Fatima Tlisova’s Participation In A conference On Circassians
21, May, 2007
The following is the speech that was given by Fatima Tlisova, the former North Caucasus correspondent of the Russian Regnum News Agency, that was addressed in a conference in the title of “The Circassians: Past, Present and Future” held by Jamestown Foundation, in Washington DC on the 21st of May 2007:
On a day like today on the same date, but more than one hundred years ago, Russia declared its victory over the Circassians. As the victory parade took place in the very same square or area where Russians now are hoping to conduct a new Olympic Games.
This is a favorite recreation and vacation spot for the President of Russia, Putin, and therefore that particular meadow has been prepared and constructed very quickly with high efficiency, and when they were clearing this meadow of Circassian bones that had been buried in the meadow, they were swept away by bulldozers and land settlement in the new ski slope.
This disposition of the bones is very symbolic of how Circassians’ history and culture is being treated by the Russian government. It can be stated with certainty that the policy of Russia towards Circassia has absolutely nothing to do with different requirements that may prevail and be established in Moscow over the last 200 years, the common characteristics of the policy had been genocide.
Russia claims that it brought culture to the wild Circassians, but what does the fact say? Three years after the end of the one hundred year war, in the year 1867 the first expedition of the Russian Academy of Science arrived in Circassia, which by that time was completely depopulated. The digs that were undertaken had stunning results. The ecologists discovered incredible and very valuable examples of an ancient culture. For the next 140 years the excavations had continued. Tens of thousands of artifacts had been found over the 140 years were sent and they are now in various museums in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
And when you view these treasures, do you ever find any mention of Circassia? Of course not; the ancient history of Circassia has been kidnapped. Each of the 3 republics in to which Circassia has been divided has its own Minister of Culture. Supposedly the Ministers are charged with the preservation of the treasures of Circassia? But this is nothing but propaganda. Not one of the officials including the ministers of the culture ministries have the right to sign any documents that have to do with the ancient culture and treasures. These prerogatives belong to the cultural council of the Krasnodar Krai (province).
Not one of the cultural institutes of the 3 republics of Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia, and Adygea has the right to independently conduct work on these treasures. Again this right belongs to the cultural agencies of Stavropol and Krasnodar Krais (provinces). The cultural inheritance of the Adigas was consistently destroyed during Stalin era. One example: In 1937 simultaneously in all the three republics, about fifty Adiga scientists had been arrested. These linguistics, historians, folklorists, and poets, the majority of them were shot almost instantaneously. All the archives were destroyed and burned. Among those who were shot was a group of scientists who for the first time had collected epos of the Circassian nation.
Among the documents that were burned, 20 000 gathered poems, sayings, proverbs, and ethic poems of the Circassians, which had been collected in the thirties of the last Century, and those losses cannot be regained.
Until the 1950′s the annexation of Circassian territories continued, and the country was divided artificially to 3 structures and the status and the names of these political formations had been changed a number of times. First they were autonomous regions then they became autonomous republics, and the borders between these republics were constantly blared of which created problems in the cultural and economical ties between the 3 republics. Kabardia and Cherkessia had until very recently a common border near the city of Mineralnye Vody. This is a matter of doubt because the area is very useful for tourism, and it imposed control of the 3 republics and area became part of Stavropol Krai.
The same situation prevailed at the border between Cherkessia and Adygea. Large areas that were within our borders that were given to Krasnodar Krai, and even after many years after the end of the war, Russia continued its aggressive policy towards Circassia’s territories. Currently these policies continue a bit in sort of in different ways, for example: Citizens of Russia of Circassian ethnicity cannot obtain permission for permanent residence in the city of Sochi. There are special instructions that have been given to the authorities that forbid permanent residency for Circassians on the borders of the Black Sea. The Russians do not shy away from any methods to prevent the reappearance of Circassians in the former historic territories.
Currently, the 3 republics Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia and Adygea are quotation marks that can be considered to be Sovereign Federal republics, in the contest within Russia, and they have presidents each one of them which are the heads of the executive power and a head of the Parliament that represents the legislative authority; but that is reality a pretty fairy tale, and what is the truth? These are presidents that do not have any real power and they are morons of the Kremlin.
The security and law enforcement agencies do not answer to the presidents, because the leaders of these agencies are under direct control of federal power and security structure, so it’s clear that these presidents are nothing but administrators, and their functions are really the same functions of public representatives and the officials of the executive authority.
As for the Parliament, in the middle of the 90′s of the last century, the Parliaments of the 3 republics adopted their own constitutions; those were somewhat few from what is considered naturally motivated, but not states of sovereignty laws. However, starting from 2002, according to a demand or a decision of the general prosecutor office of Russia, it was started to enucleate anything in these constitutions that is different from the Russian constitution. Which cancelled for example, the article that made the Circassian language not obligatory subject to study in Circassian schools/in other words the public schools that belong to the State. After that, it became clear that the only rule of the parliaments became the fulfillment of the demands and desires of the central government.
In this skeptical of so called sovereign republic, one should specially note the role of the security and law enforcement agencies. In these republics the heads of FSB, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and federal security offices can be held only by Russians.
Educational system and mass media is directed and fully controlled by Moscow. As an example, school books and text books that our children are using do not mention anything about Circassia as a state, but Circassians as a people, and all subjects are taught in schools in Russians.
Russian is studied 14 hours a week. As to the native language, only 2 hours a week is dedicated to that. The school administration can allow students to be exempted from study for a whole year from 2 subjects, one of them is Physical Education and the second is the Circassian (Adigha) Language, therefore the Circassian Language is gradually loosing its important function being a live-language.
It is quickly losing its influence in the political, economical, commercial and the scientific fields. This catastrophe, the loss of our language becomes reality. Vetaly Vilasora in his book The Ethnic Map of the Southern Caucasus calls the policy of Russia Linguistic Genocide. Concerning the theologian logical work, the scholars worked for modernization in achieving modern models for the Circassian language, where there is no work has been done in this area.
Unfortunately, there is no time to enumerate all the areas of national life in which Circassians are being experiencing pressure. I often talk to people who I would call, people who are of the cautious persuasion who say: come on, get along with this, things aren’t that bad, it means that we are not at war right now with Russia, and they also say we must say that we must be friends with Russia. This kind of friendship in my own personal view is like the friendship of the beef-steak and the digestive system.
We have been swallowed, but there is a problem of digesting us. However, the acids in Russian politics mean that the end is not far away from the Circassians. It is very important to understand that the reason Russia is able to maintain its position in the Caucasus is due exclusively to the application of force and threat of force, and we Circassians “thanks to Russia” we are standing on the brink of extermination.
The speech was given in Russian language and translated to English by simultaneous interpretation, then written in English language by: Adel Bashqawi.
10, March, 2013