Escalating Ethnocide of the Kumyk People, Northern Caucasus.
This article contains notes about the current state of the Kumyk people, and a call to spread a message with hope to drive some attention to a problem of enslaved minorities in Russia, isolated from building a progressive and fair society and from participation in decision-making at any political and cultural level.
There is a lot of information about Caucasian Chechen People due to the fact that they have an ethnic “republic” in the structure of the Russian so-called “Federation”, due to the recent war and also strong foreign diaspora formed during that war in media-savvy EU countries. Moreover, there is some awareness about “Circassian” people, whose name historically was a synomynous term for the peoples of the North Caucasus generally, but gradually narrowed down to only Adyghe ethnic group in the Western eyes. But not many outside of Russia know there are more than 100 ethnic groups in the Caucasian region, who have different traditions and languages.
Kumyk historyOne of those groups is Kumyk. I doubt that you’ve ever heard of this nation. Nevertheless, Kumyks formed the most advanced sovereign entity in Caucasus during its history—Shamkhalate with its domains. Before the “Caucasian War”, since the beginning of the Russian expansion to the south (towards Ottoman Empire and Persia) in 16th century, Kumyks had resisted the invasion for at least 300 years until the 19th century, when all parts of the Kumyk country were finally subjected to Russian rule and had been gradually liquidated and dissolved in administrative burocracy. Kumyks unified Caucasian nations during their struggle and until late 19th century considerable parts of the modern Dagestan and Chechnya remained under the posession of Kumyk communities. Kumyks also outstandingly used to have equal diplomatic relationships with Russia, Ottoman Empire, Persia, European principalities, and the South Caucasus neighbours. Tens and hundreds of Kumyk settlements were destroyed defending independence, some of them even a few times, over and over.
Kumyk language had been for centuries the lingua-franca of the Northern Caucasus de facto until 1950th and de jure until 1930th—exactly the times of Stalin’s terror. Kumyk literary tradition and culture were also the most advanced in the Northern Caucasus untill the mentioned period, influencing and being a cultural and educational bridge for all the neighbours, not withstanding Chechens. Kumyks were the first Caucasian students of Sorbonne, first explorers of the European education and conductors of the new knowledge from the East as well as from the West to the Caucasian peoples.
Kumyks were also the most eager creators of the independent and recognized Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus (Haydar Bammate and Rashidkhan Kaplan), swiftly destroyed by theSoviet thunder; and they were those who tried building decent life for all neighbours and Dagestan peoples, creating medical infractructure and factories, educational and economic system in Dagestan even during the early Soviets.
EthnocideBut it’s all history now because starting from the 1920th until today the Kumyk people are under constant ethnocide not as a sovereign nation already but as a rightless part of Russia.
In 1920th during the Great Revolution times, as during all Caucasian wars before that, the Kumyk lands, being as always the most furtile supply region for the Easters North Caucasus, endured constant warfare and ravage, accompanied by demographic disaster.
In 1920th-40th the cultural and political elite was destroyed by Stalin’s repressions—mass deaths by shooting—as a way of creating cultural vacuum and filling it with Soviet indoctrination; even early Soviet supporters, who initially believed in bolshevik lies about the freedom for all, were executed as the truth unveiled. In 1944 Kumyks of a few settlements surrounding the town of Tarki (Targu)—thousand-wise capital of Kumyks and their ancestors, known at least from the medieval times—were forcefully deported to the villages of also deported Chechens, with the aim of distructing the historical inheritance of the capital. Worth noting, that when Chechens returned in 1950th, Kumyks were the only ones who left houses untouched and free for Chechen deportees, returning to their plundered homes with plundered for building stone graveyards, while Lak and Avar people settling on the freed lands, according to Chechens, sold the houses to their returned owners, left it intentionally ruined, or continued living there until today; mentined Lak and Avar also destroyed the traditional living space of Kumyk deportees around Tarki, and ruined the houses upon Kumyk deportees' return. However, the deportation of Kumyks is still not acknowledged until today by the modern Russian government and their municipal area is not restored, though it contradicts the rehabilitation law and continuous demands of the population.
