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Department of International Relations and

European Studies
The Chechen Terrorism – development and present

Master’s Thesis

Mgr. Mahir Suleymanov

Supervisor: Mgr. Tomas Smid, Ph.D.

UČO: 364113

Field: European Politics

Matriculation year: 2009 In Brno, April 2011

I hereby profess that I have written the diploma thesis The Chechen Terrorism—development and present alone, using only the literature and resources given in the list.

Mgr. Mahir Suleymanov

Date: Signature:

On this place I would like sincerely thank the supervisor of my diploma thesis Mgr. Tomáš Šmíd, Ph.D. for his precious advises and for the providing the significant assistance during my work.


Кавказ! далекая страна!

Жилище вольности простой!

И ты несчастьями полна

И окровавлена войной!..

М. Ю. Лермонтов, 1830.


Map of Chechnya

(Available at:


Abstract ……………………………………………………………………….. 7

Methodology ………………………………………………………………...… 8

Introduction ………………….…………………………………………………………..…… 9

  1. Post-Soviet Northern Caucasus – brief overview of the domestic situation

in Chechnya until the first phase of war…………………………………......... 12

    1. Reasons of the Chechen conflict ……………………..…………………………….. 13

    2. Development of the crisis, Chechen separatism: 1990-1994s …………………….. 16

  1. The First and the Second Chechen wars and their consequences …………... 19

    1. The first Chechen War: 1996-1999s. Khasav-Yurt agreement and its consequences………………………………………………………………………... 20

    2. Years of independence: 1996-1999s ……………………………………………….. 27

    3. The second Chechen War and its consequences……………………………………. 29

  2. Radical Islamism and Wahhabism in Chechnya …………………………….. 32

    1. ‘Chechenization’ of the conflict ……………………………………………………. 33

    2. Spread of Wahhabism …………………………………………………………...… 35

    3. Radicalism and Extremism in Chechnya: Islamic factor ………………………..… 42

  3. Chechen Terrorism …………………………………………………………….. 47

    1. Definition of the Chechen Terrorism: resistance or just terrorism? ………….……. 48

    2. Role of Al-Qaida in Chechnya: Chechen Jihad ………………................................. 53

    3. Chechen conflict after 9/11......................................................................................... 60

  4. International Estimation of the Chechen Conflict ……………………...…… 65

5.1 International reaction to the Chechen conflict, external approaches …………….…. 66

Conclusion …………………………………………………………………………..… 71

Appendix …………………………………………………………………………… 74

Bibliography …………………….………………………………………………….. 80


This work is based on the conflict occurred on the Northern Caucasus after the collapse of the Soviet regime and reviews the issues about the Chechen dispute. In this thesis was pointed out the development and the present situation of the conflict, and especially was concentrated on the role of Islamism, radicalism and terrorism issues in Chechnya. The aim of work is to analyze the causes of the occurring of the Chechen terrorism since the collapse of the Soviet Union which actually rooted in 1990s, and to give unbiased definition to it from the modern point of view.

On the first hand this work presents the general view to the first and second Chechen wars, on the second hand the author elucidates the outcomes of the war, namely radicalism and terrorism.

Additionally, in the work was looked to the international impacts of the dispute too.


In my thesis the object of research is concentrated on the Chechen terrorism, its development prospect and the present situation. For writing out my thesis I used various sources such as numerous articles, generally accepted books, documents from research institutes and speeches of diplomats which are distinguish for their characters and content. The methodology implemented for this issue is pursued by the qualitative research methods. The studying materials consist of primary and secondary sources and in additional were addressed to internet sources too (some documental movies). Here for achieving my conclusion I analyzed all studying materials via inductive logic method and as the basic design of the work, which depicts the structure of research, it is based on case study method. Furthermore, in my thesis for highlighting questions I have taken interview from experts too. Until the end of the diploma work I will try to keep descriptive analyzing way to generalize all information obtained by me and to see my goal predicatively. Due to the descriptive way I will try to define terminological case, namely, what kind of insurgency it is: guerrilla or terrorism, if terrorism so ethnic-nationalist or religious.

