The media in Kabardino-Balkaria parrots an extremely rosy picture of the republic. However, journalists and activists almost all admit privately — that with an eye towards the Kremlin (and Kadyrov’s growing army next door in Chechnya) — freedom of speech has been utterly decimated, and controversial topics go completely unreported.
Officially sanctioned organisations in what was once historical Circassia work almost exclusively to promote Circassian language and culture. Beneath the surface, however, young people espouse more radical ambitions — recognition of the Circassian Genocide, and creation of a united Circassia.
The twenty-first May marked the anniversary of the symbolic end of the 1817–1864 Russian conquest of the Caucasus, which resulted in the Russian annexation of the North Caucasus and the ethnic cleansing of Circassians, the majority of whom were either killed or deported to the Ottoman Empire.
International Circassian Language Day, which is marked by Circassians in Russia and abroad, was celebrated in the North Caucasian republics of Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, and Adygea, and in Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi on 14 March. [Read more…]
There are more than 1,200 Syrian Circassians living in Kabardino-Balkaria. They came to their historical homeland to escape the horrors of war, but integrating into the local community is not easy.