Kabardian activists clashed with the residents of the Balkar village of Kyondelen on 18 September while trying to pass through to commemorate an 18th century battle. As of Friday, 120 people had been detained and 45 hospitalised in clashes between Kabardian and Balkar groups and police. Many experts believe that an old land dispute lies at the heart of the conflict.
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.