Our neighbours: Chechnya
14/04/2010 13:14
Gocha Guniava
"The Club of exsperts", exspert

The Vainakh is a common name for two Caucasian peoples Chechens and the Ingush who have the same historical roots, the same route of development and lifestyle. They also are united by similar life aspirations and strives.

The history of last few centuries of these two peoples was determined by continuous and selfless fight against the Russian empire. All prominent figures of these recalcitrant people are connected to this struggle and all of them died in this uneven fight.

Famous Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn writes: "But there was one nation that does not succumb to psychological obedience - not just loners, not separate rebels, but the whole nation as a whole. This is the Chechens".

Vainakhs remember names of their sons that sacrificed themselves for their freedom. Sheikh Mansur – a national hero of Chechnya and unyielding commander of the Caucasian wars, Kazi Magomed and Hamzad-Bek, Dzhokhar Dudayev a place of whose body is still kept secret and Alan Maskhadov whose body is still kept from his relatives and comrades by the authorities.

If the main essence of existence of people and nations is to fight relentlessly then Vainakhs really deserve to be on the top. Our second article is about Chechens.


The Chechen republic is situated on territories near rivers Terek and Sunzha. In the north is bordered by steppes and semi deserts of the Stavropol Krai. In the east of it is Dagestan and in the south the border with Georgia passes on the Great Caucasus Range. In the west it is bordered by Ingushetia and North Ossetia. Chechnya consists of 15 municipal districts. Its capital is Grozny with 250 000 population. The main cities are Urus-Martan, Shali, Gudermes, Argun, Kurchaloi, Avtur, Goiti, Achkhoi-Martan.

According to the 2009 census population of Chechnya was one million two hundred people. According to the data there are more than 300 000 Chechens living in Russia, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and other counties. 95% of the population is Chechens. There are small amounts of Ingush, Avars, Nogais, Kumyks and others. Until the nineties of the last century Russians were the second largest ethnic group in Chechnya.

Taips – clan units always played an important role there. Now there are 170 taips registered in Chechnya.

The main law of the republic is the constitution that was approved on March 23rd 2003. Branches of power of the republic are a president who is elected for 4-year term and two-chamber-parliament. One of them is the Council of the Republic with 34 members and another is People's Assembly with 40 members. Twenty out of those are elected through party lists while another 20 are elected from one-mandate administrative districts.

Today there are three political parties in Chechnya. These are Edynaya Rossia, the Communist Party and the Union of Right Forces. According to the current legislation Russian language together with the Chechen language is considered official languages.

Chechen language belongs to Nakh group of Iberian-Caucasian language family.

Ancestors of the Vainakh people lived in mountains since ancient times and as all mountainous tribes were pagans. Starting from the X century Georgian missionaries started to spread Christianity in Chechnya and this process had been continuing until XVI century. From this period Suni Islam started to take roots in Dagestan and it soon become a dominant religion. And today absolute majority of the Checehn population follows Suni Islam. At that it should be noted that lately radical branch of Islam - Salafism became stronger in Chechnya and the entire North Caucasus. The mentioned Salafism - under the name of Wahhabism became an ideology for rebel armed formations.

Historical development of Chechen people was significantly determined by their being neighbours of Russia. Starting point of the Chechen-Russian relations is named 1567 when the first Russian castle was built on the river Terek and that was followed by signing of an act on vassal dependence of one of Chechen nobleman with its lands on the Russian kingdom.

Starting from the XVII century Chechnya had been under influence and pressure of Turkey and the Islam world.

Since the beginning of the XIX century Russia took roots in the Caucasus. The Chechens responded to the colonial policy of the Tsarist Russia with national liberation movement which was headed by Hamzat-Bek, Kazi Magomet and Shamil. Aimed at complete eradication of Iranian and Turkish influence Russia responded to all pro-Turkish and pro-Iranian manifestations with severe repressions. Especially ruthless were Vice Roys Ermolov and Feldmarshal Paskevich. It was the period of their leadership when a term "burnt land" came into use that meant complete destruction of rebelled auls (villages) and complete eradication of their population. Chechens shared a fate of Caucasian Muhajirs.

After the beginning of the civil war in Russia Islamist state of North Caucasian Emirates was created on the territory of Chechnya under the /protectorate of the Ottoman Empire. It was headed by Emir Uzun Haji. It had its currency and army of ten thousand. After the success of the Bolsheviks the North Caucasian emirates were directly incorporated into The Russian Federation.

In 1934 Chechen-Ingush autonomous district was formed. In 1944 it was abolished on the basis of their cooperation with Germans and its entire population was exiled to Kazakhstan and Central Asia.

In the beginning of the processes of the collapse of the Soviet Union in November 1990 the first national assembly was held in Grozny which elected the All-National Congress of the Chechen People headed by Soviet general Dzhokhar Dudayev. One month later Dudayev became the president of Chechnya. The All-National Congress declared their leaving of the Russian federation and independence of the Chechen republic - Nokhchii-cho. Russia responded to this with declaration of special situation in Chechnya and it sent additional military forces and military equipment there. Rebel Chechens encircled Russian military units which were threatened with complete destruction. As a result of negotiations Russian army was withdrawn while armaments - tanks and aircrafts among other things - were retained by armed formations of Chechnya.

