Chechen Republic. Civil war, 1999-2009
Country: Chechnya in Russia
Type of conflict: Civil war
Conflict: Chechen rebels fight for independence
Parties involved: Russia, Chechen government, Chechen rebels, foreign Mujahideen rebels
Estimated number of victims: more than 100,000 deaths and 200,000-350,000 refugees
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the southern republic of Chechnya declares independence. Efforts by the Russians to keep the country within the union fail. The first Chechen War (1994-1996) causes tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands, of deaths. When peace returns, chaos grows. Generals become rich through kidnappings and crime, and acquire more and more power. Russia intervenes again in 1999, this time very firmly, because of attacks by Chechen rebels that kill 300 Russians and the rebels’ support for the Islamic uprising in the neighbouring country of Dagestan. Peace is restored after three years. Chechnya acquires a high degree of independence, but Russia makes sure that a pro-Russian figure is in control. In 2009 the rebels lay down their arms for good.
During the 1999 invasion, Russian troops comb entire villages and the capital Grozny in search of ‘terrorists’. Chechen men are killed and women raped. More than one hundred thousand Chechens flee and thousands die. Chechen rebels hit back strongly, drawing international attention to their plight with attacks in Russia itself. They kidnap theatregoers and hospital patients in front of the cameras. The Russian army does not negotiate and kills both kidnappers and innocent civilians. A low point is reached in the Russian city of Beslan when Chechen terrorists take more than 1,100 children and adults hostage in a school. On the third day, a shoot-out with the Russian security forces gets out of control, resulting in the deaths of over 334 people, including 186 children.