Monday, November 19, 2018

Karachays Excluding Cherkess from Key Posts in Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Cherkess Activists Complain to Putin

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 19 – Yet another ethnic conflict is breaking out in the North Caucasus, this time in Karachayevo-Cherkessia where Cherkess (Circassian) activists have complained to Vladimir Putin that the Karachays who form 40 percent of the population have excluded the Circassians who form 10 percent from key posts.

            Circassians in this bi-national republic have been complaining about Karachay overreaching in this regard since the 1990s.  In 1999, the situation almost reached the point of armed clashes.  Moscow intervened and called for key slots to be allocated to the major nationalities (

            That principle, the Circassians say, was never fully implemented, and since 2011, it has been almost completely violated, implicitly threatening violence if Moscow doesn’t intervene again to correct the situation.  According to them, the situation has been deteriorating markedly over the last several years.

            A few years ago, commentator Anton Chablin notes in The Caucasus Post, the Circassians occupied four or five key positions. But today, “of the 48” most important, there is only one Circassian. The rest are divided between the Karachays and the Russians, who form 30 percent of the total.

            Two things make this appeal significant. On the one hand, it could become the basis for an effort by the Circassians to split the republic in two so that they would gain representation in key positions or even seek to form a new republic with the Circassians of Kabardino-Balkaria where they would form the majority – the Kabardins are a subgroup of Circassians.

            And on the other, this appeal comes on top of problems in Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia, Chechnya and Daghestan. That makes solving any one of the problems more difficult because a solution one place may make the situation in another worse and because being confronted with all at once, Moscow may lack the capacity to address even the most important.

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