The Russian commentator and editor of the Tolkovatel blog offers three reasons in addition to those why Russians should be paying more attention to what may seem to some a long ago event:
First, “the most active defenders of the mountaineers then were … the Hungarians and the Poles.” Indeed, on a British ship, 220 legionnaires from those nations were brought to the North Caucasus in 1857 and fought for three years. Their Polish commander converted to Islam and adopted a new name Tefik-Bey. And in London, Poles joined the Free Circassia Committee.
Second, Musa Kundukhov, a tsarist general who was an Ossetin-Muslim by ethnicity and faith, resigned his commission in 1864 to protest the expulsion of the Circassians and personally led and financed a group of some 25-30,000 Circassians into exile in the Ottoman Empire. Thirteen years later, he fought on its side against Russia.
More to the point, Pryanikov says, Kundukhov was not alone in this: “A similar path” was followed by Kabardin Colonel Abdurakhmanov, Major General Morgukorov, Lieutenant General Temirkkhan Shipshyev (“who led 60,000 Shapsugs into Turkey”), among others.
And third and most important of all: The Circassian expulsion gives “food for thought for alternative historians.” Had the Circassians and other North Caucasians remained in their historical motherland, today, there would be 25 to 30 million of them in that region. “Kuban and Stavropol would be 90 percent mountaineers.”
As a result, “the entire history of Russia in the 20th century could have proceeded in another way.”