Learn more about Chechnya
| Ranked 80th |
- 15,300 km²
| Ranked 49th|
- est. 1,103,686 (2002)
|Federal district||Southern Federal District|
|Economic Region||North Caucasus|
|Official languages||Chechen, Russian|
|President||Alu Dadashevich Alkhanov|
|Chairman of the Government||Ramzan Akhmadovich Kadyrov|
|Legislature||Parliament of Chechnya|
|Anthem||Anthem of the Chechen Republic|
The Chechen Republic IPA: [/ˈʧɛʧn̩ rɪˈpʌblɪk/] (Russian: Чече́нская Респу́блика Čečenskaja Respublika; Chechen: Нохчийн Республика Noxçiyn Respublika), or, informally, Chechnya /ˈʧɛʧnɪə/ (Russian: Чечня́ Čečnja; Chechen: Нохчийчоь/Noxçiyçö), sometimes referred to as Ichkeria, Chechnia, Chechenia or Nokhchiyn, is a federal subject of Russia (a republic). It is located in the mountains of Northern Caucasus mountains, in the Southern Federal District. It borders Stavropol Krai to the northwest, the republic of Dagestan to the northeast and east, Georgia to the south, and the republics of Ingushetia and North Ossetia to the west.
During the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the government of the republic declared independence as the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. As of 2006, their independence has not been recognized by any state, although the also unrecognized Afghan Taliban government did recognize Chechnya in January 2000  before being ousted by the United States.
See "Chechen people" for name etymology. In 2006 the president, Alu Alkhanov, proposed changing the official name of the republic to Nokhchiyn (or Nokhchiin) which is a transcription of the name in the Chechen language .
 Early history
In classical times the northern slopes of the Caucasus moutains were inhabited by the Circassians on the west and the Avars on the east. In between them, the Zygians occupied Zyx, approximately the area covered by north Ossetia, the Balkar, the Ingush and the Chechen republics today. Chechnya is a region in the Northern Caucasus which has constantly fought against foreign rule beginning with the Ottoman Turks in the 15th century. Eventually the Chechens converted to Islam and tensions began to die down with the Turks; however, conflicts with their Christian neighbours such as Georgians and Cossacks, as well as with the Buddhist Kalmyks intensified. The Russian Terek Cossack Host was established in lowland Chechnya in 1577 by free Cossacks resettled from the Volga to the Terek River. In 1783, Russia and the eastern Georgian kingdom of Kartl-Kakheti (which was devastated by Turkish and Persian invasions) signed the Treaty of Georgievsk, according to which Kartl-Kakheti received protection by Russia. In order to secure communications with Georgia and other regions of the Transcaucasia, the Russian Empire began spreading its influence into the Caucasus mountains. The current resistance to Russian rule has its roots in the late 18th century (1785-1791), a period when Russia expanded into territories formerly under the dominion of Turkey and Persia (see also the Russo-Turkish Wars and Russo-Persian War, 1804-13), under Mansur Ushurma -- a Chechen Naqshbandi (Sufi) Sheikh -- with wavering support from other North Caucasian tribes (it was not uncommon for tribal khans to change sides in the conflict several times in the same year). Mansur hoped to establish a Transcaucasus Islamic state under shari'a law, but was ultimately unable to do so because of both Russian resistance and opposition from many Chechens (many of whom had not been converted to Islam at the time). Its banner was again picked up by the Avar Imam Shamil, who fought against the Russians from 1834 until 1859.
 Soviet rule
Chechen Rebellion would characteristically flame up whenever the Russian state faced a period of internal uncertainty. Rebellions occurred during the Russo-Turkish War (See Russo-Turkish War, 1877–1878), the Russian Revolution of 1905, the Russian Revolution of 1917, Russian Civil War, and Collectivization. Under Soviet Rule, Chechnya was combined with Ingushetia to form the autonomous republic of Chechen-Ingushetia in the late 1930s.
The Chechens, though, again rose up against Soviet rule during the 1940s, resulting in the deportation of the Chechen population to the Kazakh SSR (later Kazakhstan) and Siberia during World War II . Stalin and others argued this was necessary in order to stop the Chechens from providing assistance to the Germans during the Second World War. Although the German front never made it to the border of Chechnya, an active guerrilla movement threatened to undermine the Soviet defenses of the Caucasus (noted writer Valentin Pikul claims in his historical account Barbarossa that while the city of Grozny was being prepared for a siege in 1942, all of the air bombers stationed on the Caucasian front had to be directed at quelling the Chechen insurrection instead of fighting the German siege of Stalingrad). As well, incidents of covert German airdrops into Chechnya and interceptions of radio exchanges between Germans and Chechen rebels were frequent. The Chechens were allowed to return to their homeland after 1956 during the de-Stalinization which occurred under Nikita Khrushchev.
