What Aminovka is: dangerous jamia near Moscow or incarnation of Russia’s national idea?

Why have residents of localities near Moscow sounded the alarm and should they be afraid of the “halal” eco-village?

Tensions have been running high around Aminovka eco-village 140 km far from Moscow for several days. Land parcels where single-minded people who are ready to follow general rules — no alcohol, no smoking, no pork, decent clothing — are offered to settle. Everything resembles “halal” life. Residents of neighbouring villages are sounding the alarm: jamia is built around the corner. Realnoe Vremya’s columnist Karim Gaynullin explains what jamia is, if one should be afraid of it and wonders why German Sterligov’s settlement and Krishnaites’ towns are considered inoffensive, while Aminovka came under heavy criticism.

Residents of Moscow localities fear jamia

Debates on a project of a Muslim eco-village named Aminovka according to the project’s author Amina Shabanova have broken out in Moscow. The village is built 140 kilometres from Moscow Ring Road via Novaya Riga, in Shakhov District, adjacent to Nechyosovo village. Even though the project’s social media account has been existing for a year, journalists have noticed information about it only now. A video of journalist and expert in Oriental studies Ruslan Kurbanov who advertised houses for the Muslim audience went viral, probably this is why many have been concerned about the prospect of the appearance of a jamia 140 kilometres from Moscow.

Moscow-based Muslim fashion designer, founder of IRADA brand Amina Shabanova is the author of the idea. She was already noticed by the mass media in 2016. This happened because her sister wasn’t allowed to enter a building of Moscow State Institute of International Relations because of her veil when security workers offered her mother to submit a letter of resignation.

The photos on Instagram show that the village itself doesn’t differ from numerous projects of gardens and country houses. But those who are going to live there must follow rules: they may not drink alcohol, smoke, “look indecently,” breed swine. We cannot say these rules are too religious: for instance, they could be established in a community of healthy lifestyle advocates. Moreover, it isn’t said in the charter, on the website and on social media that the project is created only for Muslims. Judging by replies on the page, Christians can also buy a parcel if they wish.

Moscow-based Muslim fashion designer, founder of IRADA brand Amina Shabanova is the author of the idea. Photo: instagram.com/amina_shabanova

The population of the village is multiethnic. Amina Shabanova stresses that an Orthodox Christian family has already bought a parcel. At the same time, some media have labelled the idea of the project as “origin of a closed state only for Muslims in Moscow vicinities” and “tolerance test for Russians.” The word jamia especially frightened them, in Russian, it is translated simply as “community.”

Muslim Religious Directorate approves it, Investigative Committee inspects it

The founder plans that the village must have a school, kindergarten, halal holiday camp, gym and mosque. The territory of the village is approximately 170 parcels with an area from 10 to 50 are, 83 hectares in total. The name of the streets doesn’t reveal any specific character of the village: Kind, Friendly, Cosy... The price of land is 420,000 for 1,250 square metres, 720,000 — for 2,500 square metres and 1,2 million for 5,000 square metres.

The Muslim Religious Directorate of Moscow Oblast in the person of Press Secretary Stanislav Tokarev approved the idea too. He said in an interview: “As a Muslim, I am pleased that such projects are implemented.”

On the other hand, Vice Speaker of the Moscow Oblast City Duma Konstantin Chermisov claimed on Radio 1 that this project, in fact, is the creation of an enclave with clashes on national, religious grounds, and it needs to be inspected.

Some media have labelled the idea of the project as “origin of a closed state only for Muslims in Moscow vicinities” and “tolerance test for Russians.” Photo: instagram.com/poselenie_aminovka

Chairman of the Russian Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin also insists on an inspection. It has recently become known that he tasked head of the Central Investigation Department of Russia’s Investigative Committee in Moscow Oblast Alexander Starikov with examining the statements of the press about the plans for building the so-called eco-village named Aminovka in the village of Nechyosovo in Shakhov District, Moscow Oblast. The message about this on the website of the Investigative Committee reads:

“The mass media is bringing up fears that it is planned to create a religious enclave on this territory, and residents of neighbouring territories are already receiving some threats. One of the newspapers also assumes that this village is created for a religious sect.”

Not the only village of single-minded people

Generally speaking, the idea of villages to live with single-minded people isn’t new. As early as before the revolution, Tatars serving in the Russian state founded their villages across Russia. By the way, such settlements were often named after their founders.

When this project is mentioned, German Sterligov’s “peasants’ settlement” comes to my mind. And he directly claims that only Orthodox Christians may live in his settlement. Also, he considers only a group of soul mates as Orthodox Christians, not all followers of the Russian Orthodox Church. At the same time, the rules on the territory of his settlement are notably stricter than those in the charter of Aminovka (by the way, pork is also prohibited). In the settlement, men must wear bears, while women wear long dresses and cover their heads. Nevertheless, the mass media don’t complain about it. While Aminova has lately been covered with claims.

Such villages can become home to conservative Russian families passing traditional values to the next generations. Photo: instagram.com/poselenie_aminovka

Meanwhile, the theme of eco-friendly villages is gaining momentum in Russia. A lot of eco-villages have their own rules: they are often linked with the new age culture and are popular among new religious movements. For instance, in Russia, there are settlements of Krishnaites, followers of Hinduism branches born in America in the 70-80s. Other neo-pagans have their own villages too. There are religious groups that openly create their ideology in eco-villages, for instance, the Ringing Cedars whose ideology is based on the construction of family mansions in cedar groves that, according to this movement’s mythology, have a special energy.

In such conditions it is natural that followers of traditional religions also express their desire of building their conservative settlements, moreover, doing this constructively, not destructively. Such villages can become home to conservative Russian families passing traditional values to the next generations. And if this doesn’t totally comply with Russia’s national idea with its families and traditions, which is followed today, so what complies then?

Karim Gaynullin