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Event

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Their only crime was not being Russian: The Circassian Genocide

The Circassian genocide, or The Tlapserykh, was the 19th century Russian Empire's systematic extermination, ethnic cleansing and forced expulsion of up to 97 percent of the north Caucasus Mountain’s indigenous Circassians from their ancestral lands.

The almost total annihilation of this ancient, pre-Indo European people from lands they had inhabited for millennia was modern Europe’s first genocide. This was an example of the now infamous “Russian Way of War” which the world is now watching with horror, as this infamous strategy is exposed in all of its sickening brutality in Ukraine today. In the case of the Circassians, once the largest ethnic group in the northern Caucasus, this extermination was so complete that few today know this nation even existed.

Generations after the loss of their primordial homeland and hundreds of thousands of their men, women and children to the Russian invaders, the Circassians of today are fighting for the right to return to their beloved mountain homeland. In 2011, lawmakers in Georgia recognized the mass deportation and killing of ethnic Circassians by Tsarist Russia as genocide. Every year on May 21st, the surviving Circassians commemorate the Circassian Genocide. Please join us for a discussion on this genocide that has been kept hidden for decades and sadly removed the name of the ancient Circassians from most of the world’s conscience. We will have a panel of experts, historians, journalists and politicians to discuss this Tsarist era “Special Military Operation” from its origins in the extermination of the Circassians in their lost sacred town of Sochi (later used for Putin’s showcase of Russian nationalism in the winter Olympics) to the sickening massacres of Bucha, Mariuopol and elsewhere in Ukraine today.

Panellists:

Fatima Tlis is a Voice of America journalist in Washington, D.C. Fatima helped found the VOA anti-disinformation site Polygraph.info. Polygraph launched in 2016 with a focus on Russia, though the site now covers China and oppressive regimes in other parts of Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Mideast. Fatima, an ethnic Circassian, previously reported for The Associated Press on the turbulent situation in her home region of the North Caucasus. In 2007, the United States granted Fatima asylum after series of threats and attacks on her by Russian security services. Fatima was actively involved in the initiative that led to the recognition of the Circassian Genocide by Georgia.

Janusz Bugajski is a Senior Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation in Washington DC. He has authored 20 books on Europe, Russia, and trans-Atlantic relations. His latest book is entitled Failed State: Planning for Russia’s Rupture (2022). Recent books include Eurasian Disunion: Russia’s Vulnerable Flanks (with Margarita Assenova) (2016); Conflict Zones: North Caucasus and Western Balkans Compared (2014); Return of the Balkans: Challenges to European Integration and U.S. Disengagement (2013); and Georgian Lessons: Conflicting Russian and Western Interests in the Wider Europe (2010). Bugajski has been a consultant for the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and a course chair for South Central Europe Area Studies at the Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State. He has testified before several Congressional Committees, including: Helsinki Commission, Senate Foreign Relations, Senate Armed Services, House Foreign Affairs, and House Defense Appropriations. He is also a columnist or contributor to media outlets in the United States, the United Kingdom, Albania, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Kosova, and Ukraine.

Nugzar Tsiklauri is currently a Member of the Political Council of the United National Movement, the largest opposition party in Georgia. Mr. Tsiklauri is a philologist by specialty. At the end of 1980s, he was actively involved in the national movement for Georgia’s independence from the Soviet Union. In the 1990s he was a journalist at “Free Georgia” newspaper. In 2000-2006, Mr. Tsiklauri was a Director of a Publishing House Litera, and in 2006-2008, the Director of the Publishing House of Tbilisi State University. Mr. Tsiklauri was a Member of the Parliament of Georgia for two terms. In 2008-2012, he was a Chair of the Committee of Diaspora and Caucasus Issues. During 2012- 2016, he was a Deputy Chair of the Committee of Diaspora and Caucasus Issues. Mr. Tsiklauri lived in Chechnya and Ingushia during 1992- 1993. He had a close contact with the 1st President of Georgia Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Presidents of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria Dzhokhar Dudaev and Aslan Maskhadov. In 2011, Mr. Tsiklauri initiated a resolution adopted by the Parliament of Georgia on Circassian genocide.

Brian Glyn Williams (remotely) is tenured Full Professor of Islamic History at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and formerly taught at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. He is author of seven field research-based books on ethnicity, warfare and terrorism in Eurasia. These include his most recent book with Oxford University Press, The Crimean Tatars. From Soviet Genocide to Putin’s Conquest, as well as an earlier book Inferno in Chechnya about the Russian Chechen Wars, from the Tsarist period to Putin’s era. Dr. Williams is regular commentator on news venues ranging from CNN and BBC to Turkish Radio TV and has his work and articles appear in the New York Times, Times of London, Washington Post, Time Magazine, and Newsweek. He is also a regular writer for such journals as The Huffington Post, West Point’s Counter Terrorism Center Sentinel and History News Network. He has extensive fieldwork in war zones ranging from Afghanistan and Iraq to Crimea and Bosnia and speaks Russian and Turkish. He has written and spoken on the Circassian genocide in such venues as CNN and the Huffington Post. For his articles, books, CV and images from his fieldwork in Eurasia, see his website at: brianglynwilliams.com

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