Sunday, 6 June 2010

Circassians move to seek autonomy within Russia

Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Teberda state nature reserve

MOSCOW, June 6 (RIA Novosti) -- A public organization of Circassians, a North Caucasus ethnic group, gathered for an emergency congress on Saturday to ask the Russian authorities to create a Circassian autonomous area, Russian media reported.

The Circassian autonomous area existed within the Soviet Union in 1928-1957. The majority of Russian Circassians currently live in the Russian North Caucasus Republic of Karachai-Circassia, where they make the third largest ethnic group (11.3%), after Karachais and Russians, according to the 2002 census.

"Under the current state of affairs in the Republic of Karachai-Circassia, the Circassian people have no legal perspective for their revival and development," Nezavisimaya Gazeta quoted a statement by the congress' organization committee.

A similar request filed in 2008 was "ignored" by the Russian authorities, the congress said.
The public organization of Circassians has been seeking autonomy for Circassians since 1994, citing "mono-national ethnocracy" and "a violation of constitutional rights of Circassians and other peoples to hold the leading posts in the republic."

Political controversies in republic came into focus in March after a leader of the organization's youth movement was killed. Members of the movement claimed that this was an assassination. The tensions further escalated last month after an aide to the republic's president, an ethnic Circassian, was killed on May 12.

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