Wednesday, 29 April 2009

The International Centre for Circassian Studies (ICCS) website has been luanched‏

The International Centre for Circassian Studies (ICCS) website has been luanched as a synthasite and you can follow news of development of the ICCS from it and recommend any ideas/contributions you might have to the Director, Amjad Jaimoukha at

The International Centre for Circassian Studies is a non-profit cultural organisation with administrative and financial independence. It has been established with the principal aim of developing and disseminating Circassian literature, culture and folklore in their original and genuine vessel: the Circassian language.

The establishment of the ICCS is one of the concrete outcomes of 'The First International Conference on the Circassian Language and the Activation of Its Usage among the Circassian Diaspora', held in October 2008 in Amman (Jordan), and attended by a large number of experts and researchers on the Circassian language. Specifically, the credit for the transformation of the vision of 'a centre dedicated to Circassian studies' into reality goes to the joint effort of Dr. Mohy I. Quandour and the Circassian Charity Association (CCA), spearheaded by its President (Rtd. Gen.) Ishaq Mola.

Web site address:

Monday, 27 April 2009


THE CAUCASUS INSTITUTE is a post-graduate institute and think-tank. The goal of the CI is to encourage pluralistic discourse in the countries of the South Caucasus by contributing to the development of political science and news media in the region. The CI is accepting applications to 2009 courses in Journalism and Political Science. Go to the Admission page for details. Scholarships are available to students from the Northern Caucasus.


On April 28-29, 2009 CI will hold its 6th Yearly Caucasus Conference at Armenia Marriott Hotel, Tigran Mets Hall. Working languages: English and Russian.This major event brings together scholars, journalists and activists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, Turkey and European countries. The main topics of the conference are main trends of political, social and economic development in 2008 of the South Caucasus and North Caucasus. On May 4,5 and 6, Professor Sergey Arutyunov will give lectures at CI. Topic: The Crisis and Prospects of the Global Consumerist Civilization. Lectures start at 11:45. Those wishing to attend please email Nina Iskandaryan at

Sunday, 26 April 2009

From the Caucusus to the Galilee

By Lydia Aisenberg, The Jerusalem Post
Originally published April 23, 2009

Although only a small community in two villages quite a distance apart, the country's Circassians have succeeded, against heavy odds, in maintaining their language and culture as a minuscule group within the Sunni majority of Israel's Muslim community.

Nowadays, the Circassians in Israel number around 3,000 - two thirds live in Kafr Kama [Kfar Kama - Ed. by CW] near Mount Tabor and the rest in Reihaniya, in the shadows of the Lebanese border where they share their village with Arab Muslims and Druse. In the 1950s, the Circassians - like the Druse - began to be drafted into the IDF, which did not sit well with their fellow Muslims. Those in Syria (70,000) and Jordan (55,000) also joined the armed forces in those countries.

Unlike the other Sunnis, Circassians are not Arabs and have had to struggle to keep up their distinct ethnic identity and culture, of which they are fiercely proud.

Former teacher and headmaster Adnan Gerchad of Kafr Kama has been researching his people since his retirement some years ago, and for a time turned his home's ground floor into a mini-museum of Circassian history.

Circassians conduct their daily lives in their eponymous language, which is also used for tuition in the local junior school, although the pupils also learn Hebrew, Arabic and English. Gerchad has become an expert on the somewhat complicated tongue.

Gerchad's serious hobby of delving into Circassian history led to the opening two years ago of a fascinating museum-cum-visitors center in a renovated building in the old, revamped part of Kafr Kama. On exhibit are photographs, documents, artifacts, clothing, furniture and weapons. Local guides, of whom Gerchad is one, explain Circassian history and customs to visitors from Israel and abroad.

He began researching Circassian history some 20 years ago, after an IAF officer approached him with a question about the Circassians. Only after he agreed to talk to the soldiers did the educator realize he didn't know so much about his own folk. He began a journey into his people's past through reading and eventually setting off on a roots mission to Russia and Turkey.

The day Metro visited Kafr Kama, a young guide was leading a group of Israeli students through the narrow alleyways of the original village, which dates back to the 1880s. The village is absolutely spotless and at noon on a weekday, its young children are in the village school while their older siblings attend the nearby Kadoori High School.

The silence was almost deafening.

"We like to lead a quiet life," explains Zohir. "And great emphasis is put on cleanliness and aesthetic appearance, both in and outside one's home and surroundings."

