In commemoration of Tapa Chermoy's 86th death anniversary...

  • 28/08/2023
Today is the anniversary of Tapa (Abdul Medjid) Chermoy’s (1882-1937) passing away. On the 86th commemoration of his passing away let’s recall some headlines about this important figure’s life in the political history of the Caucasus.

Tapa (Abdul-Medjid) Artsuevich Chermoev, was born in Grozny. He was the son of Major General Artsu Chermoyev, a respected military profile of the Tsarist Army, who fought many successful wars for the Russian Empire. Tapa Chermoy graduated from the real school in Vladikavkaz and the Nikolaev Cavalry School (1901). He served in the Special Convoy of Emperor Nicholas II between 1901-1906.

Tapa Chermoy in the Uniform of the Special Convoy of Emperor Nicholas II

After the death of his father in 1906, he inherited large land holdings on which oil fields were discovered. He retired and moved to the Terek region. He was engaged in trade and leasing of oilfield sites.  He was one of the founders of the company "Aldynskaya Oil", and became a millionaire. He participated in the movement for the recognition of the right of the inhabitants of the Chechen village of Aldy to share in the exploitation of oil fields located on rural land.

He joined the legendary  Wild Division during the First World War as regimental captain adjutant of the Chechen Cavalry Regiment. He was wounded during the war and was awarded military orders. When the Russian Empire started to dissolve toward the end of the World War, unlike some of his brothers in arms, Tapa Chermoy did not choose the path of the monarchist group who were cheering as “God Save the Tsar” at every opportunity and joined the liberal nationalist wing of the North Caucasian intelligentsia.

In March 1917 he was elected a member of the Provisional Central Committee of the United Highlanders from Chechnya and financed the activities of the Provisional Central Committee. In May he was a member of the Presidium of the First Mountain Congress, elected a member of the Central Committee of the Union of United Highlanders representing the Chechen People, and Chairman of the Central Committee of the Union of United Highlanders.

Tapa Chermoy in Vladikavkaz on September 21, 1917

He participated in the financing of the Union of United Highlanders and the Chechen Committee and financed the publication of the newspaper "Mountain Life" in Vladikavkaz. He was one of the de facto leaders of the Terek region in 1917, a member of the Terek Regional Executive Committee, a member of the Chechen People's Executive Committee, head of the Provisional Military Committee of the Terek Region (July 1917), one of the leaders of the Terek Regional Convention, the Terek Regional Committee for Combating Robbery and Anarchy, the Regional Military Convention (October 1917). In September he was elected chairman of the Second Mountain Congress in Vladikavkaz and was reelected Chairman of the Central Committee of the Union of United Highlanders. In October, he became a member of the United Government of the South-Eastern Union (from Dagestan). In November 1917, in connection with the transformation of the Central Committee of the Union into the Mountain Government, he resigned his position in the Central Committee and remained a member of the Mountain Government from Chechnya. In January 1918, during ethnic clashes in Vladikavkaz, he left for Chechnya, then for Dagestan. Together with the delegation of the Dagestan Regional Executive Committee, he went to Tiflis for negotiations with the Transcaucasian government and representatives of the Turkish command. Then, he traveled to Istanbul with some of his colleagues to perform lobbying activities before the Ottoman Empire.  He was one of the pioneering personalities together with Haydar Bammat who developed the idea of the Great Caucasian Confederation and attended negotiations with the members of Trans-Caucasian leaders.

Tapa Chermoy and Muhammad Kady Dibir with members of the Circassian Union and Solidarity Association, May 1918 Istanbul  

Since the negotiations between Trans-Caucasian Sejm and the Ottoman Empire failed in Trebizond and Batumi talks, in May 1918, in Batumi, he signed the proclamation of independence of the North Caucasus and the formation of the government of the Mountain Republic together with Haydar Bammat.  He took the post of minister-chairman of the first Mountain government. He signed a treaty of peace and friendship with Turkey on June 8, 1918. In September, he participated in the struggle to regain control of Dagestan from the Bicherakhovist troops with the support of Turkish troops predominantly made of Caucasian-origin volunteers.

In November, he resigned from the post of head of the first Mountain Government and left for Paris to attend the Versailles Peace Talks on behalf of the Republic of the Union of North Caucasian Mountaineers.  He headed the delegation of the Mountain Government during the peace talks and also represented the Union of North Caucasian Mountaineers at the Council of Caucasian Republics in Paris. He was also a member of the Union Medjlis (Parliament) of the Mountain Republic in exile. After the victory of the Bolsheviks, he never had a chance to see his homeland again and, he remained in exile. He lived in France and Switzerland.

He participated actively in the social life of mountain emigration and financed mountain emigrant organizations and publications. Organized the "Union of Owners of the Oil Fields of the North Caucasus". To gain public support and perform lobbying activities among the “elite” groups in Europe, he affiliated with the Freemasonry and became a member of the lodges “Astrea”, “Golden Fleece” and "Prometheus" (in the union of the Grand Lodge of France) where a considerable number of the Caucasian immigration had also taken part. During the last years of his life, he actively struggled against the Social Democrat groups of the Georgian and Azerbaijani immigration and the Popular Party of the Caucasian Mountaineers in their quest for the elimination of the Council of Three which was formed by the diplomatic representatives of the Caucasian Republics in exile and consisting of the political figures such as Ali Mardan Toptchibashi and Alexander Assatiani.  During the fierce discussions with the Caucasian Independence Committee, which was dominated by the Promethean Group (made of the Georgian Mensheviks, Azerbaijani Musavatists, and members of the Popular Party of the Caucasian Mountaineers) he took active roles in finding a compromise among these groups on the Council of Three’s behalf.  However, these groups in opposition had fixed their minds on abolishing the Council of Three, and consolidating the power of Caucasian immigration in their hands with the support of the Polish Government, and Chermoy's endeavor to find a compromise was in vain.

From late 1930 onwards, Tapa Chermoy started to live a solitary life offended by politics and died in Geneva on August 28, 1937, and was buried in the Bobigny Cemetry in Paris.

In memory of today, I share the ultimatum that Tapa Chermoy and Haydar Bammat sent to Georgian leader Akakiy Chenkeli in July 1930 to protest the activities of Georgian Mensheviks to undermine the ideal of the Greater Caucasian Confederation, from the Primary Sources section of our archive.

Click here to access the original file of the ultimatum document

Cem Kumuk
Istanbul, 28 August 2023