The goal of my investigation relies on the studying of the origins of conflict, the role of wahhabism in radicalization of the conflict and terrorism as its outcome, and international estimation of the conflict, particularly after the 9/11 events.


The Northern Caucasus, it is already third century that this territory has become the region of frequent conflicts and bloodshed. From time to time the tension in the Caucasus reached to the high level, especially, in the Chechnya and Dagestan regions. Historically, since the first half of XIX century until nowadays the stability remains as a vulnerable point for the region, and it still is the battle-place between sides. However, the current instability in the region especially originates from the post-Soviet Russia-Chechnya dispute and first/second Chechen wars. The war has led to a noticeable changes in the political life of Russia, has had serious impact on inter-ethnic relations, became one of the major incentives, contributed to the reorientation of foreign policy, and finally forced the Russian military machine which has still been focused on the confrontation with the West, to react to the new security challenges emanating from the South.1

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 followed up with the internal conflicts in Russia, and the almost unknown Chechnya now has gradually become the attractive focus point for the media. ‘The war in Chechnya, the Islamisation of the conflict and the spread of violence and terrorism to other parts of the Northern Caucasus as well as Russia-all these increased the interest in the area and the need to investigate all cases separately.’2 The Chechen war led to the emergence of the Chechen terrorism and made it one of the main domestic affairs of the post-Soviet Russia’s activity. The war was caused to the appearing of the thousands of refugees, sharpened the tension between Slavic majorities and the Muslim population of the country.

Actually, the seriousness of the conflict has been sensed since the beginning of the first Chechen campaign which was the indirect strong blow to the presidency of Boris Yeltsin, and even the influential background which brought about his resignation. ‘The second one governed the Kremlin’s choice of a successor to Yeltsin and provided a political spring-board for Vladimir Putin.’3 The war between Russia and the Chechen separatists forces, which lasted from December 1994 to August 1996, may be seen by future historians as a key moment in Russian and perhaps world history – not so much because of its consequences, as because of the stark light which this war has thrown on one of the most important developments of our time: the end of Russia as a great military and imperial power.4 Even, the expected challenge from some of Russia’s neighbours appeared especially since the Russian defeat in Chechnya and the growth of self-confidence in some of Russia’s neighbours has been very marked.5 Therefore, it is important to point out that the war in Chechnya put some disquieting options before Russian Federation, which especially stressed the end of the Russia’s imperial state which inherited from the Soviet.

Thus, although the military operation decreased and stability relatively restored in Chechnya but still it has not been possible to solve the existed problem entirely and it shifted as unsolved issue from XX century to the XXI century. However, while the conflict remains concentrated in Chechnya, it has escalated into a broader regional conflict in the North Caucasus.6 ‘This shift was largely the result of a radicalization induced by the brutality of Russia’s military response to what was, and remains, a political problem.’7

There are a lot of literatures and articles about the Chechen war. But in my work I would like to concentrate on the terrorism factor, and investigate the role of Islamism and radicalism in Chechen terrorism. My master thesis intends to present to the readers in five chapters. Chapter I shapes the general situation of the Post-Soviet Caucasus and briefly highlights the general domestic situation in Chechnya by the first Chechen war. Here we could be familiar with the initial essence and causes of ethnic conflicts in the Northern Caucasus. Chapter II concentrates on the first and second Chechen wars and deals with the military affairs. Chapter explains the reasons and consequences of the war, comparatively analysis the first and the second phases of war, shows the grievous losses, give them possible definition and achieves significant outcomes which examines profoundly in the fourth and the fifth chapters.

However, the most important chapters are III and IV. These chapters are dedicated to the main goals of my diploma thesis’s study. They are devoted to the Islamic factor which apparently influenced on internal affairs of Russia, and especially, focused on the Chechen terrorism and extremism. As for giving definition to the terrorism I focused on the terrorist acts perpetrated by Chechen extremists at the Budennovsk hospital, Dubrovka theatre, and Beslan school and so on. Here also is given Russia’s experience in counter-terrorism.

