Circassian Association of California
Adyghe Khasa


Yuri Temirkanov

Acclaimed International Conductor and foremost Circassian musician on the world stage

Yuri Temirkanov was born in 1938, near the capital city of Nalchik, the Kabardino Balkarian Republic, in the north Caucasus. At the age of 15 years he went to Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) where he enrolled at the Leningrad Conservatory's Secondary School of music. His passion at that time was the violin, which he studied during his early school years. Later he enrolled in the Orchestral Department of the same Conservatory and continued his musical studies, graduating from it with a post graduate degree in conducting.

He won his first prize at age 28, at the All-Union Conductors Competition in Moscow. This was followed by a tour of America with K. Kodrashin, David Oistrakh and the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. His rising talents as a sensitive conductor in 1966 landed him the appointment at the Maly Opera and Ballet Theatre in Leningrad where he worked on such operas as "La Traviata" (1966), "Elixir of Love" (1968) and the Russian production of "Porgy & Bess" (1972).

He became Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra in 1968 and continued this work until 1976 when he moved to the Kirov Opera Ballet Theatre as its Chief Conductor and Artistic Director. Here he staged such famous works as "Eugene Onegin" (1982) and the "Queen of Spades" (1984). With the Kirov Opera he toured many European centers and several cities in the United States. Temirkanov was to become known as the first conductor ever to play symphonic concerts with the orchestra of the Kirov Theatre.

In 1978 Temirkanov began his long association, as a guest conductor, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London. In 1988, Temirkanov was given the prestigious post of Conductor and Music Director of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1997 he was chosen as the Guest Conductor of the Danish Radio Orchestra in Copenhagen. In the year 2000, Temirkanov became the Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (USA).

Yuri Temirkanov became a popular conductor around the world with his outstanding performances with many of the world's great orchestras. He has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, Concertgebouw, the Cleveland Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, and the San Francisco Symphony. He has an exclusive recording contract with BMG and has recorded extensively with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Temirkanov regularly gives master classes at the Curtis Institute (Philadelphia) and at the Manhattan School of Music (New York). In 1990 he recorded a special Concert with the Columbia Artists of the Gala Concert in St. Petersburg of the 150th anniversary of the birth of P.I. Tchaikovsky. In 1996 Temirkanov was chosen to conduct the Gala Concert of the United Nations in Rome, celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Honors and Commendations

1st prize at the 2nd All-Union Conductors Competition in Moscow
  State prize of the Russian Federation, named after M.I.Glinka, for concert programs
1968-1970 (1971)
Honoured artist of Russian Federation
  Honoured artist of Kabardino-Balkaria
People's artist of Russian Federation
  State prize of the USSR for the production of the opera "Peter the Great" by A.Petrov
People's artist of USSR
  The Order of Lenin
State prize of the USSR for the production of "Eugene Onegin"
  Nominations for Grammy Awards for his recordings of "Alexander Nevsky" by S.Prokofiev (1996) and Schostakovich's Symphony No.7 (1998)
Order of Kirill and Mefody
(Bulgaria, 1998)
  Honorary member of the International Academy of the Sciences, Industry, Education and Art
(USA, 1998)
Order "For Merit for the Country" of III degree
  State prize of the Russia
Order of the Science and Culture "Catherine the Great"
  Abbiati Prize awarded by The Association of Italian Music Critics
Prize of the President of the Russian Federation
  Honorary doctor of the St.Petersburg University of Humanities and Social Sciences
Honorary doctor of the St.Petersburg state Conservatoire named after N.A.Rimsky-Korsakov
  Order "For Merit for the Country" of II degree
"Triumph" Prize
  Honorary Academician of The Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
(Italy, 2007)
Abbiati Prize awarded by The Association of Italian Music Critics (2007) Order "For Merit for the Country" of I degree
  Honorary freeman of Saint-Petersburg

Related links

    Saint-Petersburg Scademic Philharmonic

Yuri's Vist to California in 1989 and 1998

   Yuri & Chek Brothers 1989

   Yuri & Chek Families 1989


   Yuri & Cicek Chek 1998            Yuri & Lamis Saway 1998

   Yuri's Visit in 1998



The Circassian Genocide, by Antero Leitzinger

The Eurasian Politician - Issue 2 (October 2000)

Summary: The genocide committed against the Circassian nation by Czarist Russia in the 1800s was the biggest genocide of the nineteenth century. Yet it has been almost entirely forgotten by later history, while everyone knows the later Jewish Holocaust and many have heard about the Armenian genocide. "Rather than of separate, selectively researched genocides, we should speak of a general genocidal tendency that affected many – both Muslim and Christian – people on a wide scene between 1856 and 1956, continuing in post-Soviet Russia until today", writes Antero Leitzinger. This article was originally published in "Turkistan News".

