such situations to attempt to discredit Ukraine.
Most likely, this is due to the “far-sighted” criminal plans of the invaders, who are trying to use the Crimean Muslims in their political projects. One of them already became known in October last year. On the Russia-occupied territory of the Kherson Region, with the support of Crimean collaborators, a fake “muftiate of Malorossia” was declared.

According to reports, such an initiative came from the “spiritual leaders” of the “Taurian muftiate”. Under the leadership of “mufti” Ruslan Saitvaliyev, this organization is actively cooperating with the occupying “authorities”, and has also established contacts with the muftis of Russia [6]. That is, traitors were also found in this area, taking advantage of the situation, who decided to improve their positions by enlisting the support of the criminal “authority” of the Crimea.

These people use religion as a propaganda tool, for example, in the Henichesk district of the Kherson Region, where local collaborators even took a “selfie tour” to the mosque to demonstrate that the “religious community” allegedly “fully supports the occupiers” and is allegedly “ready to reunite” with the occupied Crimea .

According to available data, representatives of the “Taurian muftiate” are recruiting clergy from the Kherson Region, promising them “careers and support” [7]. This indicates that for the Kremlin, religion is a separate information front of aggression, which also has its own “soldiers and generals”.

One of the tools of controlling the life of Muslims is the practice of seizing literature stored in mosques. Similar facts were recorded back in 2021, when there were even “trials” in this regard on the occupied peninsula. In particular, the Muslim society was “fined 30,000 rubles” for “lack of labeling on books” as a “violation of the law” of the aggressor “on freedom of conscience and religion” [8].

There were even cases when Crimean collaborators, through a fake “court”, brought the imam of the mosque to “responsibility” for Friday prayers in the mosque, which supposedly “is a sports complex” [9].

After the full-scale invasion, the ideological pressure on the Crimean Muslims only intensified. It was transformed into a total absorption of religious communities by the “spiritual administration of the Muslims of Crimea and Sevastopol” controlled by the Russian invaders. Moreover, traitors from the “muftiate” are already openly and criminally talking about the need for support from the occupiers’ punishers, who “should help” in this process. The “key argument” of such collaborators is “the inability to control the content of religious rites in uncontrolled mosques” [10].

This refers to the reference to the belonging of the occupied Crimea to Ukraine and the need to fight for the liberation of the peninsula from Russian invaders. But in the aggressor-controlled “media”, representatives of the “muftiate” note that all problems arise allegedly due to “disrespect for shrines and ancestors.”

It is quite typical for Russian aggressors to attribute everything to falce “history and people” in any situation. Although, in fact, we are talking about conscious believers who remember how much grief Russia brought to the Crimean Tatar People. Moreover, individual leaders of “uncontrolled” religious communities are being persecuted.

So, at the end of January 2023, in six families of Muslims of the occupied Crimea, the invaders’ punishers conducted “searches and arrests”, which indicates the Kremlin’s desire to “solve” the religious issue on the peninsula as soon as possible [11]. This is directly related to anti-war sentiments, which can no longer be stopped by the aggressor’s special services.

The grounds for persecution and reprisals remain standard. For example, the criminal “prosecutor’s office” in Dzhankoy opened an “administrative case” against Emir Medzhitov for “violating the law on missionary activity”, in fact – for holding prayers in a mosque that “does not cooperate” with the occupiers.

The Kremlin also involved in the criminal process of expulsion from the occupied peninsula of “uncontrolled” religious communities Mufti of Russia Talgat Tadzhuddin, who called on the occupiers’ punishers “to help liberate the peninsula from representatives of extremist religious movements”. He made this criminal statement at the end of December last year. It should be noted that the mufti of Russia noted precisely the expulsion of those who “are under the jurisdiction of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Ukraine”.

Tajuddin’s main “argument” here is about some kind of “hostile ideology”, which allegedly “does not correspond to the traditions of Islam”. This confirms the thesis that religion has long been used by the aggressor as an ideological weapon and a tool for establishing control over society. With its help, the Kremlin seeks to “enlist the support” of the Muslims of the occupied Crimea.