The last chapter I devote to the international impacts of conflict, to the point of views of different countries and to the global range of Chechen terrorism. Also was highlighted the obvious shift in the development of the conflict after September, 2001. Thesis’s conclusion part based on the general assessment of the ‘Chechen terrorism’.

Despite there have been written down several books about this topic, the complexity of theme does it impossible, to say that it has been studied entirely. But my diploma thesis is analyzing, especially, the Chechen terrorism from the initial steps and studies its international impacts which occurred as an outcome of the conflict. So, I hope that it could be helpful for readers who are interested in topic and tries to understand the clear-cut situation.

The bibliography of the thesis consists of primary and as well as of secondary resources. For concluding the work there have been used several academic literatures, internet resources, speeches of governmental officials and official documental movies in different languages: English, Russian, Turkish, Polish and Azerbaijani.

Post-Soviet Northern Caucasus – brief overview of the domestic situation in Chechnya until the first phase of war

Chapter I

Chechen conflict had its impacts not only on Russian society and statehood, it also became a litmus-test of maturity of the society and its ruling elite.’8

Reasons of the Chechen conflict

Immediately after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, in the southern regions of the empire were established new fully independent countries, ‘while others, like Chechnya, struggled to find their place in the newly formed and uncharted Russian Federation’9. Leaders of informal movements’10 in Chechnya wanted to use this chance of chaos in the country and declare independence of their state too, which they thought that it would be only right way of freedom.11 ‘While the Chechens declared their independence from Russia alongside these others, the main difference between them was that Chechnya had been a state inside the Russian Federation whereas the others had never been part of the Russian Federation, and they were independent republics of a now disintegrated union where the Russians were ready to accept the collapse of the Soviet Union but not of their own federation.’12 However, struggle for obtaining independence was not easy even impossible, which draw Chechnya into the violence war. ‘The destructive level and sustained nature of the conflict in Chechnya make it the most protected and violent of all the post-Soviet conflicts, and it like some other post-Soviet conflicts involves secession and territorialized ethnicity.’13 However, the importance of the conflict lies more in the fact that it is the only violent conflict to have occurred within the Russian Federation, and moreover, Chechnya is the only case where ‘Russia has persistently deployed its military power to resist decolonisation, and it is the only case where secessionist challenged the sovereignty of the RF by the use of the military force.’14 In general, the conflict happened on the edge of the XX century, for its devastating consequences in economy, culture and international relation stands far beyond from everything known in the history of Europe after the Second World War.15 It is very rare event to find any conflict which in result of it died each fifth member of that ethnos.

However, the conflict has deep roots in history. Historically the Russians and Chechens have fought intermediately since 1500s, and since that time the two peoples have a poor relationship.16 But today’s conflict much more can be related to the mass genocide taken place in 1944 has left much painful memories.17 For the Chechens, ‘the deportation represents not only an episode of great suffering, but also a humiliation-a trauma which has made it impossible for Chechens to live within Russia as a national minority.’18 But the social-economic and political events happened in the first half of the twentieth century in Russia actually were not much tightly related to the nowadays Chechen conflict. Today it is important to underline the fact that the conflict and the war in Chechnya relied not on the Chechen nationalism which rooted everlasting enmity or on the Russian chauvinism, in this case the most important cause was unsolved economic issues which prevailed everything.19

According to Russian author Malashenko, the causes of the conflict in Chechen can be divided into two groups: objectively inevitable and subjective.20 However, these subjective and objective reasons of this brutal and destructive Russo-Chechen war could be originated from some of unpleasant causes, which are:

  • Firstly, because it is one of the first oil extracting complex in the region;

  • Second, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the territory of Chechnya were left amount of various weapons, especially, rifles. And in 1991, Chechnya was only region of RF and the territory that formed part of the Warsaw Pact which was entirely freed and from where were withdrawn soviet military troops. However, in the beginning of the conflict in 1994-1995s were blotted out around 300 warplanes;

