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Change of religious identity as a factor in the social and political relations of Kabardians in XVIII - the beginning of the 19th century

UDK 94 (470+571)


In HUS - the BEGINNING of the 19th century

© 2008 E.Yu. Hubiyev

Institute of humanitarian researches of the Government of KBR and KBNTsRAN, 360000, Nalchik, Pushkin St., 18, KBIG@mail. ru

Institute ofHumanities Research of Government KBR and KBSC RAS, 360000, Nalchik, Pushkin St., 18,

One of poorly studied aspects of Islamization of the people of the Central Ciscaucasia is investigated. These processes are considered in the context of increase of colonial expansion of a tsarism in the region and the transformations of traditional class structure caused by it in Kabarda and also relationship between the Kabardian princes and the next people.

The article investigates one of insufficiently known aspects of Islamization ofpeople of the Central Ciscaucasia. These processes are considered in the context of increasing colonial expansion of tsarism in the region and the transformations of traditional class structure caused by it in Kabarda, as well as mutual relations between Kabardian nobility and neighboring people.

To the second half of the 18th century the Islamization of the Kabardian society remained incomplete. It was shown in mainly external religiousness, backwardness of Muslim infrastructure (the mosque, schools, etc.), lack of a numerous group of clergy. More the dominating estates were islamized while among dependent citizens a significant amount of pre-Islamic remnants remained.

However, despite the superficial nature of Islamization, Kabardians were considered as Muslims long before the end of the 18th century. This fact, one may say, defined religious affiliation not only feudal lords, but also their subject, irrespective of extent of observance of religious canons by them.

Quite often wrong data on a condition of religiousness of various estates of the Kabardian society and also the next people subject to the Kabardian princes stimulated proselytism from the Russian Empire in a certain measure.

Change of religious identity by various groups of the Kabardian society becomes an important factor of socio-political history of Kabarda in the 18th century. In a historiography this issue was generally touched in connection with escape of the Kabardian peasants in the Russian fortresses [1-6]. However by its consideration in wider context of the public relations becomes obvious that change of religious identity was an important factor not only in the interclass relations, but also in Kabarda's relationship with the next people and the states.

In political relationship with Russia the deepening of internal Islamization of the Kabardian society did not change former political Kabarda's obligation. In the message of Board foreign

affairs of December 3, 1720 Saadet-Girey Saltan-liyev ambassador on behalf of the Kabardian princes assured Peter I of "indispensable citizenship and fidelity to its royal majesty", even in spite of the fact that they accepted Mohammedan belief [7, page 29]. As appears from the same document, their former state in "Christian belief" served as an important factor in the relations of the Kabardian owners with the Russian tsar Alexey Mikhaylovich. Therefore, having passed into other religion, they, has to be, considered necessary to confirm the invariance of the political orientation to Russia.

According to conditions of the Belgrade peace treaty which ended the Russo-Turkish war of 17351739 along with Kabarda's announcement the independent "barrier" zone between the Russian and Ottoman empires, in item 8 allowed a possibility of transition of Kabardians to the Russian or Turkish citizenship if they accepted in any given party respectively Christianity or Islam. In particular, it was coordinated "mutual citizens not to return back which in any given party will adopt the local law... to any citizen Bl [istatelny] Ports, to the person interested to enter the Christian law, to permit in the Russian Empire a shelter, as well as to any Russian citizen, to it, opposite to that, areas accepting Mohammedan... and and all those which of these free people will wish to adopt the Christian law cannot be outcast" [8, page 78]. And this condition repeatedly was confirmed to the second half of the 18th century [8, page 78, 88, 103].

Characterizing the prospects of Christianization of Small Kabarda, the Astrakhan governor P. Krechetnikov considered that "without having either books, or the diploma and being not Mohammedans or only in a word and inclined stiyu owners the Mohammedan law are carried, it is easy

has to expect that all will accept Christian belief and it is not difficult by means of the message of our people absolutely their language, a yak which does not have the reasons tozh and to exterminate customs" [8, page 17].

The Russian representatives used the above-mentioned term of the contract as the basis for revival of Christianity among Kabardians. But this circumstance negatively affected socio-political stability in Kabarda.

