Thursday, January 20, 2011

Window on Eurasia: Adygeya Loses ‘Morally’ by Not Being Part of North Caucasus Federal District, Activist Says

Paul Goble

Vienna, January 20 – Nalbiy Chuchev, the leader of the League of Peace Organization, says that it is too soon to tell whether Moscow’s failure to include Adygeya in the North Caucasus Federal District when that institution was created a year ago but that it is already obvious that the republic has “lost morally” because it was not.
Cheuchev told that the Circassians – for whom Adygey is the most common self-designator – are “a single people … a single Caucasus family living in a single home,” but the inclusion of all Circassian republics within the North Caucasus Federal District except Adygeya has “deeply split” the nation (
Indeed, he suggests, this Moscow decision reinforces rather than helps overcome the Soviet-imposed divisions of the Circassians into Adygeys, Kabards, Cherkesses, Shapsugs and several other smaller groups, a division that Circassian activists say blocks the way to the restoration of a single Circassian republic.
But not all Adygeys agree with Cheuchev, with some arguing that their republic is better off being among the more stable republics, krays, and oblasts of the Southern Federal District, others noting that Adygeya’s “matryoshka” character would require transferring Krasnodar kray if Adygeya were included, and still others doubting that the federal districts matter that much.
Mariya Zaytseva, a graduate student at the Adygey State University says that Moscow’s decision to include Adygeya in the Southern rather than the North Caucasus Federal District clearly speaks of “the stability of the region and of the absence of the need to interfere in the process of its development.” In practice, she adds, “we have acquired nothing and lost nothing.”
But Khazret Yudin, a construction work in Adygeya, disagrees. Given the enormous sums Moscow is pouring into the North Caucasus, he argues, Adygeya and Krasnodar kray would only benefit from being included in that federal district. Consequently, he says, he favors uniting the two and shifting them into the new entity.
Murat Khabakhu, the head of the Adygeya branch of the Young Guard of United Russia, says that the region must rely on its resources and that “little” would change in that regard if the republic, with or without the surrounding Krasnodar kray were to be shifted from the Southern to the North Caucasus administration, although he says the Adygeys might get more investments.
And he added that Adygeya would also benefit by being part of a federal district with an active and influential leader. If the head of the Southern Federal District were like the North Caucasus District’s Aleksandr Khloponin, he said, “we would only win from such an arrangement.”
But some outside observers take a much harder line against any change in the arrangements Moscow has made. Sergey Razdolsky, a sociologist at the Southern Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, says that under no circumstances must Adygeya be shifted and become part of the North Caucasus.
“Our republic,” he says, “is set up economically in a completely different way thasn the regions included in the North Caucasus Federal District. Were Adygeya to be included” in that district, it would not fit in and its economic well-being would suffer. Consequently, it must not be transferred.
But Circassian activists continue to push for a rearrangement of the administrative map. Arambiy Khapay, president of the Adyge Khase Movement, argues that “it is simpler to find a common language when [similar republics] are situated in one district” because those within a single district meet more frequently.
If Moscow had asked the opinions of the people in the region, he adds, the center might have drawn up a completely different administrative map, one that would “include Osetia, Kabasrdino-Balkara, Karachayevo-Cherekessia, Stavropol kray, Adygeya and Krasnodar kray,” in order to include all Circassian republics within it.
Had Moscow done so, however, it would have had to deal with the remaining parts of both the Southern Federal District as well as with a very different North Caucasus Federal District, one in which some of the most problem-filled republics would have been concentrated without any more pacific ones to balance the situation.
And perhaps most seriously from the center’s point of view, the Russian authorities would have had to cope with what Circassian activists would have seen as a major step de facto to the recreation of a common Circassian Republic, something that would have created even more problems for the planned Olympiad in Sochi in 2014.

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