Makhmud Velitov, Imam of the Moscow "Yardyam" Mosque. Screenshot of Business Online video:

01 March 2017, 18:21

Political experts link Velitov’s liberation with Kremlin’s preparation to election

The Kremlin is getting ready for 2018 presidential election; therefore, they have taken the course of pseudo-liberalization and stopped prosecuting some activists, experts said in their comments on the liberation from house arrest of Makhmud Velitov, the Imam of the Moscow "Yardyam" Mosque.

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on February 21, Imam Velitov, whose words about the slain Dagestani cleric Gappaev had been treated by investigators as justification of terrorism, had his house arrest changed for the recognizance no to leave.

At present, Russia now sees "some general trend towards liberalization of punishments," said Mikhail Roschin, a senior researcher at the Centre for Studying Central Asia, Caucasus and Volga-Ural Region of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the RussianAcademy of Sciences (RAS).

"There is a special trend to revise the cases of insignificant offences. In Velitov’s words, there’s no apparent appeal to terrorism or violence, otherwise the Imam would have hardly be released," Mr Roschin told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.

The expert did not rule out that "the liberal trend has to do with the upcoming 2018 presidential election."

Mr Roschin’s viewpoint was supported by Dmitri Oreshkin, a political analyst, who has stated a demonstrative mitigation of activists’ persecutions in Russia. "Sergey Kiriyenko, the head of Putin's electoral office at 2018 election, understands that the election outcomes should look believable; therefore, it makes sense to pre-show liberality," Mr Oreshkin told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.

In his turn, Oleg Orlov, a board member of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial", thinks that believers’ pressure has led to Imam Velitov’s release. In Moscow, the Imam has a large support group among Muslims, Mr Orlov has added.

Full text of the article is available on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’.

Source: CK correspondents

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