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After the Crimean War Russia turned its attention to the Caucasus


The Crimean War became a turning point for the peoples of the Black Sea region. Russia’s defeat by the Alliance of Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire, meant that she could no longer threaten directly the interests of the Western Powers in the Balkans. So she turned her attention to the Caucasus in earnest, starting with the peoples of Chechnya and Dagestan.


In 1859 Imam Shamil was captured.  By this time his exploits had made him famous in Russia and he was treated with respect by his captors.  He was taken to St Petersburg to meet the Emperor, Alexander II.  He then remained in exile, first in Kaluga, near Moscow, and then in Kiev.  In 1869 the Russian government gave him permission to go on pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca and he then went to Medina where he died in 1871.


Following victory in Dagestan and Chechnya, the Russian forces in the eastern Caucasus moved westward to join up with other Russian troops confronting Circassian forces who, until this point, had been waging a fairly successful guerilla war. 


Facing a much larger army the alliance between the different Circassian peoples began to break up as some of the tribal leaders started to negotiate independently with  the Russian High Command.   Those who chose to fight on were either killed or forced to migrate.


On May 21, 1864, Grand Duke Michael of Russia, commander of the Russian armies in the Caucasus, declared that the Russian-Caucasian war was over.