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The Kabardinians, who live in the vast region irrigated by the tributaries of the Terek and Kuma rivers in the Central Caucasus, also call themselves Adige and are related to the Circassians. In the sources, they are called by different names such as Kabardinian, Kaberdey, Kabarda and Kabardintsı. The majority of Kabardinians live in the Kabardino-Balkar Autonomous Republic. However, a small amount of Kabartay population is found in the Adige Autonomous Region and in different cities of the Russian Federation. The Kabardinians, whose number is 394,651 according to the 1989 census, are estimated to be around 500-550,000 today (2001). Turkey, Syria and Jordan in countries such as the tsarist era and convenience Kabardino population had emigrated after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

Kabardians are Muslims and belong to the Hanafi sect. However, there is also a small Christian congregation around Mozdok. During the Soviet Union, they belonged to the North Caucasus and Dagestan Religious Administration Center. Since 1992, since the autonomous Muslim republics in the Russian Federation established their own religious administration centers, these centers, which were established during the Soviet Union period, did not have much functionality.


Arsen Kanokov (Kabardian: Къанокъуэ Арсен; Russian: Арсен Каноков) (born February 22, 1957), President of the Kabardino-Balkar Republic (KBC) of the Russian Federation. He studied economics, was a well-known businessman and deputy in Moscow, and was appointed as the head of the KBC state on September 27, 2005 by the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The appointment decision was finalized on 28 September 2005 with the approval of the KBC parliament and Arsen Kanokov became the head of the KBC state.

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Kabardians, Kabardino-Balkaria Republic, except Karachay-Cherkess Republic, Turkey, the Republic of Adygea, Krasnodar Krai, Stavropol Krai and North Ossetia-Alania Republic and in the Circassian-Adige communities with said large Diaspora that exceeds 1 million, most of ethnic identity It is known as the overprotected and most resistant to assimilation society.




The North Caucasus has an important geopolitical position as it is a region where the Muslim and Christian world meet and Europe and Asia are separated from each other; consequently, the region has always been a geography where the interests of the great powers conflict.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the North Caucasus witnessed the ongoing struggle between the Ottoman Empire and the Iranian Safavid State, which tried to gain dominance in this region. Another power that has been included in the North Caucasus political arena since the second half of the 16th century is Russia. According to Vasiliy Potto, a general in the Tsarist Russian army and also the author of the book called the Caucasus War, IV. Starting from Ivan, almost all Russian tsars tried to establish dominance over the Caucasus; even "the idea of Caucasus domination has become hereditary in Russian history." However, the main purpose of Russia's foreign policy towards the North Caucasus was to establish a military-political alliance with Iran, which was already sufficiently weakened towards the end of the 16th century, to counter the Ottoman presence in this region.

It was not easy for Russia to invade the North Caucasus, this process spanning several centuries. The peoples of the North Caucasus, who came together under the leadership of leaders such as Imam Mansur, Gazi Muhammed, Hamzat Bek and Sheikh Shamil to resist this invasion, resisted the Russian invasions until the second half of the 19th century. As a result of the Caucasian War, which started with the 19th century and ended in the second half of the century (1864), hundreds of thousands of people were exiled to the Ottoman Empire and the political, ethnic, religious and cultural order that had been going on for centuries in the region collapsed. After the Caucasian War, several uprisings were initiated, but these were bloody suppressed by Russia and in the second half of the 19th century, the North Caucasus came under Russian administrative and military rule.

During the collectivization and communist regime impositions that emerged after the Russian Civil War (1917-1922) between the White and Red armies; The mass extermination of national intellectuals, Muslim clergy and wealthy families was initiated. This policy followed by the administration of the Soviet Union led to the emergence of organized uprisings in the North Caucasus, and then the partisan groups that would continue their struggle until World War II. During the Second World War, when almost the entire male population was on the front, the Chechen-Ingush and Karachay-Balkar peoples, mostly women, children and the elderly, were exiled to Central Asia. After the death of Stalin, state repression began to decrease in the Soviet Union, and after 1957, when Nikita Khrushchev was in power, the peoples in question were allowed to return to their homeland.

