The Tajik civil war and Russia’s islamist moment


Contra the often-held assumption that the Islamist danger has been at the forefront of Moscow’s security agenda since the Soviet–Afghan War, this article shows how different Russian decision-makers held different views of Islamism during the Tajik Civil War (1992–97). It argues that different relations to the Soviet past, especially to the Soviet–Afghan War, explain the differences in assessing Islamism in Tajikistan between the security agencies and political elites. Unlike the reformers in the Kremlin, the legacy Soviet security elites and diplomats in Russia and the neo-communist leaders in Central Asia recalled the Islamist danger from Soviet times. They emphasized it to the Kremlin who came to embrace their view as the Tajik Civil War progressed and tensions rose in Chechnya.