Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Circassian Drive to Declare Common National Self-Designator in 2020 Russian Census Gathers Steam

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 8 – Many members of the Circassian nation, long subdivided by Moscow to allow Russia to control the North Caucasus, have decided to declare a common ethnonym in the upcoming 2020 Russian census, a major step in their national revival and the basis for renewed demands for the creation of a single Circassian Republic there.

            And Circassians both within the Russian Federation and beyond its current borders are turning to social media to promote the idea. Judging from comments on posts advocating that Circassians now counted as Adygeys, Cherkess, Kabards and Shapsugs declare themselves Circassians next year, the idea is taking off.

            A good example of this is provided by a new post that Rustam Guelykue, 38-year-old Circassian from Krasnodar, has placed online, one that reaffirms the arguments some Circassians made before the last Russian census in 2010 and by the attention and enthusiasm it has generated (https://ok.ru/profile/531723269027/statuses/150743584592803).

            In advance of the 2010 enumeration, Guelykue says, “a group of Circassian young people from Adygeya, Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Krasnodar and Stavropol krays launched an initiative calling for Circassians to restore to the Circassian (Adygey) people a single ethnic name.”

            In an essay, “One People-One Name-One Future,” they laid out the reasons for their position, Guelykue says. He is now summarizing their arguments and encouraging Circassians to copy and distribute this to encourage others to follow its advice during the October 2020 All-Russian census.

            The essay began by observing that “we are again approaching [the census] in the position of a divided people,” split among the Adygeys, the Kabardins, and the Cherkess “who today form three republics.” Recently, they pointed out, a fourth group, the Adygey-Shapsugs, a numerically small group, was added to their number.

            As a result, “today in the Russian Federation officially live four ‘Adyg’ peoples” who in fact are one people speaking one language with one past and one desired future. These divisions have given rise to “absurdities” like “when in one family, the father is declared a Cherkess, the mother, an Adygey, and the children, Shapsugs, although all are Circassians.”

            These divisions weaken our nation and hurt its development, the authors of the 2010 essay say. It is important to end these divisions and the place to start is with a declaration in the census of Circassian as the common ethnonym. (If some want to list Circassian and one of the subgroups at the same time, that is of course better than just listing the subgroup.)

            Circassians are what others call the Circassian people and that is what Circassians should proudly call themselves. “Numerous peoples of the world, among whom are many of our Caucasus neighbors have two names: one that they use for themselves and another by which they are known to the entire world.”

            “Brothers and sisters!” the appeal continues. “The locomotive of history is rapidly flying forward. If we do not want to remain behind but rather to occupy a worthy place among the peoples of het world then we cannot allow ourselves to remain inactive for years and decades. We should have acted earlier; we must act today!”

            “Let us restore historical justice, correct the mistakes of the past, and overcome the divisions among us” by returning to our people its single historical name.” All Circassians regardless of where they live can do that in the upcoming census. The Constitution gives us that right; history means we must act on it.

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