Term Paper: Chechnya Chechen Conflict With Russia

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[. . .] In this manner, war could then be legitimized if needed (Shah).

Thus, the factions in Chechnya were split even further, and the conflict began to take a decidedly militant and ugly turn. As strife and war continued between the two countries, many Russian cities have been bombed by Chechen extremists, killing and injuring hundreds of Russians. In addition, the Chechen economy has suffered drastically, and thousands of Chechens have fled the country.

The main attacks of the Chechnya crisis occurred in 1994, when Russian forces first attacked, and again in 2000, when much of the capital Grozny was razed by Russian troops. In 1994, the war lasted 20 months, and much of Chechnya was devastated, along with the 80,000 or more that were killed. In early 1995, Chechen rebels took hostages in a Southern Russian hospital, and over 100 were killed when Russians botched a rescue attempt. The Russians carry out extensive bombing in the country, especially in Grozny, in an attempt to undermine the Chechen economy. Historian Shah continues, "Civilian casualties were high and there was an international outcry at the brutal Russian crackdown and indiscriminate bombing and targeting of civilians" (Shah). In 1997, Presidents Yeltsin and Maskhadov sign a peace treaty, but the treaty does not address Chechen independence, and many are critical of Maskhadov's relationship with Russian leaders. Internal conflict continues as numerous Russian diplomats serving in Chechnya are kidnapped and/or killed by Chechen extremists.

By the end of 1999, Chechen rebels have bombed Russian apartments throughout the country, and Russian military buildings in neighboring Dagestan. New Russian President Vladimir Putin redeploys Russian troops in Chechnya as a result of the insurgents' attacks, and thousands of Chechens flee the country before war begins again. The 2000 war resulted in Russia capturing Grozny, and Russian President Putin declaring Chechnya will be governed from Moscow. By June, "Russia appoints former Chechen cleric Akhmed Kadyrov as head of its administration in Chechnya. Kadyrov is answerable to Putin and the presidential representative in the Southern Federal District, Viktor Kazantsev" (Editors). This battle ended with Chechnya further under Russian control, and incited many additional terrorism incidents by Chechen rebels, including the downing of a Russian helicopter, and the taking of a Russian theater with over 800 hostages in 2002. "Most of the rebels and some 120 hostages are killed when Russian forces storm the building" (Editors). What was worse, the rebels gained worldwide notoriety for their act, and most of the publicity they received was negative. The world could not sympathize with a group that involved so many innocent civilians, and the rebels' cause did not seem so heroic or important to the world in the aftermath of the theater affair.

Of course, the Chechens feel they are justified in their terrorism on Russia and its citizens, partly because of the crisis in human rights discovered in Chechnya after the two Russian attacks. Initially, most of the human rights violations occurred with Russian troops in the area, who routinely raped, murdered, executed, and tortured Chechen citizens, while numerous citizens simply "disappeared," never to return. In 1999, mass graves were found in Chechnya, indicated genocide by Russian troops. Additionally, there are many indications that Russian "authorities covered up evidence of extra-judicial executions" (Shah). It is difficult to say what else they have covered up in their attempt to neutralize and defeat the Chechens.

Today, however, Russian troops are not the only fear the citizens of Chechnya face. Beginning in 2004, "a new and increasingly militant armed group under the command of the son of Chechnya's President Akhmed Kadyrov, popularly known as the Kadyrovtsy, are blamed for an increasing portion of the 'disappearances' and many Chechens say they fear the Kadyrovtsy more than federal troops" ("Situation"). Clearly, the Russians do not only conduct all the atrocities taking place in Chechnya, but there are indications they are still committing the majority of abuses in the country. Studies of victims seeking asylum in other countries consistently show the routine use of rape and torture by Russian. The human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, reports,

During assessment and treatment, sixteen women and one man disclosed rape to clinicians at the Medical Foundation. In thirteen of these cases, the alleged perpetrators were Russian soldiers, in three cases they were said to be Russian police officers, and in one Chechen rebels. Of the seventeen rape victims, ten were Chechens, five of mixed Chechen-Russian parentage (including the woman who described being raped by Chechen fighters), and two were Russians. All rape survivors were interviewed by professionals with years of experience interviewing victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence. The Medical Foundation found their testimony reliable and consistent with that of other rape survivors ("Situation").

Human rights violations and terrorist activities continue to be the two greatest difficulties the Chechens face at the moment, and talks of peace are still stalled by the question of Chechen independence. Until the question is resolved, there will continue to be widespread violence inside and outside of Chechnya, and it would not be surprising to see the Russian army invade the area again, or begin new conflicts to suppress the Chechen rebels.

Today, Chechnya is at a critical crossroads. Chechen leaders cannot reach agreement with Russia over their status, and in the meantime, thousands of Chechen refugees live over the border in Ingushetia, their lives in limbo. In attempt to return Chechnya to "normalcy," many Russian and Chechen officials are "persuading" refugees to leave the camps and return to Chechnya, but the refugees are afraid of violence if they return. Refugees report, "officials promised them compensation for lost property should they return, and warned they would lose their right to humanitarian aid if they did not. They also said law enforcement officials threatened to plant bullets or narcotics on them if they did not leave" ("Situation"). Continually, Human Rights Watch has found that those refugees who have returned to Chechnya are living in squalid conditions with no running water or sewage facilities, and little food. The promises of compensation for property also have not materialized ("Situation"). Clearly, the situation in Chechnya has not improved, in fact, it has deteriorated, and the citizens of the country have little hope for the future at this point.

In conclusion, the crisis in Chechnya has roots far back in history, and it continues today unchecked. The future of Chechnya is uncertain, but what is certain is that continued violence and terrorism will continue on both sides as long as the issue of Chechen independence goes unresolved.

References

Author not Available. " The Situation in Chechnya and Ingushetia Deteriorates." HumanRightsWatch.org. 8 April 2004. 23 April 2004. http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/04/07/russia8408.htm

Brzezinski, Zbigniew and Paige Sullivan, eds. Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States: Documents, Data,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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