He spots a couple of students lighting cigarettes.

"You will, of course, notice how clean the streets are. Even though a high percentage of villagers smoke, you won't see any cigarette butts on the ground," he explains - rather pointedly - to the group in general and the puffers on the pavement in particular.

Reaching the museum, Zohir dons a traditional black tunic, wide leather belt with a large, ominous-looking silver dagger dangling from the side. With a large round fur hat firmly on his head, he looks as if he has just jumped out of one of the black-and-white photographs hanging on the wall behind him.

A fifth-generation Israeli Circassian, the young man walks the students through his people's history. He speaks quickly, in more than fluent Hebrew, and when it is pointed out that he is speaking perhaps a bit too fast for everybody to absorb everything, he grins. "I have to get in so much in so little time," he says before adding, "and there is another group coming shortly."

Originating from the Caucasus mountain region, the Circassians have inherited a rich history, culture, language and traditions. Other Circassian communities, large and small, can be found in Syria and Jordan. Known for their bravery, the Circassians comprise two distinct groups - the Abedzah, who live in Reihaniya, and the Shapsig of Kafr Kama. With employment opportunities scarce in and around their communities, some Circassians have moved to Israeli towns, but will always remain firmly rooted to their Galilean villages as well as to the Old Country, far away in the former Soviet Union.

Wars, expulsions, migration and a fight to maintain links to their past while swearing allegiance to whatever rule they live under has made for whomever rules where they have eventually ended up is a truly long, painful and fascinating story.

After years of resistance to Russian domination and with a loss of over 400,000 of their people the Circassians went into exile, the majority ending up in Turkey. The forefathers of those to be found today in Israel came to Ottoman Palestine from the Balkans in the late 1800s.

Most Circassians pray five times a day and make the haj (pilgrimage) to Mecca. The village's older ladies are dressed traditionally, while the younger generation is modern to the point of being Yuppified.

The Circassians differ markedly from their Arab co-religionists in that dating is strongly encouraged and they can see a number of people at the same time, so long as doing so does not endanger anyone's marriage prospects. In the old days a young man would ride to the home of the young lady he had set his heart on and kidnap her. Being strongly traditional, modern Circassians still adhere to a ritual "kidnapping," but one that has the approval of all the parties.

Zohir explains another bygone custom. Pointing to a wooden rocking crib in the museum, he tells of how, even when he was still a baby, newborns were placed in such a crib - which has a hole cut in its bottom.

The babies' arms were bound to their sides and they were laid to sleep, their lower bodies unclothed so that, in the pre-diaper era, what came naturally fell into a vessel placed underneath.

"Babies slept peacefully for much longer periods than these days," the guide tells the visitors. And it would seem their arms grew stronger and longer through being held straight against their bodies. This he proves by holding his arms at his sides and pointing out that he can touch his knees without bending.

Although some of the original buildings in the old section of Kafr Kama are still awaiting professional renovation to be restored to their former glory, most - built from black basalt - are complete. A walk through the village's alleyways and inner courtyards proves a powerful and peaceful experience.

In the center of old Kafr Kama stands an extremely attractive, eye-catching Mameluk-style mosque. Built from basalt rock and white stone, the structure is highly decorative and appealing. The onion-shaped room atop the minaret makes it not only architecturally unique, but also visible for kilometers.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

About Newsletter Group

If you want to recieve the last updates, news and announcements from Circassian World website, you can subscribe to the CW Newsletter Group.

This is just a NEWSLETTER group so that you can get all the updates and news from The only mail you will be receive is from the administrator. As the group is only a newsletter members will not be able to send messages to the group.

All member addresses will be kept private, no member will be able to see other members’ email addresses, names.

Members can send invitation to anybody.

Group archive will be open to everyone without membership requirement and can be accessed from group’s web address.

You can reach the other information and join the group on:

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Youth Activists Unravel Kremlin Status-Quo in the Circassian Heartland: “The Wind of Freedom is Approaching!”

by Fatima Tlisova,
Jamestown Foundation, North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 10 Issue: 15

Is the conflict between youth and elders in the Circassian national movements just a generational dispute or is it the beginning of a revolutionary change in the Circassian regions of the North Caucasus? The generational conflict between these groups is now becoming quite obvious, as is the rising distrust on the part of Circassian youth toward anyone or anything that can be associated with the Russian state.