The Russification policies towards Chechens continued after 1956, with Russian language proficiency required in many aspects of life and for advancement in the Soviet system.
 Russia's recent role in Chechnya
With the impending collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, an independence movement, initially known as the Chechen National Congress was formed. This movement was ultimately opposed by Boris Yeltsin's Russian Federation, which argued: (1) Chechnya had not been an independent entity within the Soviet Union – as the Baltic, Central Asian, and other Caucasian States had – but was a part of the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic and hence did not have a right under the Soviet constitution to secede; (2) Other ethnic groups inside Russia, such as the Tatars, would join the Chechens and secede from the Russian Federation if they were granted that right; and (3) Chechnya was at a major chokepoint in the oil-infrastructure of the country and hence would hurt the country's economy and control of oil resources.
In the ensuing decade, the territory has been locked in an ongoing struggle between various factions, usually fighting unconventionally and the forgoing position as held by the several successive Russian governments through the current administration. Various demographic factors including religious factors with charges and actions characteristic of Islamic terrorism have continued to keep the area in a near constant state of non-peace.
 First Chechen War
The First Chechen War occurred when Russian forces attempted to stop Chechnya from seceding in a two year period lasting from 1994 to 1996. Despite overwhelming manpower, weaponry and air support, the Russian forces were unable to establish effective control over the mountainous area due to many successful Chechen guerrilla raids. Widespread demoralization of the Russian forces in the area prompted Russian President Boris Yeltsin to declare a ceasefire in 1996 and sign a peace treaty a year later.
The war was a humiliating defeat for the Russians and, despite their victory, a disaster for the Chechens. Conservative casualty estimates are 7,500 Russian military, 4,000 Chechen combatants, and no less than 35,000 civilians—a minimum total of 46,500 dead. Others have cited figures in the range 80,000 to 100,000. 
 Second Chechen War
The Second Chechen War is the military campaign initiated by Russia in 1999 that recaptured Chechnya, which had briefly gained de facto independence as the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria following the First Chechen War. Although sporadic fighting continues to this day, the Russian military and political campaign has succeeded in installing a pro-Moscow Chechen regime, and eliminating the most prominent Chechen separatist leaders including former president Aslan Maskhadov and leading warlord Shamil Basayev.
 Political background in Russia and Chechnya
Since 1990, the Chechen Republic has had legal, military, and civil conflicts involving separatist movements and pro-Russian authorities. Today, Chechnya a relatively stable federal republic, despite there's still some separatist movement there. Its regional constitution was entered into effect on April 2, 2003 after an all-Chechen referendum was held on March 23, 2003. ISHR and some other human right organisation alleged that officially given turnout seemed to be much bigger than the reality. Some Chechens are or were controlled by regional teips, or clans, despite the existence of pro- and anti-Russian political structures.
Official Russian authorities insist that name "separatists" for the armed bands is manipulative and hypocritical since fighters for independence would never attack a neighbour region of brotherly nation of Dagestan as they did back in 1999. Kremlin insists that hence those groups are purely terrorist in nature and get called "separatists" in the Western media only for the sake of anti-Russian propaganda as legacy of Cold War. Terroris attacks have nothing to do with interests of Chechen people either, because Chechnya was defacto independent back in 1999 and still terrorists that ruled there decided to attack Dagestan .
The motivations of the Russian and Chechens in these conflicts are complicated. Principally, Russia's stake in Chechnya relates to the fear that if Chechnya becomes independent, even more territories will break away from Russia, leading to its disintegration. Economic interests are another factor: There is also a long standing conflict between Russia and Chechnya.
There are different groups within Chechnya fighting the Russians who have different political, economic and/or ideological motivations for doing so. Some of these derive from hatred and a desire for the revenge of past Russian military and political action in the region. Most notably the forced relocation in the 1940s of the entire population to Siberia, resulting in the estimated death of a quarter of the population. The combination of motives demonstrates the cycle of violence and hatred that often fuels regional conflicts of this nature, as well as a military culture that makes much of the population willing to engage in military struggle under the command of one leader. Unemployment and poverty are also factors in the prolonged conflict.