The Circassian Genocide

By Antero Leitzinger

A professor of the university of Munich (München), Karl Friedrich Neumann (not to be confused with the later Naumann), wrote in 1839 a book titled "Russland und die Tscherkessen" (published in the collection "Reisen und Länderbeschreibungen", vol. 19, in 1840). He describes, how Russia settled Christians to the parts of Armenia gained from Persia in 1828 - actually, Neumann had written about the issue already in 1834. (p. 68-69) Neumann considered this a very sound policy and predicted, that all Caucasus would become under firm Russian rule within the next decades. (p. 125) European powers would not intervene, because it was the destiny of all Europe to rule over the lands of Turks, Persians, and Hindus. (p. 129-130)

Neumann was no racist, but he certainly advocated colonialism and was a Russophile in relation to the southern lands. He had a Darwinist approach many years before Charles Darwin or Herbert Spencer presented their ideas. This appears to have been more typical to 19th century German thought than any anti-Armenian sentiments. Neumann makes it clear in his very first words of the preface: "The European humanity is selected by divinity as ruler of the earth."

Although Neumann respected the bravery of Circassians, he anticipated their destruction by Russia, because in a modern world, there would be no place for chivalrous "uncivilized" people. Neumann estimated the total number of Circassians, including the Kabardians and Abkhaz, at 1.5 million persons, or 300.000 families. (p. 67) Both the Russian figure of 300.000 persons, and the Circassian figure of four millions, were exaggerated.

Neumann divided the Circassians into ten tribes: Notketch, Schapsuch, Abatsech, Pseduch, Ubich, Hatiokech, Kemkuich, Abasech, Lenelnich, Kubertech (in German transliteration). They formed a loose confederation very much like old Switzerland, with democratic majority votes deciding the affairs of villages. Their princes had no privileges, and were regarded only as military commanders. Women were more free than anywhere in the Orient. There was no written law, and death penalties were unknown. Many Circassians were Muslims, but there were also Christians and pagans, all completely tolerated.

Russian prisoners-of-war were used as slaves, but if they were of Polish origin, they were regarded as guests. Therefore, Poles recruited in the Russian army, deserted en masse at every opportunity, and even Russians often declared themselves to be Poles. (p. 123) Slavery as such included no shame. Circassians used to sell their own family members as slaves to Turkey and Persia, and many went to slavery voluntarily, returning later on back home as rich and free men. (p. 124) This system could be compared to the Gastarbeiter emigration from Turkey since the 1960s. We should also remember, that in those times, slavery or serfdom existed in Romania and Russia as well.

The Circassians had been fighting against Russia already for forty years when appealing to the courts of Europe in a "Declaration of Independence": "But now we hear to our deepest humiliation, that our land counts as a part of the Russian empire on all maps published in Europe... that Russia, finally, declares in the West, that Circassians are their slaves, horrible bandits..." (p. 140-141)

The fight continued for two more full decades, until a national Circassian government was set up in Sochi. In 1862, Russia began the final invasion, annihilation and expulsion, as predicted by Neumann well in advance.

According to Kemal H. Karpat, "Ottoman population 1830-1914" (Madison 1985), "Beginning in 1862, and continuing through the first decade of the twentieth century, more than 3 million people of Caucasian stock, often referred collectively as Cerkes (Circassians), were forced by the Russians to leave their ancestral lands..." (p. 27)

Salaheddin Bey mentioned, in 1867, a total of 1.008.000 refugees from the Caucasus and Crimea, of whom 595.000 were initially settled in the Balkans. (p. 27) Half a million followed by 1879, and another half a million until 1914. (p. 69) Most of them were Circassians, although there were Crimean Tatars, Chechens, and other Muslim people among them. Hundreds of thousands Circassians perished on their way.

