Baku, January 18 – Expelled from their Caucasian homeland by the tsars, scattered throughout the Middle East by the Ottomans, and subdivided by the Soviets, the five million Circassians of the world will soon be linked together via satellite TV, a joint project of Circassian activists in Jordan and Circassian regimes in the North Caucasus.
National Adiga Radio Television – Adiga is the self-designator of the Circassians – is based in Jordan but enjoys the active support of the large Circassian community in Turkey and the leaders of the Circassian republics of the North Caucasus (Adygeia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Karachay-Cherkessia).
And while NART began broadcasting on radio and over the Internet last summer (http://nart.narttv.com/), its organizers are now almost ready to begin sending out television programs via satellite first to the entire Middle East and the Northern Caucasus and then to the more than 40 other countries in which Circassians now live.
Because this effort is intended not only to unite this dispersed and divided community and to save its language and culture from extinction via assimilation, NART represents for many Circassians a dream come true and has generated a large number of stories about this broadcaster and the remarkable community behind it.
While leaders of the International Circassian Assembly and officials in the Circassian republics of the North Caucasus have long discussed the desirability of creating such a station, the current effort was led by a group of Circassians working in the Jordanian capital of Amman (http://sknews.ru/paper/2008/1/article.php?id=6&uin=5).
Because the head of that country’s radio and television corporation is himself an ethnic Circassian and because Circassians have long played a key role in the life of that country, the organizers, including Nart Nagoi and Khizim Naguar, have been able to secure the funding they need to go on the air.
In this effort, they have enjoyed the support of the International Chechen Association (www.natpress.net/stat.php?id=3145), Jordanian officials and Saudi bankers (www.elot.ru/main/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=444&Itemid=1),
and at least some of the leaders of the Circassian republics in the North Caucasus (http://www.elot.ru/main/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=436&Itemid=1).
Perhaps most significantly, they have not been actively opposed by Moscow which apparently does not view this information channel as a threat and certainly is loathe to risk offending the governments of the countries like Turkey and Jordan in which the Circassians have long played such an important role.
Despite this assistance and lack of opposition, the organizers say, their NART television effort has not yet raised all of the 480,000 U.S. dollars it will need to broadcast around the clock during its start-up year and the 200,000 U.S. dollars it will need to continue to do so in future years.
But enough money is coming in, they report, not only from wealthy Middle Eastern investors but also from Circassian communities around the world for them to make plans to begin television broadcasting by this summer. But perhaps more important, NART has benefitted from its connections in Jordan and in the North Caucasus.
In Amman, both ethnic Circassians working in media there and the Saudi prince who has funded the Jordanian capital’s “media city” have given them discounts. And Circassian governments in the North Caucasus are providing them with films and other kinds of programming.
Once its broadcasts begin, NART will help the Circassians parry some of the challenges of assimilation in Turkey and Jordan where few of the younger generation know their national language anymore and in Russia’s North Caucasus where the small size of the individual Circassian republics limits the opportunities of this community.
But to the extent that its broadcasts promotes a renewed sense of national unity among this dispersed group, NART will present some real challenges to some of the countries in which the Circassians now live, however much the governments of those states are willing to support them.
Indeed, in the run-up to the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, the place from which the Circassians were deported 140 years ago and in which many died, NART could help catalyze the anger more and more Circassians in the North Caucasus feel about the ways in which the Russian government continues to deal with them and their concerns.
And to the extent that happens – and it is difficult to see how such broadcasts, even on the most superficially anodyne topics, could avoid having that effect – NART, however small a thing it may now appear, is likely to loom larger and larger on the political stage of this entire region.