Chechnya after the War

Photographs from the winter of 1997

The first mention of Chechen people (the Nachamtayans) is from the 7th century.

They are Indo-European descendants, dominantly Muslims, and considered indigenous to the Caucasus. The Russian government has been interested in this region since the middle of the 16th century and repeatedly attempted to conquer and appropriate the Chechen state.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Soviet army invaded Grozny and set up a new Russian government that declared Chechnya a republic of the Soviet Union. In 1944 Stalin added to their strife when he deported half a million Chechens to Kazakhstan and middle Asia.

In 1957, during the Khrushchev administration, the Chechen people who survived the deportation of '44 were allowed to return to the Caucasus Mountains and reestablish the Chechen-Ingush Republic under Soviet control.

With the fall of the Eastern block in 1990 many former republics sought independence from the Russia; the Chechen people were no exception. In 1991 they elected their first president, Dzhokhar Dudayev, and declared independence. However, neither the Russian nor the international community recognized the new state...

In November 1994 Russia failed to overthrow the elected Chechen government. They sent in the Russian Army to "reestablish the rule of law and order" - in the first two months 25,000 died, 1000,000 were injured and 500,000 Chechen became displaced persons.

Today, the Chechen ethnic group reluctantly remains one of the republics of the Russian federation - essentially, prisoners in their own country.

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