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 ?
In many instances--the exploits of abreks during the late Russian Empire, the taking of sides during the Russian Civil War, or acts of sabotage during World War II, among others (Eng.
In a frequently cited article published in this journal in 2007, Gould defined "transgressive sanctity" as "a particular form of religiosity that is constituted through its violation of the secular codes of colonialism." (3) Gould's 2007 article, however, was less concerned with a precise definition of transgressive sanctity than with an excavation of the representations of the abrek (social bandit) in Caucasian literatures.
Chapter 1 examines the reception of the figure of the abrek in Soviet literature, especially the portrayal of the notorious Zelimkhan Gushmazukaev in the mid-20th-century novels of Dzakho Gatuev and Magomed Mamakaev.
At the same time that Soviet novelists were "sanctifying" the abrek's transgression against Russian imperial law, Soviet administrators were concerned with North Caucasian bandits who rose to prominence in local eyes as resistors to Soviet law.
They recalled a story of the Caucasus I had told them long ago, and I told them again about abreks, about Cossacks, about Khadzhi-Murat.
The 'modern abreks' carried out kidnappings on a mass scale.
Until Chechnya was conquered, abreks were "Byronic types": they could not live alongside the people of their circle and therefore cut their ties with them as they continued to hate society in general.
When the Russian conquerors appeared in the Caucasus, then the people transferred their terror of the abreks onto their uninvited guests; and therefore during the war, abreks became the leaders of the Chechen resistance.
Then they began to take their revenge on the authorities: abreks killed officials, robbed the post and Cossacks, as well as other official institutions ...
Power terrorized the peaceful population, and abreks terrorized those in power.
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'.