Monday, December 20, 2021

Moscow Decided in Advance on Results of Census, but Circassians Used It to Promote National Unity, Ibragim Yaganov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 31 – Many Circassians are certain to be disappointed that their efforts to get Adygs, Kabards, Cherkess and other subgroups of the Circassian nation to declare themselves to be Circassians, but they shouldn’t fall into despair, Circassian activist Ibragim Yaganov says.

            On the one hand, Moscow decided in advance what numbers it wanted and those are the numbers it will report, the Circassian activist says; and on the other, the Circassians successfully used the campaign to have members of subgroups declare themselves members of a common Circassian nation (

That effort which began in advance of the 2010 census achieved significant attention and thus results in advance of this enumeration, especially among the better-educated and Internet-informed young; and it can be expected to have even greater results for the nation when the next census occurs, Yaganov says.

“The main problem of the Russian state is that it remains trapped in the colonial period,” he continues. “Not just in the Caucasus but  in all the rest of the regions of Russia, there is still a colonial form of interaction with the Kremlin.” The country’s leaders don’t understand that the strength of Russia is in its diversity and that they are thus working against Russia’s interests.

            Today, Yaganov argues, “Circassian society is being subjected to strong political pressure,” but that isn’t keeping many of its members from coming together, even if some within the diverse Circassian people are prepared to cooperate for selfish reasons with the colonial overlords in Moscow.

The best news for Circassians comes from the younger generation which is “more educated and which “thanks to the Internet has access to large information and communication resources and archives of the history of the people which we [the members of older generations] did not.” That is a major reason for optimism.

“In the 1990s,” Yaganov says, “it was very dangerous to be involved in public activity. Now, such activity is in fact prohibited.” As a result, there can’t be the public movement that many want. But the use of the hashtag “We are Circassians” shows that the Internet can do even in this situation.

“Nationalism is the last argument of a dying nation, not fascism. I am a Circassian nationalist. I declare this publicly but I am not a fascist,” the activist says. “I am not a chauvinist. I do not consider my nation special or privileged. I simply ow and am trying to preserve my people, its language and culture.”

After all, Yaganov concludes, “an individual who does not love his own nation cannot love any other.”

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