The chain of events in historical Circassia over the past six months strongly indicates that the political landscape in the Circassian region of the North Caucasus is dramatically changing. Political activity in the republics of the North Caucasus where Circassian ethnic groups are present is no longer following its historical pattern: although the pro-Russian rhetoric that is traditional for this region is still at the forefront, the behaviour of young Circassian activists is changing. The events and initiatives in which Circassian youth is coming out in opposition and declaring its desire to act as an independent political force represent a completely new type of social activity in this region. What we saw before was a petrified traditional hierarchy with the traditional Russian-installed elders making up the decision-making layer and the Circassian youth making up the underlying layers.

On the evening of April 4, a report appeared on, the website of the Regnum News Agency, with the headline, “They want to label Circassian activists as separatists.” The article was about an event called The Circassian National Forum that took place on April 4 in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, and was deleted from the website after about an hour. During the one hour that the report was on the Regnum website, it was copied extensively by local on-line forums (e.g. as well as several international websites (e.g.

Two days later a heavily edited version of the report reappeared on Most official information about the Forum—such as the presence of the official state or ‘very-loyal-to-state’ society representatives, what topics they talked about and quotes of their remarks—remained in the edited report. Yet, the part about a group of youth from the suburbs who came to attend the April 4 Forum but were prevented by local police from entering the building where the event was being held because of so-called “security concerns” was deleted.

A group of approximately 150 Circassian youth activists refused to give up and instead remained on the street waiting for the forum’s resolutions. The Circassian youth activists told local journalists that they were not going to “tolerate exclusion from the decision-making when the fate of the nation is on table [sic],” adding: “We do not trust the old leaders from the state directed charity ‘Adyge Hase’.” Later the students announced: “We plan to establish our own organization and will stand [up] for our rights” (, April 4).

The fact that the students declared that they were not going to tolerate the decision of Adyge Hase is a remarkable development, and for those Western analysts who are not familiar with this organization it should be noted that since ancient times Adyge Hase has served as the traditional Circassian People’s Parliament and was authorized by the Circassians to make decisions on behalf of the Circassian people. Moreover, the stance taken by the youth activists indicates that there is a growing number of Circassians who feel that the organization has simply lost its independence. Many of the members of Adyge Hase are believed to actively collaborate with the Kremlin or in some cases are active agents of the FSB.

The outcry over the developments with the Circassian National Forum also extended to Abkhazia as well. It also turns out that among those who were not allowed to attend the Nalchik Forum on April 4 were not only local Circassian youth but also members of the NGO Adyghe Khase Republic of Abkhazia (AKhRA). The organization represents thousands of Abkhaz Circassians, most of whom are former combatants in the 1992 Abkhaz-Georgian war, their families and relatives. Members of the AKhRA described the forum in Nalchik as a "shameful" act in their statement and was widely published on local websites where they also underlined their expression on the Kabarda Adyge Hase, leaders who in the eyes of the Abkhaz Circassians "betrayed the idea of Circassian Nationalism and became the servants of the regime" (

Ibrahim Yaganov, the leader of the Federation of Horse Riding in Kabardino-Balkaria, does not belong to the youth activists but expressed his public support for their activities. Yaganov told reporters that every movement in the KBR that denies accepting direct control from the secret services suffers from “unprecedented pressure.” Yaganov’s statement is important; even though he is not an elected official, Yaganov is popular among Circassian groups and the general public because he holds the Hero of Abkhazia medal for his military accomplishments against Georgia in the 1992 Georgia-Abkhazia War. “Members of our group were continuously called to the MVD [Interior Ministry] and FSB [Federal Security Service],” he said. “They watch us closely, they listen to our phones, they use the same methods that KGB used” (

Yaganov said he is certain that “the Russian secret services plan to receive the same financial and career benefits from the government for fighting against Circassian non-violent, non-radical organizations as they now receive for the ‘war on terror in the Caucasus’.” He added: “But we are much easier for the secret services because in contrast to the rebels, we do not physically endanger the safety of the members of secret services. That is the main reason to charge us with separatism.”

The rise of an independent youth movement in the heartland of Circassia also erupted in November 2008, when the Circassian Congress announced a National Congress in Cherkessk, the capital of Karachaevo-Cherkessia (KCHR), where the Circassians are an ethnic minority together with the related Abaza people.

