Become an OC Media Member

Support independent journalism in the Caucasus: Join today

Become a member

Circassians detained in Krasnodar Krai for traditional dancing in the street

15 August 2017

Police and Cossacks detained four tourists for dancing lezginka — a traditional Caucasian dance — in a public space on 13 August,  in the city of Gelendzhik, Krasnodar Krai. Three have now been released while the fourth is being held for ‘violating public order’.

The incident occurred on the the resort city’s crowded promenade, when a group of young people from Kabardino-Balkaria began dancing lezginka to the applause of passersby. A Cossack patrol then approached with the whips and dispersed the crowd, before police arrived and violently detained the dancers.

One of the detained men, Salim Akhabekov, is still being held in a Gelendzhik police station, and faces a possible fine of ₽2,500 ($42) or 15 days in jail for ‘petty hooliganism’, according to Kavkaz.Realii.

The incident has caught public attention, with Russian MP from Kabardino-Balkaria Adalby Shkhagoshev requesting on Monday that the governor of the Krasnodar Krai, Veniamin Kondratiyev, personally intervene, the press office of parliament informed Ria Novosty.

There is a ban on dancing lezginka in public places in several Russian regions. It was first banned in Rostov Oblast after the authorities claimed there was public demand for it. Then it was banned in Stravropol and Krasnodar Krai, where Caucasians have lived for centuries.

In September 2012, the Russian authorities allowed Cossacks, a paramilitary group of ethnic Cossacks, to monitor public order in the Krasnodar.