Staunton, August 18 – Even though ethnic Circassians form only 25 percent of their titular republic, Adygeya, Moscow is worried that some Circassian nationalists may win seats in the republic state council or even in the Russian Duma and is prepared to use the FSB and other siloviki to prevent that from happening.
Vladimir Ustinov, the presidential plenipotentiary for the Southern Federal District said yesterday that it is necessary to take “all measures” to prevent what he called “supporters of extremist ideas” from winning elections in Adygeya (nazaccent.ru/content/21626-polpred-prezidenta-predupredil-o-deputatah-ekstremistah-v.html and tass.ru/elections2016/article/3546153/).
“I want to direct your attention,” Ustinov said, “that you have facts about the activation of persons who support radical religious views. One must take all necessary measures not to allow them to become deputies of the State Council. This is an important factor and I ask that you focus on it attentively.”
While the presidential plenipotentiary spoke about religion rather than ethnicity, the fact that the population of Adygeya is divided between Russians and Circassians means that religion is in this case a surrogate for ethnicity and that what Ustinov is really concerned about is Circassian nationalism, something that has been giving Moscow problems for a long time.
Aslan Tkhakushinov, the head of the republic, responded that he has the situation “under control.” He declared that “peace and inter-confessional accord is being maintained in the republic” and that the republic FSB is “organizing a complex of measures concerning the impermissibility of extremist and terrorist manifestations” in the run-up to vote.
The republic head added that his officials are checking the candidates for any past convictions or administrative violations, something that if found could lead to their disqualification.