Russia: The Circassians and the Sochi Olympics

(2010, c) “Russia: The Circassians and the Sochi Olympics,” Oxford Analytica.

SUBJECT: The choice of Sochi for the 2014 winter Olympics has triggered angry protests among the Circassians scattered in the Middle East, Turkey, and elsewhere, and threaten to bring a moral stigma to the games and to Russia.

SIGNIFICANCE: The indigenous peoples of the Northwest Caucasus, located south of the Kuban River, were largely killed or expelled in the course of warfare between them and Tsarist troops in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This large Diaspora has remained invisible and quiescent for nearly 150 years. The choice of Sochi as the site of the 2014 Olympics has caused these peoples to erupt in outrage and to unify around a common cause.

ANALSYIS: The Russian war to conquer the Caucasus was a prominent topic in European and Ottoman circles in the first half of the 19th century, but once Tsarist forces had triumphed the attention of the European powers shifted elsewhere. Those who had survived the Russian conquest of the Caucasus were largely forgotten. The Circassians and their kin, the Ubykhs, collectively called ‘Adygheys’ or ‘Adygs,’ and Abazas, collectively called here ‘Circassians,’ suffered massive casualties and large scale ethnic cleansing. They fled into the Ottoman Empire.

The full text in PDF can be downloaded by clicking here