Thursday, September 19, 2013

Circassians Say Moscow Planning Terrorist Incident to Discredit Them

By Paul Goble

The Circassian Parliament, an organization that speaks on behalf of the more than 5 million Circassians living outside of the North Caucasus, says that it is “100 percent” certain that Moscow is preparing “a bloody crime” around the Sochi Olympics to distract attention from its own violation of the rights of Circassians and other nationalities and to “undermine the Circassian movement.” Circassian groups oppose the 2014 Winter Olympiad in Sochi and continues to seek international recognition for the “genocide” of the Circassians that Russians carried out there in 1864 (

According to the group, it is “completely possible” that the Russian security services are sending agents into Germany to infiltrate the Chechen diaspora there—there currently are more Chechens in that country than anywhere in Europe—and to establish “personal ‘friendly’ contacts with persons of Circassian nationality” as part of a broader plan to stage a terrorist attack and then “blame the Circassians.”

Valid reasons exist for thinking that this Circassian charge is not without foundation. On the one hand, it is completely consistent with past Russian practice and would serve Moscow’s ends effectively. Were there a terrorist attack that Moscow could plausibly blame on the Chechens, many in the West would quickly forget the Russian government’s sorry record on human rights in a variety of areas and announce their support for any Russian action, even the most brutal, taken in the name of “fighting terrorism.” Moreover, many of those who have spoken out in support of the rights of Circassians would quickly find themselves on the defensive, at least in much of the media.

And on the other hand, over the past several months, there has been an increasing drumbeat of articles in the German media about the possibility that there are “radical Islamists” among those from the North Caucasus seeking asylum. (See, among many recent examples, From Moscow’s point of view, such articles are extremely useful: they lead many Germans and Europeans to question the policy of the European Union up to now of granting asylum to victims of Russian oppression in the North Caucasus, and they lay the groundwork for the kind of charges that the scenario the Circassians are warning about will require.

Many of these articles, of course, reflect simple xenophobia among Europeans. But they are also a product of Moscow’s long-running and continuing campaign to portray Chechens and other North Caucasians as “Islamist terrorists.” The latest Circassian Parliament declaration is a reminder that such charges must be examined critically and that far more may be going on than many in Germany or elsewhere suspect. As such, Russian actions among the North Caucasian refugees in Germany and in the German media deserve the most careful scrutiny as the clock winds down to the Sochi Olympiad still scheduled to be held in February 2014.

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