In August, 1759 the low-Kabardian owner Kur-goka Kanchokin oppressed by Big Kabarda's owners left to Kizlyar and "at his own desire hosted a sacred baptism there" [5]. It was the exceptional case which Russia could not but just use. The Kabardian prince in search of protection and protection not only swore on fidelity of Russia (as it was done to him by many Kabardian princes), and went on a last resort: adopted Christianity, having shown at the same time willingness to lodge with subject just in that place where it was planned to base the Russian fortress.

Events around a baptism of the Kabardian owner Kurgoki Konchokin (Andrey Ivanov) became one more conflict caused by change of religious identity. In October, 1760 on a doznavaniye of board of foreign affairs it was established that "it, Andrey Ivanov, was christened in the consent of three of his cousin brothers that through that because of repaired by it from Big Kabarda's owners of offenses to receive them to the resettlement at local borders on chosen as them to that place a permission, and the reasons, more any to that, do not appear" [8, page 204]. After confirmation and bringing of oath of allegiance to the Russian throne, Koncho-kin was rewarded by 500 rubles, and his uzden which wished to be christened received on 30 rubles [8, page 222].

The Russian government, having made on October 15, 1762 the decision on assignment of the place for K. Kancho-kin's settlement and his subject in the natural boundary Mozdok, recommended to them "to pass, without the local help for the fact that, being decided on the present between the All-Russian empire and Porty Ottoman to the treatise, to leave the Kabardian people to manumissions, anything the slightest these free people coercion would be dissimilar with this treatise (our italics. - EH.)" [8, page 15].

It is remarkable that concerning K. Kanchokin arguments were adduced that to him could not be refused a baptism "as free and from anybody not to the dependent owner" [8, page 78]. Moreover, it was specified that "to it poveleno that it accepted to itself(himself) only such which will wish to be christened, without containing a little at itself which would be in the natural law, and sending them immediately back though they and actually to it belonging were" [8, page 79].

At the very beginning of the 18th century the French traveler Ferran noticed that in Kabarda "slaves profess belief of the misters if mister the Mohammedan, then and slaves become Mohammedans" [9, page 112]. Nevertheless other facts demonstrate that the Kabardian peasantry was islamiziro-

vano to a lesser extent, than their owners. Subsequently for the Russian government it became one of means of carrying out in Kabarda the policy, "divide and rule", which was followed not only social, but also in a certain measure religious split.

This trend became a problem in the Russian-Kabardian relations at the beginning of the 18th century. In the letter to Peter I of December 5, 1717 the Kabardian princes asked the Russian side not to accept the runaway serfs who passed into Christianity. As assured writing, our "attendants us leave our slaves and are christened not in order that to accept Christian belief, but tea that will be manumissions and will be exempted from bondage" [7, page 15].

The new wave of country escapes fell on the 60th of the 18th century when conniving to escape of serfs became an effective method of easing and the subsequent conquest of Kabarda. About it wrote I. Dib: "Kabardians felt great oppression from construction in 1763 on their earth of the fortress of Mozdok, and even more when citizens also began to run across in it where they okrestyas, lodged the whole settlements..." [10, page 60].

It should be noted at the same time that some peasants, having adopted the Christian law, came back to Kabar-du, and their former owners refused to assist tsar's authorities in return of new Russian citizens [10, page 236-237]. In particular, in the decree of Board of foreign affairs it was said that "fluent to them (to Kabardians. - E.H.) the Christian law of any rank people are vozvratno required" on what the answer was received: "They, though baptized, only natural Kabardians whom on their Kabardian customs they cannot give and it is offensive" [8, page 236].

In the message about events of 1767 it is clearly indicated high extent of Islamization of the Kabardian peasants which did not allow change of religious identity as means in the conflict with owners any more. In the official report of the Kizlyar commandant N.A. Potapov of July 7, 1767 it was noted that leaders of 10 thousand risen quitrent peasants, having addressed for protection the Russian authorities, "declared only that they to be christened and also into Mozdok and into Kizlyar do not want to pass. And which of them will wish, that do not prohibit and do not hold..." [8, page 244].

