Staunton, September 26 – Even though Moscow appears to have hardened its opposition to the repatriation of Circassians from war-torn Syria, Circassians in the North Caucasus and around the world have launched an online petition campaign calling on Moscow to reconsider -- a drive that will further unify the Circassian national movement even if it falls short of its goal.,
Earlier this week, Valery Tishkov, former head of the Moscow Institute of Anthropology and Ethnology, signaled that Moscow is even more opposed to letting Circassians from Syria return home than it was because the authorities fear they would bring with them radical Islamist ideas (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2015/09/giving-syrias-circassians-russian.html).
The petition campaign, decided upon at a meeting at Moscow’s Financial University was launched by Mark Dudko, a Moscow blogger who writes frequently on North Caucasus issues. In a comment on this effort, he said that “it is possible to understand” the Russian government’s security concerns, but it is not possible to stand idly by given the mortal threats to Circassians in Syria (kavpolit.com/blogs/friendship/19115/).
Citing Vladimir Putin’s own words that “one must have not only a head but also a heart,” Dudko points out that conflict in Syria threatens all moderates in that country, among whom the Circassians have always been, and that Circassians in the North Caucasus are more than willing to take their compatriots in.
“Every Russian regardless of his ethnicity who wants to live in a united and strong Russia is obligated to help the Circassians,” the petition suggests, in the same way as it is obligated to help “any other people in need of the assistance of our Motherland. This is our civic responsibility!”Indeed, it suggests, Russia bears a particular responsibility because it is the legal successor of the Russian Empire which was responsible for the war against the Circassians in the 18th and 19th century and the expulsion of so many of them. “The time has come to correct the mistakes of the past and to open the border for the Circassians.”
Circassians in the North Caucasus are enthusiastic. In the words of one, Lilya Shakova from Stavropol, she very much wants that “compatriots (Adygs, Kabardinians, and Cherkess) from Syria return to the Motherland, so that people who need our help will not die in a foreign land and so that the Adygey people will again be reunited (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/269412/
The petition itself is available for signing at change.org/p/%D0%BE%D1%82%D0%BA%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B9%D1%82%D0%B5-%D0%B3%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%86%D1%83-%D1%80%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%81%D0%B8%D0%B8-%D0%B4%D0%BB%D1%8F-%D1%87%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%BA%D0%B5%D1%81%D0%BE%D0%B2-%D0%B1%D0%B5%D0%B6%D0%B5%D0%BD%D1%86%D0%B5%D0%B2-%D0%B8%D0%B7-%D1%81%D0%B8%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%B8.