Sunday, September 9, 2018

Moscow’s Imposition of ‘Forever with Russia’ Slogan Enrages North Caucasians

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 9 – Over the last decade, the Putin regime has insisted on the display of the slogan “Forever with Russia” in the capitals of the North Caucasus republics, an action that has not unified the peoples there with the Russian world but “enraged” people there who would have been less offended by a more honest discussion of the past. 

            In the latest example of the counter-productive results of Moscow going too far in denying the past, Moscow’s imposition of the slogan “Forever with Russia” as a propaganda slogan is infuriating North Caucasians who point out that it is not only historically inaccurate but logically impossible.

                And their comments, made to and reported by Radio Svoboda journalist Anzor Tamov, very much suggest that once again in this restive region, the Kremlin has gone too far and undermined the very values it says it is trying to promote (

            The slogan has become increasingly a part of the public architecture of the cities in the region, Tamov says. In Karachayevo-Cherkessia, a giant banner with this slogan appeared on the government building in advance of the Day of the Republic on September 7. Many hoped that it would soon be taken down, but “the experience of neighboring republics calls that into doubt.”

            In Kabardino-Balkaria, for example, the slogan went up in 2007 on the memorial arch for the commemoration of the 450th anniversary of “the union of Russia and the Kabardino-Balkar Republic; and there it has remained. Even earlier the slogan appeared in Soviet times in Maykop, the capital of the Adygeya Republic. 

            Nyr Aslan from Cherkessk tells Tamov that the slogan is both absurd – “who is with anyone else forever?” – and offensive. Over the centuries, he continues, the Russians “brought us hypocrisy, fratricide, alcoholism, prostitution, the destruction of 95 percent of our people, assimilation and an attack on our native language, which is holy for us.”

            Moreover, he continues, “over the course of these 450 years, the Russian-Circassian war lasted 101.” To ignore that fact, “offends our people and the memory of our ancestors. ‘Forever with Russia’ are favored and sacred words only for traitors and those without any backbone.”

            His fellow Circassian, Marat Khamukov shares his view, as does Zaur Zhemkhov of Nalchik, who adds that he doesn’t like having to look at the slogan because it reminds him that reality was exactly the reverse of what its words suggest.

            “We are a federation and not an empire,” and consequently, such words are offensive because they come from a regime that is “conducting a policy of the destruction of the federation and the assimilation of the non-Russian population,” Khamukov adds.

            Azamat Getazhey, another resident of Kabardino-Balkaria, says that the slogan is simply incorrect. How can one speak about “the voluntary inclusion of Kabardino-Balkaria into Russia” 450 years ago? There was no Kabardino-Balkaria at that time.”  Instead, what happened was the formation of “a military-political union of the Kabards and the tsarist empire.”

            Zhambot Merov, a Circassian from the KBR, says that putting the slogan up is “a symbol of the carnival of stupidity” the peoples of the North Caucasus are now forced to live with. Asserting things that people know aren’t true about the past or the present only undermines the authority of those who make them.

            And Shamsudin Neguch of the Adygey Republic says that “the slogan ‘Forever with Russia’ not only offends” his nation but “as it were ‘puts [the Russians] above us from the start” and underscores that what is taking place in Russia today is “the degeneration of the country into an empire.”

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