Neumann’s estimate of 1.5 million Circassians corresponds to 1/30 ethnic Russians, or 1/3 Czechs, or 3/4 Slovaks. (p. 66) According to Neumann, there were over two million Armenians in the world. (p. 69) Now, according to the Soviet census of 1989, the number of Russians has increased to 145 millions, whereof 1/30 would be almost five millions. There are 10 million Czechs and 5 million Slovaks, which would lead us to assume that there should be over 3 million Circassians. Armenia alone has a population of over 3 million Armenians, despite of the past ordeals; 2 million Armenians live elsewhere. The number of Czechs, Slovaks, and Armenians has more than doubled in 150 years, while the number of Russians has tripled; but where are the missing millions of Circassians?

"The Encyclopaedia Britannica", 11th edition (Cambridge 1911), divided the Armenian population equally between Russia and Turkey (little over a million in each empire), and numbered 216.950 Circassians (including Abkhaz etc.) in Russia. Again we must conclude, that about 1.5 million Circassians had been massacred or deported. This disaster exceeded both absolutely and proportionally whatever fell upon Armenians in 1915. Was it intentional? Yes. Was it ideological? Yes. The conquest and Christian colonization of the Middle East was expected not only by Germans, but by most Europeans during the 19th century, and the expulsion of Muslims from Europe was considered a historical necessity. Russia had practicized massacres and mass deportations in the Crimea and Caucasus, and "ethnically cleansed" Circassia specially in 1862-1864. During that period, Panslavists like Mikhail Katkov provided the Russian public with nationalistic excuses for what had started as imperial ambition ("Third Rome") and strategic interests ("Access to sea").

A vicious cycle was created and increased the stakes at both frontiers: the Caucasus, and the Balkans. Circassian refugees settled in the Balkans were provoked to commit the "Bulgarian atrocities", that inspired some of the Armenian revolutionaries. After the Balkan Wars, Muslim refugees were roaming in Anatolia, thus spreading terror, and hostility. This was exploited by Russia, at the cost of many innocent Armenians. The massacres of 1915 were a tip of the iceberg - the part best visible for Europeans, who had been actively seeking and expecting horror news to justify anti-Muslim prejudice, and to prevent interventions on behalf of Turkey, as had happened in the Crimean War of the 1850s.

Was it a genocide? That depends on the definition. Rather than of separate, selectively researched genocides, we should speak of a general genocidal tendency that affected many - both Muslim and Christian - people on a wide scene between 1856 and 1956, continuing in post-Soviet Russia until today.

Source: The Eurasian Politician



Short description of 12 Circassian tribes

Abadzeh - Besleney - Bzhedugh - Yegerukay - Zhaney - Kabarday - Memheg
Natuhay - Temirgoy - Ubyh - Shabsug - Hatukay

Abadzeh together with Shapsugs and Natukhay in the past represented one of the biggest Circassian tribe. Their number according to the different estimations was as large as 260,000 people.

Territory occupied by this tribe in 19 century was located on the northern slope of Caucasian ridge. On the South - Small Shapsug Land and Land of Ubigh on the West: Big Sabsug Land. On the North – Bzhedugs and on the east – Hatuque, Mohhosh, Mameg and Abaza.

Rivers: White (Sh"'guashche), Kurdzhips (K"urdzhyps), Laba (Labe), Pshekha (Psh"ekh"u)Pshish (Pshchishch) Of psekups (Psek"ups), Vonoubat (Uneubat), Mart(Marte) and others.

Not mixing with other tribes they preserved their originality up to the end the Caucasian war. They lived mostly by small villages scattered in the forest fields. Thee largest village could be comprised of no more than 50 courts. There were Abadzeh highlanders and those who lived on the plains.

The society was democratic, consisted of societies subdivided in communities, which were coordinated by elected elders. Major decisions (war and peace) were decided by them.

In the 19th century, part of them started following Shari’at laws in their courts decisions, whereas others followed the laws of Khabza.

This tribe did not have princely class but had nobles. Among them families: Beshok, Inemok, Dzhanchat, Anchok, Daur, Negiok. Although as a result of the public revolution in the 18th century, the nobles were deprived of their titles and were equalized in the rights with the commoners.

The land of Abadzeh was fertile, full of creeks and forests, though not quite adapted for pasture and agriculture purposes. Though, they enjoyed the reputation of skilled gunsmiths, blacksmiths, and jewelers and embroiders.

Abadzekhi took most active part in the Caucasian war. Under the leadership of Naib Magomed Amin they continued their resistance up to 1859.

