The Circassian Question: Russian Colonial History in the Caucasus and a Case of “Long-distance Nationalism” by Uwe Halbach

German Institute for International and Security Affairs

Dr. Uwe Halbach is a Senior Associate in SWP’s Eastern Europe and Eurasia Division. 

This paper is a product of the EC funded FP7 project “Intra- and Inter-Societal Sources of Instability in the Caucasus and EU Opportunities to Respond”. The views expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.

On 21 May 2014 Circassians all over the world marked the 150th anniversary of the expulsion of their ancestors from their North Caucasian homeland. The links between this unresolved legacy of Russian colonial history and President Putin’s prestigious Winter Olympics in Sochi have reinvigorated Circassian activism. While different objectives and methods coexist within the movement, the demand for acknowledgement of the wrongs inflicted on their forebears is shared by both the remaining Circassian population in the North Caucasus and Russia (about 700,000) and the worldwide diaspora (several million). What challenges does this present for Russia?

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