The article deals with the activities of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) in mediating the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict both during the war (1992–1993) and after it in the 1990s. These activities of UNPO were mainly coordinated from the Estonian city of Tartu, where the UNPO Tartu Coordination Office was located. The task of the Office was to organize the work of the UNPO on the territory of the former Soviet Union. Many of the regional meetings of the UNPO, which discussed the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, took place in different Estonian cities in the 1990s. The article analyses also the UNPO’s missions in the conflict area. The documents of the UNPO Tartu Coordination Office, which are compiled in Tartu, were used as the main sources.
The Kalmyks have lived in southwest Russia for about four centuries. Whilst cultural assimilation with neighbouring peoples has been an ongoing process since the Kalmyks first settled in the lower Volga from 1630, the twentieth century, which saw the rise and fall of several political regimes in Russia, was the most dramatic period in the group’s history in that it had a deep impact not only on their social structure, religion, and way of life but also on their identity. Subjected to various political ideologies, not to mention punitive mass deportation to Siberia and Central Asia from 1943 to 1956, the Kalmyks had to constantly negotiate their identity not only with the Tsarist/Soviet/Russian state but also among themselves. Whilst today’s self-narratives of Kalmyk ethnic identity are inextricably linked to the discourse of post-Soviet cultural revival, in order to explain the fluidity and dynamics of Kalmyk identity this paper takes a comprehensive approach to the history of the Kalmyk people since their first settlement on the lower Volga. Ethnic identity and its development are narrated chronologically, taking into account social structure, religion, historiography, and popular concepts to which the Kalmyks have been subjected, and which they have embraced, in the course of their history.
Kalmyk Buddhists have long engaged in the practice of pilgrimage for religious purposes. Historically, the main destination for Kalmyk pilgrims was Tibet, which was facilitated by traditional ties between the Kalmyks and the Dalai Lama (and by extension the Tibetan people) after the adoption of Buddhism by Oirat groups at the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth centuries. Kalmyk pilgrims pursued a host of goals – religious, political, diplomatic, and educational in nature. Some pilgrims engaged in exploration; during the early Soviet period Kalmyk pilgrims were used by the Soviet government as covert foreign policy instruments in its dealings with Tibet. Soon afterwards, however, pilgrimage was banned altogether due to the anti-religious policy endorsed by the Bolsheviks. It was not until the late 1980s that pilgrimage was revived owing to the democratization of social and political life in the Soviet Union.
This article is devoted to an important period, as yet insufficiently studied by anthropologists and sociologists, in the history of Kalmykia – the deportation of the Kalmyks to Siberia (1943–1956) and its cultural implications. Its aim is to show how the stigmatization of the exiled Kalmyks in an unfavorable social and political environment influenced their linguistic and religious behavior. These issues are part of the process of creating a Soviet Kalmyk ethnicity, which began after the establishment of Soviet power on the Kalmyk steppe in 1920 and was a continuation in the realm of politics of the forced modernization of the people. Kalmyks in Siberia tried to hide ethnically marked forms of culture, abstaining from speaking Kalmyk in public and hiding their religiosity. The article uses field materials collected by the author in the form of interviews conducted between 2004 and 2019 and published memoirs about exile.
This article analyzes the reconstruction of the image of Prince Kelesh Bey Shervashidze (b. 1747) in the memory politics of Abkhazia through the prism of cultural resistance, from the perestroika period up to the present day. It argues that Abkhaz politicians use a dual approach to constructing the figure of Kelesh Bey. On the one hand, an anti-colonial narrative of the prince in opposition to the Russian and Soviet colonial system is created, and on the other hand, a more traditional colonial narrative aligned with Russia’s patronage of Abkhazia’s unrecognised statehood is also encouraged. However, the controversy over these discourses is formal in nature. The only real purpose of reviving the Russian and Soviet readings of Kelesh Bey is to hide Abkhaz cultural resistance from Russia, owing to the latter’s own dualistic status as embodying both Abkhazia’s former imperial center and its modern patron.
The 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war intensified the debates about regional integration and political rivalries in the South Caucasus. In the changing geopolitical setting of the region, Turkey’s regional environmental policies contradict its cooperation-based and friendly relations with the regional states. Taking a recent hydropower development project in the Kura-Araks River basin initiated by the government of Turkey as a case study, this study reviews Turkey’s transboundary water management policies in the region in connection with its political ties with the regional countries. This article argues that Turkey uses its relative power in the regional hydropolitical relations by exploiting current and historical issue-linkages and benefit-sharing options, and that the intention to act like a hydro-hegemon in the South Caucasus will negatively impact Turkey’s position in intended regional cooperation schemes and long-established strategic partnerships with the regional countries, especially Azerbaijan and Georgia.