The Soviet administration, which destroyed intellectuals, scholars and clergy, planned to transform the Caucasus people into an ordinary Soviet citizen through Russian teachers. As a matter of fact, by the 1960s, this plan was thought to have succeeded, and it was assumed that all the peoples of the region were citizens loyal to Soviet ideals; however, it was realized in the 1980s that the situation was not what it seemed at all. During these years, national movements also emerged among the peoples of the North Caucasus, with the policies of Glasnost (openness) and Perestroika (reconstruction), and the relief of the pressure and censorship imposed by the Soviet administration on the minority peoples, and even when some member states took action to leave the Soviet Union.

During the Soviet era, in the North Caucasus republics, where ethnic Russian rulers were generally in power, in the first genuine and competitive elections held after the collapse of the Soviet Union, representatives of indigenous national movements came to power. It is possible to evaluate the leaders who came to power in these republics in the early 1990s in two categories. In the first category, there are those who participate in national movements and enter politics, although they work in the Soviet army. Cahar Dudayev in Chechnya and Ruslan Aushev in Ingushetia are among this group. In the second group; They are the representatives of the national nomenclature that managed to stay in power in the new period. Among them are names such as Magomedali Magomedov, Chairman of the Presidium of the High Council in Dagestan, Valeriy Kokov, Chairman of the Presidium of the High Council in Kabardino-Balkaria, and Alexander Galazov, First Secretary of the Communist Party Regional Committee in North Ossetia.

As the North Caucasus sought direction, at the same time, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a violent power struggle began in Moscow (in October 1993) that would turn into an armed conflict between President Boris Yeltsin and the parliament; Therefore, while there was such an issue on Russia's political agenda, the developments in the North Caucasus did not attract Moscow's attention. In the region, in the post-Soviet period, most of the North Caucasus republics demanded extended autonomy rather than independence, causing a significant separation, but this was not seen as a problem by Moscow. Because in the early 1990s, Yeltsin himself said, "Get as much independence as you can." However, Chechnya's search for full independence, not autonomy, greatly disturbed Moscow, and the Russian-Chechnya War started in 1994. Until then, the entire North Caucasus region, which was generally one of the secondary agenda items of Russia, suddenly turned into the most important issue of the country. When the Second Chechnya-Russia War broke out in 1999, the effects of the conflict transcended regional borders and the process turned into a tangle of tension that affected all of Russia.

The biggest impact of Vladimir Putin's rapid "unitaryization" of Russia, who came to power in 2000, on the North Caucasus was the abolition of the practice of direct election of the presidents of the autonomous republics by the people. The Moscow administration, which later re-felt its military presence and political weight in the region, took control of the entire region until the official end of the Chechen war in 2009. Six of the seven republics in the North Caucasus have been implemented in April 2013, when Putin signed the law giving the parliaments of the autonomous republics of Russia the right to abolish direct elections. Today, only in Chechnya in the region, the president is directly elected by the people.

During the Yeltsin period, the basis of the Kremlin's approach to the problems in the North Caucasus was the fear that Russia would share the same fate with the Soviet Union by creating a domino effect due to the rising demands for independence, and a rapid change occurred in Russia's North Caucasus policy with Putin's coming to power. Putin's North Caucasus policy consists of two components: resolving the security problem (eliminating separatist groups) and keeping the indigenous elite class under control by ensuring the flow of subsidies from Moscow to the North Caucasus republics.




The Kabardino-Balkar Republic is located in the Terek River Basin, on the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains. According to the 2019 census, 52% of its population, which is 866,000, live in cities and 48% live in rural areas. In this small republic, which has a multi-ethnic structure, 52% of the population consists of Kabardians and 12% of Balkars. Unlike other republics in the region, the proportion of the Russian population here is relatively high (22%). The remaining part consists of other ethnic groups in the region. Kabardians speak Kabardian, which forms the eastern branch of the Adyghe language, which is also known as the Abkhaz-Adygian languages, and the Balkars speak Karachay-Balkar (Karachay-Malkar) Turkish.

Although the phenomenon of ethnic identity has a very important place in the lives of both Kabardians and Balkars, this situation did not prevent the integration processes between different ethnicities, and even ethnic identity has become quite insignificant in the recent period. Especially young people do not mind defining themselves as "Russian". For example, within the scope of a survey conducted in 2010, "Who do you see yourself as?" 43% of the respondents gave the answer “Russian citizen” to the question, while only 20% indicated their own nationality.

The assumptions of ethnic identity in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic are based on two discourses, one micro and one macro. The discourse at the micro level is more directed towards the sub-ethnic group rather than the ethnic group and finds itself in expressions such as "We are Kabardino" or "We are Balkaria". The second discourse is at the macro level and it is based on the search for an ethnic group. This situation manifests itself with the discourse "We are Circassian or Adyghe" in Kabardians and "We are Karachay-Balkar or Turks" in Balkars.

