Circassians in photo-session made by photographer Ahmed Nagoev, named “Adygea”
Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999, the Western Caucasus site has what the UN agency calls “a remarkable diversity of geology, ecosystems and species. It is of global significance as a center of plant diversity, containing extensive tracts of undisturbed mountain forests unique on the European scale.”
The World Heritage site is at the far western end of the Greater Caucasus Mountains within Krasnodar Kray and the republics of Adygea and Karachevo-Cherkessia.
The Western Caucasus World Heritage Site has 60 mammal species, including wolf, bear, lynx, wild boar, Caucasian deer, tur, chamois, and reintroduced European bison, which are globally endangered. There are 246 bird species, including many found nowhere else, of which 24 are nationally threatened and 24 globally threatened.
The ski resorts project has been named Altitude 5642, for the height of Elbrus, the highest mountain in the Caucasus.
Project Altitude 5642 developer, North Caucasus Resorts, plans five mountain ski resorts:
- Lagonaki (Krasnodar Territory, the Republic of Adygea) – this location would impact the World Heritage site
- Arkhyz (Karachay-Cherkessia)
- Elbrus-Bezengi (Kabardino-Balkaria)
- Mamison (Republic of North Ossetia – Alania)
- Matlas (Republic of Dagestan)
Oother 4 projects and their economic impact Russia’s tourism investments in the North Caucasus
source: Israel National News
In the XIX century, after a century long war against Russian occupation, over 400.000 Circassian had been killed and over 1.000.000 were subjected to forced expulsion. As a result, a Circassian minority can now be found in Israel and Palestine.
Israel boasts about having one of the broadest anti-discrimination laws of any country.
However, this doesn’t stop Circassians (and other minorities) from being discriminated. The reasoning behind the discrimination is supposedly the Muslim religion of Circassians.
Druze, Circassians protest State’s discrimination
July 2 2009 – Israel, a country with reasonable resources, is subjecting its minorities to humiliating conditions such as electricity and water shortages – blamed by the prime-minister on “international economic crisis”.
Dozens of Druze and Circassians protested against what they called the State’s continued discrimination against them on Thursday by driving slowly and disrupting traffic from Akko to Rosh Pina in the north.
“The way we are treated is part of the State’s policies of contempt. We will continue to step up our protest,” said chairman of the Forum of Heads of Druze and Circassian Local Authorities, Salah Fares.
The council heads are demanding the erasure of their municipalities’ debts, the creation of employment for their constituents, and additional funds. The protest’s organizers threatened a full-fledged “intifada” (uprising) if their demands are not be met. Earlier this week similar demonstrations were held at central intersections in the Galilee region.
“We are citizens of the State of Israel. This is our only country, but we are not granted the same rights as the other citizens,” Fares added.”As far as we’re concerned, this is a dark day for the entire Israeli nation. It’s time that the Israeli government wakes up and stop this policy of contempt towards the Druze and Circassian population.”On Wednesday Ynet reported that the Finance Ministry and Dexia Israel, which extends credit to local councils, recently reached an agreement to increase credit lines to Druze councils and to transfer NIS 53 million ($13.5 million) to them.
Fares dismissed the report, saying, “These leaks from the Finance Ministry are a travesty, and are indicative of the continued policy of contempt.”Last week the Druze sector held a violent protest outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. Following the rally, during which seven police officers were injured, a number of Druze council heads met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Eli Yishai.
Sajur Local Council Head Hamud Jabar said Netanyahu had promised to appeal to the Finance Ministry in an attempt to secure the funds they requested, despite the current financial crisis.”I explained to him that we serve together, live together, and sometimes die together, and what can we do, we are asking to be equal. We demand a schedule for the steps to be taken, not just niceties.”
Netanyahu heard testimonies regarding water and electricity shortages, as well as insufficient funds for the payment of municipal employee wages.
Israel MP says Christian citizens “not Arabs,” pushes for discriminatory policy
January 8, 2014
A member of the Israeli Knesset is pushing forward legislation that would discriminate between Christian and Muslim Palestinian citizens of Israel, media reported on Wednesday.
MK Yariv Levin, the coalition chairman for the governing conservative Likud-Yisrael Beitenu faction, is proposing a series of bills over the status of Palestinian Christian citizens of Israel, notably identifying them as “not Arabs,” Maariv newspaper reported.
One of the suggested bills would give Christian Arabs the possibility to put down their nationality as simply “Christian” on their Israeli identification papers, as opposed to “Arab Christian.”
“My legislation will award separate representation and a separate frame of reference to the Christian public, distinguishing them from Muslim Arabs,” Levin said, in a statement translated by the Palestinian al-Ray news agency.
“This is an important, historic step that could introduce balance to the State of Israel, and connect us [Jews] with the Christians,” he added. “I make sure not to refer to them as Arabs, because they’re not Arabs.”
Another bill up for discussion would give Christian citizens of Israel different representation in municipal and government councils than Muslims, Maariv reported.
Israeli law discriminates between Jewish and non-Jewish citizens, as well as between non-Jewish citizens themselves. For example, Druze and Circassians citizens are subjected to mandatory military service, unlike Christians and Muslims.
According to CIA statistics, 123,000 Arab Christians live in Occupied Palestine, and another 226,000 reside in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Churches in the West Bank are often targeted in anti-Christian “price tag” attacks by Israeli settlers.
