Sunday, January 26, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Adygeya on the Brink of Collapse and Explosion, Republic Expert Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 26 – Adygeya head Aslan Tkhakushinov’s upbeat report to President Vladimir Putin shocked everyone in his republic because they have long been aware that he and his clan have been running the republic into the ground and that there is likely to be a violent explosion soon, something they had thought Putin at least understood.

            And while the Kremlin leader may not want to rock the boat before Sochi, his willingness to accept a totally false picture of what is happening in Adygeya, Sulieta Kusova-Chukho, president of the Center for Ethno-Confessional Problems of the Media, says, suggests that the power vertical itself is rotting (

            Tkhakushinov told Putin that Adygeya is today a virtual “paradise,” but in fact, Kusova-Chukho said, one isn’t “discovering America” by noting that the republic under his leadership is mired in corruption and depression, that health and education are all in trouble, that young people are leaving, and that the regime is simply trying to cover all this up.

            Thus, the republic authorities have made the distribution of the only independent paper there almost impossible, and they have closed the “Free Adygeya” website (“undoubtedly not without the help of the FSB’) and continue to persecute its editor. But nonetheless no one can hide from residents just how bad things have become.

            Kusova-Chukho says that for her it is “a mystery” as to whether Putin and his aides know the truth or have also been drawn into the lie.  If the latter, then “the power vertical has rotted because in fact the federal center does not know about the true situation,” she said.  And if so, the republic leaders will continue their deceptive games.

            Anyone who is in the republic can see that “Adygeya is at the point of political, economic and social collapse” and that if it has not exploded, this is “only because it is situated practically within the economically well-off Krasnodar kray, where the youth of Adygeya can always find work” and jobs with a future.

            “The more or less passionate part” of Adygeya young people “has left the republic,” and their departure calls the future of the matryoshka republic into question.  That may be what republic officials and Moscow want.  If that is the case, Kusova-Chukho continues, “the goal has been achieved!”

            A group of leading cultural figures has formed a movement “For the Future of Adygeya” to call attention to this tragedy and to head it off. But “by going into opposition, these peoples have put themselves at risk.  They are persecuted by the authorities, their relatives are removed from work, charges are brought against them, the tax police get involved, and their telephones are tapped.”

            Despite all that, the group continues to press forward, Kusova-Chukho says, with its slogans of “Stop stealing!” “Don’t Close the Mouth of the People!” “Give the Young the Chance to Work! and “Stop bankrupting the republic!”

            They have made some progress, she said, in raising the most important issues, and more protests are likely.  But in Adygeya, they won’t take the form of Bolotnoye or the Maidan: they will be violent from the outset because young people have been “driven into a corner” and are listening to missionaries who call on them to “’rob the robbers.’”

            No one should forget that young people from Adygeya have fought in Syria and are returning.  “No one thought that ‘the sleeping beauty’ of Kabardino-Balkaria as Shamil Basayev once called it would wake up but that has now happened!” And Adygeya faces an equally violent future.

            Moreover, “if they think in the federal center that Aslan Tkhakushinov will somehow be able to deal with ‘the Circassian question,’ they are deeply mistaken.” He “does not have any influence in the Circassian world” and after his latest performances, he appears to be less an Adygey than some openly Russian nationalists.

            Kusova-Chukho says that she is distressed to think that Putin is protecting people like Tkhakushinov because she remains “firmly convinced that a psychologist like Putin ... could not fail to note the weakness, lack of will and inadequacy of the man sitting opposite him.” The people of Adygeya have already done so, she says.

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