Karachay-Cherkess Republic

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Karachay-Cherkess Republic (kärächī´-chĕrkĕs´), constituent republic (1990 est. pop. 420,000), c.5,500 sq mi (14,200 sq km), Stavropol Territory, SE European Russia, in the Greater Caucasus, along the upper Kuban River. Cherkessk is the capital. The republic consists of lowland steppe in the north and the Caucasian foothills in the south. Grains, fruits, and vegetables are grown and livestock is raised. The republic has lead, zinc, copper, and gold mines. Industrial products include building materials, foodstuffs, and machinery. The largest ethnic groups in the population are the Karachay (39%), Russians (34%), and Cherkess (Circassians, 11%). The Karachay are Turkic-speaking Muslims who arrived in the region in the 14th cent. In the 16th cent. they became vassals of Kabardinian princes, then passed (1733) to Turkish suzerainty, and in 1828 were conquered by the Russians. The region was included (1921) in the Mountain People's Republic, but in 1922 it became the Karachay-Cherkess Autonomous Region. In 1924 it was divided into the Karachay Autonomous Region and the Cherkess National Area; the latter became an autonomous region in 1928 (see Circassia). In 1943 the Karachay, accused of collaborating with the Germans in World War II, were deported to Siberia, and their autonomous region was abolished. However, the Karachay-Cherkess Autonomous Region was reestablished in 1957, when the "rehabilitation" of deported peoples was decreed. In 1990 the region's supreme soviet declared it a full soviet socialist republic. It was a signatory, under the name Republic of Karachayevo-Cherkisiya, to the Mar. 31, 1992, treaty that created the Russian Federation (see Russia). Cherkess unhappiness with the republic's government in the early 21st cent. has led to calls for reestablishment of the Cherkess Autonomous Region.