The former separatist warlord Akhmad Kadyrov, looked upon as a traitor by many separatists, was elected president with 83% of the vote in an internationally monitored election on October 5, 2003. Incidents of ballot stuffing and voter intimidation by Russian soldiers and the exclusion of separatist parties from the polls were subsequently reported by the OSCE monitors. Rudnik Dudayev is head of the Chechen Security Council and Anatoly Popov is the Prime Minister. On May 9, 2004, Kadyrov was assassinated in Grozny football stadium by a landmine explosion that was planted beneath a VIP stage and detonated during a World War II memorial parade. Sergey Abramov was appointed to the position of acting prime minister after the incident. However, following a car accident in Moscow in 2005 Sergey Abramov has been unable to function as prime minister. Ramzan Kadyrov (son of Akhmad Kadyrov) has been caretaker prime minister since the accident and on March 1 2006 Abramov resigned from his post as prime minister. Abramov told the Itar-Tass news agency: "I resigned on the condition that Ramzan Kadyrov lead the Chechen government because I sincerely believe that this decision is right."
Many believe that Ramzan Kadyrov would have attempted to succeed his father if he had not been barred from doing so by his age – he is currently in his 20s and the constitution requires that the president be 30 years of age or older. Many also allege he is the wealthiest and most powerful man in the republic, with control over a large private militia referred to as the 'Kadyrovski'. The militia – which began as his father's security force – has been accused of killings and kidnappings by human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch.
On August 29, 2004 a new Presidential election took place. According to the Chechen electoral commission, Alu Alkhanov, former Chechen Minister of Interior, received approximately 74% of the vote. Voter turnout was 85.2%. Many observers, such as the U.S. Department of State, International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, as well as the opposition, question the election, citing, in part, the disqualification of the major rival Malik Saidullayev on a technicality. Polling conditions were also questioned, but no formal complaints have been made. The election was internationally monitored by the Commonwealth of Independent States and Arab League; western monitors didn't participate in monitoring the election in protest at previous irregularities, despite being invited.
In addition to the Russia-recognized government, there is a separatist government that is not currently recognized by any state (although members have been given political asylum in European and Arab countries, as well as the United States). The separatist government was recognised by Georgia (when Georgian President was Zviad Gamsakhurdia and Chechen President was Dzhokhar Dudaev. In 1999 the Taliban government of Afghanistan recognized independent Chechnya and opened an embassy in Kabul on 16 January 2000. Recognition ceased with the fall of the Taliban in 2001. The president of this government was Aslan Maskhadov, the Foreign Minister was Ilyas Akhmadov, who was the spokesman for Maskhadov. Ilyas Akhmadov is currently living under asylum in the United States. Aslan Maskhadov had been elected in an internationally monitored election in 1997 for 4 years, which took place after signing and agreement with Russia. In 2001 he issued a decree prolonging his office for one additional year; he was unable to participate in the 2003 presidential election, since separatist parties were barred by the Russian government, and Maskhadov faced accusations of terrorist offences in Russia. Maskhadov left Grozny and moved to the separatist-controlled areas of the south at the onset of the Second Chechen War. President Maskhadov was unable to influence a number of warlords who retain effective control over Chechen territory, and his power was diminished as a result. He came to denounce the attack by insurgent forces on Beslan and attempted to distance himself from the Islamist Shamil Basayev, who claimed responsibility for the attack. Russian forces killed Maskhadov on March 8 2005. The assassination of Maskhadov by Russian forces was widely criticized since it left no major moderate Chechen separatist leader to conduct peace talks with.
However, Kremlin always insisted that Maskhadov was never "moderate" since they do not accept anyone insisting on the independence of Chechnya. They also emphasize that Maskhadov through video and audio tapes urged "jihad" against Russia back in 1999 , urged to kill police forces  and make "cruel blow on Russia" in 2002 . Critics however emphasize that killing enemy police forces is acceptable at war. Kremlin also claimed that there was no whatever significant support for Maskhadov among Chechen people so it did not see any connection between former president of Chechnya and perspectives of peace arrangement .
Akhmed Zakayev, Deputy Prime Minister and a Foreign Minister under Maskhadov, was appointed shortly after the 1997 election and is currently living under asylum in England. He and others chose Abdul Khalim Saidullayev to replace Maskhadov following his death, bypassing Basayev. It has been reported, however, that Basayev turned the position down and has since pledged loyalty to Saidullayev. Saidullayev was a relatively unknown Islamic judge who was previously the host of an Islamic program on Chechen television. His position as a separatist is also unknown, leading the Russians and others to speculate that his selection marks the continued rise of Basayev – with Saidullayev as a figurehead – and the dearth of leadership figures that remain in the Chechen separatist movement. On June 17 2006, it was reported that Russian special forces killed Abdul Khalim Saidullayev in a raid in a Chechen town Argun. According to The New York Times, Russian television channels showed gruesome images of a body that appeared to be Saidullayev, and a Web site linked to the Chechen rebels (or terrorists by Kremlin), the Kavkaz Center, confirmed his death and declared him a martyr. The successor of Saidullayev became Doku Umarov. On July 10 2006, the FSB announced that agents had killed Basayev and up to 12 Chechen separatists in Ingushetia by detonating a truck bomb near cars carrying the separatists. Chechen separatists denied this announcement and claimed that Basayev was killed when a truck carrying explosives in a convoy blew up by accident.
