Staunton, May 24 – The Union of Slavs of Adygeys have long wanted the Adygey (Circassian) Republic to be absorbed and now see their chance following the decision by Moscow and the leaders of Arkhangelsk Oblast and the Nenets Autonomous District to do so in the name of efficiency at a time of budgetary stringency.
Adygeya is the last of the true “matryoshka doll” republics in that it is entirely surrounded by Krasnodar Kray. Calls for uniting the two federal subjects began to be heard in the 1990s and have continued ever since. The Union of Slavs says that Moscow should now back this move (facebook.com/groups/123063457892372/permalink/1286030351595671/).
According to the group, the logic for merging the republic with the predominately ethnic Russian kray is the same as the one behind the amalgamation plans in the North; and it insists that “opponents of this are not so many,” including only “bureaucrats of Adygeya, small business … and the not very numerous ethnic Adygs and Circassians with nationalist views.”
“The latter are frightened that union with the Russian population of the Kuban will lead to the loss of local identity. “But despite the possible growth of tensions on a national basis,” the group says, “all these categories do not have particular importance,” at least relative to the savings on administration that amalgamation would bring.
In 2004, the group continues, Dmitry Kozak, then presidential plenipotentiary for the region, tried to organize the merger of the two federal units. “But even the all-powerful Kozak was not able to break the Circassian elite which was categorically against fusion with the Kuban.”
They might still carry the day, the Union of Slavs of Adygeya says, were it not for the declines in oil revenues and the additional burdens that the coronavirus pandemic has imposed on the Russian Federation. Now, it suggests, there is every reason to go ahead with the fusion and no reason to wait.
But both events in the Russian North and the situation in the North Caucasus are likely to work against any move to unite these two subjects in the near future. The Nenets and the Komi are overwhelmingly opposed to merger there (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/05/most-in-working-group-that-called-for.html).
And the Adygs of Adygeya will likely be equally opposed to any talk of merger with Krasnodar Kray. They are not numerous – there are only 440,000 residents of Adygeya, of whom only 26 percent are Adygs – and they would be swamped by 5.6 million people in Krasnodar Kray almost all of whom are ethnic Russians.
But the Adygs will have the support of Circassians across the North Caucasus and abroad, who will beyond doubt see a move against Adygeya not as being about saving money but rather as a direct attack on their national aspirations, aspirations that have only intensified in the last 15 years (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/05/circassians-show-greater-unity-on-this.html).
Russians in the region and officials in Moscow may see amalgamation in the North Caucasus as nothing more than good housekeeping; but they will quickly find that if they move in this direction, both local Russians and Moscow rulers will face far greater opposition than they have faced elsewhere, opposition that could easily lead to the destabilization of the entire region.