Palestinians and Arab citizens of Israel are also frequently victims of racist incidents in areas under Israeli control, and their perpetrators are rarely prosecuted.
Levin is one of ten finalists in the running to receive the Israel Democracy Institute’s 2013 “outstanding parliamentarian” award, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday
Lago-Naki plateau is located at 2.200 meters altitude, in the eastern part of Adygea (and western part of neighboring Krasnodar-Krai).
70 millions of years ago, Lago-Naki plateau was the bottom of Tethys Ocean.
Lagonaki is listed as UNESCO World Heritage site, still the Russian authorities have approved plans for a ski resort in Lagonaki, which will negatively impact the pristine environment. Russia Allows Ski Resort in Caucasus World Heritage Site
Khadzhokhsky canyon – gorge cut by Belaya river near Khadzhokh settlement in Maykopsky District of Adygeya.
Khadzhokh used to house a Circassian village famed for its resistance during the Russian-Caucasian war of the XIX century. Eventually, the village was destroyed by the Russian army and Cossaks were brought in to resettle the area. Remains of the Circassian fortifications can be seen around Khadzhokh.
In other news – Government Proposes Opening Up North Caucasus for Returning Russians (click to read)
source: UN refugee agency
The Russian Ministry of Education recently awarded, on a “competitive basis,” funding for the education of foreign students to some of the country’s universities. Circassian activists expressed indignation over the fact that no educational institutions in either Kabardino-Balkaria or Adygea received funding for foreign students. Both Circassian-dominated republics had used in 2011 adn 2012 educational exchanges to provide a safe haven for Syrian Circassians by placing them as students in regional universities.
An official in the Adygean government, Asker Shkhalakhov, told the Ekho Kavkaza news agency: “We contacted our [Adygean] university prior to the refusal of quotas and they told us: ‘They [Moscow] asked for documentation. They are giving us some quotas, although fewer than the 50 that we asked for.'”
In the end, however, the republic was refused any funding for foreign students, the official said (http://www.ekhokavkaza.com/content/article/25009619.html).
An estimated 1,000 Syrian Circassians have managed to flee to the North Caucasus since the start of civil war in Syria. The majority of the refugees arrived in their ancestral homeland in 2012, when the situation in Syria became dire. Circassian businessmen were behind the financial help of the refugees, since Russian state officials only made several vague declarative statements of support.
Occasionally, Russian officials rejected Circassian demands that Russia should help Syrian Circassians return to their homeland in the North Caucasus.
The Kabardino-Balkarian State University was excluded from state quotas (financing) for foreign students in 2012 even though it had hosted Circassian students from Middle Eastern countries in all previous years, including during the Soviet period.
In 2012, the republican university accepted 120 foreign students, including 108 Circassians from Syria. The president of Kabardino-Balkaria, Arsen Kanokov, reportedly paid for their first year. Kanokov and the Russian Ministry for Education reached a verbal agreement that eventually the state would finance the further education of these students in Nalchik. However, the ministry did not make good on its promise. Now, the Circassian activists claim the Russian authorities failed to deliver even the little they promised (http://www.ekhokavkaza.com/content/article/25009619.html).
Vladimir Putin is greeted by Circassian Royal Guards in Jordan
While the Circassian activists have repeatedly been disappointed by the Russian reaction to their aspirations, they see Georgia as a neighboring exemplary state. The Circassian turn to Georgia is especially stunning given that many Circassians fought against Georgia in the Georgian-Abkhaz war of 1992-1993. In 2011, the Georgian parliament officially recognized the Circassian “genocide” by the Russian Empire, and Circassian activists started seeing Georgia as an ally rather than a foe.
Ibgragim Yaganov, an active Circassian figure and a veteran of the Georgian-Abkhaz war, visited Tbilisi (Georgia’s capital) on several occasions, each time giving a glowing assessment of the Georgian evolution into a modern state and a champion of the rights of all Caucasians. Following critical remarks from the Abkhaz authorities on his positive statements about Georgia, Yaganov visited Abkhazia in June 2013. He admitted that he “lost the feeling of being a victor” in the Georgian-Abkhaz war because, in comparison to Georgia, the de-facto Abkhaz state does not seem to have prospects for becoming an independent country.
“The prospects that I have not seen in Abkhazia, I see in Georgia. This Georgia is very different. I do not want to fight with such a Georgia. I want to have friendly relations with them. This is my right as a free individual” (http://hekupsa.com/mnenie/blogi/936-cherkesy-adygi-cherkesskij-vopros-genotsid-cherkesov-cherkesskie-lidery-velikaya-cherkesiya-cherkesskaya-diaspora-adyge-khabze-adygag-e).
The efforts of the Russian government to restrict Circassian immigration to the North Caucasus may result in the increased spread of separatist ideas among residents of the region. If Moscow does not allow the repatriation of ethnic Circassians from war-torn Syria, the Circassians may well start thinking that they should have a state of their own to decide such urgent matters for the benefit of their nation.
Bolshoy Thach nature park is situated in Adygea Republic, near the border with Krasnodar-Krai in the Western Caucasus mountains.
It is part of the Main Caucasus ridge and it’s characterized by limestone massifs and sub-alpine and alpine vegetation. The limestone is extremely diverse in geological terms, as it used to be coral reef on the bottom of the sea 70 million years ago.