Those are the times when the government of united Dagestan, where Kumyk lands were also included (according to the dream of Kumyk politicians (killed by the regime) inspired by Switzerland-like canton system), was entirely granted to Avar nationalists and Soviet-bred party members, transforming Dagestan into yet-still-intact nationalistic culture-ethno-conquest project. Those are also the times when Soviet programme of resettling the neighbouring peoples to Kumyk (and lowland) plains was enacted, resulting in the disruption of the integrity of the Kumyk and Nogai lands. The irony is that this programme was advertised as a brotherly support programme to fellow Dagestanians and was propagated as “land renting for agricultural needs” (cattle farming). Those resettlers for years were living in the homes of Kumyks, eating Kumyks’ food and wearing Kumyks’ clothes, allowed to work on their lands.
Kumyks became captives of their own progressive outlook, which after usurpating the policy making by Avar-Soviet nationalists led from creating equal union of economically interconnected areas (and peoples) to colonisation of the native lands, with abcolute corruption of power and equality.
Modern ethnic map of the Caucasus, where fragmentation of Kumyk lands is moderately demonstrated (light green color with red indicator)
Current stateAfter Soviet’s fall when Kumyk society started realising the disastrous consequencies of that hypocritical period, the Republic of Dagestan already had become a kind of a “Palestinian” lands, disrupted (not in a good entrepreneurial way, obviously) by settlements, illegally (according to 50-year rent agreement) grown all over the Kumyk (and Nogai) lands, and supported by monoethnically-controlled now Russian-approved (Soviet inheritance is preserved even more vigorously) Avar government. Actually, Dagestan became tribe-larcenous mobster-in-power land of corruption with no industry, no education, full of ostentatious social inequality, law enforcement iniquity, and even debased historical “science” which claims that peoples other than those speaking Nakho-Dagestanian languages do not belong there and should disappear for ever. There is even new propagandistic linguistic term—“Dagestanian language” which reflects only Avar, omitting the fact that in Dagestan there is at least 30 languages (not dialects). To make mentioned ethnicity appear stronger they force many minority nations to be accounted for as Avars, which is the same as declaring Catalan or Basque to be Spanish, or Irish to be English, and confronts the protests of the accounted so themselves and constitutional rights to preserve your ethnicity.
There is absolutely no way to influence the policy of nationalistic protectorate. If you do not submit to the colonisation, you’re not allowed to be a part of any governmental, municipal, law enforcement, economic, scientific establishments. There is no funding of Kumyk initiative, no lingual support, no any way to defend the rights of the traditional population, as everything is opposed by the corrupted law enforcement which is the synonym of bandits and robbers in the Republic of Dagestan. There is also no resources to start international law suits or initiate a referendum, or to drow international attention, nor there such legal possibilities within Russian colonial “Federation”, the ruling stratum of which directly states that the aim is not preserving ethnic diversity, but inspite to create a “Russian nation” (some kind of brainwashed mass of indifferent animals praising government in all its decisions—this part causes mass emigration motion amongst entrepreneurial and startup circles in Russia, as it also purports full consent to total control and accompanied with all-level internet and freedom of speech blockade and economical demoralisation).
Many Kumyk activists during this 20+ non-communist “wild west” era were murdered. Today, any action may be suppressed by continious stalking by those in power, fake accusations and threats, including physical reprisal.
Today’s protestsStarting April, there is escalating protest movement of Kumyk and Nogai peoples, provoked by the intentions of the current government to legalise illegal settlements, which may result, just for an instance, in transferring administrative power for the 75% of the Nogai minicipal area and 92% of the Kumyk-Nogai Babayurt municipal area to resettlers (leaving 25% and 8% to live on for the locals), not counting torn up Tarki areas, where current capital of Dagestan Makhachkala (historical Kumyk city of Anzhi, renamed and populated by the resettlers ) is located.
The current protests in Nogai region started a couple of months later then Kumyks’, and are suppressed by the means of the law enforcement’s pressure. The government forces try to, as always, put their governor in office. Usually they do not try, they just do, but there is an irreversibility point for the locals already approaching, causing the rise of all at once.
Apart from demonstrative ignoring, oppression, sabotage, bribes and threats, there is no any action from the government officials to settle the Kumyk and Nogai questions piecefully.
Understandably, this is a side of a natural process of consuming of one culture by another. But still, the violent and humiliating methods of destruction frightens, especially in comparison with the progress of relatively small nations, such as Catalonia, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, where you can think about progress, technology, environment, self-driving cars and social stability, instead of survival in the jungles full of either scary beasts or maniacal slave-owners. In Russia generally progressive, holistic, sustainable and non-corrupted outlook is almost forbidden (soon to be Orwell’s double thinking ban), but piled up with ethnic problems it’s causing a risk of a second Yugoslavia.
Please, spread the word about the issue, we need your support and the world’s attention!