[Hundreds of her supporters gathered around her to celebrate in Makhachkala, Dagestan's capital, on Saturday, two days after she confirmed her bid in the Facebook post. (Photo: Aina Gamzatova/Facebook)]
Moscow (Russia): Mufti of Dagestan's wife Aina Gamzatova will contest the March 2018 Russian Presidential election against President Viladmir Putin, she announced in a Facebook.
Aina Gamzatova heads Russia's largest Muslim media holding - Islam.ru - comprising television, radio and print outlets, writes books on Islam, and runs a charity.
Her husband, Akhmad Abdulaev, is the Mufti of Dagestan, Russia's troubled province where a confrontation between fighters, clans and federal forces has killed thousands, according to Al Jazeera.
Hundreds of her supporters gathered around her to celebrate in Makhachkala, Dagestan's capital, on Saturday, two days after she confirmed her bid in the Facebook post.
Aina Gamzatova's decision to contest against Putin is symbolic as she 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.
"Of course, she won't become president", wrote Zakir Magomedov, a popular blogger from Dagestan.
But, she may receive a high number of votes in Dagestan and the Northern Caucasus addled region that heavily depends on federal subsidies and where officials routinely resort to vote rigging and coercion of voters.
"She will definitely get a majority vote - and Putin won't get his traditional 146 percent from the republic," Magomedov wrote, referring to a joke among Kremlin critics about the percentage of Putin's loyalists.
Gamzatova wrote on Facebook, stating "Our country, Russia, is our home, and if we divide ourselves into Muslims and Christians, Caucasus natives and Russians, our country's government will not exist."
Comenting on Gamzatova's decision to contest against Putin, Aisha Anastasiya Korchagina, an ethnic Russian convert to Islam who works as a psychologist in Moscow, said, "She was brave enough to use her legal right, that is granted to every Russian national, to run for president, she is brave enough to run a decent election campaign."
There are also some others who see her campaign - irrespective of its results - as a way to boost the image of Muslim women in Russia and to attract attention to the needs of impoverished, overpopulated and multi-ethnic Dagestan.
"Even if she loses, people will know that a girl in a hijab [a headscarf worn by many Muslim women who feel it is part of their religion] is not just a mother or a woman, but is also an educated, wise and respected woman," former Olympic champion in boxing and Dagestan's deputy sports minister Gaidarbek Gaidarbekov wrote on Instagram.