 Administrative divisions
Situated in the eastern part of the North Caucasus, Chechnya is surrounded on nearly all sides by Russian Federal territory. In the west, it borders North Ossetia and Ingushetia, in the north, Stavropol Kray, in the east, Dagestan, and to the south, Georgia. Its capital is Grozny.
- Area: 19,300 km²
 Time zone
 As of 2003
During the war, the Chechen economy fell apart. Gross domestic product, if reliably calculable, would be only a fraction of the prewar level. Problems with the Chechen economy had an effect on the federal Russian economy - a number of financial crimes during the 1990s were committed using Chechen financial organizations. Chechnya has the highest ratio within Russian Federation of financial operations made in US Dollars to operations in Russian Roubles. There are many counterfeit US Dollars printed there. In 1994, the separatists planned to introduce a new currency, the Nahar, but that did not happen due to Russian troops re-taking Chechnya in the Second Chechen War.
As an effect of the war, approximately 80% of the economic potential of Chechnya was destroyed. The only branch of economy that has been rebuilt so far is the petroleum industry. The 2003 oil production was estimated at 1.5 million metric tons annually (or 30 thousand barrels per day), down from a peak of 4 million metric tons annually in the 1980s. The 2003 production constituted approximately 0.6% of the total oil production in Russia. The level of unemployment is high, hovering between 60 and 70 percent. Despite economic improvements, smuggling and bartering still comprise a significant part of Chechnya's economy.<ref>War racketeers plague Chechnya Timur Aliyev, news.bbc.co.uk, 14 December 2004. Retrieved 28 November 2006. </ref>
According to the Russian government, over 2 billion dollars were spent on the reconstruction of the Chechen economy since 2000. However, according to the Russian central economic control agency (Schyotnaya Palata), not more than 350 million dollars were spent as intended.
As of 2006 MegaFon (Mobicom-Kavkaz), with 300,000 subscribers, is the only cellular company working in Chechnya, although MTS and VimpelCom have licenses.<ref>Ramzan Kadyrov Wins Tariff War with MegaFon (Kommersant) </ref>
According to the 2004 estimates, the population of Chechnya is approximately 1.1 million. As per 2002 Census, Chechens at 1,031,647 make up 93.5% of the republic's population. Other groups include Russians (40,645, or 3.7%), Kumyks (8,883, or 0.8%), and a host of smaller groups, each accounting for less than 0.5% of the total population. Birth rate was 25.41 in 2004. (25.7 in Achkhoi Martan, 19.8 in Groznyy, 17.5 in Kurchaloi,28.3 in Urus Martan and 11.1 in Vedeno)
Most Chechens are Sunni Muslim, the country having converted to that religion between the 16th and the 19th centuries. At the end of the Soviet era, ethnic Russians comprised about 23% of the population (269,000 in 1989). Due to widespread crime and the alleged ethnic cleansing carried out by the government of Dzhokhar Dudayev most non-Chechens (and many Chechens as well) fled the country during the 1990s. <ref>Sokolov-Mitrich, Dmitryi. "Забытый геноцид". Izvestia. Retrieved on July 17 2002.</ref>
The languages used in the Republic are Chechen and Russian. Chechen belongs to the Vaynakh or North-central Caucasian linguistic family, which also includes Ingush and Batsb. Some scholars place it in a wider Iberian-Caucasian super-family.
Chechnya has one of the youngest populations in the generally aging Russian Federation; in the early 1990s, it was among the few regions experiencing natural population growth.
- Population: 1,103,686 (2002) - numbers are disputed
- Urban: 373,177 (33.8%)
- Rural: 730,509 (66.2%)
- Male: 532,724 (48.3%)
- Female: 570,962 (51.7%)
- Average age: 22.7 years
- Urban: 22.8 years
- Rural: 22.7 years
- Male: 21.6 years
- Female: 23.9 years
- Number of households: 195,304 (with 1,069,600 people)
- Urban: 65,741 (with 365,577 people)
- Rural: 129,563 (with 704,023 people)
 See also
- List of active autonomist and secessionist movements
- Chechen War
- Chechen people
- Music of Chechnya
- Anna Politkovskaya
- Chris Giannou
 Further reading
- Khassan Baiev. The Oath: A Surgeon Under Fire. ISBN 0-8027-1404-8
- Vyacheslav Mironov. Ya byl na etoy voyne. (I was in this war) Biblion - Russkaya Kniga, 2001. Partial translation available online 
- Matthew Evangelista, The Chechen Wars: Will Russia Go the Way of the Soviet Union?. ISBN 0-8157-2499-3.