Every single member of the movement was summoned by the FSB for questioning. According to articles that appeared in the local press, some of the leaders of the Circassian Congress made it clear that they received orders from the FSB as to what could be discussed during the National Congress. Unfortunately, this is exactly the same tactic used by the Russian FSB in its work with social movements around the entire country.

Yet, the FSB system was not effective in Cherkessk. In the middle of several well-prepared state-loyal speeches given at the Forum, youth leaders came onto the stage. Two members of Adyge Hase blocked Ruslan Keshev, the leader of the independent young Circassian Congress, from taking the podium and tried to prevent him from delivering his speech. It even reached the point where the officials physically pushed Keshev from the stage in the presence of the 2,000 people present in the auditorium. Keshev's persistence eventually prevailed and he presented the project of a unified Circassia, which is a plan to reunite the divided three Circassian republics in the North Caucasus. The Circassian region has experienced 101 years of resistance against Russian colonialism—a war that ended up becoming a massive exodus and period of ethnic cleansing viewed by contemporary scholars as the Circassian genocide, or the first genocide of the 19th century.

The project plan presented in Cherkessk does not presume the creation of an independent state but is limited in its goal and only seeks to unite the Circassian territories of Adygea, Karachaevo-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria. Keshev underscored that the Circassians are not asking the Kremlin for something exceptional and that their request can be fitted into the Russian government’s project called Enlarging the Regions (ukrupneniye regionov), which is the basis for the Kremlin's plan on administrative reforms unveiled by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin’s plan significantly differs from the Circassians proposal. According to the Kremlin’s project, each of the three Circassian republics will be incorporated into different regions of Russia. Adygea will become part of Krasnodar Krai, while the KCHR will be swallowed up by Stavropol Krai and the KBR will be made into a mega-region together with Dagestan and possibly even Ossetia.

In the eyes of Circassian nationalists, the Kremlin's plan could lead to the complete assimilation or the death of Circassian nation.

When the project of a united Circassia was announced in Cherkessk, people in the auditorium gave Keshev a standing ovation and then broke into the Circassian anthem—this is according to a young member of the Circassian Congress who has since publicly resigned from his position. He added that he cannot continue working openly: “No one can. You have chains on your hands and legs. They can do with you whatever they want, whenever they want; in the end, kill you, which for them is no more difficult than to blink; that is why I am not associated with Circassian movements anymore.”

The project and the idea of a unified Circassia have been widely discussed since the events of last November. The topic is being actively discussed by Circassian websites and is receiving large numbers of responses (

On April 6, the Circassian Youth Initiative announced a new project called “One Nation—One Future,” the main goal is to change the official ethnic identification of the nation to “Circassian,” which will include all the Circassian tribes [i.e. Kabardins, Cherkess, Adyge, Shapsug, among others] (

The Circassian Youth Initiative has gained widespread popularity, even though there is very limited access to the Internet in the Circassian republics. Instead, the young activists—all volunteers—printed thousands of leaflets and dropped them into the mailboxes of every single household.

Among the other slogans under the project there are some very characteristic ones, such as the one quoted at the top of this article: “The Wind of Freedom is Approaching!”

What will happen to the Circassian Youth Initiative in the near future is not a simple issue of only local significance, but an issue concerning the condition of democracy in Russia. Will the Russian state listen to the non-violent democratic movement or simply repress them which will lead to further radicalization? Russian ethnic policy, however, cannot be considered to be on the side of democracy; therefore, pessimistic expectations are closer to the reality.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Adyghe Khase Republic of Abkhazia: We are concerned about the situation in Kabardino-Balkaria.

The NGO Adyghe Khase Republic of Abkhazia (AKhRA) represents the views of all Circassians (Adyghea) living on the territory of Abkhazia. The organization expresses its concern over the situation in Kabardino-Balkaria. On April 4 2009 the Adyghe Khase delegation from Abkhazia arrived in Nalchik for the Adyghe public forum, chaired by Deputy Chairman Aslan Beshtoev, but, most shamefully, it was not allowed in the hall. A police cordon also prevented other delegations who came from neighbouring republics from entering.

