chapter  13
The Role of Islam in Russia's Relations with Central Asia
Pages 10

Islam came to be perceived as a threat to the stability of the Soviet state following the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1978-79 and the formation of an active Islamic opposition to the Marxist regime in Afghanistan in the same period. This perception persisted into the Gorbachev period of glasnosf and perestroika, and, indeed, into the post-Soviet era of Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. It is not clear to what extent Russia's new rulers - or their Soviet predecessors - really believed that Islam's politicization might jeopardize the country's stability. To some observers it appeared rather that the theoretical possibility of such a threat was elaborated in order to provide a pretext for repression of what Moscow termed Islamic extremism or fundamentalism. Certainly, it was a card, which, if cleverly played, might be expected to rally Russian public opinion behind government policy and to win support for that policy in the USA and western Europe to boot.