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Putin: Those guilty of burning the Quran will serve sentence in Russia’s Muslim regions

June 14, 2023 at 11:35 am

Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 27, 2023 [Kremlin Press Office/Anadolu Agency]

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that anyone found guilty of burning the Quran will have to serve their sentence in the Federation’s predominantly Muslim regions.

Putin was quoted by Russia’s TASS news agency yesterday as stating: “They will serve their sentences, as stated by the Minister of Justice, in places of deprivation of liberty located in one of the regions of Russia with a predominantly Muslim population.”

His comments were reportedly made during a meeting with “military commissars” – pro-Russian militaristic journalists and authors of telegram channels.

Putin’s statement comes after Nikita Zhuravel, a resident of the city of Volgograd was detained last month after being suspected of burning a copy of the Quran in front of a mosque. The act, which was recorded, prompted outrage in the country, in particular, the Muslim-majority republic of Chechnya, where thousands protested against desecrating the sacred text. Zhuravel has since been taken to a pre-trial detention centre in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya.

READ: Russia slams NATO chief’s response to burning copy of Holy Qur’an in Sweden

According to the Moscow Times, lawyers and activists have warned that the decision to transfer Zhuravel’s case to Chechen investigators puts him at risk of torture or even death. Russia’s Investigative Committee have claimed that the accused confessed to having acted in exchange for a $125 (10,000 ruble) payment from Ukraine’s intelligence agencies.

Following the incident, Minister of Justice of Russia Konstantin Chuichenko proposed “after the verdict is passed, the person who committed the crime should be sent to serve his sentence in one of the correctional institutions located in the region with a predominantly Muslim population.”

The verdict on Zhuravel’s case has not yet been passed, although the Caucasian Knot website cited a lawyer, Galina Tarasova, who explained that according to the law, criminal cases should be investigated at the place where the crime was committed, while another lawyer, Ekaterina Vanslova, was quoted as saying: “The man is sent to the region where, due to the circumstances of this case and the specifics of the region, there is a reasonable risk of torture and even a risk to Zhuravel’s life.”

Earlier this year, Russia denounced the burning of a copy of the Quran in the Swedish capital Stockholm by Rasmum Paludan, a leader of a far-right party, in a provocative move which also drew condemnation, calls for boycott and protests across the Muslim world.