The head of AKhRA, Anzor Goov, expressed extreme dissatisfaction with this situation and made the following statement:

«We, Adyghes (Circassians) from the Republic of Abkhazia, are citizens of the Russian Federation, and we are concerned about what is happening in Kabardino-Balkaria just as much as those living in the Republic of Adyghea. We are extremely angered by the inaction of the Adyghe Khase of Kabardino-Balkaria, which has actually betrayed the interests of the Adyghe people whom it should be representing. Acting at the behest of power structures and the «elite», the Adyghe Khase of Kabardino-Balkaria under its current leadership has finally discredited itself in the eyes of the public and by its own lack of principle facilitates the plundering of public lands. The same applies to the other «national» entities that do not have the support of the people and exploit the national map exclusively for personal gain. Some people earn bonuses before the authorities, some strive to find a place in parliament and government-service, whilst others earn a living from well-known structures.

«We all remember those ‘pseudo-patriots’, former leaders of national movements who, exactly as now, betrayed the interests of the people in the early 90's.

«We believe that the Adyghe community has no problems with its neighbours; they have problems with the land. We call on all healthy forces not to succumb to provocateurs who want to inflame inter-ethnic conflict. Exercising wisdom and restraint, everyone should analyze the situation and clearly decide for themselves who benefits under the stamp of extremism from bringing peoples into conflict, from organising the persecution of activists and from adding fuel to the fire. We are confident that there are patriots in Kabardino-Balkaria who will not betray the interests of its people for personal gain.»

AKhRA supports the creation of a new social movement «Khase» for Kabardino-Balkaria and declares its willingness to participate in this movement and its readiness to help stabilize the situation and establish justice in the republic.

Anzor Goov - President AKhRA
Aslan Beshtoev - Vice-President of AKhRA

An excerpt from Lisa Talesnick's ''My Canada is the arts''‏

Lisa Talesnick - Vernon Morning Star

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Imagination moved me away from the inter-religious dialogue in Israel and Palestine, which kept discussion of the conflict to biblical misunderstandings of the past and an ongoing sense of separation. Friends gathered to form The All Nations Café, which uses art, drama, music, dance, shared meals or a cup of coffee to get to know one another from the heart.

I use dance to introduce Palestinians and Israelis to each other –– an ancient Circassian folk dance called Kafa. The root “Kaf” expresses the highest peak of attainment of the human heart. This is a dance where two souls flirt with each other in the fullness of human dignity. This is how I bypass the minutiae of conflict keeping people thinking they are enemies. (Holding on to hatred while dancing is as effective as trying to stay dry while swimming.)

  • My Canada is the arts, by Lisa Talesnick
    Lisa Talesnick writes the Musical Notes concert reviews column for The Morning Star, Vernon, B.C.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Official Site of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Abkhazia in Venezuela is launched

Sitio oficial de la Misión Permanente de la República de Abjasia en Venezuela

The site is to our knowledge the only comprehensive website in the world which covers Abkhazia in the Spanish language. This is important because there are more native Spanish-speakers worldwide than the number of native English-speakers.

They have also produced a Spanish-language TV documentary video about Abkhazia. A description of it can be seen here:

The transcript of the TV program is online here:
(in Spanish, or accessible with online translation-bots).

Monday, 13 April 2009

Federation of European Circassians: Commemoration ceremony of the genocide and the exile of the North Caucasian Peoples on May 21, 1864

On May 21, the genocide of the North Caucasian peoples and their banishment from the Caucasus will be remembered for the 145th time. To commemorate this tragic event, each year, the Federation of European Circassians invites all of our fellow citizens to a memorial ceremony. Host this year is the Nordkaukasischer Kultur Verein Berlin eV.

Speakers from Germany and Turkey will throw a deep understanding on the context and the terrible consequences of this genocide, which is with more than 1.5 million deaths believed to be one of the worst genocide in human history.

The memorial ceremony under the motto "We will not forget ...!" extends over three days and takes place from May 22 till May 24 in Berlin. The active event will offer the participants next to in-depth information also a wide platform for dialogue and mutual acquaintance.

Speakers and artists participating in the commemoration ceremony, include:

Speakers from Germany and Turkey will throw a deep understanding on the context and the terrible consequences of this genocide, which is with more than 1.5 million deaths believed to be one of the worst genocide in human history.

The memorial ceremony under the motto "We will not forget ...!" extends over three days and takes place from May 22 till May 24 in Berlin. The active event will offer the participants next to in-depth information also a wide platform for dialogue and mutual acquaintance.

