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Pankisi Imam accused of ‘spying’ on locals for Chechnya

29 March 2024
Tahir Duishvili.

An Imam appointed to a mosque in eastern Georgia’s Pankisi Valley has been accused of spying on local residents for the Chechen Government.

On 21 March, Khasan Khalitov, a Chechen opposition blogger based in Turkey, claimed that Tahir Duishvili had been appointed directly by the Chechen Muftiate. The Muftiate is the traditional representative body of local Muslims in Chechnya.

‘[Chechen Head Ramzan] Kadyrov’s Muftiate invited Tahir Duishvili to become an imam in one of the Mosques in Pankisi (Georgia) and thereby collect information on local brothers whom they consider Salafis’, claimed Khalitov on Telegram.

Chechens, including Kists, a Chechen subgroup from Pankisi, have traditionally adhered to a form of Islam known as Sufism. However, in recent years Salafism has become increasingly popular in Pankisi.

Khalitov shared audio recordings purportedly of Duishvili, in which a man is heard addressing the Chechen Muftiate in Chechen. According to RFE/RL, the man is heard thanking the Muftiate for ‘their trust’ and promising to ‘prepare the desired soil for them in Pankisi’.

Sulkhan Bordzikashvili, a journalist from Pankisi, told OC Media that Duishvili would likely lose legitimacy among local Sufis because of the allegations. However, he argued that his alleged appointment by Grozny was not Pankisi’s ‘biggest problem’.

‘I believe that the country faces a more serious problem than the imam of a small village; I mean the growth of Russian influence in Georgia’, said Bordzikashvili. ‘This applies not only to the Pankisi Valley, this also applies to our country as a whole’. 


‘Today we see a direct result even in their intervention in the issue of appointing an imam Sufi mosque.’

Read in Armenian on CivilNet.
Read in Georgian on On.ge.
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