ULYANOVSK, October 7 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian mufti has denied accusations by Russian investigators that he was part of a Chechen extremist group that recruited its members in prison in the Volga city of Ulyanovsk.
Mukhammad-Khazrat Baibikov has dismissed as nonsense his alleged involvement in the Caucasus Emirate, a Chechen separatist group that both Russia and the United States have declared a terrorist organization. He said he “knows no one” in the group.
Investigators launched a criminal case against Baibikov this summer, after they uncovered in March 2012 a division of the Caucasus Emirate that “promoted radical religious views, spread banned literature and recruited new members” in the Novoulyanovsk prison.
Baibikov said no official charge had been yet brought against him. He also said he had visited the prison only once and had a 20-minute meeting with the inmates, a gathering that was also attended by the prison’s warden.
The mufti has been a vocal critic of a ban on wearing religious headscarves in schools, a measure that went into force in September. Media reports said the mufti had petitioned the governor of the Ulyanovsk region, Sergei Morozov, to reverse the ban.