  • Third, the people who had faced with discrimination in all spheres of life, suddenly obtained freedom;

  • Forth, there was no consensus and unity within the country, and the democracy was young and inexperienced.21

Furthermore, there were some geopolitical factors too, which were totally unacceptable for Russia to grant Chechnya with independence, on the one hand, because it would encourage other regions to becoming independence, on the other hand because of Chechnya oil.22 However, some analysts do not consider Chechen oil as an influential reason for the conflict even they decisively deny it and explain it with very clear fact as the Chechen oil is almost exhausted and its extraction perspective is maximum 12-15 years.23 So, having taken this fact into consideration we may doubt about how much did Chechen oil play a role in conflict?

Nevertheless, despite all of its causalities the conflict could be prevented, but due to the lack of political and military professionalism of Moscow, the obvious contradiction has continued in other dimension, which in an outcome it was impossible to avoid multiple victims.

Development of the crisis, Chechen separatism: 1990-1994s

The political activity in Chechnya began since the 1980s, and ‘by that time Chechen political movements produced three formal political projects, and even they had transformed the Chechens from an ethnos, an ethnocentric community focused on the past, into a modern political nation, which projected into the future’24. All of the reasons mentioned in previous sub-chapter and plus ‘memories of grievance’25 were powerful induce for shifting the general tendency in Chechnya, the number of supporters of separation was high, which required without any hesitating to complete Russian invasion. However, the national revival especially rapidly rose with the appointment of Doku Zavgayev26 as a head of the Supreme Soviet of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR in 1990. Immediately after this in November by the Chechen National Congress (CNC) was approved the declaration about the sovereignty which was the first step of aggravation of the situation. After some couple of months’ survival there was created national congress of the Chechen People which was headed by soviet general Dzhokhar Dudayev who was Chairman of Executive Committee and under his proclamation it became the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. However, the ideological division among the nationalist ideologies were based on the two identity mechanisms: on the one hand those who retained a stronger common identity with Russia advocated sovereignty and national self-determination, but within the Russia federal state, on the other hand those who was yet rejected Russia and wanted an independent Chechnya, there was also third way of ideology who retained a common allegiance with the Ingush and advocated an independent Vaynach policy.27

The political tension in Chechnya rose steadily during 1991, newly elected President proclaimed the “state sovereignty”—in effect the independence—of Chechnya on 1 November 1991 and after his inauguration Russian President Boris Yeltsin had issued decree declaring a state of emergency in the Chechen-Ingush Republic.28 However, the Chechens also enjoyed at this time strong support from the other Muslim peoples—as Abkhazs, Dagestan peoples and Kabardians--of the Caucasus region.29

‘Throughout this period, the Chechen military gained straight by enlisting the Chechen Mafiya into the nationalist cause, and due to this steady confrontational situation criminal business was promoting in the region.’30 So, here the real benefit from the conflict became obvious, it was used as a mean for illicit enrichment by Moscow and Chechen politicians, furthermore, permanent contradiction situation, however, became the provided warranty of the criminality in the region.

‘Until 1994 Russia was still following democratic principles and did not suppressed conflict into warfare, even had negotiations with Chechen separatist government which turned out to be the longest ever negotiations related to separatist conflict in the post-Soviet space.’31 However, if to be clearly, the conducted strategy was counter-productive with Chechnya, on the one hand because Moscow should been taking into consideration the characteristic nature of Chechens, on the other hand because the centre underestimated the Chechen separatism and did not see the possible outcomes of the conflict.

Actually, since November 1994 Chechnya was on the edge of the war when disillusioned with many of Dudayev’s decisions and supported by Russian Special Forces, Chechnya opposition troops, known as the Provincial Chechen Council, attempt unsuccessfully to take over Grozny and end the separatist movement.32 And the initial attack on Grozny, in particular, was one of Russia’s worst military defeats since the Second World War.33 Even, the war in Chechnya has left much more destabilizing impact on Russia than any conflict has happened between newly independent republics of the former USSR and Russia since the break out of the Soviet.

