“The ambivalent relationship between Russia and its Muslims is deeply rooted in history. Russia conquered Muslim territories in the Volga-Ural area, Caucasus and Central Asia, and brutally suppressed any resistance. However, after loyalty was secured, the government adopted a more pragmatic policy.
Until the mid 19th century, sedentary Muslim elites were co-opted into the imperial aristocracy, just as, in the 20th century, national communist elites were absorbed into the Soviet nomenclature. Indeed, Russia’s contacts with the Muslim world go back thousands of years and were rooted in a tradition of tolerance. With a few short-lived exceptions, Russia’s imperial government did not support Orthodox evangelism. Forced conversion was unknown and Russia’s policy with regard to Muslims was guided primarily by the political and economic interests of the state.”