Characteristics of the peoples influenced by the colonies can be seen in the ethnic identity construction of Kabardians and Balkars. In this context, at the center of the component of modern Circassian identity is a people who were subjected to genocide during the Caucasian War in the 19th century. Likewise, the Balkars have not yet survived the trauma of the exile organized by Stalin in the middle of the 20th century. However, these events, which were both disasters for the aforementioned peoples, on the other hand, turned into the most important elements that hold these peoples together today.

As mentioned above, the population structure of the Kabardino-Balkar Republic has a multi-ethnic appearance. 90% of its population consists of Kabardians, Balkaria and Russians. Until the 1960s, there was a period in which the Russian population increased, while the Kabardinian and Balkar population decreased. Today, it is seen that the situation is the opposite. Today, while the Russian population in the region is decreasing day by day, there is an increase in the number of Kabardians and Balkars as well as other ethnic groups. It should be noted that this situation may cause an ethnopolitical problem due to socioeconomic conditions that may arise in the future.

Population growth also affects the settlement style of the large ethnic groups in the region. In this context, there is a traditional view that the settlement style of the three major ethnic groups divides the Kabardino-Balkar Republic into three as "mountain", "mountain slopes" and "plains". Accordingly, the majority of Kabardinians are thought to live in the plains, the Balkars in the mountainous regions, and the Russians in the city centers. However, today's political, social and demographic transformations show that this view is not correct. Today, 57% of Kabardinians live in plains and 51% of Balkars live in mountainous areas. In this context, 36% of Russians, 26% of Kabardinians and 45% of Balkars live in the capital, Nalchik, in the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic; Therefore, dividing the geography into three groups according to the settlement styles of ethnic groups, at least does not reflect the current picture.

One of the most sensitive issues for all ethnic groups in Kabardino-Balkarian society is the issue of representation in political administration and civil society. This republic is regarded as one of the few autonomous republics in which an implicit "quota" application is valid in the bureaucracy. This quota system, which is thought to be implied, is also against the basic norms of the Russian Constitution, which prohibits recruitment of personnel according to nationality. However, this quota system plays an effective role in regulating ethnic relations in Kabardino-Balkaria society, unlike its neighboring republics of Karachay-Cherkessia or Dagestan, for example, where a similar practice prevails. According to the practice in question, the president is always an ethnic Kabardian, while the prime minister changes according to the period. The head of the parliament is usually Balkar and its deputy is Kabardino. Likewise, the ethnic origins of the members are taken into account when forming the council of ministers.

However, the political crises of recent years have shown that this ethnic quota system does not always produce the desired result. For example, Arsen Kanokov's rise to power in 2005 was viewed with suspicion by the Balkar community almost from the very beginning. The discomfort stemming from the presidency of Kanokov, known to the Balkar public as a Circassian nationalist, grew gradually and turned into a political crisis, and the process resulted in Kanokov's resignation in 2013. His resignation was seen by many as a triumph of the Balkarian national movement.

After Kanokov, the most important result of the short-term rule of Yuriy Kokov, who served as the President of Kabardino-Balkaria in 2013-2018, is the positive change in the attitude of the leaders of the Balkarian national movement towards the president. The first signs of this positive development were manifested by the participation of Kokov in the rally held on 8 March 2014, the 74th anniversary of the Balkar exile. The special situation here was due to the fact that Kokov was on the same stage with the leaders of the Balkar People's Council of the Elderly (BHYK), who are often known as opponents of the republican administration, rather than attending the rally. In this context, the leaders of the BHYK, stating that the previous administration of the republic did not follow a policy to solve the problems of the Balkar people, stated that the belief that positive developments will be experienced in this field together with Kokov is complete.

Despite such positive reactions, Kokov was forced to leave office in 2018 when he failed to balance the ethnic groups in the Kabardino-Balkarian community. The process that brought Kokov, who resigned under the pressure of Russian President Vladimir Putin, to this point, began in September 2018 with a horse-drawn march in Kendelen, a Balkar village, in honor of the 310th anniversary of the Battle of Kanjal. The blocking of the Balkars who wanted to pass through a Kabardian village during the march caused a serious crisis between the parties. Kokov, who could not resolve this dispute that could cause great conflicts between the two peoples, resigned with Putin's intervention.

