Russian Appeals Court Upholds Tatar Islamic Scholar's Sentence For Banned Religious Group's Activities

SAMARA, Russia -- A Russian court has rejected an appeal filed by a prominent Islamic scholar from Tatarstan who was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison in November for running a branch of a banned religious group.

The Sixth Court of Cassations in the city of Samara pronounced its ruling rejecting the appeal filed by Gabdrakhman Naumov on July 21, his lawyer, Ruslan Nagiyev, told RFE/RL.

Earlier in February, Naumov's appeal against his verdict and sentence was rejected by the Supreme Court of Tatarstan.

Naumov is well-known in Tatarstan as a teacher at the Russian Islamic University and is the former imam of a mosque in the regional capital, Kazan.

He was arrested in March 2020 and charged with being the leader of the Nurcular movement in Tatarstan.

Naumov has rejected the charges, saying that he never promoted, shared, or supported any extremist or radical teachings or ideas.

Nurcular was founded in Turkey by Said Nursi, who died in 1960.

The Nurcular movement, which has millions of followers around the globe -- especially in Turkey -- has been banned in Russia since 2008.

Russian authorities have said the group promotes the creation of an Islamic state that encompasses all Turkic-speaking areas and countries in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Russia's Turkic-speaking regions in the North Caucasus and Volga regions.