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Window on Eurasia — New Series: Circassians in Karbardino-Balkaria Demand End to Putin’s Mobilization

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 15 – Activists in Kabardino-Balkaria, a Circassian majority republic in the North Caucasus, have called on the leaders of the republic to stop Putin’s mobilization order, yet another non-Russian nationality to come out against the Kremlin leader’s war in Ukraine and one that takes advantage of declarations by other federal subject heads they’ve completed this effort.

            The five, led by Valery Khazhukov, head of the KBR Regional Human Rights Center, said the republic authorities had violated the mobilization order and then compounded that by fining participants in a Sept. 25-26 protest against those violations (

            The Circassian activists added that according to their information, the republic authorities had not allowed a single child of senior officials to be mobilized, something that they said “discredits” the whole order in the eyes of the population because it suggests there are now two classes of people in Russia.

            And they pointed to the fact that “the head of Chechnya has declared that there won’t be any mobilization in the Chechen republic” and that “the leaders of Daghestan, Ingushetia, and Sakha are demanding that mobilization be stopped because they consider that this threatens the culture and gene fund of numerically small peoples.”

            The five Circassians are demanding that the mobilization order be stopped in Kabardino-Balkaria as well and that all the reported violations of the original order by officials there be investigated and punished.

            Three things make this appeal especially important. First, it is directed at republic officials rather than Moscow, a sign that people in these places believe their officials are now in a position to stop a policy that Moscow has ordered, something that reflects a judgment about a shift in the balance of power between the center and republic capitals.

            Second, it is based on a careful enumeration of the laws that KBR officials have violated, yet another indication that such protests can stay within the law and may be even more effective if they are couched not in terms of rights as such but in terms of what the Russian constitution and Russian law says.

            And third, this appeal undoubtedly reflects the views not only of the Circassians in the KBR where they are known as Kabardins but of Circassians across the North Caucasus – more than 700,000 – and in the diaspora – more than seven million. As such it is one the Russian authorities can ignore only if they are prepared to risk anger in both places.   

Window on Eurasia — New Series

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