The Fall of Circassia: A Study in Private Diplomacy, by Peter Brock

The English Historical Review, Vol. 71, No. 280. (Jul., 1956), pp. 401-427.

During the last few years considerable interest has been shown by Soviet historians in the British attitude towards the Russian conquest of north Caucasia which, beginning in the early years of the nineteenth century, was finally completed in 1864. Until recently Soviet historians had ascribed a democratic and progressive character to the resistance carried on over many decades by the tribesmen of the area.  This resistance was represented as the heroic struggle of peoples fighting for their national independence against the encroachments of Tsarist imperialism.

In 1950, however, a sudden and complete reversal of this viewpoint took place. Such a position, declared an article in Pravda  on 14 May 1950, ‘is anti-Marxist, opposed to the facts of history and, finally, it distorts the proper significance of this movement, which was reactionary, nationalistic and worked in the service of English capitalism and the Turkish Sultan’.  Since then the leaders of the struggle for independence in Daghestan, Chechnia, and Circassia have been pictured as Mohammedan fanatics, chauvinists who, as representatives of the feudal ruling class, had nothing in common with the interests of the masses.

Their aim, it was now asserted, was ‘the creation of reactionary theocratic statelets under the aegis of Turkey and England’. Through conquest by Russia the north Caucasian tribesmen, though suffering from Tsarist oppression like the rest of the inhabitants of the empire, were in fact saved from joining ‘the ranks of the colonial peoples governed by English capital ’.

Indeed, the unveiling of the activities in these parts of British agents a century ago was now regarded as particularly opportune, ‘when the Anglo-American imperialists and their Turkish yes-men  (podgoloski)  are attempting to use obsolete Pan-Islamic and Pan-Turanian slogans as an ideological preparation for a war against the Soviet Union and the People’s Democracies ‘.

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