“Abazashta” is the only newspaper in the world to be published in the Abaza language. The first issue was published in July 1938. Since then, for 80 years, “Abazashta” writes about the life of Abaza in Russia and the world, their aspirations, difficulties and joys.
Abaza are one of the small nations of Russia, who mainly (up to 37 thousand people) live on their original land in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic. In the context of globalization, a multinational society, the Abaza people are fighting for the preservation and development of their native language and culture. Therefore, the socio-political republican newspaper “Abazashta” is not just the media. This is a shout, tribune and a kind of chronicle of the Abaza people.
More than a newspaper
The newspaper’s editorial office is located in the building of the House of Printing in Cherkessk. It is adjacent to the editorial offices of the national newspapers of Karachay-Cherkessia: Karachay “Karachay”, Circassian “Cherkess Heku”, Nogai “Nogai Davysy” and others. The founders of the newspaper “Abazashta” are the Parliament and the Government of Karachay-Cherkessia.
In 2018, “Abazashta” celebrated its 80th anniversary. The first issue of the newspaper in the Abaza language - then it was called “Circassian kyapsh” (Red Cherkessia) - was published on July 23, 1938, just six years after the development and implementation of the first Abaza alphabet. Since then, for eight decades, the newspaper has served the Abaza people.
Asya Dzherdisova, a journalist for the newspaper, explains that creating a newspaper in her native language was once a major breakthrough for the small Abaza people. Old people still remember those times and talk with special trepidation about them.
“Recently, my 90-year-old respondent admitted that he perceives “Abazashta” as a guardian of language and customs. The newspaper helps people feel part of a large Abaza family, because our readers are always looking forward to it. They don’t throw away the issues of newspapers that they’ve already read, they keep them as the chronicle of the people,” the journalist noted.
The newspaper “Abazashta” is not for sale in kiosks. Like many other print media in the republic, it is distributed by mail. The frequency of publication is twice a week. Circulation - up to 2500 copies.
“On the day the newspaper was supposed to be delivered, my mother, who was 88 years old, made me to go out several times and check the mailbox. As soon as she was given the newspaper in her hands, she calmed down. And until she read everything, it was impossible to distract her. I subscribed to two newspapers to my father and mother because they quarreled who would be the first to read,” Asya Dzherdisova said.
How to attract youth?
Among the regular readers of “Abazashta” are not only people of the older generation. The editors are trying to attract a young audience. According to the chief editor, Fardaus Kulova, the contests organized by the editorial office contribute to this in many respects.
“Young journalist”, “Miss “Abazashta”, “Happy childhood”, “Mom is the most dear person”, “Strong family” - all these competitions every year become a great republican holiday. The winners are determined by honored cultural figures of the KChR, the finals of the competitions are held on the stage of the State Philharmonic in the presence of journalists from various media of the republic.
“Competitions help maintain the interest of readers and maintain the circulation of the newspaper,” Kulova said.
This is how history of the people is written
Yet, the main thing that “Abazashta” is valued and loved for is the popularization of the history of Karachay-Cherkessia and the Abaza people, in particular. For eight decades, the newspaper has published articles on outstanding personalities of the people, on unique projects of public organizations, materials on the culture and language of the Abaza. The editors are especially proud of special issues such as Doctors of Sciences, Famous Athletes, Prominent Cultural Figures, Recipes for Abaza Cuisine and others.
Journalists pay special attention to news from fraternal Abkhazia. In difficult times for the Abkhaz people, during the Patriotic War of the People of Abkhazia 1992-1993, “Abazashta” told compatriots in the North Caucasus the truth about the events in Abkhazia. The newspaper’s special correspondent, the famous Abaza poet Kerim Mkhtse, worked in the war zone and sent materials to Cherkessk.
Stars of Abaza journalism and literature were part of the editorial board of the “Abazashta” at different times: the writer Kalimurza Dzhegutanov, the national writer of Karachay-Cherkessia Bemurza Tkhaytsukhov, the national poet of the KChR Mikael Chikatuev and the above mentioned famous national poet Kerim Mkhtse. These are people whom not only the Abaza people, but also the whole Karachay-Cherkess Republic and Russia are proud of.
The traditions underlying the work of the only Abaza language newspaper in the world are still alive. Today, the editorial staff is 14 people. Day after day they interview, write, edit, correct, layout and do everything possible so that readers for whom each issue is as long-awaited as it was 80 years ago can get it in hand and read it.
For some time now, the “Abazashta” newspaper has been available in electronic form. This contributes not only to the unification of the Abaza from the KChR and the Stavropol Region, but also to the unity of the entire Abaza Diaspora living in the world.