The World Abaza Congress summed up the results of its work over the year. The main plans for 2022 were announced: the WAC shares them with the readers of the information portal.

Mussa Ekzekov and employees of various directions of the World Abaza Congress told about the events carried out by the Congress in 2021 and announced plans for 2022.

Main Results of 2021 

The Chairman of the Supreme Council of the WAC Mussa Ekzekov noted that the Congress team in 2021 fulfilled the statutory obligations, adhered to the program approved for the year. According to him, since the introduction of restrictive measures in Abkhazia, the activities of the Congress have been carried out given the current epidemiological situation. The same applies to the work of the WAC abroad.

"Nevertheless, since the beginning of 2021, a significant number of initiatives have been carried out aimed at developing and strengthening ethnocultural values, preserving intangible cultural heritage.  Together with the existing local branches of the WAC, a great deal of work has been done to implement projects aimed at strengthening civil society. This activity covered such areas as culture, sports, health, upbringing and development of children, landscaping, respect for the environment and ecology," said the Chairman of the WAC SC.

Traditionally, in 2021, the WAC team actively participated in commemorative and festive events in Abkhazia.

Mussa Ekzekov noted that the President of the Republic of Abkhazia Aslan Bzhania visited the WAC office in Sukhum in the current year. The office staff made a presentation about the work of the organization, its structure, told about the system and work of regional and local branches.

The work on the opening of Local branches never stopped, despite the difficult epidemiological situation. Therefore, in 2021, 11 new branches of the WAC were established (in total, there are already 53 Local branches in Abkhazia - ed.). In 2021, the work continued on the admission of new members of the organization.

"For example, 36 people entered the Congress from the Turkish province of Adana. In total, today there are 1,594 members of the Congress," Ekzekov said.

He recalled that the World Abaza Congress over the past year has implemented a number of charity events. In a difficult epidemiological situation, the Congress carried out several actions for covid departments in Gagra and Gudauta.

The Chairman of the WAC SC recalled that the Congress and the international association "Alashara" are implementing a project on the preservation and development of the intangible cultural heritage of the Abkhaz-Abaza people "Amazara" (the author of the idea is the Chairman of the WAC SC Mussa Ekzekov. The project is aimed at promoting cultural heritage through modern Internet technologies - ed.).

Within the framework of this project, three videos were produced and distributed: on national dances, instruments and knife manufacture. Another film about the Apsuara Code is at the final stage of editing, and two videos about wedding ceremonies and the making of national instruments are in progress.

Currently, educational projects of various levels are ongoing.

"We continue online courses in native language for children. We recorded the first audiobook in the Abaza language by Bemurza Tkhaitsukov "A Handful of Earth". We translate Abkhazian and Abaza cartoons for children," Ekzekov said. 

The Chairman of the WAC Supreme Council noted that the Congress pays special attention to the preservation of the historical and cultural heritage. In this regard, an agreement was signed with the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera). Within the framework of this agreement work is underway on a collective monograph, the creation of an exhibition using archival photographs of the Kunstkamera, scientific articles are written, field research is carried out, young scientists are given the opportunity to enter postgraduate programs.

There is a program under which this and many other projects are being implemented.

"We have approved a new program for the preservation and development of the native language, history and literature until 2026 under the scientific leadership of Sergey Pazov, with the active participation of prominent Abkhazian and Abaza scholars. The program is available online on the website of the WAC and ANO "Alashara," Ekzekov recalled.

According to him, thanks to the signed agreement with the rector of the Forestry University, 18 students on a budgetary basis with the hostel provision entered the university and are studying there today. A number of other similar agreements with leading Russian universities are under development.

One of the main achievements of the year for the Congress was the assistance to a large project to educate sports personnel in Abkhazia.

"We took an active part in the process of opening a branch of the Zenit Academy (Russian football club - ed.) in Abkhazia, which stimulates the development of football in Abkhazia and gives our talented football players the prospect of playing on the Russian and world football arenas," said the Chairman of the WAC.

On the plans for 2022 

Speaking about plans for 2022, Mussa Ekzekov said that work will continue to open Local branches. One of the main tasks of local branches in general is "to promote the development and strengthening of civic consciousness in the localities."

"We use all possible methods and mechanisms to jointly solve existing problems. This work will continue in 2022," Ekzekov promised.

Continuing the subject of the WAC's participation in the development of sports, he recalled that in 2021 the "Abaza" freestyle wrestling sports club celebrated its 10th anniversary.

"In 2022, our team will organize celebrations dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the "Abaza" club.  It is planned to release a documentary film, hold a sports tournament and a conference," the head of the WAC SC shared the details.