One of the most important factors affecting the demographic structure and socioeconomic development of the geography is the increasing migration experienced for the last 30 years. According to a study conducted in the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic in 2011, one out of every two young people under the age of 35 wants to emigrate from the region. The main reasons behind this situation are; unemployment, insufficient agricultural land to feed the growing population, more job opportunities in other Russian cities.

On the other hand, the civil war that broke out in Syria in 2011 and the war in eastern Ukraine with the annexation of Crimea in 2014 caused thousands of refugees to flock to the North Caucasus, which is the shortest of the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic, which has emigrated for years. It caused immigration to be immigrated for a while At this point, it should be noted that it is not quite correct to define those who migrated to the region as “refugees”; Because most of the people in question are descendants of Circassians who were exiled to the Ottoman Empire by Russia as a result of the Caucasian War in the second half of the 19th century.

Kabardino-Balkar Management

A semi-parliamentary system is valid in the republic, as in the case of the Russian Federation. It has an administrative presidency and a bicameral legislature. The President is appointed by the president of the Russian Federation and approved by the Parliament. The President is authorized to appoint and dismiss the Council of Ministers from outside. The Legislative Assembly consists of a higher institution known as the Republican Soviet and a lower institution called the Soviet of Representatives.

The old ruling class retains control despite the division of powers between the federal government and the communist party.

Kabardino-Balkar Geography

The Kabardino-Balkar Republic (KBC) is located in the RF, in the North Caucasus, in the northern foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, in the Basin of the Terek River. North Ossetia to the east, Georgia to the south, Karachay-Cherkess Republic to the west, and Stavropol Kray to the north. Its area is 12,500 square kilometers, its population was 901,494 in 2002 (the population decreased slightly in 2005: 898.9 thousand).

In 2002, 56.6% of the population (510,346) were urbanites and 43.4% (478,774) were peasants. Again, 46.9% of the population were men (422.720), and 53.1% (478.774) were women.

In the Kabardinian Plain, mainly Kabardinians settled 498,702 (55.3%) in 2002, followed by 226,620 (25.1%) Russians in 2002.

Balkars, one of the two main peoples of the republic, reside in the capital Nalchik with the valleys of the Baksan, Çegem and Çerek rivers in the south, constituting 104,951 (11.6%) in 2002, and they constitute the majority in Sovetskiy rayon. The remaining places are mostly populated by Kabardians and Russians.

Kabardino-Balkar Physical Structure

Neighbors of the Kabardino-Balkar Republic; It is Georgia in the South, Stavropol Province in the North, the Republic of North Ossetia-Alanya in the East, and the Karachay-Circassian Republic in the West.

Geomorphologically, the territory of the Republic is divided into three parts: mountains, heights, and plains.

Mountains make up half of the territory of the Republic.

Mountains and heights are rich in natural resources, mineral water resources, pastures and forests, while the plains are rich in fertile soil.

The southern part is mountainous, the highest place is Elbrus (5.642 m; Kabardian 'Oshamaho', Balkarian 'Mingi Tav'). Under the glacial areas in this region are Alpine-type meadows, further below, forests made of coniferous and deciduous trees. To the north, deciduous wooded forests spread at altitudes of 500-700 meters. The valleys are meadows and the northern plains form fertile agricultural lands covered with steppes.

Filled with glaciers and snow in the Caucasus Mountains, many fast flowing rivers flow to the north and pour into the Terek River. The main ones are Malka, Baksan, çegem, Nalchik, çerek and Lesken rivers.

There is a temperate continental climate: Nalchik average January is -4 degrees, July average is +22 degrees. The temperature decreases with the altitude.

Annual rainfall falls below 600 mm in the Kabardino Plain, so irrigation is required in agriculture.

There is forest cover covering an area of approximately 185,000 hectares.

It is rich in fauna, wild animal and bird diversity.

Kabardino-Balkar Education

Kabardian and Balkarian are taught as official languages, besides Russian, in primary and secondary schools, and are studied and taught at the Kabardino-Balkarian State University in Nalchik.

Universities and departments in KBC:

-Kabardey-Balkar State Agricultural Sciences Academy

Faculty of Economics

Faculty of Finance

Faculty of Accounting and Auditing

Faculty of Public Administration

Faculty of Commerce

Faculty of Energy and Mechanics

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

faculty of Agriculture

Faculty of Environment

-Kabardey-Balkar State University

It has 13,000 students.