The number of Abadzeh remaining in their motherland after war was 15,000. The only pure Abadzeh village is Hakurino-hable, others are scattered among Bzhedug, Temirgoy and Kabarday.


The majority of Bsleney lives in the valley of Big and Small Laba and on the coast of Urup. They also extend to the valley of Chetem, Fars, Psefir, Kuban (Western Circassia).

Besleney are one of the noblest tribes of Caucasus. By character and culture they are close to Kabardians. This is also supported by the fact that Besleney dialect is considered at present one of the 3 Kabardean dialects.

The noble families of Beslney were: Kanoko and Shaloho, ancestors of Beslan, the son of legendary prince Inal.


Originally lived in the area of river Shahe, between Tuape and Sochi. Later they divided in 2 groups: those who lived close to the black Sea (Abhiaskis) and Adygeans (territory of Kuban river). This migration was causes by overpopulation and warlike neighbors to their Black Sea’s territories.

Bzhdugs were subdivided on Chechenay tribe (river Psequps and Psish) and Hamish tribe (river Afips and Psequps). They were involved in cattle breeding and agriculture, growing mostly crops and corn.

Bzhedugs speak their special dialect. It is at present closest to that of Temirgoy tribe.


Lived between rivers White and Laba and were neighbor with Temirgoys, Mahosh and Abadzeh.


Zhaney was a very powerful Circassian tribe in the past. The authors of the 17th century indicate that they lived a bit above Abkhaz people’s land on the coast of the Black sea. The map of the 17th century also shows they lived by right to the coast of the lower flow of Kubans, beyond Taman and Atchu. As a result of the bloody Russian- Caucasian war, Zhaney tribe was almost wholly destroyed.


Their territory is divided on Big Kabarday with its Nalchik and territories attached to it and Small Kabarda – Mozdok and nearby territories.

Kabardians occupy one of the most important strategic points of the North Caucasus "Darial Gorge". It is also the connecting point between the Western and Eastern Caucasus.

Starting from 16 centuries between Russia and the Kabarda formed good relations. Furthermore, the royal family of Kabardians had family connections with the tsarist family of Russia.

During the Caucasian War, Kabardians, who lived in the plains, could not show, from a strategic point of view, a very long resistance to Russian troops with its heavy artillery. By consequence this resistance of Kabardians lasted the least. They signed agreements with the Russians. There were groups of the Kabardians, however, who did not accept the end of the resistance and joined other fighting tribes or moved further to territories of Northern Caucasus.


The legends say that they moved from Black Sea Coast to the upper territories of river Psheh. There were 3 big families first: Shnah, Mami, Tlizhho. When the population significantly increased (natural and immigration from Abadzeh lands) they moved to the territory between river White and Kurdzhips, (territory of modern Maikop and nearby) where they remained till 1862 and forming about 16 villages.

According to authors, the number of Mamhegs in the middle of the 19th century was about 3,500 people. Yet other sources indicate that they were about 15,000 people.

They spoke a special dialect, closet to Temirgoy’s one, yet in their traditions and life style were the closest to Abadzeh people.

According to sources, Mamhegs had classes of nobles, freemen, servants and obviously slaves. They however, did not have the highest class of Princes who usually controlled villages, like in most Circassian tribes. The rural administration was in the hands of elected elders from freemen class. According to Diackov-Tarasov’s notes, even nobles were subordinated by them. This allows us to conclude that the peasant’s war against nobles that seized the territories of Circassia at the end of the18th -beginning of the 19th century also touched the Mamheg tribe.

Due to the Caucasian war after 1962, Mamhegs were forced to leave their territories. Most of them immigrated to Turkey. The remaining ones took Russian Citizenship and founded a village Mamheg in the lower part of river Fars (Kuban territory). Also big part of remaining people joined various Circassian villages located nearby.

Thus, in 1884 the total number of remaining in Russia Mamhegs of Kuban region composed 1,258 people, 715 of them belonging to Mamheg village. This village also gave home to the members of other Circassian tribes, mostly Abadzeh).


This is the third Circassian tribe that had a democratic political structure. According to the estimations of some specialists, by the middle of 19th century the number of Natukhay, reached more than 240,000,000 people. They occupied the territory of the Black Sea coast up to Anapa.

By culture, language and character they find themselves closest to Shapsougs of Small Shapsoug land and even call themselves by the same name ‘Aguchips”.

