A new report by Reuters is accusing Russia of, in the lead-up to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, encouraging radical Islamists in the country to go abroad as a way to be rid of them and reduce the likelihood they would launch attacks on the Olympics.
The report quotes a handful of such Islamists who say that they received offers in late 2012 and early 2013, offering to not only not arrest them upon attempting to leave the country, but to even help facilitate their departure. One claimed he was given a passport and a one-way ticket to Turkey.
Russian Foreign Ministry officials denied the allegations, insisting Russia’s policy had always been to arrest and “eliminate” terrorists, and that this had not changed at any point in time. The report suggested this was a key reason why such a large number of Russian Federation citizens joined ISIS during that period.
The number of Russians in ISIS, however, doesn’t necessarily support that claim, as while a substantial number did join ISIS, it was not statistically more than other European nations like France, which clearly were not overtly encouraging Islamists to leave in the same period.