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This essay is addressed to readers of all nationalities, and its purpose is to explain the «Circassian Question» in the North Caucasus of the Russian Federation; how it arose, and; how we can help to solve it.

There is an uncomfortable fact facing the Russian Federation today. Despite interactions between Circassians and other peoples in the modern, multi-national Russian Federation, many find themselves at a loss to explain how the present conditions in the North Caucasus arose, or what can be done about it.

Given the history and geo-political importance of the North Caucasus, there is no excuse for such a state of affairs. It is the moral obligation of every party with any claim or interest in the North Caucasus to develop a fair and accurate perspective of the history that gave rise to the present state of affairs, and chart a course to help address it.

For some, the North Caucasus has been a blind spot; there is no «Circassian Question», and the state of affairs in this region of the world can be explained through a variety of simple explanations
For others, the North Caucasus is among the most pressing concerns facing the Russian Federation today, and the «Circassian Question» no matter how uncomfortable, poses a real and present threat to ongoing peace and prosperity of all in the region.

The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate that reintegration of the Circassian nation is in the interest of the Russian Federation; that the present state of affairs in the North Caucasus is deeply flawed, and that the decision by the partitioning of the North Caucasus into its present patch-work of «semi-autonomous republics» in the first place was wrong and has directly contributed to the present state of affairs affecting the region.

The challenges and opportunities facing every people are unique to that nation. It is unfair for any one nation to have its fate be linked to that of another. For the larger, dominant, nation, this leads to a relationship that taxes the good will and funding of that nation. For the smaller, dominated nation, this dynamic engenders ill will and disenfranchisement. For both nations, the dynamic serves only to distract each from its primary objective of addressing its own unique challenges and capitalizing on its own unique opportunities.

In any case, it is in the best interest of both the Circassian and Russian nations to open a dialogue on the calls for the re-establishment of «Circassia», Circassian independence and address the matter as calm and rational actors.
In short, this essay will demonstrate that the problems in the North Caucasus – the «Circassian Question», and the issues surrounding Circassia, result from unfinished and unsuccessful decolonization and that the solution is to complete that decolonization.

The Russian nation likes to think of itself as very fair-minded, with a long, storied history of glory and achievement – as a humane and certainly not a bloodthirsty people. Yet the history of Russia’s relationship with the people of the North Caucasus contradicts this self-image. This is why the Circassian Question is so difficult for Russia today. Most Russian’s don’t know the history of the Circassia, partly because it has been deliberately hidden by successive government regimes (ranging from Czarist to Soviet) and their supporters in the media. Partly it is because Russians don’t want to know – its’ simply too complicated and uncomfortable.

Here, an analogy with the relationship between the English and Irish nations is apt; Professor Terry Eagleton once remarked that, «The Irish can’t forget their history because the English refuse to remember it».

It should be emphasized that this notion is not unique to the Russian nation. Many Circassians are guilty of this oversight as well. The vast majority of affected parties believe the matter to be wholly incomprehensible, and therefore, wholly intractable.

If the reader accepts these notions to be true, then he or she will gain no benefit from reading this essay, or any other text on this subject. This essay rejects such notions outright. Were they true, then the future would be nothing short of gloomy for both the Russian and the Circassian nations.

Additionally, it is limiting and dangerous to attribute the problem to local «Islamic terrorism», or «radical nationalists». It is equally unfair (and untrue) to attribute the problem to «Russian imperialism» or to a greater anti-Circassian conspiracy.

The root problems include the basic injustice of the partitioning of Circassia following its original integration into Imperial Russia in 1864; the forced exodus of its population prior to this time; the subjugation of the remaining population after this time, and; the forced inclusion of Circassia into the Imperial Russian territories.

Both Russian and Circassian intellectual elite are almost smug in their condemnation of the violence and pettiness plaguing Circassia today. It is alarmingly simple to simply attribute the whole matter to short-sightedness by modern Russian policy, or continued cultural imperialism. It is equally simple to attribute the state of affairs to the «savagery» of the «mountaineers» who «refuse to modernize» or join the «civil world».