The first and the second Chechen wars

and their consequences

Chapter II

Everywhere there are maintains, everywhere forests, and the Chechens are fierce and tireless fighters.’

John F. Baddeley34

There is no more important question in Russia than that of Chechnya. It is an open bleeding wound’

Lt. General Aleksandr Lebed’35

The first Chechen War: 1996-1999s. Khasav-Yurt agreement and its consequences

By the end of the 1994 tensions in Chechnya had been stretched, and occurred what actually must be happen. It was a year of unprecedented changes in the Russian political scene.36 The president of Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin, waited until the 11 December, hoping that the Chechens will restore the Russian’s order in the region. But in response to several defiant declarations of full independence from Chechen leader Dzhokhar Dudayev, Russia deployed thousands of Russian troops into Chechnya to restore “constitutional order”, sparking the first Chechen war.37 However, in reviewing Russian national interests for its subsequent insertion of an armed force into Chechnya, it is evident that President Boris Yeltsin failed to take into account numerous environmental factors, which by having taken these factors into consideration and careful analysis of them should have resulted in the Russia’s pursuing alternative means in the pursuit of their vital interests.38 Thus, the years between 1991 and 1995, the time of the First Chechen War, saw a decided shift in the nature of the conflict in Chechnya; the war had originally started as an anti-Soviet quest for liberalisation and self-determination.39 ‘The first Chechen war was an anti-colonial war and the idea of ‘national liberation’ was the major motif of rank-and-file fighters who joined the resistance.’40 The resistance consolidated the Chechen society under the one banner-gazavat, the banner of the holy war-jihad. However, the aim of the Chechen political elites, who came to power in 1991-1994s, as a result of a national revolution, was to attempt to build a modern secular nation-state.41

However, careful Russian analysis of Chechen history, social structure, geography, and culture prior to any military intervention would have concluded that military intervention into Chechnya would be replete with risk of endless war.42 Nevertheless, despite all these, the decision about the military intervention came on 26 November at the same year. ‘Russian forces declared the Chechen independence movement as a rebel uprising and launched as armed attack to crash it’43 which Russian troops crossed from three directions44 the borders of the Chechen Republic and advanced towards Grozny which the result was threatening for both Russia and Chechnya. In the war the Russian troops were badly led and early setbacks in Grozny led to a collapse in morale, and even for many Russian observers the demonstration of the army was a reflection of the profound depth of national humiliation after the collapse of the USSR and the tearing apart of Soviet society.45 Furthermore, ‘from the military’s perspective in 1994, the Russian Armed Forces were very unwilling to engage in an armed intervention in another national movement’46, the reason of lack of morals of Russian soldier' in the Chechen war was somehow associated with the not long ago concluded war in Afghans, the memories were still fresh, and in the Chechen war it-the ‘Afghan syndrome’-was recurring. Here was also important the misunderstanding in coordination of operational activities, the character of the conflict and, as much, set about a series of poorly planned and executed operations that were militarily doomed from the outset.47

But was there any chance to avoid the military conflict and means for compromise? May be there was, but in this case it was vulnerable point to accept the fundamentally change of the status of Chechnya, to recognize its independence and invited to join the CIS would be to create a dangerous precedent for other subjects of the federation.48

The real assault into Grozny, indeed, was the beginning of the war in Chechnya which have not ceased until the August 1996. Russian military strategy focused on two main objectives: first was forcibly removing Dudayev from the Chechen presidency, and the second was capturing and controlling the capital city of Grozny.49 However, Dudayev’s strategy also was twofold: first, to promote internal consolidation through an aggressive nationalist discourse based on the ‘memories of grievance’, the ‘deportation syndrome’ and the ‘persecuted national complex’; and second, to use ‘the security dilemma’ to mobilize support.50 From the Chechen people perspective, Dudayev was a convenient anti-Russian rallying point but not at all critical to the Chechen people or their cause and moreover, although Chechen politics were highly fractured, most Chechens rose up to oppose the Russians-not for vogue political reasons, nor for Dudayev, but to defend their families and homeland from a historical oppressor.51