In December, 1779 point granting to "the black people" the right to depart from owners was introduced in the general oath taken by tsar's authorities from Kabardians and to settle in border areas in case of increase in feudal duties and requirements to move to other places. As V.K. Gardanov notes, "this resolution actually nullified the promise made by Catherine II's diploma to the Kabardian owners not to accept runaway lackeys even if they will adopt Christianity" [11, page 156].


In the rescript de Medemu of April 30, 1773 Catherine II, summing up some results of policy of Russia in Kabarda in 10 years which underwent later constructions of fortress Mozdok at the same time analyzes the prospects of development of the kabardino-Russian relations. In it is frequent -

Nosta, it notes interrelation between confessional accessory of Kabardians and their foreign policy orientations.

In 1771 the Russian government in response to the application of Kabardians, transmitted through two ambassadors: Kurgoka Tatarkhanov and Dzhanhot Sidakov - made concessions in questions of return of runaway serfs, payment on 50 rubles for each Christian slave from Georgians, about leaving in Kabarda of property of owners and uzdeny, moved in borders of Russia. It it was declared in Catherine II's diploma of August 9, 1771 [7, page 301-302]. At the solution of this question as V.N. Kudashev notes, "purely religious - protection Christians played a role, of course, of a reason" [12, page 63].

The considered facts allow to draw a conclusion that confessional accessory in the 18th century was considered as important criterion of belonging to the traditional system of the interclass and administrative and political relations in Kabarda. Transition of certain Kabardians from Islam in Christianity was attempt to escape for a framework of the settled social communications. The fact that change of religious identity happened at the different levels of class hierarchy as in the environment of the peasantry, and the nobility pays attention. Change of religion had to fix an exit of newly converted Christians from the traditional standard system of the interclass and political relations. Such steps pursued especially "wordly" interests.

The Russian authorities in return, following accurate installations of policy of proselytism, refused to accept the runaway peasants who were not wishing to be christened. As H.Zh. Berov notes, it were fugitives from areas where positions of Islam were stronger [6, page 226].

As A.V. Malashenko considers, "Christianization in the North Caucasus did not turn into one of the main tools of the Russian policy. On the contrary, the Russian expansion stimulated Islamization in the North Caucasus, in a sense promoted consolidation in various ethnic groups and also between them" [13]. The Islamizatorsky policy of the Kabardian princes presents rather bright example in this plan.

The Russian military authorities, on the one hand, recognized the right to extend the power to the next people for the Kabardian feudal lords, hoping to increase with their help number of the Russian citizens, and with another - led Christian propaganda in regions with poorly expressed religious dominant [14]. Moreover, hristianiziruyushchikhsya the people the most drastic measures were opposed to Islamization. After Kabarda's defeat by the general Jacobi on December 6, 1779 the low-Kabardian princes and uorka swore "not to interfere with loyal Eya to imperial majesty to the Ossetian people in acceptance of a sacred baptism by them and in transition to the settlement to Mozdok and to other places (our italics. - E.H.)" [Tsit. on: 15, page 96].

As it is noted in P.G. Butkov's materials, during 1772-1773 Small Kabarda's owners "prepyatstvo-

bring down to journey to Mozdok of Ossetians to perception of the Christian law [16, page 94]. Meanwhile Ossetians - valagirets began to express desire to leave Kabarde's submission to royal command in the Caucasus. They also combined this step with transition to the Christian law and the Russian citizenship [16, page 311].

East part of Ossetia was the most susceptible to Christianity. Incited by missionaries and military to confrontation with Kabarda's feudal lords, to resettlement on the plane, left by the Russian authorities to the mercy of fate because of "difficulties" in "their defense" [17, page 183], a Christian part of Ossetia was the weakest link in traditional structure of the military-political relationship which developed on Central Caucasus Mountains [18] where the Islamic identity played a role of a binding ideological factor.

