Chechnya Marc Gerst
Where is Chechnya? What Is Chechnya? Discussion Questions 1 & 2
History • Surrounded by vastly different ethnic groups Chechens have long sought their own national identity. • In the 15th Century the inhabitants were mostly converted to Islam, by Invading Turks from the Ottoman Empire. • In the 1700’s Russian influence began to seep into Chechnya, this was heavily resisted. • Conflict against Russian occupation was sporadic, but lasting for over 20 years. Chechnya in 1912
Soviet Rule • During the Russian Revolutions, resistance in Chechnya swelled once again. • These were crushed by the Red Guards under Trotsky. • After the Civil War, Chechnya was combined with Ingushetia to form an Autonomous Republic.
World War II • When Germany invaded Russia Chechens fought on both sides. • Some joined a pro German Russian army. • 40,000 joined the Red Army, 40 of which earned Hero of the Soviet Union. • Nevertheless the Chechen population was rounded up and exiled to Kazakhstan. • They were not allowed to return until 1956 during De-Stalinization.
1960s-1980’s • Russification policies towards Chechens continued after the war. Only Russian speakers would be allowed into government or other positions. • This was met with success. Several Chechens achieved high government positions. • Chechnya remained peaceful and loyal until Glasnost in the 1980s.
Yeltsin’s Three Points • When the Soviet Union broke up in the early 1990s several Republics gained their independence. An independence movement started in Chechnya but was opposed by Boris Yeltsin who 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
Independence • Dzhokhar Dudayev declares Chechnya independent. • Chechnya turns to chaos, new government unable to govern efficiently amidst corruption. • Slave trade, widespread murder, and terrorism run rampet. • Boris Yeltsin orders 40,000 troops to retake Chechnya. Advisers tell him it will be a short victorious war that will help him in the 1996 elections.
First Chechen War • Russian troops enter Gorzny in 1994 with little preparation. • Russian forces suffer grave losses but push back the majority of Chechen resistance to the surrounding mountains. • Several terrorist attacks take place in both Chechnya and Southern Russia against civilians.
First Chechen War - Continued • Weary of the war, Yeltsin attempts a ceasefire, and pulls out all but 3000 troops. • These 3000 troops are caught unprepared in Grozy and attacked by militants. • Yeltsin is forced to sign a peace treaty on the Chechens terms, with the fate of the country to be decided in 2001. But gave it independence in the meantime.
The Second Chechen War • More terrorists attacks and bombings on Civilian targets occur in Russia. • November 16, 1996 - Dagestani terrorists blew up an apartment building in Kaspiysk (Dagestan); 69 persons, mostly relatives of border guards, died. • April 23, 1997 - A bomb exploded in the Russian railway station of Armavir; 3 people died. • May 28, 1997 - Explosion in the Russian railway station of Pyatigorsk; 2 people died. • December 22, 1997 - "Dagestani Central Liberation Front" and the Arab warlord Ibn al-Khattab raided the base of the 136th Armoured Brigade of the Russian Army in Buinaksk (Dagestan), destroying its motor pool of some 300 vehicles, including 50 T-72 tanks, and killing scores of soldiers. • April 16, 1998 - A Russian army convoy was ambushed in Ingushetia near the Chechnya border; a general, two colonels and 3 soldiers were killed and Ingush militants were blamed. • March 19, 1999 - An explosion in the Central market of Vladikavkaz (North Ossetia); 64 people died. • April 7, 1999 - Chechen gunmen killed 4 Russian policemen patrolling the border near Stavropol.
The Second Chechen War Continued • Russian troops again enter Chechnya, this time with coordinated artillery and air strikes. • Vladimir Putin, (the new president) at first only orders a limited advance, to cut off communications. However, the Russian army soon moves to take Grozny. • After weeks of intence fighting, Grozny, after being flattened by air strikes and artillery, is taken.
War on Terror • After the September 11 Attacks Vladimir Putin, began to associate the Chechen conflict with the War on Terror. • This has had some degree of success, as of 2006 no country, nor the United Nations has accepted Chechnya’s claim to independence.
Moscow Theater Hostage Crisis • The seizure on October 23, 2002 of a crowded Moscow theatre by armed Chechen men and women who claimed allegiance to the separatist movement in Chechnya. They took over 900 hostages and demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya. • Russian Spetsnatz stormed the building after unleashing an unknown gas. In the ensuing battle 33 militants and 128 hostages died. Most from the deadly gas. • Putin defended the raid saying Russian troops “achieved the near impossible, saving hundreds, hundreds of people”
Discussion Question 3 • Does Chechnya have the right to secede?
Discussion Question 4 • Are the Chechen militants Terrorists attacking innocent civilians? Or freedom fighters attacking a brutal regime?
Discussion Question 5 • Are the Russian’s justified in indiscriminately bombarding cities when separatists hide amoung them?