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Tatarstan's Mufti Resigns

Tatarstan's Spiritual Board of Muslims has accepted the resignation of the Russian republic's mufti, Gusman Iskhakov, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Iskhakov, 53, was reelected as Tatarstan's mufti for the fourth time in February 2010. He announced his resignation earlier on January 13 at a press conference in Kazan. No official reason was given.

Iskhakov has been head of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Tatarstan since 1998.

During that time seven secondary and two higher religious schools (madrasahs), some Islamic colleges, and a Russian Islamic University were opened in Tatarstan.

Tatarstan's spiritual board is made up of 1,332 Muslim communities and about 1,200 mosques.

But Iskhakov is considered controversial by many fellow clerics. He has long been criticized by officials for not preventing the spread of radical ideas among religious leaders in Tatarstan. At a conference in Kazan late last year, former Tatarstan Mufti Farid Salman branded Iskhakov and his entourage "Wahhabis."

Some experts think Iskhakov resigned under government pressure.

Iskhakov's first deputy, Ildus Faiz, has been appointed acting mufti. A new mufti will be elected at the next board meeting, the date of which has not been set.