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The Arshtins were a group of Vainakh living in between the Ingush and Chechens, along the Sunzha's middle reaches and their tributaries. They were mostly known as Karabulaks, which they are called in Russian, from their Kumyk name. They also called themselves "Baloi". They were variously called an independent people, a subgroup of Chechens, or a subgroup of Ingush (which was further complicated by the fact that many in the 19th century considered Ingush to be a subgroup of Chechens, including many Ingush themselves). Their language is thought to have been somewhere between Chechens and Ingush (not unlike today's Galanchozh dialect spoken by the Myalkhi tukhum).
Differentiation from Chechens and Ingush
The Russians and the Kumyks both seem to have called the Arshtins a separate people, but other people of the region seem to have simply called them Chechens separated by political boundaries, due to the division of Vainakh land between Kumyks and Circassians. However, both micro-Chechens and Arshtins overthrew their overlords, the former establishing the clan-based democratic "Ichkerian" (from Turkish, meaning the free people) state based around Tukhum loyalties. The Arshtins may or may not have been separate from this.
When Russia originally invaded the region, they got the Ingush to cooperate with them (to the point that the Ingush even attacked their brethren at various points), but were resisted by Arshtins and Chechens from the beginning. Eventually, however, the Ingush too realized the nature of Russia's invasion and switched sides, though by the time they realized this (in the 1840s) it was too late to repair the damage they had done to the anti-Russian side (not to mention that the Ossetes would block all contacts between East and West Caucasus anyway as the former connection in the Mozdok area of Lesser Kabarda had been completely taken over by Cossacks). The Ingush fought against the Ossetian proxies of the Tsars rather than his own armies. The late 1850s saw the end of the Eastern and Central Caucasian resistance to Tsarist rule was defeated; and in 1865, the Caucasian Muhajirs occurred. Although they mainly targeted Circassians for expulsion or murder, the Arshtins also fell victim. In May–July 1865, according to official documents, 1366 Arshtin families disappeared (i.e. either fled or were killed) and only 75 remained. These 75, realizing the impossibility of existing as a nation of only hundreds of people, joined (or rejoined) the Chechen nation as the Erstkhoi tukhum. The land of the 1366 Arshtin families that "disappeared" was settled by Cossacks.
- Split of the Vainakhs
- History of Chechnya
- Caucasian Wars
- Nakh Peoples
- Nakh languages
- Chechen language
- Anchabadze, George. The Vainakhs. Page 29
- Jaimoukha, Amjad. The Chechens: A Handbook. Page 259.