Circassian activists against the Imperial Policy of Russia
The Duma’s passage on first reading of the Kremlin’s language bill that would make the study of all languages in Russia except Russian purely voluntary by a vote of 373 to 3 with one abstention has sparked outrage in the non-Russian republics generally and the Circassian ones in particular as an appalling case of the center’s “purely imperial policy.”
Even before the vote, Kavkazr journalist Larisa Cherkes reports, deputies in the regional parliaments of Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachayevo-Cherkessia and Adygeya had spoken out against the measure even though they recognized that Moscow doesn’t care what they think (kavkazr.com/a/chisto-imperskaya-politika/29313613.html ‘purely imperial policy’
Aslan Beshto, the head of the Kabardin Congress, says he wasn’t surprised by Moscow’s actions because “they have made it clear that the opinion of society does not affect the deputies much.” He said that now he and other Circassian leaders plan to appeal to the Constitutional Court.
Martin Kochesoko, a Circassian activist from Kabardino-Balkaria says that “Russia has always conducted a policy of assimilating numerically small peoples.” The only thing that has changed, he adds, is that “now it is doing so openly. Today, in the Russian Federation, all the indigenous peoples except for the Russians are losing their languages and uniqueness.”
The Russian federation exists “only on paper,” he continues, but “we Circassians will do everything we can so that our people will live.”
A third Circassian activist, Zaur Zhemukha, says that the Circassians plan, if the Kremlin bill is approved on the third reading, to demand consistency from Moscow and call for the elimination of the requirement for the obligatory study of Russian” given that “Russian is not native for us.”
Despite these words, the Circassian activists both those and others have little hope that they will be able to stop this train. But they will continue to work, and it appears that one of the most important consequences of this resistance will be continuing meetings among Circassian activists who now live in different republics as a result of Moscow’s divide and rule strategy.
The next such meeting is planned on 26 of June in Nalchik.
Date: Sat, 23 Jun 2018 05:45:00 +0000
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2018/06/circassian-activists-against-imperial.html
Memory of the Circassian Genocide helps Circassians preserve their national identity
The Memorial Day for victims of the Russian-Caucasian War is an integral part of modern Circassian identity, believes Zaurbek Kozhev, a researcher at the Kabardino-Balkarian Institute of Humanitarian Studies.
The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on May 21, prayer services, rallies and marches in memory of the victims of the Caucasian War were held in several regions of Russia, as well as in Turkey and Abkhazia.
The Caucasian War, which lasted from 1763 to 1864, put Adygs (Circassians) on the brink of complete extinction. After the war and mass deportation to the Ottoman Empire, just a little more that 50,000 of them were left in their homeland. Circassian organizations insist that Russian authorities should declare Circassian genocide during the Caucasian War.
"Unfortunately, 90 percent of the people now live in other countries. Modern Circassians associate such situation with the Caucasian War and its consequences, with the genocide and ethnic cleansing that occurred in the last years of the war," Zaurbek Kozhev told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.
According to the researcher, it is extremely important to pay tribute to the memory of the victims of the Caucasian War.
"This is our historical past, our historical consciousness. And to have some historical prospects in the future as a nation, we should not forget ... why 90 percent of Circassians are forced to live outside their historical homeland," noted Zaurbek Kozhev.
Apart from being the day of remembrance and sorrow, the day of May 21 is also a warning that no such things should happen to any other people, believes Madina Khakushaeva, PhD in Philology, Professor at the Kabardino-Balkarian State University (KBSU).
According to her, it is important that all the nations in Russia should be aware of the tragedy of Circassian people and understand what can happen with wrong policies.
"Unfortunately, those lessons were taken into account at no level. And that is of the highest concern for us. Russia ignored those lessons. I believe it is an alarming sign indicating absence of real democracy," the Professor said.
Full text of the article is available on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday 21 of may remembered the deportation of Circassian people 154 years ago by Russian empire.
In his remembrance message posted on his official Twitter account, Erdogan said: “On the 154th year of 'Circassian Exile', I wish mercy from Allah for my Caucasian brothers and sisters. We did not forget this tragedy and we never will.”
Nearly 1.5 million Circassians were expelled from Caucasus region to the east of the Black Sea when it was overrun by Russia in 1864. Some 400,000-500,000 are believed to have died.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2018/06/recep-tayyip-erdogan-recalls-circassian.html
Circassians want genocide to be recognized by Russia, Turkey
MAY 21, 2014
Circassians in Turkey have called on Russia to recognize what they call a genocide against their ancestors, most of whom were killed or expelled from their homeland in the North Caucasus in the 19th century, and have appealed to the international community to bring them justice.
“The genocide against the Circassians was a crime against humanity and we urge Russia to recognize it as such, even though we know that these atrocities will not see justice,” Erdoğan Boz, a board member of the Ankara-based Circassian Foundation, said in an interview with Sunday's Zaman. Boz also said steps need to be taken to secure justice for Circassians, such as securing unconditional recognition from Russia of their right to return from around the world to their homeland, building up the status of the Circassian language in the modern sub-national republics in Russia with large Circassian populations and providing greater political rights to Circassians in their homeland.
Almost all Circassians were expelled from their native lands in the northwestern Caucasus in the aftermath of the 1817-1864 Caucasian War. Those remaining were later scattered, and mostly live in three semi-autonomous republics in Russia: the Republic of Adygea, the Karachay-Cherkess Republic and the Kabardino-Balkar Republic. Their homeland is now home to only 700,000 Circassians -- a fraction of the total community. Over 90 percent of Circassians were killed or forcibly deported to the Ottoman Empire or other parts of Russia. More than half of the exiled and deported people died of hunger and illness within a few years. The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) estimates that the Circassian diaspora is 3 million strong, of whom an estimated 2 million live in Turkey, about 150,000 in Syria, Jordan and Israel and about 50,000 in Europe and the United States.