Speakers and artists participating in the commemoration ceremony, include:

• Cem Özdemir: MEP and co-leadership of the German Green Party
• Yalçin Karadaş - Architect, writer and member of the editorial of the newspaper “Jineps”.
• Assoc Prof. Dr. Mitat Celikpala - Teacher of International Relations at the University of Economics and Technology in Ankara (Több).
• Hasan Kanbolat – Caucasus - expert at the Centre for Eurasian Strategic Research (ORSAM) in Ankara. Member of the team of advisers of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
• Prof. Dr. Udo Steinbach - Director of the Deutsches Orient-Institut in Hamburg and co-editor of a collection of articles on the Caucasus.
• Hava Karadaş und Alper Sürücü – Artists and musicians from Turkey

Accommodations for participants coming from far away have been provided in the hostel and in the nearby hotel. Details on the exact program and organizational issues will be communicated later.

In the hope of an active participation, we stay

Sincerely Yours.

Admiral Dasdemir
Vzw Federation of European Circassians

Timur Yildirim
Nordkaukasischer Kulturverein Berlin e.V.


Download Invitation : + GERMAN+ TURKISH+ ENGLISH+ DUTCH

Window on Eurasia: Russian Nationalism Threatens to Destroy the Russian Federation‏

by Paul Goble

Vienna, April 13 – The rise of ethnic Russian nationalism, of the kind characterized by the slogan “Russia for the Russians,” threatens the country both directly by promoting countervailing nationalisms among non-Russian groups and indirectly by making it more difficult for Moscow to move toward a law-based state, according to a Moscow analyst.

Even though there is some evidence that Vladimir Putin is beginning to recognize this threat and is distancing himself from the phenomenon with which he earlier played, Yevgeny Ikhlov argues in an essay posted online this week, none of the strategies he has tried so far appears likely to work (

Indeed, there are many indications that if the current wave of protests grows, Putin and his representatives will seek to deflect anger from themselves by promoting the idea of “Russia for the Russians,” a final throw of the dice that will only exacerbate the agony of his regime and accelerate the disintegration of the country.

A central element in debates about identity in the Russian Federation, Ikhlov notes, concerns the relationship between “russkiy” and “rossiiskiy.” Most see the former as being ethnic and the latter being political or civic, but the relationship between the two is historically far more complicated and important.

A century ago, Ikhlov says, it was possible to conflate the two because “russkiy” was a cultural term and for the overwhelming majority of people living in the Russian Empire culturally equivalent to the political term “rossiiskiy.” But now times have changed, and efforts to restore their equivalency are not only impossible to achieve but dangerous to try.

That can be seen if one considers the case of the American civic nation that many Russians have viewed as the model. A century ago, “White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP)” culture defined what many understood to be “American,” but demographic change means that any effort to restore that equivalency would be fatal for the United States.

“It is surprising,” Ikhlov continues, “that those who propose just such a transformation for Russia (which is the equal of the United States in ethno-cultural diversity) that is the creation of ‘a Russian political nation,’do not understand that just as instantaneous from the point of view of history would be the disintegration of our country.”

Instead, he says, they operate on the assumption that Russia has a close analogue to the American WASP, the “RUPS,” the Russian acronym for “a Russian-speaking Orthodox Slav,” an idea that infects the Moscow Patriarchates ideas on imposing course of Orthodox Culture on all school children in the Russian Federation.

“When a contemporary resident of Russia is offered Russian national identity,” Ikhlov says, “he is asked to accept the entire corresponding historical path – great power rule, autocracy, serfdom, and bolshevism. Naturally, the Russian tradition includes [other things as well, but] the main thing is that the national tradition is formed around the force lines from these phenomena.”

And that in turn means that “the project of ‘a[an ethnic] Russian political nation is a proposal to all bearers of non-Russian socio-cultural traditions to be swalledup in the Russian tradition,” because the Russian powers that be at present “have nothing else to offer to Russian unity except the payment of pensions and the likelihood of meeting [siloviki officers].”

Putin and some of those around him, Ikhlov suggests, understand this danger at least in part, but what they are offering instead of “Russia for the Russians” is unlikely to hold the country together either. And thus it is possible to say that “the main historic sin of Putinism is its role in the dawning collapse of the Russian Federation.”

“A great state,” the analyst argues, “can be based either on a g reat past or on a great future. All that unifies in spirit the entire Russian population is May 9, 1945. But the unifying them of the war was completely exhausted by Brezhnev. In Russian history, “every other event has the effect of dividing the population.”

