Circassians in Turkey commemorating an anniversary of the Russian genocide of their people in 1864 (Image: worldbulletin.net)
The Circassians are attracting ever more attention as the Internet has allowed those in the homeland and those abroad to reinforce one another and as this increasing activism has challenged Moscow’s control of a region by undermining the center’s ethnic engineering and by calling attention to the abuses it has visited on the Circassians and others.
Those who study the North Caucasus and Russian nationality policies more generally need to become far more familiar with the Circassian case than they are. Books produced by Walter Richmond and Adel Bashqawi provide important guides, but they are so long that those who focus on the Circassians only indirectly seldom go through them.
Those who specialize on the Circassians will want to read it even though they will be familiar with the scholarship on which it is based; those who focus on other issues that the Circassians are involved with will find it invaluable as a brief introduction to this people and their much-contested land.
The author is clearly aware that this is the audience for his essay. He ends his article by offering the comment of a Circassian scholar, Madina Khakuasheva, who is a senior researcher at the Kabardino-Balkar Institute for Research on the humanities,
“Russia’s approach to the non-Russians has gone through the following stages in the case of the Circassians, she argues. “First, physical destruction and deportation without the right of return, then open discrimination against the native language, leveling of culture and identity, and the complete elimination of the history of the Circassians’ from books and museums.”
Today, Khakuasheva writes and with Bashqawi’’s full approval,
“Moscow continues to work to create ‘all the conditions for the realization of artificial assimilation and the erasing of all evidence of the existence of an entire people,’ including declaring the territory and resources of those territories Russian ‘from time immemorial.’ That is the final goal of geopolitical control.’”
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