Thursday, May 30, 2019

Circassians’ Inclination to Protest Said to Vary Widely by Republic in Which They Live

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 30 – The Circassians have many common concerns such as the return of their compatriots from Syria, but they also have issues specific to the republics and regions in which they live. And because of the latter, it should come as no surprise that Circassians in one place are more likely to engage in protest activity than those in others.

            Researchers at the Institute for Regional Expertise rated the protest activity of various federal subjects in the last month. They said the rate in Kabardino-Balkaria was relatively high, that in Karachayevo-Cherkessia moderate and that in Adygeya relatively low (

            Commenting on these variations among Circassians, Tbilisi political analyst Aleko Kvakhadze suggests that not too much should be made of these differences because the Institute did not count all the forms of protest activity in making its rankings. Thus, individual protests were ignored even though they were often very important in Adygeya and Krasnodar kray.

            Moreover, he continues, protests in Kabardino-Balkaria were concentrated around a single issue – land – and both the Circassian  Kabards and the Turkic Balkars were involved with the actions of one having an impact on the other.  Moreover, many of these actions, as at Kendelene were about local issues not broader ones.

            And what is most important, the Institute did not count the May 21 memorial services even though in many cases, they took place without the approval of the authorities and thus constituted a form of protest not only against tsarist policies but also against those of the current Russian and republic governments.

            Further, on many issues, such as Moscow’s Russification policies, the Circassians in all places preferred to make their protests on social media rather than take to the streets. Such a choice does not mean that they are not willing and able to demonstrate in support of their positions.

            Another survey was conducted in Kabardino-Balkaria by Ruben Oshroyev who found that slightly more than a third of the republic’s residents say they are prepared to act in defense of their rights if they are violated. But relatively few included among the subjects they would protest about freedom of speech.

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