Also Natuhai people include the tribe of Goaie, which according to legends is the most ancient Circassian tribe). They also include the disappearing remnants of Zhane and Hegako tribes.

There were at least 45 Natuhay clans. The noblest families were: Syupako, Megu, Zan, Kaz, Chakh, Eryku, Dedy. The tribe Goaie had following noble names: Kerzedzh, Kuytsuk, Khatirame, Birdzh and Cherch.

Natuhays, like Shapsugs and Abadzehs, managed to limit the power of noble men of their tribe. Their villages were also administered by elected villagers.

Natuhays were one of the tribes the most inclined to a peaceful sort of labor. They established trade connections with Turkey which gave Natuhay people the opportunities of improvements in material way.

Natuhay were the last to convert to Islam. They steadily adhered to Christianity; even tough religious differences were often the issue of quarrels wit neighboring Shapsugs.

Only by the beginning of 19th century, whether by promises or by threats did Turkish pasha manage to talk them into converting to Islam,

In spite of that, Natuhay showed the bitterest resistance to the expansion of Russia to Northern Caucasus. They fought shoulder to shoulder with Shapsugs and Abazdeh who by that moment stayed all alone against the forces of Russian empire.

As a result of war, only 175 Natuhay remained on their motherland. In 1922 the remnants of Natuhays formed village Natuhay (territory of Modern Adygea).


(k’iemguei") -was one of the strongest and most powerful Circassian tribes. They lived between the lower flows of the rivers White and Laba. On the north their lands extended to Kuban.

Sources note that Temirgoy tribe was richer than its neighbors. They cultivated cattle breeding and agriculture: millet, corn, wheat, rye and sunflower. Class differentiation in Temirgoy tribe was very clear. The most important family of princely origin was Bolotoko, which at some point controlled Temirgoy, Yegeruko and Mamheg tribes.


Ubyhs (pehu) are natives of the modern city of Sochi.

This tribe is assumed to be fist mentioned in the sources of 5th-7th century as a tribe Bruh.

In 7th century Evlia Chelebi mentions the tribe Vaja-pehu, Suachililer (sochi) and Sadash, that were all found to belong to Ubuh family.

Souces of 18-19th centuries mention this tribe by it Circassian name – Ubuhs even though not all authors included them in the list of Circassian tribes.

Some authors unite Ubyhs, Shapsugs, Abaza and partly Abhaz people under a collective name Abaza.

Yet, Ubyh language and culture was different from others. Thus, all sources mention that the costal area of Northern Caucasus was inhabited by people who spoke 3 different languages: Circassian, Ubyh and Abaza.

The biggest part of Ubyh land was inhabited by Wordane Community that lived in the valleys of rivers Hobza, Loo, Daghomys. The biggest village of this area was Dzepsh or Wordano, which counted 800 courts. It was located 3 km away from the coast of the sea and stretched itself 18 km up the bank of the river Dagomys. The average size of other Ubyh villages was 150-200 court.

South of Wordane was the land of Psaho, a second subgroup of Ubyh tribes with small villages of 500 court in total.

Furthermore to the south continued the 3d subgroup - Sashe, composed of many settlement located on the banks of the rivers Sochi, Bzugu, Mazeste, Hoste. The biggest of them was Oblagh village with 450 courts.

Only a few names of Northern Ubyhia's villages were preserved.

Also the precise number of Uby people is unknown. The historians cite the numbers from 9,600 to 150,000 people.

Ubyh society was feudal and had distinct class divisions on serfs, who belonged to their masters but were allowed to have their lands, slaves, freemen and nobles who unlike the nobles of Shapsug and Abadzeh exercised extensive privileges.

The most influential Ubyh clan was Berzek. By 1830s of the 19th century it included 400 families that were closely connected with a noble family of Shapsugs, Shupako.

The percentage of slaves among Ubyhs was a few times higher than that in Shapsug and Abadzeh land. The sources of slavery were military actions, raids, purchases, and also judicial sentences.

Up to the middle of 19hth century the village leaders were often elected among the elders of the village population. The elders of the villages were called Thamade. The criteria of selection were: the reputation of the nominee clans, his eloquence, and knowledge of Koran, age and life experience. The most important issues were solved on collective meetings – Hase.

The judicial court and council of the community were formed by representatives from communities of 10 homes each. 10 of those representatives (100 homes) would also select 2 councils among themselves to the General Ubyh community (parliament).

