Russia

   In tsarist times, Russia often tried to use the Kurds to stir up trouble in the Ottoman Empire. Indeed, the Ottomans created the Hamidiye cavalry of Kurdish irregulars in the 1890s in part as a response to such Russian pressures. Despite their efforts, however, the Russians were never able to make significant claims upon Kurdish allegiances, largely because as Christians who supported the Armenians, they were suspect. Russian deprivations upon the Kurdish population were also infamous. To this day some Kurdish mothers are said to stop their children from crying by warning them that the Russians will hear them and attack.
   The Soviet Union also sought to use the Kurds as a fifth column during the cold war, the Mahabad Republic of Kurdistan immediately after World War II being a prime example. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, various Kurdish exile groups have been given a certain amount of sanctuary in Russia. The Kurdistan Parliament in Exile, for example, was allowed to meet in Russia in October 1995, and Abdullah Ocalan, the fugitive leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), unsuccessfully sought refuge there in 1998.
   While the Russians sought to play the Kurdish card against Turkey in the 1990s, the Turks responded by supporting Chechnya in its rebellion against the Russian Federation. Eventually, however, both sides agreed that they lost more than they were gaining by pursuing such covert tactics. During the 1990s, Russia also opposed the continuance of UN sanctions against the regime of Saddam Hussein. This position was in opposition to the United States and taken because of Russian economic needs.
   During Soviet days, the Lachin area of Soviet Armenia (Red Kurdistan) contained a sizable Kurdish minority, some of which still retains its Kurdish identity today. Joseph Stalin deported ethnic Kurds to central Asia, and some claim that as many as 1,000,000 largely assimilated Kurds live in Russia today. Most experts, however, would put the figure at approximately 200,000. Historically, there is a strong tradition of Russian scholarship concerning the Kurds. Two very prominent examples include Vladimir Minorsky and Basile Nikitine. Professor Mikhail S. Lazarev, the director of the Division of Kurdology and Regional Issues of the Middle East Department of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, has published extensively on the Kurds, as has his colleague Professor Olga Jigalina.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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