Circassians Demand Russian Apology For
19Th Century Genocide
by Paul Goble
Congress, an organization that unites representatives of the various
Circassian peoples in the Russian Federation, has recently called on Moscow
first to acknowledge and then to apologize for tsarist policies against
their ancestors in the 19th century, policies that Circassians say
constituted a genocide.
The Cherkess Congress announced in Maikop on 5 July that the office of the
president of the Russian Federation Council has acknowledged receipt of
their petition, a document that included both a written appeal and a CD
containing more than 500 archival documents (http://www.regnum.ru/news/480210.html).
That appeal points out that Russian forces behaved very differently in their
wars against the mountaineers of the North Caucasus than they did against
European countries. In the case of the latter, the tsarist troops behaved
more or less according to the written and unwritten laws of war.
But with regard to the North Caucasus, the appeal says, the tsarist forces
acted in ways that allow one to conclude that their real goal was to "remove
entire peoples from the ethnic map." Anyone who thinks otherwise must
explain the "unheard of cruelty" and "repressions against the civilian
population" that took place.
In the tsarist campaign against the Circassians, a campaign that lasted five
years after Imam Shamil surrendered in 1859, official tsarist statistics
show that more than 400,000 Circassians were killed, 497,000 were forced to
flee abroad to Turkey, and only 80,000 were left alive in their native area,
the appeal points out. This unprecedented (up to that time) "ethnic purge,"
the appeal continues, means that the Russian Federation as the claimed
successor to the tsarist empire and the Soviet Union has a moral and legal
obligation to acknowledge what happened and to issue an apology, the
Cherkess Congress appeal argues.
So far, Moscow has done very little in that direction. Former Russian
President Boris Yeltsin's May 1994 statement admitted that North Caucasian
resistance to the tsarist forces was legitimate, but the current appeal
notes that he did not recognize "the guilt of the tsarist government for the
genocide committed against the peoples of the North Caucasus."
In 1997 and 1998, the leaders of the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic and of the
Republic of Adygeya sent appeals to the Duma to reconsider the situation and
to issue the needed apology. But to date, there has been no response from
Moscow, and the Circassians cannot say what has been the fate of their
The Cherkess Congress puts forward two additional arguments in support of
their demand, one that they say must be met before the end of July 2005. On
the one hand, they note that such an apology is important not only to the
Circassian groups living in the Russian Federation but also to "the
approximately 3 million of our compatriots abroad" -- a reference to
politically important groups in Turkey and elsewhere. And on the other, the
Cherkess Congress appeal notes that there is ample precedent for the Russian
government to do what they asked. In April 1995, for example, the Duma
recognized the killing of Armenians in Turkey in 1915 as a genocide because
the Russian parliamentarians said the facts warranted such a designation.
Consequently, the appeal continues, the Russian Duma "would be demonstrating
before the entire world its good will and ability to be consistent in the
realization of the widely proclaimed in Russia principles of freedom and
democracy, humanism and justice, and in the rejection of xenophobia and
national, racial, and religious intolerance" if it acknowledged the tsarist
genocide against the Circassians.
So far, there has been no response from Moscow to this latest appeal, one
that was probably triggered by the demands of other groups for Moscow's
acknowledgement of past misdeeds and by the Kremlin's efforts to merge the
Republic of Adygeya into the surrounding Krasnodar Krai, a move the
Circassians bitterly oppose.
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
2005, Volume 8, Number 23
Until December 2006, Paul Goble was vice dean for the social
sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior
research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia.
While there, he launched the “Window on Eurasia” series which at that time
he distributed directly via e-mail. Prior to joining the faculty there in
2004, he served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the
Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as
well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at
the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He writes frequently on
ethnic and religious issues and has edited five volumes on ethnicity and
religion in the former Soviet space. Trained at Miami University in Ohio and
the University of Chicago, he has been decorated by the governments of
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for his work in promoting Baltic independence
and the withdrawal of Russian forces from those formerly occupied lands.
Congress demands recognition of Genocide of Adygeyan People
Chairman of ARSM ´´ Circassian Congress´´ Murat Berzegov 28.05.2005,
Republic of Adygeya, Maykop
Russian State Duma did not recognize genocide
against Adygeyan (Circassian) nation
Circassians Press Genocide Claims
By Marina Marshenkulova in Nalchik,
By Antero Leitzinger, The Eurasian Politician - Issue 2 (October 2000)
RESOLUTION ON THE SITUATION OF THE
Resolution Of The General Assembly Of The Unrepresented
Nations and Peoples Organization, 15 - 19 July 1997
The Reports and the
Testimonies About Russian - Circassian War and the Circassian Genocide
Sochi Olympics Already Casting Shadows on the North Caucasus
Window on Eurasia, December 19, 2007,
by Paul Goble
Greater Circassia 'More Probable than Nuclear War,' Moscow Analyst Says
Window on Eurasia, December 11, 2007, by Paul Goble
Window on Eurasia by Paul
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