Moscow-Tbilisi: the Circassian issue is not settled

Moscow-Tbilisi: the Circassian issue is not settled

Georgy Kalatozishvili, Tbilisi. Exclusively to Vestnik Kavkaza

Russian-Georgian relations may again become tense because of the Circassian issue. The chairman of the social movement “Hasae”, Ibrahim Yaganov, was arrested by Russian law-enforcement agencies several days ago. He explains tough measures against Circassian activists by security measures due to the upcoming Sochi Olympic Games and the existence of the Circassian cultural center in Tbilisi, which he has visited many times in recent years.

The new authorities of Georgia changed nothing in the work of the center and didn’t disavowed the act adopted by the previous parliament of the country on a recognition of the Circassian events in the 19th century in the northwest Caucasus as genocide. The Circassian cultural center is still situated in one of wings of the Ministry of Culture. In October 2011, it was opened by the minister of culture, one of the closest supporters of President Saakashvili, Nika Rurua. It was expected that after Georgian Dream’s coming to power and an improvement of Russian-Georgian relations, Tbilisi would change its position toward the Circassian issue, but as Ibrahim Yaganov says “an interest to Circassian culture in Georgia didn’t weaken and the Circassian center in Tbilisi will continue working.”

Moreover, Georgian Dream which the parliamentary majority didn’t disavowed recognition of “Circassians’ genocide.” “Probably they wanted to do it, but didn’t dare event discuss the issue,” a member of the United National Movemenr, Nugzar Tsiklauri, told Vestnik Kavkaza.

At the same time, many MPs from the Georgian Dream ruling coalition criticize Mikhail Saakashvili’s policy in the North-Caucasus. “It was a provocative and confrontational line which caused annoyance even in America,” a MP Zakhary Kutsnashvili told Vestnik Kavkaza. However, concerning the resolution on “genocide”, he said only: “What is done cannot be undone.”

An employee of the Circassian cultural center, Aleko Kvakhadze, told Vestnik Kavkaza that the Center is interested only in cultural and educational spheres: “We don’t deal with politics. We published several books, including “Circassian Culture” by Nugzar Antelava, “The Political History of Circassian People” by Bezhan Khorava, and “Circassian Guidebook” by Mariam Bezhitashvili.”