MOSCOW -- Ravil Gainutdin, the chief of Russia's Council of Muftis, says the unification of all the country's Muslims is not on the agenda, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.
Gainutdin told RFE/RL that first it is necessary to unite the Muslims in Russia's European regions, Siberia, and the Far East.
On December 5, Russia's Central Muslim Religious Board (TsDUM) head Talgat Tajuddin proposed the creation of a single Muslim hierarchy to be headed by Gainutdin.
Tajuddin proposed naming himself to be Sheikh ul-Islam, and Ismail Berdiyev -- the head of Russia's third major Muslim organization, the Coordinating Center of Muslims of the North Caucasus -- to head the Supreme Shari'a Court.
However, on December 7, Tajuddin's TsDUM decided not to take part in the December 11 session to prepare for unification.
Instead, the presidium of the TsDUM, which is based in Bashkortostan's capital of Ufa, reiterated what had been its and Tajuddin's previous position, that "the unification of the Muslims of Russia is possible only through the inclusion of [all of Russia's] Muslim organizations into the TsDUM under the leadership of Talgat Tajuddin."
Gainutdin told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service that all Muslim communities in Russia are dominated by ethnic Tatars, the second biggest ethnic
group in Russia after Russians.
Gainutdin added that there are no plans to unite with the various muftiats of the North Caucasus.