Saturday, June 18, 2022
Circassians Appear to Be Returning to Homeland in Larger Numbers than Moscow Admits or Wants
Staunton, May 31 – The Republic of Adygeya has seen its population grow by 57,000 people or 13 percent since 2010, according to the preliminary results from the most recent Russian census (sovetskaya-adygeya.ru/2022/05/30/chislennost-zhitelej-adygei-za-10-let-uvelichilas-na-57-tysyach-chelovek/).
According to NatPress, the Circassian news agency, this increase reflects in-migration “in the first instance from abroad” rather than being the product of more births than deaths over the last 11 years (natpressru.info/index.php?newsid=12857). If so, then it means there has been a larger return of Circassians to the North Caucasus than Moscow admits or wants.
(At the same time, observers must keep in mind that the preliminary figures Moscow has released are only for population as a whole rather than ethnicity, and so it is possible that the in-migration to Adygeya being reported is not Circassian and not from abroad but Russian and from the surrounding Krasnodar kray.)
Moscow has sought to restrict the return to Circassian areas like Adygeya of Circassians living abroad fearful that any influx would further destabilize the North Caucasus. Most recently, it has made plans to deprive them of the status of compatriots and thus have an easier time of coming back to their homelands.
As a result, only a few thousand of the more than seven million Circassians living abroad have been able to return, according to official figures. But the new census data suggest, if NatPress is correct in its analysis, that the real figures may be far higher and that Moscow is losing control of this situation.
The new figures help explain why Moscow is now increasing its efforts to block Circassian in-migration in various ways and why tensions between Russian officialdom and the Circassians at home and abroad have been rising dramatically in recent months as a result (jamestown.org/program/tensions-between-moscow-and-circassians-reach-crisis-proportions/).