Calling the historical experiences of the Circassians “a battle waged to maintain their population in their native lands,” Boz says the mass atrocities against the Circassians fit well with the concept of genocide as defined by Raphael Lemkin in 1948, and the international community should put pressure on Moscow, which is “responsible for the painful past of the Circassians and should recognize the genocide.”
“However, despite 150 years having passed since then, Russia has not taken any steps in the direction of recognizing the genocide,” Boz said, adding that there have actually been changes for the worse, with Moscow not only refusing to listen to their demands but continuing to increase oppression, especially amid the recent Sochi Olympics controversy.
A tragic history
The Circassians, a largely Muslim population of the North Caucasus, argued before the Sochi Olympics held in February of this year that holding the Winter Olympics in Sochi -- a city located on the site of Circassian massacres -- on the eve of the 150th anniversary of the alleged genocide is at odds with the Olympic spirit of peace and fair play. Moscow clamped down heavily on Circassian activists across the country, and President Vladimir Putin said in a statement on Feb. 10 that the Circassian issue is being artificially stoked to divide Russia and the West and aims to damage the country's image in the world.
Ethnic cleansing was not only led against Circassians in North Caucasus early 19th century. Russia waged a series of military actions against Caucasian ethnic groups including Chechens, the Abkhaz people, the Ubykh people and many ethnicities in Dagestan as Russia sought to expand southward into territories in geographically important places between Russia, Iran and the Ottoman Empire.
On May 21 of each year, Circassians living in different parts of the world, including Turkey, mark the anniversary of the massacre carried out against their ancestors in 1864. This year, it was commemorated more solemnly as 2014 is the 150th anniversary of the Circassian ethnic cleansing.
The ethnic cleansing of Circassians by Russia and their expulsion from their homeland constitute the most essential elements of the national identity of the Circassians, binding together groups scattered around the globe.
“No matter whether you call it the Great Circassian Exile, the mass ethnic cleansing of Circassians or a genocide, it forms a basis of Circassian identity, a nation forced to leave its homeland. Without this, it is impossible to talk about the Circassian identity,” Boz said.
Turkey needs to recognize Circassian genocide
The Ottoman Empire was one of the first stops for the deported Circassians.
Upon arrival in the Ottoman Empire, the Circassians did not know Turkish but after 150 years, they are on the brink of losing their native language, says Murat Yalçın, co-founder of the İstanbul Circassian Foundation, who told Sunday's Zaman that the Circassians are losing their own culture in Turkey.
“We have no TV stations that broadcast in the Circassian language seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Elective Circassian language courses in school are inadequate. We want our native language to be taught in schools. In history textbooks, there are statements that hurt Circassians and that need to be changed,” Yalçın said.
“In addition, the Turkish Republic, where hundreds of thousands of Circassians are now living, has to recognize the Circassian genocide. Turkey should support the study of the Circassian genocide and assist attempts to establish a museum of the genocide,” he continued.
Turkey maintains very close economic ties with Russia and has never issued an official statement on the Circassian genocide. On the eve of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Circassians in Turkey called on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan not to attend the Winter Olympics, claiming that his attendance would show that the Turkish government is insensitive to the feelings of its Circassian minority. Nevertheless, Erdoğan visited Sochi and met with President Putin before the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2014/05/circassians-want-genocide-to-be.html
Activists in Kabardino-Balkaria call on KBR's authorities to protect national languages
The law on the voluntary study of national languages at schools will lead to the disappearance of the nations inhabiting the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic (KBR) and the republic itself, and may trigger conflicts. This was stated by Madina Khakuasheva, a philologist, and Valery Khatazhukov, human rights defender.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2018/05/activists-in-kabardino-balkaria-call-on.html
Participants of equestrian crossing through Adygea report revival of Circassian traditions
About 100 horsemen from Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia and the Krasnodar Territory became participants in the equestrian crossing. The action is aimed at the revival of the Adyg traditions of horse breeding and horseman culture, which declined during the Soviet era, and the popularization of the Kabardian breed of horses.
The campaign is timed to the holiday of May 9, and the participants of the action intend to pay tribute to the memory of the people killed in three wars, including the Russian Civil War and World Wars I and II. This was reported by Albert Tkhapshokov, one of the organizers, the head of the Adyg branch of the "Shuuay Khase". Adygs were members of equestrian parts and took part in each of those wars.
Among the goals of the action, Albert Tkhapshokov mentioned popularization of the equestrian sports and fighting harmful habits.
Adygs (or Circassians) is a common name of a single nation in Russia and abroad, divided into Circassians, Adygs, Kabardians and Shapsugs. In Russia, the Adygs live in Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, and the Krasnodar Territory.
The equestrian crossing is a ritual to form the Circassian identity, believes Naima Neflyasheva, the author of the blog "Northern Caucasus through the centuries" at the "Caucasian Knot".
"People treated horse breeding as a prestigious occupation. Horse games and racing are a demonstration of the qualities of an ideal warrior. The equestrian crossing is a symbolic thread to bring back a modern Circassian in the era of the legendary ancestors," Naima Neflyasheva wrote in her post.
Full text of the article is available on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2018/05/participants-of-equestrian-crossing.html
Social network users raise money for treatment of Syrian Circassian in Russia
The Ministry for Public Health of Kabardino-Balkaria is willing to help Dina Tamukh, a resident of Syria, with medical treatment in Russia, but she needs to raise money to travel to the Russian Federation, the NGO "Ochag" (Hearth) reported.
48-year-old Dina Tamukh sent her request for help through the Kabardino-Balkarian human rights centre. She said she was suffering from cancer and needed expensive medical treatment in Obninsk. The woman is a widow and takes care of two minor children, and she has no one to help her in Syria. Dina Tamukh also reported that her ancestors lived in Kabarda. They left their homeland for the Ottoman Empire after the Caucasian War.
The NGO "Ochag" is engaged in raising funds for Dina Tamukh. In Nalchik, the NGO will help the woman find temporary housing and collect medical documents, reported Olga Begret, one of the leaders of the NGO "Ochag".
