Four hundred kilometers east of Moscow lies one of the most beautiful and wealthiest cities of Russia: Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, the largest Muslim enclave in the Russian Federation. Currently, a high-speed train line between Moscow and Kazan is under construction, the second planned after the one connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg, demonstrating the symbolic importance of Kazan and Tatarstan for the region. These two high-speed rail lines offer a modern embodiment of the old symbol of the double-headed eagle, facing both East and West.
Islam is an invaluable component of the history and culture of Russia. It is possible to say that Muslim populations in the Russian Federation settled in some regions long before the arrival of the Eastern Slavs. But do they consider Russia as their homeland today? And are they regarded by the majority Slavic Orthodox population as citizens to whom the country belongs, as it does to ethnic Russians? Legislation of September 26, 1997, on “freedom of conscience and religious associations” states that Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism constitute an integral part of the history of Russia and the formation and development of its spirituality and culture. Christianity and Islam are mentioned first, and this effectively corresponds to the role they play.