1. News & Issues

Russia, Chechnya and Terrorism

A Timeline of Russian-Chechen conflict

By

The Russian war in Chechnya appears to be over, at the beginning of 2008. But its legacy will probably go on, as Chechen separatism, sporadic terrorist attacks and spillover into nearby republics continues. In this timeline, find facts about Russia, the War in Chechnya and Terrorism

Where Is Chechnya?

Chechnya is a primarily Muslim region in the southwestern corner of Russia, in the Caucasus Mountains. It is bordered by another republic, Ingushtia, to the west and Georgia to the south, and Dagestan, to the north. The capital is Grozny.

Early 1990s: Why did Russia go to War with Chechnya?

Chechnya, a terminally unwilling member of the Soviet Union, declared independence when the Soviet Union broke apart in 1991. President Yeltsin responded immediately with military force, which had little impact. In 1994, the conflict between Russia and militant Chechen separatists grew into a war. Russian losses were significant, and the war concluded with a 1996 peace agreement that granted Chechnya substantial autonomy.

1999: Russia and Chechen separatist violence, accusations of terrorism

Russian troops returned to Chechnya in 1999, following the attempt by Chechen separatists to enter bordering Dagestan and a series of bombings in Russia attributed to Chechen militants. The brutality of Russian tactics drew widespread condemnation, but Yeltsin responded to these criticisms that such tactics were justified to combat Chechen terrorism. At a security summit attended by the U.S., France and Germany in 1999, he charged "You have no right to criticize Russia for Chechnya. We are obliged to put an end to the spread of the cancer of terrorism."

1991-2006: Activities of Shamil Baseyev, Militant Chechen Separatist Leader

Basayev's reputation as a terrorist began in 1991 when, during the first Chechen war, he hijacked a Russian plan and directed to Ankara with the plan to hold a press conference to publicize the Chechen cause. Basayev became head of the Chechen rebels during the 1994 war, and he served as prime minister of the Chechen Prime Minister following the war, before returning to guerrilla fighting in neighboring Dagestan. His most notorious attack was the raid of a school in Beslan that left 331 dead, over half of whom were children. Baseyev was killed in the July, 2006.

2001: Russia and the U.S. War on Terrorism

After 9/11, Russia eagerly proclaimed that its efforts against Chechen fighters were part of the "war on terrorism." However, despite some ties between al-Qaeda sympathizers or those promoting global jihad, and Chechen rebels, the bulk of Chechen fighters retained their nationalist intentions. Although some foreign fighters have played a role in Chechnya, their number and influence has not been significant. Jihadi fighters outside the region have claimed an interest in Chechnya, romanticizing its role as a war front for a perceived foreign goal.

2006-2007: Russian Government Amnesty for Chechen Rebels

Beginning in July, 2006, Russia and Ramzan Kadyrov, the Russian-allied president of Chechnya (and a former rebel), promoted an amnesty program. They invited militants the chance to announce themselves and avoid prosecution if they turned themselves in by January, 2007. At the end of the program, about 500 militants were reported to have applied for amnesty. However, as the New York Times reported at that time, remaining militants said the program is not filled with reformed separatists at all, but rather "prisoners and kidnapped relatives of militants who had been forced into role playing by RamzanA. Kadyrov, the pro-Kremlin Chechen premier." Russia and Kadyrov claimed the program was a success.

2008: Stability and Human Rights Concerns

By the beginning of 2008, Russia could claim to have stabilized. Although separatist militants continue their attacks, they are small and intermittent. However, stability has come at a high price, according to human rights observers. In order to maintain his rule, Kadyrov has reportedly made torture, murder and rape substantial elements of his effort to keep order

Read more: Russian torture in Chechya counterterrorism operations

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.