Aina Gamzatova is a 46-year-old businesswoman from Dagestan, which is in the North Caucasus region of Russia, who has just announced her candidacy for president. That’s right, she will be running against President Vladimir Putin in the March 2018 election. Ms. Gamzatova is an accomplished businesswoman with a large following. She heads Islam.ru, Russia’s largest Muslim media holding, which is comprised of television, radio and print & publishing outlets.
Many see her campaign as a way to boost the image of Muslim women in Russia. “She was brave enough to use her legal right, that is granted to every Russian national, to run for president, [then] she is brave enough to run a decent election campaign,” comments Aisha Anastasiya Korchagina, a Moscow psychologist. “Even if she loses, people will know that a [woman] in a hijab is not just a mother or a woman, but is also an educated, wise and respected woman,” states Dagestan’s deputy sports minister Gaidarbek Gaidarbekov.
So what are the chances of a win? According to Al Jazeera, not very high. “It is something of a given that Gamzatova has no chance of winning, even if every one of Russia’s 20 million Muslims votes for her in a country of more than 140 million people. But, she may receive a high number of votes in Dagestan and the Northern Caucasus – something that will ruin Putin’s image in the unemployment-addled region that heavily depends on federal subsidies and where – according to election monitors – officials routinely resort to vote rigging and coercion of voters.”