Adygeya, Republic of

   An ethnic republic of the Russian Federation. An autonomous oblast under the Soviet Union, Adygeya was elevated to the status of republic of the Russian Federation on 3 July 1991. The first president of the republic was Aslan Jarimov. Adygeya is part of the Southern Federal District and the North Caucasus Economic Region. An enclave within the Krasnodar Krai in the northern foothills of the North Caucasus, Adygeya is a heavily forested area of 7,600 square kilometers. The republic, though one of Russia’s poorest regions in terms of gross regional product per capita, is rich in oil and natural gas. The republic’s economy is primarily based on agriculture, with wheat, sugar beets, tobacco, rice, and fruits being the major crops. Animal husbandry, including horse breeding, is also important. In the industrial sector, furniture manufacture and metalworking are the leading sectors. The capital city, Maykop (pop. 157,000), was founded as a Russian outpost in 1857. The titular nationality of the republic is the Adyghe, an indigenous Caucasian people sometimes called Circassians (a loose categorization that also includes the Cherkess and Kabardins). Of the republic’s 447,000 inhabitants, only 24 percent are Adyghe; ethnic Russians represent a majority of the population (65 percent). The republic is strongly committed to preserving the cultural traditions of the Circassian peoples though museums, festivals, and theater. Over the past several years, the Union of Slavs, a nongovernmental organization supporting the interests of Russians and Ukrainians in Adygeya, has been actively campaigning for the republic to be fully integrated into the Krasnodar Krai, a proposal opposed by the titular minority that has controlled the local government apparatus since Russia’s independence. The move for unification has not been met with support in Moscow, though the Head of the Southern Federal District, Dmitry Kozak, strongly favored the plan.
   The former president, Khazret Sovmen, stepped down in 2006 in the midst of a fierce political battle over the status of the republic. Sovmen, a university professor and gold miner, was an enigmatic figure, in part due to the fact that he was one of Russia’s richest men governing one of its poorest regions. He reputedly was engaged in informal negotiations to merge the republic with Krasnodar when in Moscow, while vociferously denouncing the idea when at home. The current president, Aslan Tkhakushinov, a political appointee of Vladimir Putin who has been in office since 2007, strongly opposes the change in designation.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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