TBILISI -- A group of Georgian deputies says it is ready for parliamentary discussion about the 19th-century massacres of Circassians by Tsarist Russian forces in the North Caucasus, the Caucasian Knot website reported.
Circassians at a conference in Tbilisi in March formally appealed to Georgia to condemn those killings as genocide. They also asked Georgian officials to designate the Russian city of Sochi -- the venue for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games -- as "the location and symbol of Circassian genocide and ethnic cleansing," according to the website civil.ge.
Estimates of the number of Circassian civilians killed by Russian forces in the 1800s vary widely. Official Russian statistics cite some 300,000 deaths while Circassian organizations say at least 1.5 million died from about 1817 to 1864.
Several hundred thousand Circassians were also deported by Russia in the 1860s at the conclusion of the Russian-Circassian War.
In October 2006, Circassian organizations from several countries -- including Russia, Turkey, Syria, the United States, Belgium, Canada, and Germany -- sent the European Parliament a letter urging it to recognize the massacres of Circassians by Russians as genocide.
An estimated 90 percent of ethnic Circassians live in other counties -- primarily in Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries -- with only
300,000-400,000 still living in Russia.