March 27, 2016

Interview with the Circassian activist Aslan Beshto

Aslan Beshto and Jinal Tamszuqo

Jinal Tamszuqo: Hello Mr. Beshto, can you first introduce yourself to our readers? What are you doing in circassian issues?

Aslan Beshto:  At the very beginning I want to greet all readers. I am Circassian. In national circassian movement I present regional organization «Kabardian congress» which is dealing with problems of circassians in one of the regions of Russian Federation – Kabardino-Balkarian republic.

Jinal Tamszuqo: You are the leader of the Circassian Congress in Kabardey. What is the target of this organization and how are you related to Dunay Adyge Xase?

Aslan Beshto:  We are not associated with Dunay Adyge Xase (International Circassian Association) and we are not a part of that organization. The reason is obvious – activity of Dunay Adyge Xase is not public today, the organization itself presents one of the branches of Russian authorities in regions populated by Circassians.

Jinal Tamszuqo: You and your friends started the annual rally in Nalchik on the Day of Mourning, 21. of may each year. Can you tell us about these annual events? When did them started? What are your targets with these events?

Aslan Beshto:  As for mourning processions of 21 of may I have to say that we are not the beginners of that tradition, it is more than 20 years ago when it started and it took place in first years of disintegration of the USSR. The tradition exists from early nineties and since that time circassians gather on the streets to honor the memory of fallen heroes in the issue of genocide, committed during the war in 173-1864 against Russia. This is the most tragic date for circassians and it doesn’t go in comparison with anything else.

Every year thousands of people gather in the main street of Nalchik and march up towards monument to those who were fallen in that war. The number of people is annually increasing. I guess this is an opportunity to express their attitude to outcome of that war.

Jinal Tamszuqo: How was the reaction of the circassian people in Kabardey onto these events?

Aslan Beshto: On this day Circassians go back to the events of that war in their thoughts, to the reasons and outcome of that events. They try to wear national costumes, some people are coming on their horses, dressed up in the national military clothes with cold arms of past epoch.  It is enough to say that last year it was more than hundred of such horsemen.

Jinal Tamszuqo: How was the reaction of the russian authorities?

Aslan Beshto: Until recently Russian authorities didn’t react to such processions. Contrariwise they were sending a telegram to condole on that tragic date. Unfortunately last years we began to feel resistance to some events by our republic authorities. It concerns some formal aspects, but it creates a tense situation. Now we are working on those controversial questions. We hope that authorities will support us in those issues.

Jinal Tamszuqo: How is the Dunay Adyge Xases opinion about these events?

Aslan Beshto: Dunay Adyge Xases completely support such events otherwise it would be strange and people would have questions especially circassian diaspora. Because the main issue of existence of that organization is a support of circassian diaspora in all spheres all other the world. Dunay Adyge Xases can not appose such events. That will mean that they oppose its own regulations and goals and objectives in general. It is another issue that the organization is not controlled by people at all. Even though they cannot openly oppose public opinion.

Jinal Tamszuqo: Last year a big group of circassians from diaspora, especially from turky, visited this rally. What do you think about this togetherness of circassians from homeland and from diaspora?

Aslan Beshto: It’s a really spectacular… when descendants of people who left their motherland because of genocide can come back and walk along streets of their motherland, meeting their relatives. It took ages to bridge a gulf with diasporas. Unfortunately circassians have become hostages of the events taking place in the world as it had happened 250 years ago. Due to the deterioration of relations between Turkey and Russia it became hard to visit motherland let alone homecoming. Due to severance of diplomatic relations between these two countries opportunity of closer relations between circassians is very low.

Jinal Tamszuqo: What are your wishes towards the circassians, living in diaspora? How can we support the togetherness?

Aslan Beshto: My wishes towards the circassians, living in diaspora is to remain circassians at any cost, saving the language and the culture. Today this is the most actual problem. The threat of assimilation is a main threat of circassians. We need to consolidate in shortest time to overcome that threat. And of course I want to wish them to return to their motherland and to integrate in circassian society.

Jinal Tamszuqo: I thank you very much for this interview and wish you a lot of success in you future projects.

Aslan Beshto: Thank you for that opportunity to express my opinion and attitude to the current events, occurring with circassians nowadays.

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