Faculty of Mathematics

Faculty of Physics

engineering faculty

medical School

Faculty of Pedagogy

Faculty of Physics Culture and Sports

Faculty of Microelectricity and Computer Technology

Faculty of Informatics and Business

Faculty of Law

Faculty of Chemistry

Faculty of Biology

Philology Institute

Social-Humanitar Institute

Kabardino-Balkaria has a very important cultural potential that combines the achievements of modern art with the historical traditions of its people.

There are professional and amateur theaters, choreographic and folklore ensembles, and the state philharmonic in the Republic. The richness of traditions, Kabardin-Balkar's national art has established its existence on the products of the applied arts of today's craftsmen and craftsmen. The most developed are jewelry and blacksmith crafts.

Extremely rich archives and ethnographic materials about the history and culture of the Republic are in the stocks of the National Museum and its seven branches, which contain 140,000 items.

The Nart Epics, which Kabardians and Balkars sang in their own language, are famous. There are many folk rumors in the form of epics, tales, legends, songs and stories. Most of these have been recorded and published. These rumors were kept alive and brought to our day by the traveling groups of singers and musicians called "geguak'o and vısak'o" among Kabardians. Members of this community were numerous.

Newspapers published in Kaberdey-Balkar Republic:

* Adige Psale (Adige Word) (formerly known as Lenin Ğog), Kabardian, published 5 times a week by the state since 1924. Editor-in-Chief: Hafitze Muhammed, Circulation 12 000

* Zaman (Formerly Lenin's Colu), in Balkarian, has been published by the state since 1924, 5 days a week. Editor-in-Chief: Attayev Jamal, circulation 4000


* Gazeta Yuga (Güney Gazete), Russian, private newspaper, published once a week since 1995. Editor-in-Chief: M. Bitokov, circulation 22,500

* Kabardino- Balkarskaya Pravda (Kabardino-Balkar Truth), Russian, published 5 days a week by the state since 1921. Editor-in-Chief: Kudayev Vladimir, circulation 20,000

* Eck., Russian, published once a week by the Jewish Culture Center "Toushi", distributed free of charge. Editor-in-Chief: Vera Perelgut, circulation 1000

* It is broadcast once a week in Mk- Kavkaz, Russian, Karachay-Cherkessia, Kaberdey-Balkar, North-Ossetia, Stavropol Province, Ingushetia, Chechnya.

Editor-in-Chief: Harun Akbayev, Circulation 15.100

* Narodi Kavkaz (Peoples of the Caucasus), Russian, published once a week since 1997. Editor-in-Chief: Arthur Kotsoyev

* Severniy Kavkaz (North Caucasus), Russian, special newspaper, published 1 day a week in the entire North Caucasus since 1990. Editor-in-Chief: Ali Kazihanov, Circulation 27000

* Sovietskaya Maladoj (Soviet Youth), Russian, published by the state once a week since 1939. Editor-in-Chief: Muhammad Kardanov, circulation 16,600


  • The main sectors of the Kabardino-Balkaria economy are agriculture, industry and construction. Considering the share of sectors in the GDP of the Republic, it is seen that agriculture has a volume of 21.5%, industry has a volume of 14.7% and the construction sector has a volume of 9.9%. In Kabardino-Balkar, which ranks 78th among 85 federated units in Russia in terms of unemployment and 75th in terms of average income per capita, these figures show that serious steps should be taken in socioeconomic terms.

  • One of the most important internal problems of Kabardino-Balkaria society is the land problem, which is one of the main elements of the ethnopolitical problems experienced in the last 20 years. This question has two components: First, the land problem between Kabardinians and Balkars; The second is the agricultural land reform, which could not be implemented after the collapse of the Soviet Union. At the root of this problem, which first emerged in the early 1990s, lies the demand for the "return of their rights" of the Balkar people who were exiled in 1944; Therefore, the economic aspect of the land problem, which was built on a political discourse, remained in the shadows until the early 2000s. However, with the passage of a law in Kabardino-Balkaria in 2005 that re-regulates the status and boundaries of the settlements, the debates that increased the tension between Kabardino and Balkars started. The basis of the discussions is the transfer of ownership of the majority of the lands adjacent to the settlements consisting of predominantly Balkars to the republic (federated unit) according to the law in question; that is, a kind of expropriation has been made. The Balkars, who argue that the land that has been taken over by the federal administration as a result of this new regulation should depend on the local governments in the regions where they reside, initiated large-scale protests. Not only Balkar activists but also rural populations participated in these actions. Thus, the economic interests of the Balkar people and the ethnopolitical demands of the activists for years began to intertwine around the "land problem".