Actually, in spring of 1995 the federal forces achieved success by deploying of some 40,000 Russian troops managed to gain control of most urban areas of Grozny, but could not reach up to the mountainous regions of southern Chechnya.52 However, one was obvious that from this military invasion particularly suffered civil people which according to the BBC report it was up to 100,000 people which most of them were civilians.53 Bloodshed between Russian military forces and Chechen separatist fighters for gaining the control over the region still continued and it was almost the period since when the Chechen terrorists started their first large-scale terror attempt, situation changed radically with the seizing by militants a hospital in Budennovsk in Stavropol krai, under the lead of Shamil Basayev54, who was demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops and negotiating with Moscow.55 ‘After several unsuccessful attempts to storm the hospital, the Russian government announced a ceasefire in Chechnya and Basayev-the informal leader of the radicals-released the hostages and returned home as a national hero.’56 However, after the tragedy the Moscow government suggested Dudayev “zero-optional” solutions of the conflict, just general and his local opponents should voluntarily to resign.57

Armed conflicts continued with varying success, however, the brutality of the battles from both sides was terrible. It was a war where was used almost all kind of weapons except nuclear ones. But the Chechen fighters were better motivated, on the other hand their superiority was that they were familiar with the terrain too. Russian forces got the second deal of blow in 1995, when units of Salman Raduev’s captured Gudermes, the second biggest city of Chechnya, which was actually the triumph of Chechen separatists. Attacks of separatists continued and in January 1996, the Raduev’s militants deal their second blow capturing 2000 hostages in Kizlyar in Dagestan. Thereafter, there was fulfilled, indeed, what Dudayev mentioned in his speech in May 1995-

"it will be a war without rules. It is impossible to find the necessary rules. I may say that we are not going to fight in our territory. Three hundred years of bloodshed are quite enough. We have been well taught to transfer those wars to the place they have come from."58- thus, it was also a step in the spread of the conflict towards the neighbour republics.

The situation forced Russia to shift its policy towards Chechnya and to look for the political accommodation for exiting from the war which Russia was gradually and shamefully losing. Russian authorities were dramatically losing their standing among the population of Chechnya, the successful performance of the Ichkerian troops and the death toll among civilians secured the separatists’ ideological victory in 1995, which was succeed with the Khasav-Yurt agreement, signed by the parties soon after Basayev’s notaries hostage taking in the hospital of Budennovsk, gave rise to great hopes that the victorious elites would strike a deal with Russia.59

After two years bloodshed parties met in small Dagestan district, in Khasav-Yurt. Due to the cease-fire agreement between parties was discussed a peace settlement that includes mainly an agreement on Russian troops partly withdrawals (some of federal military units remained in Chechnya on a permanent basis) and the discussion of status of full Chechen independence which was postponed in five years.60 In respond to it, Chechnya should remain as a part of a “common economic space” within the Russian Federation and should use common Russian currency, but the Russian side also assumed responsibility to provide funds for the reconstruction of the war ruined infrastructure of the Chechen republic. However, if to analyse this question from separatists point of view, for them “draw” actually meant a victory, but for Moscow it meant not more than loss a war. Russian generals, who paid enormous costs and gained worthless results, adopted it as a betrayal even almost the capitulation of the federal center’s before the separatists, for Chechen side it was better conclusion. In terms of Russia, mostly political actors decisively stress that it was a tragic mistake of the Russian policy and its interests on Chechnya, and there was not signed any such humiliating agreement in all history of Russia; in essence nothing has been changed and the war was not concluded at all, even it was a straight road to the second Chechen war. However, in his interview after the Khasav-Yurt agreement to the correspondent of the ‘KP’ edition, Alexander Lebed, said:

