The Russian State Must Solve This Nonsense Once and For All

The Russian State Must Solve This Nonsense Once and For All

Adel Bashqawi

June 24, 2024


Russian museums still hold important assets from the Russian-Circassian War and other conflicts in the Caucasus and beyond. These museums, located in major Russian cities such as the Moscow Kremlin Museum and the Kunstkamera Museum in Saint Petersburg, were established by Peter the Great and are considered significant achievements from his reign in the 18th century.

Between Preserving and Ignoring Humanitarian Principles

There is no doubt that the Circassians and other peoples of the North Caucasus have different ethical standards compared to their greedy opponents. They adhere to distinctive principles, customs, traditions, and family values that emphasize mercy and compassion for all human beings. They believe in equality and non-discrimination.

The occupiers collected and preserved spoils, archives, and documents plundered from various regions, most of which were invaded and occupied in the 19th century. These museums possess hundreds of heads kept since the time of the criminal Tsars, preserved to this day. These irresponsible actions were carried out by military forces supposedly affiliated with the Russian army, which should adhere to military honor and religious and humanitarian values.

Their actions demonstrate ignorance, primitivism, barbarism, arrogance, savagery, and a lack of humanity. They amputated parts of human bodies and cut off the heads of Circassian and other Caucasian leaders, sending them to the Emperor and the highest leadership as gifts and trophies. These human parts are preserved and displayed in Russian captivity to prove the elimination of prominent Caucasian resistance leaders.

Zass, Grigory Khistoforovich von Zassz (1797-1883) was Russian general of cavalry, participated in Caucasian war. Founder of city Armavir.

Criminal commanders and generals, such as the notorious General Zass, confirmed their accomplishments by killing these heroes defending their homelands. These human remains are not yet buried out of respect for the dead and humanity. Instead, they are preserved in special containers as if they were parts of dinosaurs extinct 65 million years ago. Even human skulls are displayed disgustingly, demonstrating Russian colonial expansion’s prestige, power, and control.

Looting and Pillage

The acquisition and takeover included items seized and looted from indigenous populations after destroying their villages and towns in the Caucasus region. The scorched earth policy led to burning and destroying villages, residents’ homes, and life-preserving equipment. Criminal soldiers and mercenaries seized precious treasures, collectibles, jewelry, necklaces, precious stones, weapons, tools, horses, cattle, and grain stores.

Archaeological Excavations

Even the remnants of Christian monasteries and temples that have belonged to the Circassians since the fifth century AD in their homeland have not been spared from recent attacks. Antiquities mafias, gangs, and thugs, often with the tacit approval or cooperation of local authorities, have excavated these sites. Their goal is to sever any connection between these historical sites and the indigenous Circassian population, while also seizing artifacts for confiscation, sale, or even destruction.

The situation becomes even more troubling when we consider the archaeological evidence. Not only do the ruling authorities conceal excavation results, but they also act unilaterally, disregarding the original owners of the territories. In some cases, the discovered artifacts are even transported to the center of the imperial state.

Another alarming incident occurred when the Russian regime orchestrated a spectacle around the alleged discovery by Vladimir Putin of two sixth-century Greek urns. These urns were supposedly from a sunken Greek ship off the Circassian coast near the Taman Peninsula—located south of the Sea of Azov, east of the Strait of Kerch, and north of the Black Sea. In 2011, as part of Russia’s public relations campaign leading up to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, this drama unfolded. Unfortunately, it was an attempt to distort the rich history of human civilization, which had fostered noble efforts to integrate and connect civilizations and cultures across the Caucasus Region and beyond for over six thousand years.

TV footage captured the moment when moss-covered vases with ear-like handles emerged, with Putin swimming into view. Fox News quoted Putin as exclaiming, “Treasure!” to reporters traveling with him. However, the true significance of these artifacts extends far beyond political theatrics and deserves careful consideration. “an attempt to distort the history of lofty and grand human civilization that had exerted noble efforts to enrich the incorporation and integration between civilizations and cultures, both in the Caucasus Region or in other parts of the world that had existed then, for more than six thousand years.”

