Kremlin tries to exploit Muslim communities in Europe
The Kremlin uses Muslim communities to spread propaganda that justifies its aggressive policies. Some Russian Muslim leaders have proclaimed a fatwa justifying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and declared that Muslims who die in combat on the Russian side would be considered martyrs.
The Kremlin also sets up organisations that try to establish contacts with European state institutions and Muslim communities. One of such pro-Kremlin organisations is the European Muslim forum (EMF), established in 2018, which maintains contacts with some former or present leaders of Muslim communities in European countries, including Lithuania. Key positions in the EMF belong to the leaders of Russian Muslim organisations who have connections with the Russian Presidential Administration.
The EMF spreads anti-Western propaganda narratives about thriving Islamophobia in some European countries and war crimes allegedly committed by the U.S. in the Middle East.
The EMF takes part in projects dedicated to the memory of Akhmad Kadyrov, the father of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, while the EMF President Abdul Vakhed Niyazov maintains contacts with Kadyrov’s administration. Niyazov took part in the creation of propaganda coverage about Chechen forces fighting in Volnovakha, a town near Mariupol. In October 2022, he was banned from entering the Schengen area.