Call for Circassian Subgroups to Identify as Circassians in Census Sparks Sharp Online Debate
March 8 – A call by Circassian activists to those Moscow has subdivided into
Adygs, Kabards, Cherkess and Shapsugs to declare themselves Circassians in the
upcoming 2020 Russian census has sparked a sharp debate on social networks,
with supporters seeing it as a step to recovering their national patrimony and
others feeling that it threatens their current status.
Kavkaz Uzel portal, tracking the
hashtag #yacherkesAty? has assembled
192 posts on Instagram, 10 publications on Facebook, seven videos, 17
photographs, three publications on Twitter and 38 on Twitter discussing this
appeal and reaction to it (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/332674/).
of the most popular” of these publications, the portal says, involves a
photograph of a young woman holding a poster on which the words ‘Adygeys?’
‘Kabardins?’ and Shapsugs?’ are crossed out and below is written ‘We are
others objected. Their common self-designator should be Adygs, as it was before
1917. “Circassian” is the term others call them, and many do not think they
should defer to outsiders.At the same
time, those who have learned to identify as Kabards or Shapsugs don’t want to
make the shift to Adygs, although some are prepared to call themselves
greatest objections, however, appear to come from those who live in Kabardiinia
or Adygey. If the Kabards do what the activists want, one said, “there won’t be
any Karbards in Kabardinia.” Similar sentiments are expressed by someone in
Adygeya who says everyone there knows they are part of the Circassian world but
at the same time they remain Adygs.
of the call to have all members of these subgroups identify as Circassians make
a different argument: “We lost a hundred-years’ war as a result of divisions.
And now I read commentaries which make me sad. One shouts I am a Kabardinka, another
says I’m a Shapsug; a third, an Adyg. In truth, we have learned nothing from
the times of the Caucasus war.”
who support the idea says that “one need not argue.” It is perfectly all right
to retain these subordinate identities, but it is critically important to
insist on the broader and larger identity at the same time, something that will
boost the numbers of Circassians inside the current borders of Russia and link
up such people with Circassians abroad.
it really so difficult to list oneself as a Circassian? one asks.“That is how the entire world calls us. This
is a census after all, and we should find out how many Circassians there are in