The Circassians, whom the Soviet and Russian states have subdivided into twelve different nations in order to control the North Caucasus, see the upcoming Russian census as their best chance in a long time to unite as one people by declaring a common nationality. Many specialists on the region say that most of those labeled as one of the twelve nations will this time choose to identify as Circassians. Previous Russian censuses have listed Kabards, Abdzakh, Shapsug, and Ubykh, which are Circassian subgroups, along with the all-encompassing Adyghe, meaning Circassians in their native language and sometimes its Russian translation Cherkess (Census 2010).
The range of issues on which Moscow and the Circassian nation are in conflict is expanding, and the Russian government, along with its agents in the Circassian republics and regions of the North Caucasus, have stepped up their efforts to block Circassian demands. In response, the Circassians themselves are creating new organizations outside of Moscow’s control and appear ready to take steps to promote their national interests—even if these bring them into open conflict with the Russian government. That, in turn, suggests the several-year period of relative quiescence on the Circassian question may be coming to an end.