The same factors led to adoption of Islam and social elite of Ossetian Digors. In the "Ancient ceremonies of the Digor society" collected in 1844 on the instructions of the Russian military authorities in the Caucasus it was noted: "All foremen of the law Mohammedan which was accepted by them from Kabardians when before the Russian management they were under the power of the Kabardian princes. From others... half part idolaters, and another Christians (our italics. - E.H.)" [19, page 34]. From Kabardians Islam was accepted by owners of the Ossetian societies adjoining on Kabarda. Originally Islamization concerned mainly social tops of Ossetia, especially Digor and tagaursky feudal lords (whose possession bordered directly on Kabarda), and then peasants, dependent on them. In the first half of the 18th century there was already a number of settlements (Coban, Cora-Ursdon, Karadzhayevo-Haznidon, Donifars, etc.) which residents in the majority were adherents of Islam [20, page 188-189].

According to Pfaff to secure itself against attacks of Kabardians, many boundary auls of Ossetia were forced to accept new belief [21, page 97]. Under the influence of Kabardians Islam extended only among Digors, tagaurets and kurta-tinets [22, page 289-291]. In a row areas of North Ossetia Islam did not get only because they were on removal from Kabarda and, being afraid of Kabardians, and often and being with them in the hostile relations, Ossetians "did not want to have with them the general religion and to give to themselves access to the Kabardian mullahs" [21, page 95-96].

According to L. Shteder, in the second half of the 18th century all surnames of the Digor feudal owners were already Muslims. They married only among themselves or the brothers in faith from notable Kabardian surnames [23, page 35].

The Kabardian princes long since received a certain tax from Ingushs, however in the 1770th its receipt stopped. According to the complaint of the Kabardian princes, these people "at spontaneous desire" entered citizenship to the Russian throne and "began to accept belief of the Greek shriving" [23, page 306-307]. With the purpose to return tributaries in

obedience the Kabardian princes began to commit assaults on Ingushs. The attempt of Russia to accept the Ossetians and Ingushs who were depending on Kabarda [24-27] princes under the protection promoted aggravation of the kabardino-Russian relations. In June, 1774 with assistance of the Crimean khan the Kabardians undertook the attack on Mozdok which is beaten off by the general De Medem [16, page 102].

Among the Karachays and Balkars inhabiting mountain gorges of the Central Ciscaucasia and being in vassal dependence on the Kabardian princes in the 18th century Islam began to extend under their influence. And it was accepted first of all by feudal owners (taubiya) included in the system of the vassalitet which developed in the Kabardian ethnic society. As confirmation of the importance of this way of religious policy serve the facts that the Kabardian aristocracy sharply reacted to the latest attempts of the Tsar's administration to extend Christianity among Balkars and Digors [28, page 260-261].

It was specified in news of the mountain people received by Board of foreign affairs in November, 1743 from the Kabardian ambassadors in St. Petersburg Magomet Atazhukin, Al-di-gireya Gilyaksanov and the kostekovsky owner of Ali-sha Hamzin that the people living in volosts Cheham, Bezenge, Hulam, Husyr and Malkar and giving a tribute to the Kabardian owners, "were the Christian law which and nowadays many of them with-derzhut and for this purpose in the spring of 7 weeks and at the termination of summer 2 weeks fast also any myas, milk and oil are not eaten, and their owners in the makhometansky law, tokmo all to the diploma are not able" [29, page 37].

G-Yu. Klaprot, visited Central Ciscaucasia in 1807 and 1808, noted: ". Only thirty years ago they were turned into Islam Isaak-efendi - the Kabardian mullah who was on the contents Ports" [30, page 246]. Characterizing relationship of Balkars with Kabarda, he draws a conclusion that "their noblemen were forced by Circassians to accept Islam, however only one Karachays have mosques and mullahs" [30, page 245]. As for "the simple people", it, according to it, "has, as a matter of fact, no certain religion; they esteem God called not Allah, but Tegri who is a creator of the benefit and also the prophet Ilya. They also eat pork and have sacred sources with which in the neighbourhood do not dare to cut trees" [30, page 245].