I broke the rod of the war

Now the situation has returned to 1994 year. Of course, there are bandits. But they are in Moscow and in Kiev too. Most people are tired of war and intend to solve the problem in a civilized way. So, that is guarantee that this nightmare will not repeat again...” (17.09.1996)

I am 95 percent sure that I was able to break the rod of the war. No one of would dare to say: all what are signed are nonsense, spit on it and forget it. Troops are withdrawn and established coalition committee which is responsibility to resolve the crisis. Work had gone.” (11.11.1996)’61

Furthermore, the setback of Russian military forces in Chechnya left their marks on the national political picture.62 An estimated 100,000 persons, many of them civilians, were killed in the 20-month was lasting from 1994 to 1996, which amazingly ended in a stunning victory for the Chechen insurgents who managed through guerrilla warfare tactics to drive the much better armed military Russian forces out, and at the same time the victory achieved by the Chechen rebels in many ways mirrored the greater victory that had been won only a few years earlier by smaller less well armed forces that had been victorious in driving the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan.63 However, by killing the major actor, Dudayev, who was removed in April 1996, there was sensed a softening in the conflictual scene. His place after a short period was filled with Chechen military leader Aslan Mashkadov64 who was elected as a president of Chechnya in 1997. Notwithstanding, it was impossible to round out the issue. Yet, ‘the Russian military underestimated the character of the conflict and, as much, set about a series of poorly planned and executed operations that were militarily doomed from the outset’65.

Thus, the year 1996 was the turning point of the first Chechen war. However, ‘the paraphrase of the first Chechen war in the separatist territory of Chechnya have been a major influence on the history of Russian terrorism from 1994 through today’66. Furthermore, both sides shared the feeling that it was an unnecessary war, wished for only by the politicians, not the people.67

Years of independence: 1996-1999s

The having signed agreement in Khasav-Yurt which was in fact the end of the first Chechen war, Russia relinquished its position over Chechnya, which on the other hand it meant that Chechnya was de facto independent. Actually, soon coming presidential election forced government to find frequent solution to the problem. In June 1996 Yeltsin was elected at the second time but after crisis in Chechnya, however, he tremendously lost his prestige among the voters.

‘The 1997-1999s were the years of state-building project in Chechnya was shaped by the social and political changes brought about by the first Russo-Chechen war.’68 In the first year of this period main goal of Chechen separatists' was focused on the founding solution to the social-political and economic issues. However, both sides were striving for some benefit from the ending of the war. Russia did not confirm the independence of Chechnya, but despite of it separatists tried to use the successful conclusion on hostility in favour of their interests. Unlike to Chechnya, Russian side also hoped to some truce for shifting the situation in favour to itself and thus by postponing the question about the independence of Chechnya to the next five years-until 31 December 2001, Russia's main intension in this case was to make separatists forget the subject of conflict.

Russian experts, Malashenko, A. and Trenin, D., defined the Chechen three main policies (on one of them has been achieved) within the inter-war period of time as in following way:

  • to lay foundations of Chechen statehood and to consolidate the society;

  • improve relationship with Russia and to get compensation for the destruction of causing damage;

  • to achieve international recognition of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.69

Years of de facto independence of Chechnya was observed, actually, with murderous anarchy. ‘Warlords and their heavily armed gangs turned the country into a Somalia of the Caucasus.’70 State was suffering from the criminal clans which got power and became stronger especially after the devastation in the first war crisis. Terror against own people already long ago crossed the border of Chechnya. New elected president Aslan Mashadov faced with disintegration of the Chechen state, which, indeed, started immediately after the death of Dzokhar Dudayev. His death was a turning point for the Chechen elite, there was not anybody who could assume the role of leader of the Chechen society, only Aslan Maskhadov was relatively appropriate figure for this post that was always differ with moderate views. However, unlike Dudayev he was persistently against the islamization of the state and opposed Dudayev’s idea of separation. Even, in August 1996 meeting with Lebed, he agreed with his calling for Chechnya wording that ‘Russia could live without Chechnya, but Chechnya without Russia-cannot’.71

His election to the position of president with more than 60 per cent of overall votes was followed with the radical changes inside state. Immediately after the election his main opponents, Shamil Basayev and Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, created internal opposition. However, especially split within Chechen resistance went first of all because of the struggle for achieving the power; secondly, because of internal different positions in respect to Kremlin; thirdly, because of different approaches to the foreseeing of the Chechen state. Furthermore, in this case the religious factors played very important role, which especially worked for the deepening of the situation.

