Sunday, August 2, 1998 Published at 01:01 GMT 02:01 UK
Circassians flee Kosovo conflict
The Circassians arrive in southern Russia from Kosovo
Seventy-six members of an ancient ethnic minority group have fled the Kosovo conflict and arrived in southern Russia.
The Adygs, better known as Circassians, flew in from the Kosovo region of Yugoslavia to their historic homeland in southern Russia on Saturday.
Forty-two families whose ancestors settled in Kosovo during the 19th century, when it was part of the Ottoman Empire, had been living in two villages outside the Kosovar capital, Pristina.
Ethnic Albanians who are in the majority in Kosovo consider the Circassians, although fellow Muslims, too supportive of the Serbs.
The ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which is fighting for independence from Yugoslavia, is thought to have threatened the Adygs.
The Adygs say they have been "sitting on their suitcases" since the Kosovo conflict began in 1997.
A second group of Adygs is due to arrive in Russia later this month having travelled through Bulgaria and across the Black Sea.
Aslan Karashev, a minister in the tiny Adyg republic in the north Caucasus, says: "Adygeya is ready to receive its compatriots from Kosovo."
The Adygs are being brought over by Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations and will be housed in a former kindergarten. Mr Karashev said they would eventually be given land to cultivate.
Circassians hail from the north Caucasus, but during the 19th century they were displaced by Russia's imperial conquests and were scattered around Europe and the Middle East.