According to the activist, there have already been cases of medical care provided to natives of Syria at the expense of the Russian Federation. So, recently, in Krasnodar, a Syrian Circassian has been hospitalized, who is to undergo surgery, and a schoolboy from Syria underwent surgery on his scapula.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2018/03/social-network-users-raise-money-for.html
Gvashev treats persecution for prayer on Circassians' Memory Day as mockery
The Lazarevskoe District Court of Sochi has found Ruslan Gvashev, the former chairman of the Board of Elders of Circassians-Shapsugs, guilty of organizing an unsanctioned action on the Adygs' Memory Day, and fined him by 10,000 roubles. Gvashev said that he was taken to court in the state of hypertensive crisis, and treated the trial as "mockery."
According to Aslan Gvashev, a former deputy chairman of the "Adyge-Khase" – the organization of Black Sea Adygs-Shapsugs, an Honoured Teacher of Kuban, today Ruslan Gvashev "was forced to the Lazarevskoe District Court."
He has added that the 67-year-old Ruslan Gvashev is disabled: his leg was amputated. He felt bad at the trial; an ambulance was called to him. However, the judge "would not postpone the session, although the doctors insisted on urgent hospitalization."
In his turn, Ruslan Gvashev said that he "prayed in the forgotten Adyg language and called to remember the ancestors," and "he did not call to any unlawful actions."
He also confessed that he "did not ask whether the action was sanctioned."
Circassians (Adygs) mark May 21 as the day of remembrance and grief for the victims of the Caucasian War; they hold mourning events on this day.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2017/06/gvashev-treats-persecution-for-prayer.html
Maikop hosts march of mourning on Day of Memory and Sorrow of the Circassian Genocide
In Maikop, the capitol of republic of Adygea, hundreds of people gathered in the city park to take part in a mourning procession dedicated to the 153rd anniversary of the end of the Caucasian War.
The procession was led by political leaders and heads of national, cultural and human rights organizations of Adygea. The event involved children's ensembles, an equestrian detachment of jigits, members of the Cossack community and the Tatar Diaspora, the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent reports.
From the Maikop city park, participants of the procession passed along the central street of the city to the monumental complex "Unity and Consent". They were carrying green ribbons, symbolizing the Circassian Memorial Day.
"The special interest of young people in the symbolic of the Memory Day - a green ribbon - is still encouraged by the fact that it is not easy to obtain and impossible to buy such a ribbon," the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent was told by a teacher of the history of Adygea at the Adyg State University (ASU). And the teacher continued: "The number of ribbons is always limited, and they are distributed among friends and relatives. They are not on sale. A lot of people start wearing the ribbons already several weeks prior to the event and attach them to mirrors of cars."
The Caucasian War, which lasted from 1763 to 1864, put the Adyg peoples on the brink of complete extinction. After the war and the mass deportation of the Adygs to the Ottoman Empire, just a little more than 50,000 people remained at their homeland. Circassian organizations insist that the Russian authorities should make a decision to recognize the Circassian genocide during the Caucasian War.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2017/05/maikop-hosts-march-of-mourning-on-day.html
The Republic of Adygeya and the Krasnodar region signed an Agreement on Cooperation
Today in Krasnodar, the head of the Republic of Adygeya , Murat Kumpilov and the governor of the Krasnodar region Veniamin Kondratiev held talks on strengthening cooperation between the two regions.
Further in the expanded format, a meeting was held with the participation of representatives of state authorities, public of Adygeya and Krasnodar. It was attended by members of the delegation of the Government of Adygeya, all the deputies of the head of the administration (governor) of Krasnodar region, the heads of municipal formations of the republic and the region.
The result of the negotiations between the regional leaders was the signing of an agreement between the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Adygeya and the administration of the Krasnodar region on trade, economic, scientific, technical, socio-cultural cooperation. Murat Kumpilov and Veniamin Kondratyev signed the document.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2017/05/the-republic-of-adygeya-and-krasnodar.html
Events in Syria, Turkey and North Caucasus Prompt Moscow to Focus on Circassians
Violence in Syria that is prompting more Circassians there to seek to return to their homeland, Ankara’s new and more positive approach to that nation in Turkey, and increased activism among Circassians in the North Caucasus has forced Moscow to turn its attention to the Circassian issue, according to Filipp Gromyko.
The Kavkazskaya politika journalist says that Moscow had turned away from the Circassian issue after the Sochi Olympiad but these changes and divisions within the organized Circassian community have forced the Russian government to get involved more heavily once again (kavpolit.com/articles/cherkesy_i_kavkazskij_polpred_vizit_vezhlivosti_il-32921/).
This new Russian attention includes a recent meeting between Oleg Belaventsev, the presidential plenipotentiary of the North Caucasus Federal District and Khauti Sokhrokov, head of the International Circassian Association, two men whose similar ages and similar backgrounds suggest they’ll have better ties than the ICA and Belaventsev’s predecessor did.
But the relationship is about more than personalities, Gromyko says. The ICA has lost influence as various republic organizations and KAFFED in Turkey have broken with it as a result of Sokhrokov’s authoritarian style, Russian clumsiness in handling Circassian claims, and the conclusion of many Circassians that the ICA is simply a “for show” organization.
And now both the Russian government because of developments abroad and in the North Caucasus and the ICA for its own survival have an interest in working together, something that could lead Moscow to make concessions to the Circassians on Syrian refugees and on their national media given Turkey’s moves in that direction.
“It is no secret,” Asker Sokht of the Krasnodar Adygey Khase, “that the ICA in recent times has been in a quite complicated situation. Being in essence a Russian NGO but international in its status, the ICA without major patronage from the government has been transformed into ‘an orphan,’ which the state doesn’t need at all.”
At present, the ICA does not receive real help from Moscow and so is increasingly a dead letter, Sokht continues; but Circassian groups abroad are developing rapidly – and that has changed the balance of power within the Circassian world from inside the borders of the Russian Federation to the diaspora, a change Moscow does not welcome.
