Monday, October 18, 2021

Circassian Language Textbook Crisis Deepens; Many Suspect Moscow Behind It

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 12 – Ten days ago, Circassian language advocates in Kabardino-Balkaria reported that schools in that republic were being limited in their ability to offer coursework in Circassian because there were no new textbooks in that language, a situation they demanded be changed immediately (

            But neither federal nor republic officials have responded to these complaints, and now the crisis is deepening, quite possibly to the point of triggering mass protests against both Moscow and the republic authorities for at least three reasons.

            First, it has been discovered that this crisis in the schools has been artificially created as the activists have discovered that there are some 200,000 Circassian-language textbooks in government warehouses that for some reason haven’t been distributed to the schools (

            Second, the Circassian activists are now saying that Moscow is behind this but that the republic leadership has been unwilling to stand up for its own population, something that will likely lead to a further decline in Circassian support for and trust in both (

            And third, Madina Khakuahseva, a leading specialist on linguistics in Kabardino-Balkaria, has openly suggested that these moves against the Circassian language are “a planned diversion” by the authorities both at the federal and republic level to distract attention from other problems (

            But if that was Moscow’s intention, one apparently supported by Nalchik, it is likely to backfire not only by touching off protests on the sensitive issue of languages in the schools but more immediately and potentially more explosively leading even more Kabards and other Circassian subgroups to declare a common Circassian nationality in the census.

            There is even the possibility, although there is no documented evidence for such a conclusion, that some Circassian officials may be behind the textbook crisis precisely because they know that it will backfire and lead Circassians to unite against Moscow policies (

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