Again, a comparison with the United States is useful, he says. “America has a constitution, [it has] freedom and law. All the shortcomings including Bush junior and cruel police actions can be removed by self-affirming struggle. … There was slavery, [the Americans] defeated it. There was discrimination against women, they rose up in struggle and won.”

The Americans “oppressed immigrants and workers. They struggled, suffered, and won. They defended the rights of unions. They fought against racial discrimination. They fought against poverty. They impeached Nixon. They put the CIA in its place. They elected Obama. Just like in the film, ‘The Belarusian Station’: it was bad; it became better.”

But Ikhlov says, “consider the course of Russian history: [the Russians] overthrew the regime…they wanted order, they asked for a dictatorship, they overthrew the regime, they wanted order, they asked for a ‘vertical.” And he adds, “it seems to me that one might want to become a separatist just to avoid being associated with such a history.”

But it did not and need not be this way. “Russia ought to have been united by freedom. If objective difficulties, I am not joking, do not allow the establishment of full-fledged democracy (public power and individual rights), then Russia should have been united by law. Just laws and an independent judiciary … should have been the very principles of the government system.”

Unfortunately, Russians “received not only authoritarianism. We have received arbtirariness, rightlessness and sadistic cynicism – three in one – on the part of the powers that be.” And that in turn has been reinforced by the development of “social passivity, xenophobia and subordination to those in power, a cult of masochistic fusion with the hangmen.”

As a result of this pattern and regardless of what Moscow is saying now, Ikhlov says that he is “absolutely convinced that when the Putin regime will be confronted by waves of mass protests, the entire network of agents and agents of influence will be used in order to shout out ‘Russia for the Russians!’”

And after that, just as after the Russians did in 1991, “the agents among the remaining peoples will not be worried by the inevitable question: why must be be subordinate to Russians?” Instead, these agents, just as the KGB did 20 years ago, will find themselves in “the same ranks with local ethnocrats,” as “the federation will have lost its last moral-political legitimation.”

But ethnic Russian nationalism is not only dangerous for those in power, Ikhlov suggests, it can be “fatal for the unified opposition” as well, even if the one or the other is prepared to “deceive” itself and its opponents by asserting that it is “ready to consider as Russians all those who love Russia.”

That notion, he says, was attractive “for assimilated [groups living in Moscow] 40 years ago,” but it is isn’t for most other peoples now within the borders of the Russian Federatin who will see it not as a suggestion that they identify with “those who took the Reichstag and flew into space” but rather as demand that they accept and approve the entire Russian past.

That is not something very many of them are prepared to do because today “every ethnos [in the Russian Federation] has its own national mythology.” And consequently, ethnic Russian appeals to the national roots of that nation “are reanimating historical conflicts which arose in medieval times.”

An “objective picture” of Russia, Ikhlov insists, shows that the country “is not simply an enormous space populated by different ethnoses and representatives of different confessions.” It “includes within itself several swallowed up or undeveloped states.” And “these potential states can be conceived as countries/lands” because they view themselves as such.

More than that, the Moscow analyst continues, “Russia contains within itself several alternative variants of state development” that are now submerged but could reemerge. He lists six ranging from the lands beyond the Urals without a history of serfdom and aristocracy to Novgorod the Great and Pskov to the Turkic kingdom of the Middle Volga.

And because of that, he argues, “in Russia, the question of the rights of regions is ineluctably connected with nationality policy since some of the regions are ‘embrionic states.’” And because that is so, the Russian Federation can survive in its current borders only if there is genuine, asymmetrical federalism, something the advocates of ethno-Russian nationalism reject.

Indeed, he points out, such people talk about “the restoration of Great Russia (in the borders of the USSR) … primarily as an enormous national Russian state with lands not having their own statehood or even autonomy united to it,” a recipe Ikhlov says for disaster not only beyond the current borders of the Russian Federation but within it.

The near term does not promise a good outcome given the increasing “fascization” of the Russian state and the desire of many of the powers that be to exploit ethnic Russian nationalism, the Moscow analyst says. The Russian government may try to suppress the national republics within the Federation and even add as provinces one or more of the “newly independent” states.