The stronger the diaspora is and the weaker the ICA becomes, the less influence Moscow has over both groups and the more likely the diaspora will be able to play a greater role not only in each of the countries where its five million plus members are located but among the roughly 1,000,000 Circassians inside Russia.
The meeting between Belaventsev and Sokhrokov could be an indication that Moscow feels it has to do more on the Circassian issue, that it cannot afford a situation in which the Circassians of Turkey, the Middle East and the West set the agenda for that nation. But for the Russian authorities to change the balance will require more than one meeting.
Nikolay Silayev, an MGIMO scholar who focuses on Circassian issues, says that he doubts the Belaventsev-Sokhrokov meeting was more than a protocol event, at least for the presidential plenopotentiary. But there are some important issues before both men, and the Circassians may now be ready to seize the moment.
Paul Goble, April 7, 2017
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2017 17:51:00 +0000
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2017/04/events-in-syria-turkey-and-north.html
Circassian activist Adnan Khuade found guilty of attempting to bribe
17.01.2017, a court in Maikop has found Adnan Khuade, a Circassian activist, guilty of an attempt to commit a petty bribery, his advocate Iland Abregov told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.
"Adnan Khuade has been punished with restriction of liberty for 1 year and 8 months. With account of the time spent by him in custody and under house arrest, the activist will have no right to travel outside the city for four more months," said Iland Abregov.
He added that Khuade would appeal against the sentence, as he considers himself innocent. "For us, the verdict was expected. The court dismissed our petitions for appointment of examinations – the linguistic, psychological and video technical ones The court also rejected the petition asking to exclude the examination protocol of the crime scene from the case files; that is, the court did not consider the fact that the time in the protocol in fact contradicts the actual circumstances of the case, and is contrary to the video," said Abregov.
The verdict against Khuade is once again confirming the activist's statement that his prosecution is of pronounced political character, Valery Khatazhukov, the head of the Kabardino-Balkarian Human Rights Centre, told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent in his turn.
Adnan Khuade links his prosecution with protection of Circassians' rights
In his last plea at the trial in Maikop, the Circassian activist Adnan Khuade asked the court to acquit him. According to the activist, he is persecuted for "defending the right of his people to the recognition of Circassian genocide."
The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on December 28, 2016, during debates at the Maikop City Court, the prosecutor asked the court to find Khuade guilty of an attempt to commit a petty bribery, thus reclassifying the charge against the activist.
Today, the defendant has pronounced his last plea, his advocate Iland Abregov told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent. "In his last plea, Adnan Khuade repeated everything he said during the debates. He said that the main reason for his presence in the prisoner's dock was the persecution for his political views. In particular, he said, he was persecuted for defending the right of his people to the recognition of the Circassian genocide," said the advocate.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2017/01/circassian-activist-adnan-khuade-found.html
2016 outcomes in SFD: farmers' and miners' protests, spy mania and pressure on activists
Protests of Kuban farmers and miners in Rostov Region; disappointment in the Governor at the background of social problems in Volgograd Region; abolition of direct election of head of Adygea; interethnic conflict in Kalmykia; pressure on Circassian activists and environmentalists, – these and other events marked 2016 in the Southern Federal District (SFD) of Russia.
Kuban (Krasnodar Territory): spy mania, farmers' protests and pressure on ecologists
For the region and for the whole of Russia the end of 2016 was marked by a major aircraft catastrophe near Sochi, where the aircraft of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with 92 people on board crashed down on December 25. The aircraft was flying to Syria with militaries, journalists, artists of the Alexandrov Ensemble and Elena Glinka, the Executive Director of the International Public Organization "Fair Aid", also known as "Doctor Liza".
In 2016, the KrasnodarTerritory attracted attention to the resonant "spy" trial, which resulted in the conviction of Oksana Sevastidi, a Sochi resident, to seven years in prison for an SMS-message, reporting that she had witnessed transportation of military equipment in the direction of Abkhazia.
Adygea: abolition of direct election of republic's head and pressure on activists
In 2016, one of the key political developments in Adygea was the abolition of the direct election of the head of the republic. This decision caused rejection of the public. On November 5, 2016, the founding congress of the organization "For Right to Choose" with the participation of about 200 persons took place. Its participants appealed to the President of Russia asking him to restore the direct election of the head of Adygea.
Valery Brinikh, who also heads the Adyg regional branch of the "Green" Party, reported the pressure of power agents, who in December 2016 interrogated him and members of the party. According to Mr Brinikh, the interrogations had to do with the plan to liquidate the branch, which had stated violations at the September elections.
In the Rostov Region, the year 2016 was marked by protests of miners and pressure on participants of protest movements and public organizations.
Protests of miners, who are seeking payment of their wage debts, continued in the region throughout the year. By the end of the year, the situation began changing for the better, the debts were partly repaid, but most of the debts remain outstanding.
In 2016, the persecution of the Union "Don Women" continued. Investigators suspected Valentina Cherevatenko, head of the Union, of an attempt to bypass the law on "foreign agents", and began prosecuting her. Ms Cherevatenko denies all the charges.
In October 2016, after serving his term in colony, Sergey Reznik, a Rostov journalist and blogger, known for his critical publications, was set free.
Volgograd: disappointment in Bocharov at background of populism and social problems
In the Volgograd Region, the year 2016 was marked with population's disappointment in the regional Governor Andrei Bocharov at the background of abundant social problems.
In 2016, residents of the region repeatedly held protests, demanding from the authorities to solve problems with heat and power supplies and problem of bad roads. In May 2016, bad roads of Volgograd drew attention of the Russian Premier Dmitri Medvedev, who drove the roads personally and treated them as "dead."
Instead of solving the region's priority problems, the Governor "is engaged in building a temple worth billions of roubles", Volgograd residents used to say.
The Governor was also reproached for the absence of efficient dialogue with activists and public organizations. The year was notable for the persecution of Volgograd activists Igor Nagavkin, Temur Kobaliya and Alexei Ulyanov.