Next year, the most important event for the WAC is also to be held - the VIII Convention of the World Abaza Congress. Its holding will coincide with the date of the 30th anniversary of the organization. Mussa Ekzekov noted that from mid-2022 the team will begin preparations for the convention.

As a rule, representatives of the Diaspora from all over the world participate in the organization's congresses. Mussa Ekzekov expressed hope for the stabilization of the epidemiological situation in the world, which will allow the convention to be held in the usual format. He also added that in accordance with the Charter of the Public Organization "World Abaza Congress" in 2022, meetings of the Supreme Council of the WAC and the Presidium of the WAC will be prepared and held.

As for other plans, in case of a favorable worldwide epidemiological situation, the international work of the Congress on opening foreign regional and local branches will continue. The Moscow Regional branch will continue to provide everyone with the opportunity to practice national dances, study the Abaza language, and will conduct various thematic master classes.

The head of the WAC SC noted that the St. Petersburg Regional Branch will also provide an opportunity for those wishing to attend national dance courses, will take part in the international festival of culture of the peoples of the Caucasus, in organizing a literary evening, celebrating Victory and Independence Day.

The WAC Team on the Results  

The leaders of various directions of the Congress spoke in detail about the results of the work of their fields. As for the WAC team, its number is growing with the increase in the volume of tasks that the WAC is facing, explained the Executive Secretary of the Congress Inar Gitsba. He said that in the past year the team "strengthened with two new employees".

"Despite the continued difficult background associated with the spread of coronavirus infection, the WAC continued to implement the project agenda. Thanks to the members of the WAC SC Marina Bartsyts and Arda Ashuba, a series of lectures on the history, culture and ethnology of the Abkhazians, the historical, cultural and linguistic unity of the Abkhaz-Abaza people took place.  Viacheslav Chirikba, a member of the Supreme Council of the WAC, took an active part in the International Scientific and Practical Conference dedicated to the scientific heritage of the outstanding historian, ethnologist, linguist-Caucasian expert Anatoly Genko, which was organized by the ANO "Alashara" in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic," Gitsba said.

He recalled the implemented projects regarding the work with the younger generation. In particular, the WAC employees in 2021 organized and held festive events in the town of Gudauta and in the village of Duripsh, timed to coincide with the International Children's Day. Gitsba said that together with the "Apsar" studio, work is now being completed on the translation and voicing of the cartoon "Valors of Abraskil" by Astamur Kvitsinia.

"The WAC continued the cycle of meetings of the Parents' Club in Sukhum and the visiting club in Gagra. The work of the club covers topical issues of children's education, the development of children in general. In Gagra, for example, the program is divided into two "flanks" - "women" and "children". Special classes are planned for children, while mothers and young women preparing for motherhood talk to psychologist Elana Kortua on the "women's" platform," Gitsba said.

He noted that the Parents 'Club and the Discussion Club of the Congress in the new year will also continue their work, and an opportunity will be provided to implement promising projects within the framework of the clubs' work thanks to grants from Mussa Ekzekov.

Gitsba also said that active preparations are underway for the implementation of the next charitable action "Warmth of the Soul". It involves providing the needy residents of Abkhazia with new winter clothing, which was delivered to Abkhazia from Turkey as a result of the joint initiative and activities of the WAC SC in Turkey, Abkhazfed and the Abkhazian Representative Office.

On the work of the WAC with Local branches  

The Coordinator of Local branches (LB) and youth activity Dmitry Zhiba told about the work of the Congress with the WAC LB in Abkhazia. Zhiba noted that thanks to the vigorous activity of local branches, a number of major events, actions and socially significant projects were implemented.

"We laid the "Memory Alley" of 85 trees in the New District of Sukhum in memory of the residents of the area who died in the 1992-1993 Patriotic War of the people of Abkhazia. At the initiative of the members of the LB in the village of Kaldakhuara and with the financial support of our friend, businessman Denis Otyrba, the weightlifting section at the boarding school was equipped with sports equipment. Together with the residents of the village of Kaldakhuara, members of the WAC team cleaned and restored a public stop along the republican highway," Zhiba said.

Thanks to the activeness of the members of the local branches, a wide variety of projects have been implemented.

"Together with the activists of the Mgudzirkhua village, we began the first stage of renovation of the assembly hall for young people. Members of the LB in the village of Baslakhu developed a layout of information signs for trees in the school park with quotes of various writers. By September 1, at the initiative of the head of the LB in the village of Otkhara Amiran Bzhania, a classroom at a school was repaired. The renovation was carried out by the villagers and the schoolchildren. The local branch of the town of Pitsunda initiated the purchase of easels for the fine arts section. The WAC team also provided gifts for the participants of the children's chess tournament in the town of Pitsunda," said Dmitry Zhiba.

