Aina Gamzatova, a 46-year-old woman from Dagestan, has made it official. She wants to run against Russian President Vladimir Putin in the March 2018 election.
Gamzatova heads Russia’s largest Muslim media holding – Islam.ru – comprising television, radio and print outlets, writes books on Islam, and runs a charity.
Her husband, Akhmad Abdulaev, is the Mufti of Dagestan, Russia’s troubled province where a confrontation between fighters, clans and federal forces has killed thousands.
Gamzatova has no chance of winning, even if every one of Russia’s 20 million Muslims votes for her in a country of more than 140 million people.
“Of course, she won’t become president” wrote Zakir Magomedov, a popular blogger from Dagestan.
But, she may receive a high number of votes in Dagestan and the Northern Caucasus addled region that heavily depends on federal subsidies and where officials routinely resort to vote rigging and coercion of voters.
“She will definitely get a majority vote – and Putin won’t get his traditional 146 percent from the republic,” Magomedov wrote, referring to a joke among Kremlin critics about the percentage of Putin’s loyalists.
Gamzatova wrote on Facebook, stating “Our country, Russia, is our home, and if we divide ourselves into Muslims and Christians, Caucasus natives and Russians, our country’s government will not exist.”
My candidacy should not be seen within a clerical context or an attempt of Muslims to create a competitor to Vladimir Putin … It is a desire to publicly announce and support on the federal level a harsh anti-Wahhabism stance.