Naturally, the invaders’ punishers “heard these calls of the muftis” and stepped up repressions against Muslims objectionable to the Putin regime. Numerous “checks” began in mosques of the occupied Crimea, in particular in Suvuk-Dere in Simferopol, where the occupiers not only carried out a “check”, but also threatened the imam with reprisals.

At the same time, the deputy of the aggressor-controlled “muftiate”, Aider Ismailov, criminally stated about the incident that such raids were “needed”, because “spiritual leaders” supposedly “should control religious communities”. The specified mosque belongs to the number of mosques “not controlled” by the Crimean collaborators from the “muftiate” of Ablayev, and are planned to be “liquidated”.

To “substantiate” these intentions, the Russian occupiers have already stated that allegedly “the mosque does not have an appointed imam”, and the building and the land plot on which it is located allegedly “have not been formalized properly”. Obviously, this is a purely formal reason, since the main goal is to “clear” the ideological field for religious organizations completely controlled by the Kremlin.

The latter even started talking about the need to fight not only with “uncontrolled” mosques, but also with their “religious leaders who can conduct their activities outside the walls of mosques”. That is, these are direct calls to the aggressor’s punishers to persecute “unfavorable” Muslims of the occupied Crimea.

It should be noted that the leaders of the Russian-controlled “muftiate” of Ablaev speak of the need for “ideological work” among the imams, which consists in the “formation and approval of the texts of sermons”. The collaborators also note “the need to emphasize the most pressing issues of the present in sermons.”

It should be assumed that this refers to the aggression against Ukraine, in particular, attempts to “justify” it, which is what the Kremlin is striving for. In other words, any anti-war sentiments and criticism of the barbaric actions of the Russian military are automatically included in “non-traditional” Islam, which is a priori “outlaw” for the aggressor.

To form the “necessary” information space, the Kremlin ordered the aforementioned Aider Ismailov to speak at the end of October last year with “words of support” for the aggressor army and calls to trust only “official”, that is, the Kremlin’s “sources of information”.

That is, in this situation we are talking about the active criminal propaganda role of Russia-controlled “spiritual leaders”, which they play in the criminal promotion of anti-human ideas of the genocide of the Ukrainian people.

It should be noted that the Crimean collaborators are not only trying to persecute “unfavorable” Muslims, but are also doing everything to “develop” the religious structures that are completely under their control.

At present, the leaders of the Muslims of Ukraine show the society the unity and devotion to Ukraine, and in practice they defend the real ideas of Islam, connected with peace and mercy. In particular, the Mufti of Crimean Muslims, Aider Rustemov, called on Muslims from the Russian army to leave their weapons and return home. He explained that you should take up arms only when an enemy has come to your house and is trying to kill you [12].

Said Ismagilov, who for the last 13 years was the mufti of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Ukraine, after the start of a full-scale invasion, he resigned and went to the front [13]. However, for the Kremlin, this is already “non-traditional” Islam, which does not correlate with the ideology of hatred.

Thus, in the context of the impending de-occupation of Crimea, local collaborators have stepped up work through completely controlled religious structures to eliminate religious communities, in respect of which there is a “risk of disagreement” to rebroadcast Kremlin narratives.

We are talking about systemic repression and persecution, as well as the use of a criminal “administrative resource” in opposition to the activities of “uncontrolled” mosques and religious centers.

The aggressor-controlled “media” of the occupied Crimea actively support and cover this process, and the local self-proclaimed “authority” actively contributes to the development of the so-called structure of “traditional” Islam, that is, completely controlled by the aggressor on the peninsula.

Work to discredit “uncontrolled” mosques is carried out by the aggressor’s special services together with illegal “law enforcement agencies” and “courts”. In contrast to this direction, there is a manipulative popularization of mosques “controlled” by the Kremlin, on which significant funds are “mastered”.

However, the population of the occupied Crimea is well versed in the situation and does not trust the actions of any “religious leaders”, who betrayed Ukraine and became accomplices in the Kremlin’s crimes.



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