Monday, March 11, 2019

New Circassian Organization to Defend Republics, Language, and Common Ethnonym

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 11 – Circassians from across the North Caucasus have formed a Coordinating Council of Circassian Public Activists to defend their national republics, achieve international recognition of Russian actions against their nation as a genocide, defend their national languages in schools, and promote the common ethnonym “Circassian.”

            The activists, meeting in Cherkessk, said that they were taking this step because of “the fundamental worsening of nationality policy in the country” and the need for all Circassians to fight back to defend their interests of the entire nation and its members, including those Moscow seeks to strip of Russian citizenship (создан-координационный-совет-черкес/).

            Three things make this development important. First, it is an organization from below rather than above. Almost all of the existing Circassian organizations have been created by officials either overtly or covertly. This one appears entirely to spring from the population. As a result, it is likely to be much stronger.

            Second, this is yet another sign that the campaign to have all the groups Moscow has subdivided into separate nations to come together and declare themselves Circassians in the upcoming 2020 census is taking off, a development that will challenge Moscow’s ability to keep these peoples apart. Once they declare themselves Circassians, they will want a Circassia.

            And third, the linkage of this extremely popular idea to the need to defend republics and to call on Moscow and the international community to recognize what Russian forces have done to the Circassians as a genocide suggests that a modern national movement is taking place, one that the central government will have ever more difficulty in countering.

            Indeed, for the first time since the 2014 Olympics when Circassians attracted worldwide attention by pointing to the fact that the killing fields of the Russian genocide took place on exactly the grounds where Putin’s games were occurring, there seems to be good reason to conclude that the Circassian national movement is again gaining strength.

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