During an initial stage of the sharia movement in KA bard (the end of XVIII - the beginning of the 19th century) one of his leaders Adiel Weight Atazhukin actively used a sermon of fundamentalist Islam in the organization of resistance to a tsarism. Having appeared in 1800 beyond Kuban, dividing at that time territories of Russia and Turkey in the Northwest Caucasus, he tried to create among subvassal Kabarde of Abazins and Karachays new base of the sharia movement [31, page 212]. In the official report of August 16, 1804 the lieutenant general of Glaze-nap told Alexander I that Adiel Weight "with others still hadzhiya-m and mullahs, drove about from one to another and, obol-

shchy their severe life, incessantly in this opinion approves them and podvizat them to the most persistent fights, indignations." [tsit. on: 32, page 162].

This activity, most likely, captured most of the people which were in the sphere of political impact of the Kabardian princes. In 1804 the lieutenant general Glazenap reported that he had fight with "desperately battling Kabardians, the chegemets, Balkars, Karachays and Ossetians who are beaten out from 12 dug round auls" [33, l. 3 about.]. Such interaction was rather strong. As the general Emanuel, "till 1822 religion noted subsequently, identical views and identical benefits closely connected all small people with Kabardians" [34, page 380]. But at the same time, as observed I.P. Delpozzo, foremen of Ossetians, dependent on the Kabardian princes, karabulak and Ingushs, "it is frequent on tendency and a part on compulsion by Kabardians, contain the law Mohammedan, but, being in the houses, not having the witness of the Kabardian, ceremonies of others are not executed" [35, page 35].

The sharia movement continued the line determined still by the sheikh Mansour for the first time using Islam as ideological means of socio-political integration of the people of the North Caucasus. Thereby Kabarda tried to find new resources (including neophytes) for opposition to a colonial impact of Russia.

At the same time Kabardian owners became more active to interfere with Christianization of Ossetians and Ingushs, restoring the former power over them [31, page 212]. On March 4, 1800 Kabardians, the large party in 300 people led by "some young people and their changeable owners" made attack on Ossetian the aul of Karazhayev where in church the Russian celibate priest kept a sermon of Christianity. They plundered church and expelled from the aul of the celibate priest together with the Cossack team numbering 20 accompanying it persons. Kabardians tried to support by this action influence of Moslem in Ossetia. With the consent of Paul I the general Knorring at the head of the Russian group moved to Kabarda and occupied several auls there [34, page 90-97].

In 1811 the major general Delpozzo noted that "after when from Russia between Osetintsami and Ying-gushevtsami education of the Christian law, they was entered (Kabardians. - E.H.) tried to disprove in every way it, to distil the Russian teams which there were and priests and to send the efendiyev to a propovedaniye, than and even forcedly forced some to enter Mukhammedanstvo and supported with that for some time the force." [34, page 319].

In August, 1814 in the letter to the commander of the Caucasian line general Rtishchev the Supreme prince of KA bards Kuchuk Dzhankhotov reported on adoption of the oath from the Digor society which "for the first time expressed consent to citizenship.". At the same time according to K. Dzhankhotov remarkable details are told: "according to desire of century vys-and, I read the oath sent by you to society Digor and each of them, and

to the foremen, influential, military and to poselyana one by one explained contents eya from beginning to end, and they in own language pronounced all eya words and swore on the Quran. They also swore on the basis of the Russian laws and made a promise and an oath in the presence of ours a kaziya Yusuf-efendiya (our italics. - E.H.)" [34, page 338-339]. Observance of Muslim canons of the oath and participation in a ceremony of the Kabardian qadi demonstrates maintaining of Muslim identity by Digors obviously under influence and supervision of Kabardians.

Later, in 1820, Kabardians committed assaults on Digoriya and Balkaria in response to attempts of the Tsar's administration to extend Christianity among their population [28, page 261].

Thus, the Russian advance in Central Ciscaucasia with the second to a half of the 18th century caused a number of the social transformations caused by change of religious identity in Kabarda: escape of peasants and their transition to Christianity and also mass Christianization of the Ingush and Ossetian societies, next to Kabardians of a row. It promoted further escalation of the imminent conflict of the Kabardian owners and Russians of the military authorities patronizing neophytes. The last, turning thus into the Russian citizenship, first of all pursued the aim to leave poddannichesky dependence on the Kabardian princes. These circumstances promoted weakening of a feudal system of Kabarda.


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