The Circassian national movement in the North Caucasus has for years been under pressure from the authorities. Facing detention, prosecution, or outright violence, Circassian activists, scholars, and young people all feel the pressure, but there is much disagreement as to why they are being targeted.
On 8 September, Kabardino-Balkaria celebrated the ‘460th anniversary of its voluntary entry’ into Russia. While the Northwest Caucasus — including what is now Kabardino-Balkaria — was conquered by Russia in the 19th century, this false narrative now serves as a loyalty test for local political elites.
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.
Dredging works in the River Nalchik floodplain are allowing private entrepreneurs to unlawfully appropriate lands in the river’s ‘protective zone’, and are destroying the valley’s ecosystem.