Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 149

The Republic of Adygeya in the North Caucasus has welcomed more than twenty Circassian families from Kosovo. Another twelve families are expected in a couple of weeks. The repatriation of the Kosovo Circassians was brought about on the initiative of Adygeyan President Aslan Dzharimov with the cooperation of the Russian and Serbian governments. (RTR, NTV, ORT, August 2) The resettlers have been promised plots of land to cultivate and assured that they may exchange their Yugoslav citizenship for Russian citizenship.

Circassian is the collective name of the group of peoples indigenous to the North Caucasus who include the Kabardins, the Cherkessians, the Adygeyans and the Abazins. Their territory was brought under Russian rule following the Caucasian war of 1817-64. At that time, large numbers of Circassians fled to various parts of the Ottoman Empire, of which the Balkans were then part. The ancestors of today’s returnees established a Circassian community on the border between Kosovo and Serbia. As tensions mounted in recent months between Serbia and Kosovo’s predominantly ethnic Albanian population, the community appealed to the Russian government for help in leaving the province. Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations undertook to fly the whole community to Adygeya. Funding was supplied by the diaspora. There are more Circassians outside the North Caucasus today than there are still living in the historical homeland. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, 19 June; RTR, 14 July)