After this Chechen-Ingush autonomy was separated. Ingushetia entered the Russian federation with a status of autonomous republic and Chechnya officially declared its sovereignty.

On December 11th 1994 on orders of Boris Yeltsin Russian Army attacked Grozny from three directions – Dagestan, Ingushetia and Stavropol Krai. And that meant the beginning of the first Chechen war. On April 21st 1996 after a rocket attack the first President of the Chechen republic Dzhokhar Dudayev was killed in bunker shelter in a village of Gekhi-Chu. His comrades-in-arms responded to this with doubled orderliness and fighting spirit and which resulted in Russia's defeat and well-known Khasavyurt Agreement in August 26th 1996. This agreement that was signed by Alsan Maskhadocv and Alexander Lebed obligated Russia to withdraw its full personnel of the entire armed forces from Chechnya. It was obvious for everybody that Russian authorities would not accept the terms of the Khasavyurt Agreement and it would start to prepare for a response. Russia was refusing to all suggestions of President Maskhadov to resolve all disputed issues by peaceful means.

This is the period when Aslan Maskhadov tried to introduce a new kind of relations with Georgia. His visit to Georgia and his meetings and negotiations with high-rank officials of the country that took place on August 30-31 1997 was an important event.

Foundations were being laid for business contacts of the two Caucasian peoples. Real conditions were being laid to peacefully and with own forces resolve the Abkhazian problem and to establish stability and order in the Caucasus.

In September of the same year a Chechen Parliamentary delegation headed by Vice-Chairman Seilam Bushaev arrived in Tbilisi. Negotiations aimed at further establishment of closer relations of the sides were taking place. A question of establishment of Parliament of the Caucasian peoples was discussed again and so on.

Such steps caused painful irritation of outside forces that were interested in the Caucasus region. Preparations were started to oppose formation of Georgian-Chechen alliance which might have become a foundation for uniting of the Caucasians. So both peoples had to pay a high price for all this.

In August 1999 independently acting units of Arab and Chechen field commanders entered Dagestan and that served as a pretext for renewed attacks of The Russian Army on Chechnya that started on September 30th 1999. This date is considered as the beginning of the second Chechen war which ended in March 2000 with capturing Grozny. Pro-Russian leadership headed by Mufti of the republic Akhmad Kadyrov was established in Chechnya - Kadyrov who just few years earlier had been fighting with arms in his hands against the Russian army.

It is believed that Akhmad Kadyrov was forced to take this step based on pragmatic arguments to save Chechen people from complete destruction. On May 9th 2004 Akhmad Kadyrov and his closest circle was blown up at the Grozny stadium at the celebrations dedicated to the victory in the World War II.

Current Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov tries to continue the course that was started by his father and which implies loyal and close cooperation with the Russian authorities. But as opposed to his father, Ramzan Kadyrov's attitude is more of servility towards the Kremlin which is manifested in aggressive statements towards the western world and Georgian authorities.

Ramzan Kadyrov does not want to assess relevantly Georgian-Chechen relations that were established centuries ago. Chechens that live in the mountainous south of Chechnya always considered Georgians as close people and especially respected personal and business contacts with them. A special place in this relations belonged to a factor of the Kists of the Pankisi gorge whose ancestors moved from Chechnya in XVII-XVIII and settled in the Pankisi gorge. They befriended and established family contacts with Georgians of neighbouring areas, assimilated Georgian lifestyle and Georgian culture. In its turn, Georgians always especially respected noble qualities of proud Caucasians. Just mentioning of works of great Georgian writer Vazha-Pshavela and his great "Host and Guest" would suffice to surprise the whole world with brave and moral qualities of these two peoples.

When in 1944 Chechens and Ingush were uprooted from their land and exiled into the central Asia representatives of the Georgian society made every effort to prevent their brotherly Kists from sharing the same fate.

Ten years ago Georgians displayed usual hospitality towards those tens of thousands of Chechen refugees who were trapped on the Georgian-Chechen border and condemned for death. Most of them even today are living in Pankisi and other regions of Georgia. It was easy for Georgians to understand their pain. In the nineties the same forces with the same brutality killed tens of thousands of Georgians in Abkhazia and Samachablo (Tskhinvali region) and threw our hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

Respected President of the Chechen people Aslan Maskhadov twice apologized to Georgian people and those who suffered and died in Abkhazia for those atrocities that a group of Chechen who lost a human face carried out there.

The same evil forces did not forgive this person of very high morals fairness, firmness and love towards peaceful people. On March 8th 2005 bombs were thrown into a bunker where this exhausted president was sheltered and killed him. And his relatives were not eve given a chance to look after this body before burial.

Peoples of the region are looking cautiously at events that are unfolding in Chechnya: interminable large-scale special operations with participation of numerous military units; artillery and aviation; large casualties on the both sides; frequented facts of abduction of people by law enforcers; explosions; killings; and various kinds of crimes that have already become everyday occurrences. They want to convince population of Chechnya in promises - that was many times voiced by the President, but which were never fulfilled - about ending anti-terrorist operations, putting a stop to sending more and more new army units from central districts of Russia, as well as stopping a practice of announcing killed people as insurgents before they are even identified and so on.

No leader can retain power for long with false promises. Today it is impossible to lock people in information vacuum. And attempts to represent evil as good are short-lived as well. And Caucasian peoples are fighting and will continue to fight until they are convinced that the evil is defeated.

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