The population of Ubykhi was mainly involved in cattle-breeding, agriculture, including horticulture and viticulture, and silkworm breeding (Wardane community). Trading would come in the form of primitive exchange with its neighbors and Turkey.

Turkey brought salt, silk, high-quality cloth, metallic dishes, cheap calicos, iron, weapon, powder, lead and exported bread (mostly corn), honey, wax, forest, beast skins, other goods, and also slaves. Some Ubyhs tradesmen had their own trade vessels.

The traces of Christianity are found on the territory of Ubyh land. Yet by 1830s of the 19th century, all Ubyhs were Muslims, even though the religion could not completely extrude some of their pagan beliefs and customs.

Ubyhs played a very active role in the resistance against Russian invasion, especially with their military actions in 1840s on the coasts of Black Sea.

In 1861 Ubyhs came out with the initiative of creating a State of Circassia uniting Shapsugs, Abadzehs and Abaza tribes and headed by a national council - medzhlis (parliament) or Khase.

Yet in the same 1861 after Russia declined the last hope of Ubyhs the offer to accept the authority of Russia in exchange to their lands they were ordered to free their lands and move to Kuban or to Turkey. Overwhelming majority of Ubyhs had chosen the later.


This was a very large tribe that occupied extensive territories of Black Sea coast and Kuban. Different sources note that before the Caucasian war the number of Shapsougs was ranging from 150,000 to 300,000 people. They composed 2/3 of Circassian population.

Sapsugs had divisions of Big and Small Shapsoug land, people of the later were very close with Natuhay tribe.

Noble families were Abate, Nemere, Sheretluk, Kadruk, Dzhaste, Ulagay, Yekutech, Tkhagus. These names exercised a certain respect but had no real of power, because the political structure of Shapsougs was democratic and the management over the village was done by elected Thamadas.

The language of Black Sea’s and Kuban’s Shapsougs had minor variations between each other. Yet, if the modern written Circassian language accounts 66 sounds, Shapsougs’ dialects had 88 of them.

The primary occupations of Shapsugs in the past were cattle breeding and horticulture. The famous Shapsug apples, pears and other fruits served as a basis for many contemporary sorts of fruits. The mountaineers were sowing millet, oats and other cultures. Bee-keeping was also one of the exporting trades.

Islam was accepted by Shapsugs only by the end of 18th century. Thus far they professed paganism with the remnants of Christianity.

Shapsugs took very active part in the Caucasian war. They had a reputation of invincible people and were the last to lay down their weapons under the pressure of tsarist troops in 1864. Some of Shapsoug troop still fought up to 80s if 19th century.

This is what was said by the Russian officer A. Bestuzhev-Marlinskiy exiled by Russia to Caucasus: "... I saw many mountaineers in the battle, but should confess that never saw anyone better than Shapsougs. They learned to the highest degree how to make as much harm as possible while avoiding it to their best. Their nobles are hopelessly brave; but there is one problem: they have no coordination in their actions”.

Here is an interesting conversation that occurred between Shapsougs and Russian general Rayevskiy. In 1829, Turkey ‘‘yielded’ the entire Eastern shore of Black Sea including territories of Circassian Land to Russia. General Rayevskiy, who commanded at that time at the Black Sea coastline, attempted to explain to Shapsougs Thamadas, who came to inquire about the reasons of military actions on their territory, the right of Russia on their territories:

- Sultan gave you to us as pesh-kesh, which is, gave you as a present to Russian tsar, said the general.

- I understand! answered Shapsug’s Thamada and showed him the bird, on the tree: General, I too, give to you this bird, take it if you can!

Allegedly, these words put an end to the negotiations.

After the end of the war the overwhelming majority of Shapsugs was forcefully evicted to Turkey. No more than 6,000 Shapsugs remained on their native land. Nowadays, they live on the territory of Krasnodarsky Kray and make about 20 villages of 15 000 people in total. From 1924 up to 1945, there was Shapsoug district which was abolished during the time of Stalin repressions. Starting from 1991 "Adyge Khase" advances the requirement about the recreation of Shapsug district but so far with no success.


Due to their small size and closeness to Temirgoy tribe, they were considered as on of the subgroups of Temirgoy. Their neighbors were Bzhedugh (West), Abadzehs (Sout) and, naturally, Temorgoys (East). The most respectable family was Kerkenoko.