In 2016, the Russian Public Chamber criticized the Volgograd's preparation tempo for Football World Cup-2018; and Volgograd motorists criticized the quality of repairs of roads along the "guest routes" for the World Cup.
Astrakhan: reduction of social benefits and resonant sentences
For the Astrakhan Region, the year 2016 was marked by high-profile trials and protests against the law on reduction of benefits.
On December 2, 2016, Deputies of the Astrakhan Regional Duma adopted, in the first reading, the law that assumes a partial reduction of benefits for about 25,000 citizens. Residents of the region protested against the law by conducting a series of actions.
On June 30, 2016, the Privolzhsky District Court of the Astrakhan Region sentenced Ekaterina Lukyanenko, the Minister of Social Development and Labour of the Region, accused of bribe-taking. The total amount of bribes, which, according to the judgement, she had received, made 2,882,500 roubles. Ms Lukyanenko was sentenced to four years in a general-security colony and a fine of 52,065,500 roubles.
In May 2016, Igor Stenin, the leader of the movement "Russians of Astrakhan", was sentenced to two years in colony-settlement for reposting in the social network "VKontakte" an article about the war in Ukraine, which had been recognized as extremist. He refused to plead guilty. The Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" announced Igor Stenin to be a person, persecuted for political reasons.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2017/01/2016-outcomes-in-sfd-farmers-and-miners.html
Circassian activists blame ICA leadership for split of Association
The decision of the Turkish Federation of Caucasian Associations (KAFFED – from the Turkish Kafkas Dernekleri Federasyonu) to suspend its membership in the International Circassian Association (ICA) was a result of a systemic crisis within the ICA, the leadership of which supports the attempts of Russian authorities to suppress the protest moods of the Circassian community, said the activists interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot". The head of the ICA has treated the decision of the KAFFED as prospectless.
The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that the Circassian community is discussing the prospects of a structure to be set up on the basis of the Confederation of Circassian Organizations (CherkesFED) and will be an alternative to the ICA.
In recent years, the ICA has been the credibility in the Circassian community; and the decision of the KAFFED has ripened for a long time, said Andzor Kabard, one of the founders of the public organization "Circassian Politiya".
His opinion is supported by Aslan Beshtoev, the head of the Circassian public organization "Kabardian Congress". The main criticism of the ICA is caused by the fact that the Association is increasingly becoming a conductor of ideas of Russian authorities, he said.
The President of the ICA Khauti Sokhrokov, in his turn, called the decision of the KAFFED an attempt to destabilize the situation inside the ICA.
Circassians, in all their whereabouts, seek to restore their legitimate rights. No matter how long it may take, the usurped rights will be restored. The types of crimes committed against the Circassian nation have no statutes of limitation. This coming year, 2017, should be, in the light of developments witnessed by the world, an incentive and opportunity to demand the restoration of the inalienable rights. The Tsarist Russian invasion had violated and seized the Circassian homeland by force and terror. Circassians will adopt peaceful and legal ways and means to restore their rights.
Circassians are going on in the process of their quest to deliver their fair cause to the civilized world. The struggle between good and evil is eternal and, eventually, good will triumph over evil.
The Circassian genocide must be recognized. Accordingly, all other associated confiscated and looted rights should be given back to their indigenous rightful owners.
Regrettably, different branches of the Russian authorities have ignored the Circassians’ legal and legitimate rights. During the past few years, some Russian academicians and scholars intended to issue and publish propagandistic studies and research about the Circassian Question. That was associated with holding meetings, seminars and conferences for the same purposes of changing and diverting the truth.
Aiming to divert the attention from the real Circassian issues and dilemmas in an academic tone, they followed immense aggressive objectives in recent years. An example of misinformation was published in late 2015, and was analyzed and published earlier this year, under the title: “Moscow Disinformation Spreading from Mass Media to Academic Output.” (www.stopfake.org).
Some Circassians got invited to Russian observatory events. They invited individuals, whether from the North Caucasus or from the Circassian Diaspora, to attend such gatherings. They were either invited to attend in person or by utilizing video communication systems, such as SKYPE.
The most recent seminar took place on the second of December, 2016, Under the title: ‘‘The Circassians and the Circassian Question— the Contemporary Realities” (www.pglu.ru).
Unfortunately, such gatherings have the tendency to change facts by concentrating on nonessential issues. They are steering a disinformation campaign to divert and topple the truth.
Apparently, in order to cut it short and to avoid passing propagandistic agendas, projects and plots against the Circassian Question, Circassians from the North Caucasus have declined to participate in the most recent conferences. However, some members of, or people close to the members of, the International Circassian Association have willingly taken part. Seemingly, they do not see a real threat in regard to the Circassian Question, because they cooperate blindly with various parties, without knowing the extent of the damage they would cause.
Regarding the different Circassian issues, it is not acceptable by the majority of Circassians to waiver any of the nation’s rights. This is evidenced by the vigilance and awareness of Circassians who know their status really well. Knowledge that deals with national awareness has remarkably improved in recent years, thanks to the employed modern technology. It is essential to clarify and protect the identity, elements, foundations and pillars of the Circassian national character. This is a natural and legitimate right of every people and nation, according to international laws and norms.
Being shallow-minded in regard to the national issues can be possibly condoned; but working against the national interests of the people, while knowing what damage that may inflict in regard to the whole Circassian Question, is not acceptable by any standard. Consequences may turn out to be embarrassing for all.
Not to defend terrorism or radicalism in any way, whether coming from groups or states, but matters should be straightened out. The Russian deep involvement in Syria at the present time and the apparent outdated Russian equipment reminds the world of the Soviet involvement and failure in the 1980s in Afghanistan. Not to intervene in the Russian-Syrian prerogative to do so, but Circassians of Syria are still not permitted to return to their historical Circassian homeland.