The Congress provided assistance in the renovation of the gym for the freestyle wrestling section in the village of Chlou, building materials and heating devices were purchased for the hall. The WAC team, together with the students of the Gagra Abkhazian School, planted trees on the school grounds, and then, together with the Colors of Nation company, held an eco-lecture for local residents. The local branch of the village of Uarcha is implementing a project for the construction of a children's play complex through the efforts of the local branch asset.

Work of the Staff of the Congress 

The Chief of Staff of the Congress, Kan Tania, spoke about the activities of the staff and regional offices of the WAC in St. Petersburg and Moscow over the past year.

Tania recalled that the Congress Office is responsible for preparing annual action plans, submitting them for approval to the Chairman and monitoring their implementation. Moreover, the Staff is responsible for the preparation of annual financial and other reports, meetings and events with the participation of the Chairman, for maintaining the register of members of the Congress, working with appeals addressed to the Chairman.

In addition, the Staff coordinates the activities of regional offices, in particular, in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Kan Tania said that the Staff has established interaction with local authorities in St. Petersburg - for example, with the Committee of the Government of St. Petersburg for Youth Affairs and Interaction with Public Organizations, the House of Nationalities, youth centers "Okhta", "Kvadrat", "Frunzensky"  ...

"This cooperation allows us to talk about the Abkhaz-Abaza people at events and venues where we have not been invited before. For the first time, information about us was published in the Collection of Nationalities, we performed live on open air venues, took part in exhibitions and festivals. We organized open lessons about the Abaza people in schools and kindergartens in St. Petersburg. In general, active work is underway to promote information about the Abkhaz-Abaza people," said the head of the WAC Staff.

The popularization of national traditions and culture also includes the functioning of the "Abaza" ensemble, created by the WAC. The ensemble consists of active young students from Abkhazia and the KChR, residents of St. Petersburg also join the Abkhaz-Abaza culture. The number of participants in the youth activists of the Congress in St. Petersburg is increasing every year. The ensemble is actively involved in municipal and university events.

"In 2021, we took part in the X Festival of Cultures of the Peoples of the Caucasus. They also took part in the Ball of Nationalities, and in the very center of the city, near St. Isaac's Cathedral, they performed an Abkhazian dance. They took part in the "We are different, but we are together" festival with dances and songs, cooked dishes of national cuisine, held a master class on drawing on the sand of mountainous Abkhazia. Most recently we organized a presentation of the documentary "Лара Лоуп" film in St. Petersburg," Tania listed. 

Intangible Heritage Projects in 2021 

The head of the Women's Councils of the WAC, Geta Ardzinba, named the implementation of the "Иарбан? Иаба? Ианба?" project among the most important achievements of the Congress for 2021. "Иарбан? Иаба? Ианба?" ("What? Where? When?") project is designed to popularize knowledge about the Abkhaz-Abaza national culture, history and ethnography of the Abkhaz-Abaza people, to help the world learn more about the Abaza people. 

"The rating that the project had on the AGTRK channel, the reviews we received after its broadcast, gave us confidence that we met the audience's request. We would like to thank the AGTRK staff represented by its head Irina Agrba for their assistance. Of course, this confirmed our plans to continue the project in 2022. We intend to invite a team from Karachay-Cherkessia, our brothers from Abazashta and a team from the Moscow Abkhazian Diaspora. We are also going to create a team on the basis of the Youth Council of the WAC," said Geta Ardzinba.

She also said that another topic for the project on the intangible heritage of the Abkhaz-Abaza people "Amazara" is under development.

"Today we are working on how to reveal ethnographic topics. A partnership agreement was concluded with an ethnographic park in the village of Otkhara. An agreement was reached with Mzauch Piliya on filming the reconstruction of traditional rituals on the territory of the ethnopark.  We were joined by such famous artists as Batal Dzhapua and Timur Dzidzaria, a member of the WAC Arda Ashuba, and a number of historians and ethnographers, together with whom four [new] videos will be shot within the framework of the Amazara project," Ardzinba shared her plans. 

On the work of the WAC Web Information Portal  

The head of the WAC information portal, Amina Lazba, told about the information support of the Congress.

According to her, more than 400 materials have been published this year in six working languages.  According to Yandex Metrika and Google analytics for 2021, the portal was visited by more than 82,000 unique users from all over the world.

"Every day, the portal and social pages of the WAC are visited by 2,000 to 2,500 people from different countries. The largest number of users is from Abkhazia, Russia and Turkey, as well as from the USA, Germany, Georgia, Ireland, Egypt, Ukraine, Great Britain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq," Lazba said.

