Year after becoming the first country to recognize 19th century massacre and deportations of Circassians by the tsarist Russia as “genocide”, Georgia opened on May 21 memorial on its Black Sea coast to commemorate the victims of those events almost 150 years ago.
“Memorial for the Victims of the Circassian Genocide” was opened in Anaklia, close to the Abkhaz administrative border, in presence of Georgian minister in charge of diaspora issues Papuna Davitaia.
May 21, the day when in 1864 the Russian Empire declared victory in the Caucasus war, is marked to commemorate victims of deportation of Circassians and other North Caucasus peoples. On May 21-22 number of events is planned in Anaklia to mark that day, including a conference to discuss results of recognition of the Circassians genocide by Georgia.
“This [monument] is an important step towards the Caucasian solidarity,” Papuna Davitaia, the Georgian state minister for diaspora issues, said, adding that the Georgian state was now capable to carry out its Caucasian policy and engage with the peoples of the North Caucasus.
May 21 is marked in Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia as the Day of Remembrance of the Caucasian War. Abkhaz leader, Alexander Ankvab, took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the monument to the Muhajirs – those Muslim Abkhazians who were forced to move to the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century.