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The Conflict In Chechnya

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"Slave, who doesn't try to escape slavery - deserves double slavery"
Imam Shamil and Naiby - The legendary Chechen freedom fighter.
On August 22, 1991, thousands of people gathered in the main square of Grozny, the capital city of the Russian Republic of Chechnya, after hearing the news of the attempted coup in Moscow against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The jubilant Chechens viewed this as their Independence Day. At the end of the summer of 1991, Dzokhar Dudayev led a movement that expelled the conservative Communist establishment in Grozny. Dudayev's strongly nationalistic group formed a National Guard, declared the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) dissolved, and proclaimed Chechnya a sovereign republic that would define its future relationship with Russia by treaty. The day before Dudayev took the oath of office, the President of Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin decreed a state of emergency in the Chechen-Ingush Republic and ordered a battalion of troops to fly in to restore order. The Chechens rallied to defend their republic. "On November 11, by a vote of 177 to 4, the Russian Parliament rejected Yeltsin's decree and called for the situation to be settled "not by applying emergency measures but by political means." (Herze, P. B., The Chechens: Perennial Rebels of the Caucus.) The parliament's efforts to secure the peace in Chechnya were unsuccessful. Dudayev ordered general mobilization to defend Chechnya against a Russian invasion. "On November 29 Russian jets bombed Grozny's airport, and Yeltsin issued an ultimatum giving Chechens 48 hours to lay down arms." (Herze, P. B., The Chechens: Perennial Rebels of the Caucus.) Consequently, the Chechens refused the notion, and a full-scale invasion of Chechnya by Russian forces began in December. Moscow was repeating the infamous tactics of "Marshall Yermolov, the brutal, 18th century Russian conqueror of the Caucasus, who proclaimed, "I desire that the terror of my name should guard our frontiers more potently than chains or fortresses, that my word should be for the natives a law more inevitable than death." (Herze, P. B., The Chechens: Perennial Rebels of the Caucus.) As the Chechen resistance persisted, official Russian media reverted to the traditional Soviet practices of falsifying information. Yeltsin appeared to be endorsing this practice during his May 1995 summit meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton, when he claimed during a press conference that no fighting was going on in Chechnya at the same time television news reports were showing helicopters bombing Chechen towns. The Russian campaign was a military disaster from day one, and in August 1996 Moscow gave up a military solution. A peace agreement was signed in Khasavyurt by Yeltsin's appointee Aleksandr Lebed, and Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov, bringing the war to an end. The war was a political disaster for Boris Yeltsin, ending in de facto independence of Chechnya. Up to 10,000 civilians were killed in the fighting, along with more than 4,000 Russian troops.
Aslan Maskhadov, who became the Prime Minister in Chechnya's separatist government on January 27, 1997, signed a peace treaty with Boris Yeltsin. It left open the question of independence, but confirmed that Russia would acknowledge the norms of international law and not use force to settle disputes. Chechnya kept the Russian ruble as currency. The treaty also cleared the way for commissioned use of Chechen oil pipelines by Russia, which were of great strategic importance to Russia since the beginning of the conflict. The treaty, however, secured only temporary negative peace in the region. During the period of diplomatic negotiations and peace talks, the negative peace coexisted with structural violence - Russia continued to repress and exploit, the Chechens bred rebellions.
In July and August of 1999, the mysterious blasts leveled several apartment houses in Moscow and Rostov, killing almost 300 people. Even though the culprits were never found and the militants had denied their involvement, the Russian government blamed the rebels. "Some analysts suggested that the explosions were set off by renegade elements of Russia's military and intelligence services to build up public support for a wider war." (Gordon, M. R., A Look at How the Kremlin Slid Into the Chechen War.) Unconventional war tactics dominated the region until October of 1999, when Russia launched the massive second military attack on Chechnya. "Three years after suffering one of the most humiliating defeats in its history at the hands of a small, improvised army of Chechen guerrillas, Russia was once again in the state of undeclared war with the mountainous republic." (Quinn-Judge, P., Back Into the Inferno.) Russian forces began air strikes on Grozny and seized over a third of Chechen territory under the pretext of establishing a "security zone" and rooting out Islamic militants believed to be in Chechnya. Russian air strikes have systematically destroyed Chechen communications and infrastructure while ground troops poured in from the ...

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