The event was covered by TV footage which showed two moss-covered vases with ear-like handles with Putin swimming into view. It was also reported that the “Treasure!” Fox News quoted Putin, as having told reporters traveling with him.  When asked if there was anything left in the jars, he said: “They drank it all already.” [1]

Optimizing the Image of the Russian Occupation in Circassian Sochi

As part of an image improvement plan, the Russian state decided to enhance its reputation abroad to appear as a superpower. Instead of acknowledging and atoning for their past actions, the Russian authorities manipulated events and analysis, steering them in a different direction. They conducted a public relations campaign to improve their overall picture abroad without recognizing the original population as the real owners of their homeland.

Sleazy Image Improvement Campaign

An article dated August 12, 2011, titled “Putin Election Stunt,” mentioned that the Greeks settled the area over 2500 years ago and later “incorporated it into Russia in the 10th century.” This inaccurate information was part of a “stunt ahead of the Russian elections, where the country’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin uncovered ancient Greek artifacts from the sea,” and mentioned that “After apparently attempting only his third dive ever, Putin swam two meters down in the underwater archeological site on the Taman Peninsula in Krasnodar region”. [2]

A photo was published by some Russian newspapers

Hadji Murad’s Skull Must Leave Saint Petersburg Museum

For years, a museum in Saint Petersburg has claimed, according to some Russian newspapers, that the skull of Hadji Murad is kept there, with a published photo showing both the real head and the skull image, which is still at the museum in Saint Petersburg. Despite the spread of the news and the accompanying propaganda, there has been procrastination, delay, and a lack of seriousness.

“In 1991, the museum said it held 457 skulls in its collection, many of them chopped-off heads of ethnic group leaders vanquished by Russian forces and given to tsars as proof of their death.” [3]

In November 2017, at a press conference held by the public committee “Heritage of Leo Tolstoy and Dagestan,” which sought the return of Hadji Murad’s skull from the Kunstkamera, it was stated that the organization “had been working on the return of the skull since 2010.” Apparently, “descendants of Shamil’s naib (deputy) want to bury Hadji Murad’s skull together with his remains in the grave in Azerbaijan.” [4] The great-grandson of Hadji Murad, Magomedarip Hadzhimuradov, “says his relatives first sought the return of their ancestor’s skull from Soviet authorities in the 1930s. But he, activists, and many of Murad’s other relatives also petitioned the Kremlin in 2017.” [5]

Regarding the development concerning whether or not to keep the head of Dagestan’s Hadji Murad, who represented one of the pillars of the heroic Caucasus resistance against the Russian invasion of his homeland, and whose head was sent to the capital of the Russian Empire, St. Petersburg, in the nineteenth century, the skull remains in Russian captivity until now, despite numerous claims. Hundreds of heads have been kept since the time of the Tsars, as mentioned above, and they remain to this day.

Regardless of all previous attempts to liberate and return him to his homeland to be buried with dignity among his family, relatives, and countrymen, and the necessity of bringing his body’s remains from Azerbaijan, where he was killed in 1852, his head was separated from his body, and the body was buried at the site of his killing. “But the long battle for the fearless Avar’s head — kept in St. Petersburg’s famously freaky Kunstkamera museum for several decades — seems to finally be moving toward a resolution.” [6]


The issue of stolen spoils, including weapons, heritage, artistic and cultural tools, traditional clothes, jewelry, treasures, and artifacts, is of utmost importance. The occupying state must disclose the results of archaeological excavations and return the items to their original owners. Hundreds of severed heads from the 19th century are detained by successive Russian regimes instead of being returned to their homelands for dignified burials. Russian imperialism must undertake a humanitarian initiative to restore the legitimate rights to their original owners and achieve historical reconciliation.









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