Another concern in regard to the Circassian Question is the present Russian-Turkish cooperation, which should not cross the Syrian borders’ arrangements. Hopefully, it will be positive in regard to the different Circassian issues. The recent ongoing agreements and understandings between the two countries should not affect the Circassians negatively, or the restoration of their rights. Hoping that no disastrous affects would be produced from behind-the-scenes talks, the way they took place between Tsarist Russia and the Ottoman Empire, in the absence of those who care for their homeland.
All the descendants of the Circassian Genocide’s victims, urge all people with Self-consciousness to join this campaign of blessed efforts to recognize the Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing committed by the Tsarist Russian Empire.
People are urged to sign the petition in the following link, directed to the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS):
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2017/01/justice-for-circassia-by-adel-bashqawi.html
Syrian Circassian repatriates face main problem with employment, "Ochag" activists report
According to activists of the NGO "Ochag" (Hearth) and volunteers involved in rendering assistance to immigrants, the main problems of repatriates from Syria in Kabardino-Balkaria are the language barrier and the problems with employment. Human rights defender Valery Khatazhukov believes that Syrian Circassians should be granted Russian citizenship by simplified procedure.
On December 27, the authorities of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic (KBR) announced the increase in the number of immigrants from Syria. According to the authorities, at present, 1451 citizens of Syria stay in Kabardino-Balkaria.
According to Yali Kat, an activist of the "Ochag", a regional public organization of assistance to Syrian repatriates, in late December, the Institute of Advanced Training and Retraining of the Kabardino-Balkarian State University (KBSU) had a free course of Russian and Kabardino-Circassian language for repatriates.
The activist has noted that all children of repatriates go to schools and pre-school institutions, and almost all the books were given to them for free.
At present, nine families accommodated at the sanatorium "Terek" and one family accommodated at the sanatorium "Elbrus" are in need of housing. Besides, some families are accommodated in Nalchik at rented apartments or at their relatives' places, reports Yali Kat.
Volunteer Marina has noted that almost all repatriates need help. Meanwhile, they try to improve their financial situation and to run small businesses.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2016/12/syrian-circassian-repatriates-face-main.html
"Southern Human Rights Centre" put on registry of foreign agents
The decision to include the Krasnodar-based public organization "Southern Human Rights Centre" (SHRC) on the registry of foreign agents has been made on the outcomes of the check, the Russia's Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has reported.
The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that the SHRC was established in 2012 and is engaged in "conducting public monitoring, and dissemination of reliable information on human rights and citizen's freedom violations." In August 2016, the SHRC reported a mass hunger strike of migrants in Sochi, but the prosecutor's office has refuted this information.
The Sochi rights defender Semyon Simonov, who was nominated for the contest of the "Caucasian Knot" "Hero of the Caucasus-2013", is the Chairman of the SHRC. Its Board also includes Svetlana Gannushkina, the Chair of the "Civil Assistance" Committee; Andrei Yurov, a member of the Human Rights Council (HRC); and Yulia Naberezhnaya, the Deputy Chairman of the Coordination Ecological Council under the Sochi Mayor, says the website of the SHRC.
"The fact of compliance of the SHRC to the features of a non-profit organization performing the functions of a foreign agent has been established in the course of the unscheduled documentary check, conducted by the MoJ's Department for the Krasnodar Territory," says the website of the MoJ.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2016/12/southern-human-rights-centre-put-on.html
Adygeya: Khuade's defence treats court's refusal to exclude key prosecution evidence as unjustified
The judicial investigation into the case of Adnan Khuade, a Circassian activist, was over on December 23. Earlier, the court refused, with no due reason, to exclude the examination protocol of the policeman's car, drawn up with violations, from the case files. Khuade is accused of bribing the policeman, said his advocate.
"The time indicated in the protocol says that the examination of the patrol car started at 5:50 and ended at 6:25 p.m. That is, it lasted allegedly for 35 minutes. However, the video, recorded by the camera, installed in the car, clearly shows that the examination lasted for only five minutes," Iland Abregov, the advocate for Adnan Khuade, told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.
"It turns out that the time, specified in the protocol, is contrary to the factual circumstances of the case; therefore, we assert that, according to the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure, the protocol is an inadmissible evidence," said Iland Abregov.
The court, however, has rejected the defence's motion.
Full text of the article is available on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2016/12/adygeya-khuades-defence-treats-courts.html
Prosecutor's Office reports about 170 KBR residents involved in IS
Today, at the hearings held at the Parliament of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic (KBR) and devoted to issues of combating terrorism and extremism, Arthur Makhov, Deputy Prosecutor of the KBR, has reported that at least 170 residents of Kabardino-Balkaria are involved in activities of the "Islamic State" (IS), banned by court in Russia and recognized as a terrorist organization. Of them, 59 suspects are put on the international wanted list.
"The 'Islamic State', a banned terrorist grouping, has actually swallowed up the armed underground acting in the territory of the KBR and involved in its activities at least 170 residents of Kabardino-Balkaria. The number is large enough; however, in view of the latent nature of such phenomena, it can be even higher," emphasized Arthur Makhov.
According to the Deputy Prosecutor, the Kabardino-Balkarian Prosecutor's Office has initiated criminal proceedings against 79 members of armed terrorist groupings acting in the territory of Syria, and five of them have already been sentenced.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2016/12/prosecutors-office-reports-about-170.html
Caucasiologists criticize statements voiced by Karachay-Cherkessian Mufti about Yeltsin Centre
The "Boris Yeltsin Presidential Centre" in Yekaterinburg is to be blown up in case of its "subversive activities." This was stated by Mufti Ismail Berdiev, Chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims (SAM) of Karachay-Cherkessia. Journalist Orkhan Djemal and Akhmet Yarlykapov, an expert on the Caucasus, believe the statement voiced by the Mufti is "reckless."
The "Regions.ru" reports that Ismail Berdiev has emphasized he "trusts the statement voiced by film director Mikhalkov." According to him, the museum presents biased interpretation of the history of Russia and thus "destroys the national identity of children."
