Abreks

Abreks

 

(probably from the Ossetian abyraeg, abreg —wanderer, robber), in the past, exiles from the peoples of the Northern Caucasus who then became wanderers or robbers.

During the foundation of tsarism in the Northern Caucasus, those who waged solitary battles against tsarism and its imposed regime came to be called abreks. The most famous of these were Zelimkhan Gushmazukaev of Kharachoi, who died in battle, and Salambek Garavodzhev of Sagopsha, who had turned himself in on the condition that he would face a firing squad, but who was hanged instead. A large amount of folklore in the Northern Caucasus centers on the exploits of the lone battlers against tsarism.

References in periodicals archive ?
Along with the code of honour, the stubbornness of Chechen insurgency is rooted in the historic tradition of abreks [bandits of honour]--members of Caucasian desperado bands who fought the Russian authorities in the nineteenth century.
The great Russian poet Lermontov, who served in the Caucasus as an officer with the Russian army, so described the final hours of a besieged abrek group: 'When our troops surrounded them and it became apparent that they had to choose between surrender and death, the abreks struck up a death-song, while continuing to fire back to the last bullet'.