ISSN online: 2221-1616

Bulletin of the Institute of Sociology (Vestnik instituta sotziologii)

Research Article

Сергей С Цибенко
Research fellow, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, Southtern Federal University
Media technologies in the Circassians’ national mobilization.
Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2018. Vol. 9. No. 3. P. 42-62

This Article is downloaded: 313 times
Topic: Political Processes: Social Protests and Protest Moods

For citation:
Цибенко С. Н. Media technologies in the Circassians’ national mobilization. Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2018. Vol. 9. No. 3. P. 42-62


The Circassian national project can be considered the first experimental attempt at modern nation-building in the Northern Caucasus. Its origins can be traced all the way back to the Caucasian war (1817-1964), when territories inhabited by Circassians became part of the Russian Empire. A new round of Circassian national mobilization took place during the collapse of the USSR, when Kabardians, Adyghes, Circassians and Shapsugs began uniting under the Circassian flag and putting forth demands for resolving the so called “Circassian issue”. The Circassian national movement was able to bring these demands to the international community’s attention right before and during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Circassians’ national mobilization is currently ensured by various means, the most effective of which being the use of media technologies, due to their effectiveness when it comes to nation building among territorially divided peoples. Based on the results of the study conducted by the author, this article meticulously examines and analyzes contemporary media technologies used by ethnical entrepreneurs from Russia and the diaspora to construct an “imaginary Circassian community”, using as an example a certain infamous case which lead to widespread Circassian national mobilization in 2017, namely – when a well-known activist named Ruslan Gvashev was arrested and prosecuted. This event caused widespread public outcry among Circassians living both in Russia and abroad, while sparking a large-scale and lengthy media campaign encompassing Russia, Turkey, the United States, as well as various European and Middle-Eastern countries. The national mobilization triggered by Gvashev’s case was in fact so vast that a few Russian experts considered it reasonable to declare the start of a “Tulip revolution”, while certain Western experts noticed the key markers of a “color revolution”. Meanwhile, two epicenters of the Circassian national movement clearly manifested themselves – the North Caucasus and Turkey, which would take action either in a coordinated fashion or independently from one another. Ruslan Gvashev’s case also revealed the fact that the current Circassian national mobilization is repeating the 1990’s era mobilization, utilizing the same mechanisms and even the same activists.


national mobilization, media technologies, nationalism, Circassians, Adygs, the North Caucasus.


Anderson B. Voobrazhaemye soobshchestva. Razmyshleniya ob istokakh i rasprostranenii natsionalizma [Imaginary communities. Reflections on the origins and spread of nationalism]. Moscow, KANON-press-TS, Kuchkovo pole, 2001. 288 p.

Besleney Z. A. 2010. Circassian Nationalism and the Internet. Open Democracy. Russia and Beyond. URL: [date of visit: 01.02.2018].

Broyi Dzh. Podkhody k issledovaniyu natsionalizma [Approaches to the study of nationalism]. Natsii i natsionalizm. Moscow, Praksis, 2002, pp. 201–235.

Goble P. A Small Color Revolution’ Breaks Out inside Russia – Among the Circassians. «Window on Eurasia» – New Series. 2017. URL: [date of visit: 12.04.2018].

Hansen L. F. iCircassia: Digital Capitalism and New Transnational Identities. Journal of Caucasian Studies (JOCAS), 2015, September, Vol. 1, no 1, pp. 1–32.

Hansen L. F. Renewed Circassian Mobilization in the North Caucasus. 20-years after the Fall of the Soviet Union. Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe, 2012, Vol. 11, no 2, pp. 103–135.

Habermas J. Evropeyskoe natsional'noe gosudarstvo: ego dostizheniya i predely. O proshlom i budushchem suvereniteta i grazhdanstva [The European Nation State. Its Achievements and Its Limitations. On the Past and Future of Sovereignty and Citizenship]. Natsii i natsionalizm. Moscow, Praksis, 2002, pp. 364–380.

Leypkhart A. Demokratiya v mnogosostavnykh obshchestvakh: Sravnitel'noe issledovanie [Democracy in plural societies: Comparative research]. Moscow, Aspekt Press, 1997. 287 p.

Makovskaya D. V., Pateev R. F. Formy, metody i tekhnologii konstruirovaniya istoricheskikh mifov na primere mifologizatsii «cherkesskogo voprosa» [Forms, methods and technologies for constructing historical myths by the example of the mythologization of the "Circassian question"]. Gumanitarnye i sotsial'no-ekonomicheskie nauki, 2014, no 6, pp. 149–159.

Tsibenko V. V., Tsibenko S. N. Cherkesskie veb-resursy: strukturnye osobennosti, dinamika razvitiya, soderzhatel'nye aspekty [Circassian Web Resources: Structural Features, Dynamics of Development, Content Aspects]. Nauchnaya mysl' Kavkaza, 2015, no 2, pp. 64–69.