But that will not be the end of the story, because such efforts will prompt the non-Russians within the country to leave in much the same way that the union republics departed in 1991. And what will be left will be a much smaller but “ethnically pure” Russian statehood, whose leaders may try to compensate by declaring an Orthodox monarchy.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

7 Million Photos at

Beginning today, provide users with access to more than seven million photos from the LIFE and Getty Images archives, with approximately 3,000 new photos from Getty Images added daily. LIFE’s archive includes photos from as early as the 1850s, the vast majority of which were never published in the pages of the magazine. Users can search for photos by topic, time period, interest and by photographer and purchase framed prints.

Some photos on ''Circassian'' title


North Caucasus Market
1930: A collective farm market in the city of Nalchik, in the Russian North Caucasus, where racial and domestic tensions traditionally provided a source of problems for Russia.


Burning Wells
October 1942: Between Maykop and Krasnodar in Russia, German soldiers advance towards an oil field set on fire by retreating Russians.




circa 1943: German soldiers pushing a lorry which is stuck in mud in the north west Caucasus.


Head man and his family in the Caucasus, from unidentified personal photo album.


Trotsky At Sukhum
Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky (1879 - 1940) with his second wife Natalia Sedova (1882 - 1962) at Sukhum on the Black Sea, 1924. Sukhum is famous for its spas and sanitoriums and Trotsky is undergoing treatment there.


Monkey Clinic of Breeding Center at Soviet Institute for Experimental Pathology and Therapeutics at Sukhum.


Chechen & Chechnya - Caucasus


Monday, 6 April 2009

Window on Eurasia: ‘Unprecedented’ Russian Pressure on Circassians Radicalizing Young People‏

by Paul Goble

Vienna, April 6 – “Unprecedented” pressure by Russian force structures on traditional Circassian organizations, pressure Moscow officials justify by charging that Circassians support separatism, is having the effect of radicalizing some younger members of that nation who say they can no longer trust Circassian movements that work closely with the Russian authorities.

Efforts by Russian force structures to restrict access to a Circassian forum in Nalchik on Saturday infuriated young people from the countryside who were shut out and said they could “no longer trust the fate of the people to existing social organizations like ‘Adyge Khase’ which ‘work at the direction of the government” rather than reflecting the interests of the people.

They added that they intend to create a youth national movement in Kabardino-Balkaria to be called “Dzhe mak’” or “Call,” a group that they suggested would be the lease marginalized movement” among the various parties, groups and organizations that exist among Circassians in the North Caucasus.

Ibragim Yaganov, who was involved with the preparation of Saturday’s forum, told journalists that organizers had encountered “unprecedented pressure from the side of the force structures,” with “members of the organization committee repeatedly called to the KBR interior ministry and republic office of the FSB “

He said that the officials had done so as part of an effort to charge the Circassians with separatism,” a false charge that he suggested they viewed as “extremely useful” for the authorities because it would allow them to attack a civil movement in much the same way they have attacked religious fundamentalists but with fewer risks.

(An indication of both the extent of the pressure Russian authorities put on this meeting and of the sensitivity of the events was the way it was covered. Originally, covered the meeting, but these were quickly taken down ( with the meeting so far covered only by Circassian websites.)

Zamir Shukhov, the head of the World Circassian Brotherhood, welcomed “our brothers from Shapsugia, Adygeiya, Cherkessk and Abkhazia, all places with significant Circassian populations, and thanked them for “coming to support” the Circassians of the KBR (

Other speakers at the session, including Yury Shanibov, a professor who had been the leader of the Confederation of the Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus and who called attention to the problems Circassians have had as they try to recover lands which belonged to their ancestors but which Moscow has given to other peoples (

Aleksey Bekshokov, the leader of the Union of Abkhaz Volunteers, read a declaration denouncing suggestions that the former defense minister of Abkhazia had been a member of an illegal underground armed formation and saying that such “slanders” offend “Abkhaz-Circassian society” (ibid).

And Mazhid Utizh, a Circassian who had returned to his native country from Turkey, described the problems he and others like him still face in resuming their lives in the North Caucasus, problems which he said reflect not only a violation of the provisions of the Russian Constitution but of international law (ibid).

The meeting adopted three resolutions: on the social-political situation in Kabardino-Balkaria, a second on land reform, and a third on the problems of repatriation. But almost certainly, the events taking place outside the hall were at least as important as those occurring within it, the result of Russian policies that are producing exactly what Moscow says it fears.