Reckless Projects Continue in Circassia

Reckless Projects Continue in Circassia

By: Adel Bashqawi

16 March 2020

In Sochi, villages were bulldozed to make way for massive complex construction. (RFE/RL)

In Sochi, villages were bulldozed to make way for massive complex construction. (RFE/RL)

It’s obvious that the colonial policies against Circassia and Circassians, which were initiated by the Tsarist Russian Empire, continued during the Soviet era until reaching the current Russian Federation. Recently, the Russian authorities did not skimp on Circassians, nor did the successive regimes since the invasion and occupation. Rather, all of them have done what is not acceptable to common sense. What the colonial talent is doing, aimed at continuing to gnaw the Circassian properties in order to further expand, annex and change the administrative divisions.

Brutal elimination of the Circassian tribes one after the other persisted during the Russian invasion and annexation. That included mass destruction through a scorched earth policy, annihilation, ethnic cleansing and forced deportation that kept only 10% of the Circassian population in their homeland. The rest were deported across the Black Sea to various destinations within the Ottoman Empire.

Even the 10% who stayed in their homeland were not able to live together in one unified geographical area. They were divided into four different peoples and nations who got various languages ​​couldn’t live in a unified location, but rather nonadjacent to each other. The Shapsugs, being members of one of the twelve main Circassian tribes, were badly affected as a result of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games constructions, which badly changed the natural features and landmarks in and around Sochi. Let alone, the loss of more than half of the members of this tribe during the Russian-Circassian War.

In 1924, during the Soviet era, Shapsugsky area was established for the Shapsugian population. “In 1940 the united Shapsugsky area was liquidated as in April that year with re-founding of Tuapsinsky district.” The name was changed several times, but Russification process made it imperative in 1945 to raise the question of renaming of Shapsugsky area into Lazarevsky. [1] That is after Admiral Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev, one of the Russian-Circassian War criminals. [2]

Like other Circassians, the Shapsug citizens have been subjected to numerous documented harassment during the past years including the seizure of their lands on multiple occasions and places. The Russian state has ignored International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [3] inherent in all human beings and practiced discrimination against them, especially when the Russian authorities imposed “a fine on the Circassian activist Ruslan Gvashev for praying at the Tulip Tree” site in an area close to Sochi. [4] [5]

Now inhuman practices continue and the Russian authorities decide to establish enormous projects for roads, railways and other facilities to penetrate through what remained of the Shapsug villages “as a result of Putin’s new mega-construction efforts,” [6] in the areas where these reckless projects will take place. They will be implemented through what remained of the Shapsug villages and places of residence. This is going to take place in the areas where evidence shows that the Russian state’s clumsy and acquisition policy is still in effect and gets worse day by day.

Circassians cannot give up and will not give in. This obligates everyone to consider these exclusionary policies and practices, in order to work hard to address the various issues of the Circassian Question and to be presented and explained to the international bodies concerned with human rights issues to apply the  international laws and norms to restore the legitimate Circassian rights.


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