- Roy Conrad. A few days... Available online 
- Olga Oliker, Russia's Chechen Wars 1994 - 2000: Lessons from Urban Combat. ISBN 0-8330-2998-3. (A strategic and tactical analysis of the Chechen Wars.)
- Charlotta Gall & Thomas de Waal. Chechnya: A Small Victorious War. ISBN 0-330-35075-7
- Paul J., Ph.D. Murphy. The Wolves of Islam: Russia and the Faces of Chechen Terror. ISBN 1-57488-830-7
- Anatol Lieven. Chechnya : Tombstone of Russian Power ISBN 0-300-07881-1
- John B Dunlop. Russia Confronts Chechnya : Roots of a Separatist Conflict ISBN 0-521-63619-1
- Paul Khlebnikov. Razgovor s varvarom (Interview with a barbarian). ISBN 5-89935-057-1. Available online in full 
- Marie Benningsen Broxup. The North Caucasus Barrier: The Russian Advance Towards the Muslim World. ISBN 1-85065-069-1
- Anna Politkovskaya. A Small Corner of Hell : Dispatches from Chechnya ISBN 0-226-67432-0
- Chris Bird. "To Catch a Tartar: Notes from the Caucasus" [ISBN 0-7195-6506-5]
- Carlotta Gall, Thomas de Waal, Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus [ISBN 0-8147-3132-5]
- Yvonne Bornstein and Mark Ribowsky, "Eleven Days of Hell: My True Story Of Kidnapping, Terror, Torture And Historic FBI & KGB Rescue" AuthorHouse, 2004. ISBN 1-4184-9302-3.
- Ali Khan, The Chechen Terror: The Play within the Play
 External links
 Maps and geography of Chechnya
 Western and independent Russian websites
- Caucasian Knot Memorial
- Chechnya Weekly (articles and analyses) Jamestown Foundation
- Prague Watchdog, Czech human rights group covering conflict in Chechnya
- Moderated Chechen news mailing list in English
- BBC Chechnya profile
 Separatist and pro-separatist websites
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the ChRI
- Official bilingual site of the ChRI news media Chechenpress
- KC, Movladi Udugov's website Kavkaz Center
- Chechen Republic Online
- The News Service of the ChRI President (in Russian)
- Komitet Wolny Kaukaz, a Polish support organization
 Federalist websites
- Official site of the government of Chechen republic (in Russian)
- Free Chechnya site (in English) - Kadyrov site
- Pro-Kadyrov site (in Russian)
 Russian military websites
- Russia's Splitting Headache - A Brief History Of Chechnya
- PINR - Chechnya: Russia's Second Afghanistan
- CBC.ca News Indepth: Chechnya
- Beslan. Who are to blame?
- Russians polled on Chechnya
- The PACE report on the Chechnya political situation
- Washington Post: Is there no solution to the nine-year-old Chechen bloodbath?
- Casualties since 1994
- Einnews: Russia Today: Chechnya
- Chechen struggle ignored
- Chechnya Population Inexplicably Swells
- New York Times: Rights Group Reports Thousands of Disappearances in Chechnya
- The Rise and Fall of the Chechen Independence Movement
- CSRC: The Caspian: Comminatory Crosscurrents, Oil and geopolitics
- Significant excerpts are available online for free at the Rand
- The CSRC publications in the Caucasus Series
- Chechen Death Toll claimed to be 160,000 by Chechen Authorities (in Russian)
- Chechnya Advocacy Network (in English)
- ISN Security Watch: Moscow's North Caucasus Quagmire
- Dossier: Chechen Security Forces 2000 – 2006
- European Parliament recognizes deportation of Chechens as act of genocide
- Beginning of the Chechen War (translation of grani.ru article)
- The attack on the ICRC hospital in Novye Atagi
- 10 years ago Russian special forces killed Chechnya's self-proclaimed president, Dzhokhar Dudayev "Moscow News"
- Almanac "Chechenian Phenomenon" in English and Russian, articles about the First Chechen war and its immediate aftermath
- Opinion of a group of Baltic politicians regarding the latest presidential elections in Chechnya
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