- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
122

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH THE CAUCASUS TO THE VOLGA
122
ever forced their way into their valleys, killed
them right and left, plundered their villages (a-ul),
and seized their whole land?
At the beginning it looked as if all would be com
paratively easy for the Russians. The nominally
Christian Ossetes and the Christian Georgian
mountain tribes (Khevsurs, Pshavs, Tushes, and
Shvans or Svanetians) were either not hostile, or
else even joined the Russians. This was of very
great importance, since they controlled the military
road through the Caucasus to Georgia. It is true
they now and then practised robbery, or revolted
against the oppressors ; but this was ofno very great
importance. The Kabardians on the northern side
of the mountains and on the plain both sides of
the river Terek, north-west and west of Vladi
kavkaz, were, of course, Mohammedans, but their
land, Kabardia, had been quickly captured by the
Russians, and occupied by numerous forts and
Cossack stanitsas (villages), so that they had to keep
themselves quiet. On the other hand, the Cherkesses
on the mountain slopes farther west, and the Ab
khasians towards the Black Sea, were bitter foes
against the Russians, as also were the many
Mohammedan tribes in the eastern Caucasus.
But both the Chechens in Chechnia and the
Lesghis in Daghestan were split up into many
tribes of differing tongues, between whom was no
national feeling, nay, who were partly hostile to
one another. The small Chechen tribes had a
highly democratic system with no regular leaders,
and were therefore weak at a united defence. Most

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