The Yeltsin Centre is a social, cultural and educational centre, opened in Yekaterinburg in 2015 with involvement of the "Boris Yeltsin Presidential Centre" Foundation. Its main objective is to preserve and study the Boris Yeltsin's historical heritage in the context of the events of the 1990s.
In his conversation with the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent, Orkhan Djemal, a Forbes journalist, has suggested that "the Ismail Berdiev's statement was politically motivated."
"Perhaps, Ismail Berdiev believes that to speak in this manner about the fate of the Yeltsin Centre means to demonstrate loyalty to the current power," said Orkhan Djemal.
Akhmet Yarlykapov, Senior Researcher of the Centre for Ethno-Political Studies of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), has noted that Mufti Ismail Berdiev "should have been more cautious in his statements."
Later, Mufti Ismail Berdiev himself has explained that "his proposal to blow up the Yeltsin Centre was an allegory."
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2016/12/caucasiologists-criticize-statements.html
KBR's Premier denies his involvement in sale of Philharmonic building
The members of the government of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic (KBR) were not informed about the sale of the building of the Philharmonic Society to a private person, which followed after the transfer of the building to the balance of the Open Joint-Stock Company (OJSC) "Torgset". Such testimonies were given at the court session on December 16 by Aliy Musukov, the Prime Minister of the KBR, and Sultan Khazhirokov, the former Minister for Youth Matters.
The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on December 12, former and current members of the government stated that the decision to transfer the building of the Philharmonic Society in Nalchik was lawful. The building had not been repaired for many years; and there were no funds to reconstruct it, said officials-witnesses.
On November 16, Aliy Musukov said that in 2011, when ha was the Minister of Economic Development and Trade, he gave his positive opinion, prior to presenting the issue for the government's vote, on the transfer of the above building to the OJSC "Torgset", since he found the project to be economically reasonable.
The next court session will be held on January 16, 2017.
According to the Prosecutor's Office, in the period from November 2011 to June 2012, the defendants presented, for the purchase by an individual entrepreneur of the above building and a land plot the centre of Nalchik, false documents about the understated cost of the building and the land plot.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2016/12/kbrs-premier-denies-his-involvement-in.html
Russian journalists urge not to leave their colleagues' murders unpunished
Murders and disappearances of journalists, including in Northern Caucasus, remain uninvestigated for years. Casualties' colleagues and relatives must seek punishment of the perpetrators, mass media professionals have stated on the Commemoration Day of Perished Journalists.
The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that the above Commemoration Day of the journalists, who perished while performing their professional duties, in marked in Russia on December 15 since 1991. On this day, in Moscow in the Central Journalists' House in Nikitsky Boulevard, families and colleagues of perished journalists used to gather.
The list of perished mass media workers, who is run by the Union of Russian Journalists (URJ) since 1990, contains over 360 names. Among them, there are those, who perished while covering conflicts and counterterrorist operations, who were shot dead or blown up in peacetime, who went missing and died under un-cleared circumstances, says the website of the URJ.
On such a day, it is necessary to hold meetings and discuss the most resonant incidents with media workers, according to the writer, Alexei Simonov, a writer and the President of the Glasnost Defence Foundation, believes.
In Russia, over the past seven years, over 30 Russian journalists have perished, said Tatiana Moskalkova, the Russian Ombudsperson.
A model of the monument to perished media people in Dagestan is ready; and soon a fundraising campaign will be announced to build the monument, said a news report of "Channel Five". The monument will be erected near the Makhachkala Press House.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2016/12/russian-journalists-urge-not-to-leave.html
Syria: Aleppo: a cosmopolitan city built on thousands of years of trade
Traders, shops and stalls in the medieval souk in Aleppo, which was badly damaged by fire in fighting between rebel and government forces in 2012. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
Location of Syria’s most populous city is behind why it has been fiercely fought over – with war destroying history that centuries of refugees helped build
What was so special about Aleppo, sitting on a bleak and dusty plain with no river, oasis, port or sheltering mountains, that led it to become Syria’s most populous city, a major urban centre continuously settled since the early bronze age?
The answer lies in its geopolitical location, the same reason it has been so fiercely contested in Syria’s ongoing brutal war. Whoever controls Aleppo controls the north of the country. The capital, Damascus, its historical rival, controls the south.
Situated midway between the Mediterranean port of biblical Antioch (modern Antakya in Turkey) and the Euphrates river, ancient Aleppo was built on trade and its citizens have always been merchants first and foremost. Their commercial skill was legendary, spawning proverbs such as “What was sold in the souks of Cairo in a month was sold in Aleppo in a day.”
The result was to produce a highly cosmopolitan city, multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious, with a blend of Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Turkmen, Persians, Circassians, Jews, Armenians and Europeans. Many were refugees, of various Christian and Muslim denominations, fleeing persecution in their homelands. Aleppo absorbed them all, adding them to its rich and colourful tapestry.
As late as the 12th century, half of Aleppo’s population was Christian. The city’s masters at that time were Seljuks, a Turkic group who had entered from Iran, then become Sunni Muslims. Their architecture embodied this mix, but its sole remaining representative, the 1,000-year old minaret rising from Aleppo’s Great Mosque, was felled in crossfire in 2013.
It represented a unique synthesis of Persian, Arab and Turkic styles interwoven with classical pilasters and capitals, Islamic inscriptions and friezes.
In 2012, when the war reached Aleppo, the city’s population was more than 70% Sunni Muslim, with 30% Christian and other minorities. The demography may be about to change further, as it is doing all over Syria.
Much of Aleppo’s history may be read in its architecture. Crusader fragments such as the Cathedral of St Helena, converted to an Islamic theological school, still stand alongside the famous stone-vaulted Mamluk souks. This snake-like labyrinth of shops lent itself perfectly to rebel hideouts which were then shelled by government forces in September 2012, causing a massive fire that ended up leaving 40,000 traders bankrupt overnight.