These perspectives serve only to provide comfort to those who do not wish to engage in the difficult pursuit of the truth – and the answer – to the Circassian Question. The reality is that the modern patch-work of Circassian political republics were founded by violence and the rejection of the principals of government that the Russian and Circassian nations both value.

Since Circassia’s annexation in 1864, the Circassian nation has seen its fate, fortunes and governance subjugated to another power. As noted earlier, this is not only damaging to the Circassian nation, but distracting and unfair to the Russian nation.

The violence that plagues the region today finds its root in the military campaigns that were designed to break the back of the Circassian nation and win military conquest. One might argue that the regional conflict today finds its roots in the imperial conquest of the region nearly 150 years ago.

This does not mean that the modern Russian nation is guilty of the sins of Imperial Russia. Nor does it excuse the Circassian nation of its own violent actions – but it makes the attitudes, opinions and actions among both nations more understandable.

At this point, the reader might wonder whether the author is «anti-Russian» or a «Circassian apologist». In truth, the author is neither. The purpose of this essay is not to assign blame for the past, but to provide a clear assessment of the challenges of today – many of which stem from the past – in order to outline a plan that is equally fair and mutually beneficial to the Russian and Circassian nations alike.

This essay is a plea to the Russian and Circassian nations to accept the historical facts that have given rise to the dynamics in the North Caucasus today, and then accept shared responsibility for addressing the issues and moving forward.

Continued tragedies among both nations require negative effort by only one nation (or the other). But peace and prosperity requires positive actions by both nations working in cooperation together.

It is curious that while the Russian nation understands and appreciates the problems plaguing the North Caucasus today, few are willing to accept the historical dynamics that have given rise to them. This is largely because many Russians (and some Circassians) accept the view that everything is due to «violent actions by those violent people – the mountaineers».

The North Caucasus is plagued by indiscriminate killings, torture, sectarian violence, Islamic extremism and economic woes. It is the view of many Russians (and some Circassians) that the Russian nation is all that prevents this «hot spot» region from slipping into total anarchy. This is partly due to misinformation on the history and current affairs affecting the region today. It is also part of a long-standing prejudice about Circassia and Circassians.

There is limited campaigning in Russia today for a disengagement from Circassia. The violence that plagues the region (and occasionally spills into the rest of Russia) is partly the reason for this, but also partly the excuse.

The root cause of the problems plaguing Circassia today stem from its violent annexation into Imperial Russia in the 19th century. As both the Russian and Circassian nations stand at the dawn of the 21st century, it is high time that both nations embraced each other in a frank and honest dialogue about how best to address these problems moving forward.

The dissolution and decolonization of Circassia is more than a plea based on moral rights. It is in the best interest of the Russian nation. The present state of affairs in the North Caucasus in the modern Russian Federation is a remnant of Imperial Russia. It undermines the values that the Russian Federation and the Russian nation stand for today; it poisons the daily dialogue between both nations, taxes the Russian budget (and Russian citizenry), and ultimately distracts the Russian nation from achieving its own long-term goals that are unique to its own nation.

As long as the present state of affairs continues, the North Caucasus will pose a threat to the peace, prosperity and stability of the Russian Federation. It will continue to exist as a hotbed of unrest which can be hijacked and manipulated to serve the interests of those who would seek to exploit and profit from such unrest.

Addressing these dynamics won’t be easy. Indeed, it won’t be comfortable, but it is possible. Moreover, the Russian and Circassian nations can and must address them together.

The only lasting solution is the fair and peaceful reintegration of the Circassian nation. Such a campaign should be based on the belief that the resolving current state of affairs in Circassia is in the interest of the Russian nation.

The «Circassian Question» is nearly 150 years old, and has continued to plague both the Russian and Circassian nation alike. Our generation can solve it once and for all, and start to build a new, peaceful relationship between the people of both nations, for each’s mutual benefit.

Forging the political path forward reintegration of Circassia (reunite the republics, stay within the federal structure of the Russian Federation, and allow the right of return to Diaspora) Need to address how this can be achieved within framework of current Russian constitution.

By Jonty Yamisha,


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Опубликовал administrator, 26-07-2011, 01:58. Просмотров: 1359
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