Crimea Tatars called Hatukays Adali, who are believed to first live on the territory of Taman’s peninsula and in the 18th century assimilated with Circassian tribes.

Source: Adiga Story



Window on Eurasia: Circassians Reaffirm Common Identity on Deportation Anniversary, by Paul Goble

Thursday, 21 May 2009 23:57

Vienna, May 21 – Today, the more than 700,000 Circassians in the North Caucasus and their more than five million co-ethnics in Turkey, the Middle East, Europe, and around the world are marking the 145th anniversary of the expulsion of their ancestors after one hundred years of violent resistance to Russian expansion.

Many of the 1.5 million Circassians who were expelled died in the course of that action, leading their descendents and scholars who have studied that tragedy to label it “the forgotten genocide.” But this year, buoyed by Moscow’s recognition of Abkhazia, ever more Circassians are focusing on the future and have put forward five major demands.

First, while seeking official Russian recognition of and an apology for the tsarist expulsion of the Circassians nearly a century and a half ago, their descendents are asking for that not as a standalone measure but as the basis for developing a special program for the rebirth of the Circassian nation.

The Adyge Khase organization issued an appeal to President Dmitry Medvedev calling on him to issue a statement “in which would be given an appropriate assessment of the bestial crime of tsarist autocracy in the North Caucasus” and given those expelled the chance for “a return to the land of their ancestors (

Meanwhile, the International Circassian Association said that while mindful of the past, it does “not intend to turn its back on the future.” Instead, the organization called for the adoption of a special program to help the Circassians overcome the consequences of the Caucasus wars (

Second, because Sochi was the site of the 1864 deportation and because plans for the development of facilities for the Olympics there fail to respect the memory of that event and the life of the Circassians still living there, Circassian organizations have called for the site of the games to be moved (

The Olympics are an especially sensitive issue. On the one hand, Vladimir Putin has made them a centerpiece of his career, but on the other, he and other Russian officials have ignored the sensitivities of the Circassians and the fact that the games scheduled for 2014 will occur on the 150th anniversary of the expulsion and genocide of the Circassians.

Third, Circassians living in the North Caucasus and the more numerous Circassians living in the diaspora are seeking a radical simplification of the procedures for the repatriation of the community and also for dual citizenship, neither of which the Russian authorities seem inclined to grant (

Most Circassians who have tried to return have fallen under the provisions of the 1991 Russian citizenship law which requires that they give up their previous citizenship, live in the country for five years before getting Russian citizenship, and know Russian, all of which limits the attractiveness of coming back.

And their situation has deteriorated as a result of the adoption in 2003 of the Russian law on the legal status of foreign citizens living in the Russian Federation. That measure makes it even more difficult for Circassians from the diaspora to return, even though Moscow officials say they would like to have more repatriates.

Fourth, and with a new urgency this year, the Circassians want to reaffirm their common identity as Circassians. Although many of them are grateful to Soviet power for creating three Circassian republics in the North Caucasus, they are angry that Moscow divided their nation into Adygeys, Kabardinians, Circassians, and Shapsugs.

And consequently, they have resumed the campaign they launched in the early 1990s to have all these subgroups of the Circassian nation eliminated in the upcoming census and to allow members of each to declare themselves as Circassians rather than one of the other Soviet-era identities (

Most Circassians believe, their leaders insist, that “the recognition by the organs of state power of the Russian Federation of the ethnic unity of Circassians living in the Russian Federation and the reestablishment of a single ethnonym (unification) for their designation is at the present time the chief task” on whose resolution depend all the others.

And fifth, following on that, the Circassians in the North Caucasus and abroad would like to see the restoration of a single Circassian Republic, eliminating the ethno-territorial divisions Stalin imposed on the people and allowing the Circassians to resume a separate and distinct national life as they did prior to their defeat and expulsion in 1864.

That would require a dramatic reordering of the North Caucasus, something that the Circassians say is a matter of simple justice but that Moscow views as a threat to stability. And although most Circassians insist that they see their future within the Russian Federation, their enthusiasm for the independence of Abkhazia suggests they have larger plans.

As a result, even if the Russian government is willing to make concessions on all the other points, Moscow appears unlikely to yield on this one, thus continuing a situation in which the increasing nationalism of the rising generation will clash with the increasing authoritarianism of the Russian state well into the future (

    Window on Eurasia