The second Chechen War and its consequences

The second Chechen war began immediately after the intervention of Shamil Basayev’s group of bandits into Dagestan. So the accords achieved in Khasav-Yurt agreement-“forever to repudiate the use and the threat to use military force to resolve whatever disputes may arise”72, were dissolved. However, not each people know that agreement legally had lost its power not in 1999, it already was de-Jura insignificant paper since May 1997, when Boris Yeltsin and Aslan Maskhadov in the Kremlin signed a peace treaty and the principles of mutual relations between RF and CRI.73

Since the beginning of August Basayev and his adherent Yandarbiyev with some the crowd of fighters (Approximately 1200-2000 men with different nationalities which included Arabs, Dagestanis, Central Asians and mostly Chechens) crossed the border of Dagestan from the West side. The radical Chechen commanders made much effort for consolidation of whole Northern Caucasus under the banner of the Islamic ideology. Especially, in this case, first step of radicals’ were the consolidation of Dagestan. And on this way they got particular great support of Bagauddin Muhammed who was the well-known Islamic authority almost in whole Northern Caucasus and he approved establishment of Islamic state. Actually, the idea of consolidation of Dagestan and Chechnya in a unit Islamic Imamat had already got an 'institutionalized' formulation.74 Thus, it was obvious that the main goal of islamist radicals was not even building up the independence of Chechnya, stress was done on ideological and political expansions, especially in Dagestan and Ingushetia.75 But unlike them Maskhadov was against the ‘islamization’ of the country and due to lose of control over the separatist he hoped for the Moscow’s support. ‘Like most Chechens, he was horrified by Basayev’s military actions in Russia, and the Chechen government was uncharacteristically critical of Basayev as it sought to distance itself from his dangerous actions against the RF, he saw all too clearly that Basayev’s reckless actions in Dagestan gave an increasingly aggressive Russia a pretext for intervening militarily in Chechnya which brought about the scrapping of the peace agreement.’76 However, they also point out that Russian government has fulfilled none of the more than fifty agreements it signed with Chechnya in the wake of the 1996 peace accord that was supposed to provide for reconstruction of the devastated country.77

The Second Chechen war began, but with respect to its features it was significantly different from the first one, which was observed with much radicalisation and even with different military strategy carried out by the separatists. Federals for eliminating combatants started to the large-scale measures under the behalf of so-called ‘zachistka’ (operation for mop-up of combatants)78, that they achieved to their goal as control in the territory since 2001. Russia chose very specific tactics in regard to Chechnya calling separatists as terrorists federals actually held them on information blockade and used military and propaganda ways for eliminating the cause. And this position is explained with that that Russia is avoiding possible contact with international terrorists.

After president Putin coming to the post the Moscow’s attitude to the question also radically changed. Unlike the first Chechen in the second, there cannot be any discussion about the political status of Chechnya-it is no doubt an internal part of Russian Federation, and any negotiation can be signed after the disarming the illegal formations. However, the position of Chechen side is strictly opposite and based on four core elements: ‘withdrawal of federal troops; speedy international recognition of Chechen independence; an international tribunal for all those who have committed war crimes; binding international guarantees that Russia will nor re-introduce troops’79.

Nevertheless, one was obvious that the second Chechen war is being more destructive and fatal than the first one, they indeed destabilized the situation in the region and moreover brought about the religious and ethnic disputes which was unacceptable in multi-national country like Russia. Gradually Chechen crisis became a chronic disease, an effective tool against which has not been worked out.80

Radical Islamism and Wahhabism

In Chechnya

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