  • The third stage in the land problem emerged with the Kabardino-Balkaria administration initiating a new land reform after 2010. This new reform, which envisages the lease of agricultural land to legal entities, has started to pose a major obstacle to land ownership of the people. This has made land ownership debates the main topic of the agenda in Kabardino-Balkaria; Therefore, the land and agricultural land problems between the Kabardinian and Balkar peoples are an intertwined issue in this geography.

  • Regional experts state that the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic is the only geography where land reforms initiated throughout Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union were not implemented. The process of transferring agricultural lands, which were completely owned by the state during the Soviet era, to private ownership has not yet been completed in Kabardino-Balkaria for various reasons.

  • During the period when Boris Yeltsin was in power in Russia, a federal law on the transfer of agricultural land to private ownership was enacted, and the preparation of documents determining the land and property shares of the peasants living in the republic during this period took a very short time. However, the Kabardino-Balkarian bureaucracy discouraged the then president Valeriy Kokov from taking a radical step, arguing that the transfer of agricultural land to private ownership would cause major problems due to the limited land in the region. In reality; The directors of the collective farms did not want to transfer the land, which had remained uncontrolled with the dissolution of the Soviets and which was also a huge source of income, to private property. This transition period lasted until 1996, when the law on the transfer of agricultural land to local governments was passed in Kabardino-Balkaria.

  • With these regulations (leasing arable lands), it is aimed to contribute to the budgets of local governments that have gone through a difficult process; However, both this goal was not achieved and the financial problems of local governments grew worse, and this only contributed to increasing the personal well-being of local administrators.

  • Arsen Kanokov's first promise, who came to power in Kabardino-Balkaria at the end of 2005; It has been realized that a market economy will be started in the agricultural land sector in a short time. Although Kanokov, a businessman, was aware that without these measures, a real development in the agricultural sector could not be achieved, he did not take any action on this issue for a long time after coming to power due to the pressure of both reform supporters and ardent opponents. In short, although Kanokov, an experienced financier, knew that land reform was imperative, he was an inexperienced politician and could not escape the pressure of reform opponents. As a result, there has been a long period of uncertainty in land reform.

  • Finally, in line with the proposal of the commission established to find a solution to the dispute to transfer agricultural land to cooperatives (joint stock companies), the Kabardino-Balkaria Parliament implemented a land reform. At the point reached today, agricultural lands are transferred to cooperatives through auction for 49 years. This situation, which causes the rich to be granted the right to operate agricultural land, poses a huge obstacle for ordinary citizens.

  • In summary, the land problem in Kabardino-Balkaria has two dimensions: First, the political demands of the Balkar people, who believed that their rights were not restored after the exile in 1944; The second is the discussions on agricultural land ownership. The underlying reason for the latter is that although the ownership of agricultural land in Russia, which switched to a market economy after the disappearance of the Soviet Union and carried out important reforms for this purpose, was shared among its citizens, the Kabardino-Balkaria administration did not implement this implementation.


The North Caucasus has an important geopolitical position as it is a region where the Muslim and Christian world meet and Europe and Asia are separated from each other; consequently, the region has always been an area where the interests of the great powers conflict. The Islamization of the peoples of the North Caucasus started with the Arab conquests in the 7th century. In fact, it took approximately 1,000 years for Islam to spread throughout the region. In the first stage, Islam reached southern Dagestan and spread from there to the west of the region. By the 15th century, the eastern part of the North Caucasus was completely Islamized. However, it took a long time (between the 17th and 19th centuries) for the Muslim peoples living in the region (especially those in the west of the North Caucasus) to abandon their pre-Islamic beliefs. Reaching Dagestan through Arab invitees and conquistadors, Islam spread in the eastern regions of the North Caucasus by the local invitees and in the west with the influence of the Ottoman Empire. The reason why Hanafi sects are widespread in the west of the North Caucasus and Shafi sects in the east is related to this historical phenomenon.

Kabardians and Balkars have adopted Islam since the 16th century. Today, the majority of Kabardinians and Balkars living in the region are Muslim and belong to the Hanafi sect, but due to the diversity of demographic structure and the Russian population of over 20%, today an estimated 70% of the population of the region is Muslim.

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