Saturday, July 25, 2015

Karachayevo-Cherkessia Head ‘Doesn’t Have the Right to Forget’ He’s a Karachay, Activist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 25 – In another indication that tensions are heating up in one of the remaining binational republics in the North Caucasus, a leader of the Turkic Karachay nation has declared that the ethnic Karachay head of Karachayevo-Cherkessia “doesn’t have the right to forget” his ethnic origins.

            Moreover, Nyurlyu Gerbekov, a member of the presidium of the Congress of the Karachay People, says, Rashid Temrezov should be spending more time in his republic than in Moscow and should again have to face elections rather than be appointed by the Kremlin so that he would remember who he represents in office (

            The Turkic Karachays form 41 percent of the population, nearly four times the share of the Circassian Cherkess, but the former have often expressed the view, which Gerbekov repeats, that they have lost influence with the outmigration of ethnic Russians who had stood as guarantors of the ethnic quota leadership system that has been in place since Soviet times.

            When Temrezov came to power, Gerbekov says, he promised to consult with all the peoples of his republic, but he hasn’t consulted with his own Karachays or with the Cherkess or with anyone else except Moscow. As a result, public life has deteriorated and the risk of ethnic conflicts have grown.

            That lack of consultation, he continues, has been exacerbated by the formation of clans within the government. As a result, many Cherkess and ethnic Russians blame the Karachays for their problems. But an examination of what Temrezov has done shows that the Karachays have been the victim of his indifference just as much as anyone else.

            Yes, ethnic Russians are leaving the republic, but so too are Cherkess and even Karachays. He says that he knows of at least 500 who have done so because conditions are so bad, and he points to the vacant houses in many villages and auls to suggest that the real number is likely higher than that.

            Temrezov and his team think they can do anything they want as long as they maintain good relations with Moscow. That is why they lobbied so hard to end the direct election of the head of the republic. They know, Gerbekov says, that if an honest election were held now, Temrezov would get no more than five percent of the votes.

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