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Friday, 20 April 2018


Abazins are looking for their land

2012-09-25 20:41

Abazins are looking for their land. 28354.jpeg

Russia's only place of compact residence of the Abazins is Abazin National District of Karachay-Cherkessia (KCR). This district was established in 2006, as a result of the republican referendum on changing the structure of the KCR. The authorities hoped for reducing ethnic tensions in the country. Unfortunately, they have failed. Ethnic tensions in the KCR, like generally in the Caucasus, are caused not by the fact that Abazins needed own district. First of all - this is economic reason.

Abazins are the fourth largest nation in the KCR, and the Republic itself is the only place of compact residence of this people in Russia. The researchers note this compactness is very relative. First, most of the Abazin villages are not adjacent to each other and often alternate with Karachay and Circassian villages. Second, road connection between many villages is poor, so the Abazins are deprived of close contact with each other. Third, not all Abazins of the KCR live here. Many representatives of this people live in those areas where the Karachai and Cherkess dominate.

Abazin district of the KCR was born within the ethnic conflict that has been brewing in the country since the late 80's. In the wake of perestroika, glasnost and the collapse of the socialist system, the peoples of Karachay-Cherkessia had to share space, and first of all, the right to rule and economic entities: a tank farm and a sugar factory in Adyge-Khablsky District, resorts in Teberda and Dombai, a number of agricultural enterprises. The Abazins were not taken into account, since the "titular" Karachai and Cherkess elites divided the power only among each other. Naturally, one elite did not want to concede the other, and each of them had its rationale. Karachais' claims on the power were based on historic right of the people repressed by Stalin. Circassians have appealed to the law of the nation - the victims of the Caucasian War of XIX century. Moreover, in the Circassian community there was talk of removing a number of North Caucasian entities and creation of Republic of Circassia on their basis. Abazins started talking about their rights approximately in 90's.

The rise of the Abazin self-consciousness was driven by the liberation struggles in Abkhazia, in the historic homeland of the Abazins. They justified their right to power much easier; if the Karachays claim on the power, the Abazins also can do this. The KCR leaders, on the one hand, did not agree to this, since they did not want the deterioration of relations with the rest of the ruling ethnic clans in the KCR; but they also couldn't ignore the requirements of the Abazins. Abazins were offered posts in the office of the head of the KCR and seats in parliament, that is a wide range of very narrow representative features without providing real power in the KCR. However, the same can be said for the Karachays and Circassians.

Konstantin Kazenin, expert in the Caucasus spoke with GTimes on this occasion. "Local political life is arranged in the way so that they could constantly remind the average man about the importance of ethnic representation in government. But such ethnic representation has no significant output", says Kazenin. Protests were brewing among the Abazins which threatened to turn the KCR into second Dagestan. A referendum in 2005, resulting in creation of Abazin District in the north KCR, has somehow saved the situation. There was a hope this would help to overcome the crisis. But it turned out the opposite.

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