The head of the information portal stressed that an important experience of the portal was the preparation of an anniversary documentary about the ten-year history of the Abaza freestyle wrestling club. The film will soon be shown on the Abkhazian state TV channel.

"This year, we also continued to publish video tutorials on the study of the Abkhazian and Abaza languages ​​in the Telegram channel and opened an account on the TikTok social network, which has gained great popularity among the younger generation. At the same time, the total permanent audience of the portal and social pages of the site has reached 21,000 subscribers," she said.

This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the portal's work has been focused exclusively on reporting on the activities of the Congress.

"Next year we will continue to publish interviews with members of the WAC SC and representatives of the Abkhaz-Abaza Diaspora from around the world, inform about representatives of the Abaza Diaspora of the world and outstanding people, as well as acquaint readers from all over the world with the ethnography and culture of the Abaza people," Amina Lazba shared her plans.

On the Charity Events and Projects of the WAC 

Izolda Khagba, WAC Public Relations Specialist, informed about the charitable events of the Congress, noting that traditionally much attention in the work of the Congress is paid to charity.

"In 2021, medical equipment (recirculators, oxygen masks, blood pressure monitors, injection stands and thermometers - ed.) was purchased and handed over to the covid department of the Gagra district hospital. Besides, food products were sent to the Gudauta covid hospital. On the eve of the liberation of the Gagra district during the PWPA, assistance was provided to the veterans of the Republican Association of War invalids "Apsny" in the town of Gagra. At their request, heaters, warm blankets, TVs were purchased," Khagba said.

She said that for three months the WAC has been providing material support to the rehabilitation specialists of the center for children with disabilities "We are together" in Tsandripsh who have remained without funding. In the courtyard of this center, preparatory work is also underway for the installation of a playground.

Izolda Khagba also reported on the activities on the eve of the New Year.

"We have prepared food baskets for large and low-income families, which are supported by Social Services and charitable foundations in the Sukhum and Gagra districts. Food baskets for the New Year's table are supplemented with sweet gift sets according to the number of children in each family. It is also planned to build two children's playgrounds, which are being prepared for installation in Sukhum," she said.

More about the WAC Plans for 2022 

Following his colleagues, the leading specialist of the WAC Staff Temur Rekvava spoke about the plans of the World Abaza Congress.

"In the second quarter of 2022, the WAC plans to organize a general meeting of all heads of the Local branches of the Congress in Abkhazia in order to discuss and analyze the results of the work done and plans for the implementation of the activities of the Local branches of the WAC on all issues," he said.

In the new year, the WAC will continue to search for ways to obtain budget-funded seats in Russian universities to provide quality education to the citizens of the Republic of Abkhazia. This has already been done in a project with the Forestry University of St. Petersburg.

According to him, it is traditionally planned to actively participate in annual national calendar events. Rekvava listed many festive events in which the WAC always takes an active part. This is the International Children's Day, and the II cultural and sports festival "Abaza" in Abkhazia, and the Day of the State Flag of the Republic of Abkhazia.

"As in previous years, by September 1, the Congress will provide all first graders of Abkhazian schools with exclusive school supplies, in particular, notebooks and diaries with state symbols, the Abkhazian alphabet, proverbs and sayings in Abkhazian," said Rekvava.

Sports and cultural projects will not be ignored either.

"The Congress will hold a tournament on the national Abkhazian games among the Local branches.  A music project will begin, including recording courses and small concerts at the Local branches in Abkhazia. We will establish the WAC prize at the "Афырхы" archery club tournament," listed some of the plans of the Congress for 2022, the leading specialist of the WAC Staff.

Financial Results  

The total expenses of the Congress related to the maintenance of offices, salaries of employees, the implementation of statutory activities and humanitarian projects in the period from 2018 to 2021 amounted to 71 million rubles, of which 70 million 710 thousand rubles are personal donations of the Chairman of the WAC SC Mussa Ekzekov. Total taxes were paid in the amount of 2 million 407 thousand rubles.

Membership fees and donations collected by the regional branch of the Congress in the Republic of Turkey in 2020-2021 amounted to more than 290 thousand rubles.

The World Abaza Congress (WAC) is an organization with a history and rich heritage. Currently, the WAC carries out its activities in several main areas: international activities in the countries of compact residence of the Diaspora, work on the ground, work with women representatives of the Abkhaz-Abaza people and with young people, the development of an information portal in several languages, etc. The main task of the Congress is to unite all representatives of the Abkhaz-Abaza ethnic group living in the world.