It is one of the many ironies of the current war that since 2012 the citadel, historic protector of the city, has served as a military stronghold from which Assad government artillery has rained down on to its own cultural heritage, destroying its souks and historical monuments.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2016/12/syria-aleppo-cosmopolitan-city-built-on.html
Can the Circassian (adyghe) Language Be Saved?
Staunton, December 14 – Two new reports suggest the Circassian language is now at risk of extinction in the coming decades and the North Caucasian nation of those who speak it has entered into a period of demographic decline and could also disappear in the future, prompting their supporters to consider new defenses.
UNESCO has identified Circassian as one of the languages in the North Caucasus at risk of “completely disappearing in the next few decades” given the already low number of people who speak it in that region, the division of the community, and the absence of the use of Circassian in schools and other public spaces (caucasustimes.com/article.asp?id=21525).
Activists in Adygeya have called on the republic’s leaders to adopt a special law to preserve the Circassian language. Such a law would reverse a 2007 measure that ended the obligatory study of the language in republic schools. That measure by itself would not necessarily help the far larger number of Circassians living in Turkey and the Middle East.
The Circassians in Turkey are urbanizing and assimilating; those in the Middle East except in Israel are doing the same. As a result, they are rapidly ceasing to speak their native language and thus may cease to identify with the nation that has spoken it for centuries. Adding to the language’s problems are fights over alphabets.
Most in Turkey favor the Latin script while officials in the North Caucasus favor Cyrillic. The Russian Cyrillic is inadequate for the sound system of Circassian, but most textbooks now available are in Cyrillic; and the Turkish government has done very little to develop educational materials in Circassian in the Latin script.
One Georgian expert on the Circasssian language says that there is a way out of this difficult situation in which the Circassian language now finds itself: repatriation to a united homeland in the North Caucasus, something Moscow opposes, and intensified study of Circassian by all, “on the model of the Israeli diaspora.”
A second report notes that the Circassians, “once one of the largest peoples of the North Caucasus” no longer have that status but instead are divided internally and between the small population in the homeland and a much larger diaspora abroad (onkavkaz.com/news/1405-krest-cherkesskoi-demografii-v-chem-prichina-ugasanija-odnogo-iz-samyh-muzhestvennyh-narodov-ka.html).
According to Anzor Daur, a Circassian activist, “the Circassians today are in a deep demographic crisis connected with a sharp fall in fertility and thus a lowering of the share of Circassians in the general population of the North Caucasus.”
In 1986, there were more than 17 births for every 1000 Circassians and fewer than 11 deaths. By 2000, the number of deaths per 1,000 had risen to more than 15 while the number of births had fallen to nine. In the years since, he suggests, the situation has not fundamentally charged for the better.
Daur spoke with two activists about the current crisis. Adam Bogus of the Adygeya Adyge Khase group, said that in his republic, the number of deaths among Circassians now exceeds the number of births by 700 to 900 each year and that most marriages break down before producing a replacement level of children.
The Circassian situation is much worse than that of other North Caucasian peoples, he said. On the one hand, they are divided and half fewer hopes for the future; and on the other, they have higher aspirations for their children and are less affected by Islam and consequently increasingly choose to have fewer children.
And asker Sokh said that the demographic crisis has hit the Circassians hardest in the Russian North Caucasus, less in Turkey, and hardly at all in Jordan and Syria where Circassian families have three or four children. He said he was especially concerned by rising levels of mortality among the North Caucasus Circassians, the result of alcoholism among older people.
Many had expected that the recovery of Islam after Soviet times would contribute to a boost in the birthrate among Circassians, he continued; but young Circassians have been much less affected by Muslim precepts than have their counterparts in other non-Russian groups in the North Caucasus.
In the hopes of reversing these trends, Circassians have pressed for uniting their territories into a single republic and for allowing their co-nationals to return to their homeland. Moscow opposes both as it does expanded education in Circassian in Adygeya and other Circassian republics.
But that has not stopped Circassian activists from searching for means of salvation, and two interesting developments surfaced this week. First of all, the Adygey language has now become a participant in the international language-learning program Book2 (natpressru.info/index.php?newsid=8349).
That program allows Circassians and others as well to study Circassian in any of the 49 other languages in this program, including English, Turkish, Arabic and Russian. (The Natpress portal provides links to these programs for those who would like to begin.) The Circassian program was developed in the North Caucasus and is directed at the diaspora population.
A second development may prove even more interesting. At the end of last month, the Circassians of Iraq joined with the Chechens and Daghestanis there to form a common organization, Caucasus, to press the authorities to address their concerns much as Christians did earlier (al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/12/caucasus-circassians-chechens-dagestanis-iraq.html).
The group has already called for a special law on their status. What makes this intriguing is that the Circassians of Iraq who are outnumbered by both the Chechens and Daghestanis – the three groups as a whole total about 15,000 -- are seeking to use the larger numbers of the others to leverage their position with the state.
Original link: https://circassiatimesenglish.blogspot.com/2016/12/can-circassian-adyghe-language-be-saved.html
Dagestan: Court leaves journalist Magomed Magomedov under house arrest
The Soviet District Court of Makhachkala has granted the investigators' petition to extend the house arrest of Magomed Magomedov, a journalist of the newspaper "Novoye Delo" and the former official spokesman of the mosque located in General Omarov Street. The house arrest was extended until January 12, 2017.
The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that Magomed Magomedov, the former spokesman of the Salafi mosque in General Omarov Street (former Hungarian Warriors Street), was suspected of illegal storage of weapons and drugs. He is currently under house arrest. According to his advocate, Magomed had stated that during his detention, a grenade, ammunition and drugs were planted on him.
Magomedov and his advocate asked the court to change his house arrest conditions. "Because I am a journalist, and for my work I need mobile and Internet communications; therefore, I ask you to allow me to use these means," said Magomedov.
The court has granted the investigator's petition and extended Magomedov's house arrest until January 12, 2017. The court has also allowed the journalist to "run talks with the use of any means of communication."
Let us remind you that Mr Magomedov had filed a lawsuit demanding to remove him from the prophylactic registration at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA).