Second Chechen War

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{{Infobox War |image=Image:Russi cecenia1.jpg |caption= |conflict=Second Chechen War |date=1999 to present |place=Chechnya |result=Ongoing/Unknown |combatant1=

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Russia |combatant2=<center>Chechen separatists |commander1= |commander2= |strength1= |strength2= |casualties1=Unknown (minimum 5,000 killed) |casualties2=Unknown (minimum 5,000 killed) }}

Image:RussiaChechnya.png Image:Chechnya and Caucasus.png

The Second Chechen War is part of an ongoing conflict in the Chechen Republic (Chechnya) and Russia. The issue at hand is the degree of autonomy Chechnya should enjoy with respect to Russian rule—whether Chechnya should remain within the Russian Federation or whether it should form an independent nation. Although most major combat took place from 1999 to 2002, violence continues to flare up to the present day.



Official figures

The official death toll for federal troops was about 4,705 during the Second Chechen War as for the period of 1999 to December 17, 2002.

According to the latest figures released by the Russian Defence Ministry on August 10, 2005, 3,450 Russian Army soldiers have been killed in action since 1999. This death toll does not include losses of the Internal Troops, Federal Security Service, Militsiya and all paramilitaries. According to the figure cited by Interfax in March 2006, more than 1,000 Chechen policemen alone have been killed since 1999.

Chechen regional authorities quote a figure closer to 100,000 people killed, with up to 240,000 injured. However, on June 26, 2005, Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov, a deputy prime minister in the Kremlin-controlled Chechen administration, said about 300,000 people have been killed during two wars in Chechnya over the past decade; he also said that more than 200,000 people have gone missing. [1]

The Chechen separatist sources cite figures of some 250,000 Chechen civilians, and up to 50,000 Russian servicemen, killed during the 1994-2003 period. The rebel side acknowledged about 5,000 combatants killed as of 1999-2004, mostly in the initial phases of the war.

Independent estimates

Civilian casualty estimates vary widely, but many say about 80,000 civilians - 40 percent of them children - died in the first Chechen war. Many more have been killed since the conflict exploded again in 1999.

In February 2003, the Union of the Committees of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia estimated that some 11,000 servicemen have been killed, with another 25,000 wounded, since 1999. It estimated the civilian death toll at about 20,000 people. [2]

According to 2003 The Military Balance, the annual report International Institute for Strategic Studies, the British-based think-tank, Russian forces suffered 4,749 dead in 2003, the highest figure in one year since the current Chechen conflict began.

On April 4, 2006, UNICEF and European Commission said in a joint statement released in Moscow that over 3,030 people have been maimed or killed by landmines in Chechnya. April 4 marked the first International Mine Awareness Day.

Historical basis of the conflict

The Russian Terek Cossack Host was established in lowland Chechnya in 1577 by free Cossacks who were resettled from the Volga to the Terek River. In 1783, Russia and the eastern Georgian kingdom of Kartl-Kakheti signed the Treaty of Georgievsk, under which Kartl-Kakheti became a Russian protectorate. To secure communications with Georgia and other regions of the Transcaucasia, the Russian Empire began spreading her influence into the mountains of the Caucasus, starting the Caucasus War in 1817. Russian forces first moved into highland Chechnya in 1830; conflict in the area lasted until 1859. Many troops from the annexed states of the Caucasus fought unsuccessfully against Russia in the Russo-Turkish War (18771878).

Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Chechens established a short-lived independent state, comprising parts of Dagestan and Ingushetia and opposed by both sides of the Russian Civil War; it was crushed by Bolshevik troops in 1922. Then, months before the creation of the Soviet Union, the Chechen Autonomous Oblast of RSFSR was established; it annexed a part of territory of the Terek Cossack Host that was also liquidated by the Bolsheviks. Eventually, Chechnya and neighbouring Ingushetia became the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1936.

During World War II Chechens were accused by Stalin of aiding Nazi forces. In 1944, Stalin deported nearly all the Chechens and Ingushs to Kazakh SSR and Kirghiz SSR, and Siberia. About quarter to half of the population perished in the process Template:Fact. After the death of Stalin, Khrushchev allowed them to return in 1957, and their republic was reinstated.

First Chechen War

Coinciding with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Chechnya declared independence from the Russian Federation. From 1991 to 1994, as many as 300,000 people of non-Chechen ethnicity (mostly Russians) fled the republic; the Chechen industry began failing after Russian engineers and workers were expelled from the Chechen Republic Ichkeria.

Simmering debate over independence ultimately led to civil war in 1993. The First Chechen War began in 1994, when Russian forces entered Chechnya to restore "constitutional order" and central rule. Following a 1996 ceasefire agreement, Russian troops were withdrawn from Chechnya.

The 1997 election of separatist President Aslan Maskhadov led to turbulence within the country and, despite early recognition and the 1997 Moscow peace treaty, a chilly relationship with Moscow continued. In May 1998, Valentin Vlasov, a personal envoy of Boris Yeltsin, was kidnapped; he was released on November 13. Further tensions arose in January and February of 1999 as Maskhadov announced that Islamic Sharia law would be introduced in Chechnya over the course of three years. In March of that year, General Gennadiy Shpigun, the Kremlin's envoy to Chechnya, was kidnapped at the airport and ultimately killed. At the same time, Maskhadov himself survived several assassination attempts.

Immediate causes

Terrorist activity in 1996-1999

Despite the signing of the 1996-1997 peace agreements the pro-Chechen terrorist activity in Russia continued.

(Note: There has never been any proof of who exactly committed this bombing. Some claim it was Chechen nationalists, others feel members of the Dagestani "caviar mafia" were involved; some even suspect the Russian government of this (and other) bombings as attempts to create violence and disorder and then blame the Chechens. This latter claim is of course highly controversial and no substantial proof has surfaced to support it. (See "Bombings in Russia" section below for more on this.)

  • May 28, 1997 - Explosion in the Russian railway station of Pyatigorsk; 2 people died.
  • April 16, 1998 - A Russian army convoy was ambushed in Ingushetia near the Chechnya border; a general, two colonels and 3 soldiers were killed and Ingush militants were blamed.
  • June 18 - Chechen fighters attacked Russian border posts in Dagestan; 7 men were killed and 15 wounded in separate confrontations.

Additionally, numerous acts of violence were reported in the self-governing Chechnya itself. This peaked on July 16, 1998, fighting broke out in Gudermes and over 50 people were reported killed in a battle between Maskhadov's National Guard led by Sulim Yamadayev and radical Wahhabi militants. On June 21, the Chechen security chief, Lecha Khulygov, and a guerrilla commander, Vakha Dzhafarov, fatally shot each other in an argument. Kidnapping-for-ransom flourished. On October 25, Shadid Bargishev, the top anti-kidnapping official, was killed in a remote-controlled car bombing; he was about as to begin a major offensive on hostage takers. On December 10, Mansur Tagirov, Chechnya's top prosecutor, disappeared while returning to Grozny. On July 5, 1999, Russian troops attacked a militant group in Chechnya.

Conflict in Dagestan

In August and September of 1999, Shamil Basayev (who served as Commander of the Chechen Armed Forces in 1996 and was a Minister of Chechen Government) led two incursions by 1,200-2000 Chechen, Dagestani, Arab and Kazakh militants from Chechnya into the neighbouring in Republic of Dagestan in order to help local Islamic fundamentalists who were under attack by federal forces in the in the villages of Kadar, Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi. Several hundred people were killed in the fighting; federal side admitted 272 killed and approximately 893 wounded. The conlict saw the first use of aerial-delivered fuel air explosives (FAE) against populated areas, especially on the village of Tando.

The Russian government followed up with a bombing campaign in the areas of southeastern Chechnya that were seen as staging areas for the militants; on September 23, Russian fighter jets bombed targets in and around Grozny.

Dagestan after 1999

Since 2000, Dagestan is a place of a low-level war spilling from Chechnya. The conflict claimed lives of hundreds of federal servicemen and officials, as well as a Dagestani insurgents and civilians. According to a July 2005 report by the Russian Academy of Sciences, there were 70 "terror attacks" in Dagestan in the first six months of 2005, compared with 30 for all of 2004. The attacks, which are becoming more sophisticated and deadly, primarily target Russian soldiers and Dagestan's police and government officials. Sources indicate that as many as 2,000 Islamic insurgents, many belonging to the Jamaat Sharia group, are involved in the Dagestani Jihad. After a string of attacks and assassinations, Jamaat Sharia has claimed "legitimate power" in Dagestan. On July 12, 2005, the Sharia Jammaat confirmed the death of its commander, Rasul Makasharipov. [3]

Bombings in Russia

At the same time as the fighting in Dagestan, a series of bombings took place in Russia (in Moscow and in Volgodonsk) and in Buynaksk (on September 4, in an apartment building housing members of families of Russian soldiers, 62 people were killed.) The bombs targeted four apartment buildings and a mall, nearly 300 people were killed. The Russian government (including then-President Boris Yeltsin) blamed Chechen separatists for the bombings. Shamil Basayev has denied involvement in the attacks. Some high-profile individuals (including the self-exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky [4] and U.S. Senator John McCain [5]), have suggested that the FSB (a Russian intelligence service) staged the bombings to provide a pretext for an invasion of Chechnya. [6] On September 29, Russia demanded that Chechnya extradite the criminals responsible for the bombings in Russia; a day later, Russian troops began the ground offensive.

On January 12, 2004 Moscow City Court, in a hearing which was closed to the public and the press, sentenced Adam Dekushev and Jusuf Krymshankhalov, who allegedly delivered explosives to the residential buildings, to life sentences. Both were the members of Karachev-based pro-Chechen Wahhabi group, trained by emir Khattab in Chechnya. The alleged mastermind of the bombings, Achemez Gochiyaev, has never been apprehended [7]. The bombing trial, however, has raised questions by observers [8] [9]. One week prior to the trial, the former FSB officer and lawyer Mikhail Trepashkin has been arrested; Trepashkin represented a victim's family and claimed to have obtained evidence of FSB involvement. [10]


In late September of 1999, the Russian military began bombing targets within Chechnya and ground troops followed soon after. In response, martial law was declared and Ichkeria's reservists were called. President Maskhadov declared a gazawat (holy war) to face the approaching Russian army.

At this time, Russia's new Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that the Russian troops would advance only as far as the Terek River, which cuts the northern third of Chechnya off from the rest of the republic. Putin's stated intention was to take control of Chechnya's northern plain and establish a cordon sanitaire against further Chechen aggression.

Crossing the Terek

The Russian army moved with ease in the wide open spaces of northern Chechnya and soon reached the Terek River. Having quickly gained control of the north Chechen plain, the army crossed the river on October 12, 1999, and began a two-pronged advance on the capital Grozny to the south. Hoping to avoid the significant casualties which plagued the First Chechen War, the Russians advanced slowly and in force. The Russian military made extensive use of artillery and air power in an attempt to soften Chechen defenses. On November 7, Russian soldiers dislodged rebels in Bamut, the rebel stronghold in the first war; at least 28 Chechen fighters and many civilians were reported killed.

The Russians appeared to be taking no chances with the Chechen population in its rear areas, setting up notorious filtration camps in October in northern Chechnya for detaining suspected members of "bandit formations" (bandformirovaniya). In November, the Kremlin appointed Beslan Gantamirov as head of the pro-Moscow Chechen State Council; Gantamirov was just pardoned by President Yeltsin and released from a 6-year sentence for embezzling federal funds to rebuild Chechnya in 1995-96.

Battle of Grozny

It was not until November that the Chechen capital of Grozny was surrounded, and more than two additional weeks of shelling and bombing were required before Russian troops were able to claim a foothold within any part of the heavily fortified city. With approximately 100,000 troops supported by a powerful air force, the Russian army vastly outnumbered and outgunned the Chechen defense militia, comprising several thousand fighters, and was considerably larger than the Russian force that had been defeated in Chechnya during the previous war. In addition, Russia's tactics in this second campaign were drastically different. The strategy in the fall of 1999 was to hold back tanks, vulnerable armored personnel carriers and infantry and subject the entrenched Chechens to an intensive barrage of heavy artillery and aerial bombardment before engaging them.

As many as 40,000 civilians, many of them ethnic Russians, remained trapped in Grozny during the Russian siege of the city, sufferening from the bombing, cold and hunger. Civilian motorcades attempting to leave besieged areas via Russian-guarded "safe corridors" were fired on at a Russian police checkpoints, wounded survivors reported. [11]

Grozny itself was transformed into a veritable fortress under the leadership of Chechen field commander Aslambek Ismailov. The Chechen fighters in the capital put up a fierce resistance to the Russians throughout the months of November and December. Grozny's Chechen defenders laid mines throughout the city, placed machine guns on rooftops for ambushes and withstood the heavy Russian bombardment for the chance to finally come to grips with the enemy in an environment of their choosing.


In December the Russian general staff began dropping leaflets in Grozny in December announcing that everyone who did not leave would be considered "bandits and terrorists" and would subsequently be "destroyed by aviation and artillery." [12] In the face of international outrage by the United States, the European Union and human rights groups, Russia withdrew the ultimatum, but the campaign against Grozny continued with renewed vigor. By January 2000, Russia's heavy bombardments had finally begun to take their toll. Using multiple rocket launchers and massed tank and artillery fire, the Russians flattened most of Grozny in preparation for a mass assault.

Heavy casaulties

During the height of the campaign, the Russians lost as many as 25 soldiers per day as they attempted to move into the city, according to the official figures. Perhaps the greatest set-back to the Russians came on the night of December 15-16, when a Russian armored column blundered into an ambush in Grozny; over 100 soldiers were killed in the ensuing three-hour firefight in Minutka Square. [13] On January 3, Russian General Valentin Astaviyev said on state television that Russian forces had suffered only 3 dead in the past 24 hours; but the commander of an Interior Ministry unit in Grozny told AFP news agency that that 50 men had been killed in the previous 48 hours. An undercover investigation by NTV has reported that up to 50 Russian soldiers are being killed in Chechnya daily; the figure was compiled from reports from witnesses, morgue officials, railway workers and coroner's assistants. [14] In early January, Chechen fighters in Grozny had launched counter attacks and broken through Russian lines in at least two places. According to the wounded Russian soldiers evacuated from Grozny, one unit of special forces troops had almost been destroyed; of 100 men, only eight had survived and most of the unit's armour had been lost. [15]


On Monday, 10 January, 2000, Chechen forces outside Grozny launched a major counter-offensive, briefly recapturing major towns of Shali, Argun and Gudermes, and opening a new supply corridor to besieged capital. They also ambushed and destroyed a supply convoy near Dzhalka, on the Argun-Gudermes road. The commander for the North Caucasus, General Viktor Kazantsev, said mistakes by "soft-hearted" Russian interior ministry officials had allowed rebels to counter-attack; he said from now on only boys under 10, old men over 60 and girls and women would be considered as refugees. [16] An interior ministry spokesman said 26 Russian soldiers had died in the past 24 hours, the heaviest one-day official death toll since fighting began last September. On January 19, Russian Major-General Mikhail Malofeyev was killed in Grozny; his body was found only 4 days later. On January 21, 20 members of a Russian unit were killed in north-west Grozny when rebels sneaked through sewage tunnels to attack them from the rear.

On January 26, the Russian government announced that 1,173 servicemen had been killed since October [17] - a more than double rise from 544 killed reported 19 days earlier, on January 6 [18], with just 300 killed reported on January 4 [19]. On January 16, the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia said it estimates that at least 3,000 servicemen had lost their lives.


By mid-January, tens of thousands of Russian soldiers began an advance on central Grozny from three directions. With their supply routes interdicted by an increasingly effective Russian blockade, ammunition running low and their losses mounting, the Chechen leadership began to contemplate an escape. It was decided that taking on the Russians in frontal combat was becoming too costly. As the Russian army closed in on their positions, the Chechen commanders decided on a desperate gamble; success was not assured, for the city was encircled by mine fields and three layers of Russian forces.

Break out

The Chechens began the breakout on the last day of January and first day of February under intense Russian bombardment. As the Chechen fighters broke out, moving in a southwesterly direction, they were met with artillery fire; one of the main retreating units, led by Shamil Basayev, hit a mine field between the city and the village of Alkhan-Kala. As Russian artillery fire homed in on their position, several of the Chechens' field commanders personally led their retreating soldiers in a charge across the mine fields. Volunteers were asked to run ahead of the main force to clear a path for their retreating comrades; scores of Chechen shaheed were killed. Several prominent Chechen commanders were killed, including generals Khunkarpasha Israpilov and Aslambek Ismailov, the mastermind behind the defense of Grozny, and the city mayor Lecha Dudayev. In addition to these commanders, many rank-and-file Chechen fighters appear to have been killed in the bloody escape. The Russians later claimed to have killed 200 Chechen fighters. Another 200 were maimed, including Basayev.

A rebel post-operative war council was held in Alkhan-Yurt, where it was decided that the Chechen forces would retreat into the inaccessible Vedeno and Argun gorges in the southern moutains to carry on a guerrilla war against the Russians. The Russian army's last chance to destroy the rebels in a concentrated position was thus lost, and the Chechens scattered into the southern mountains to continue the war.

In Grozny itself, the Russian generals initially refused to admit that the Chechens had escaped from the blockaded city. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov refused to confirm any withdrawal; Russian spokesman and Putin's aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky claimed, "If they left Grozny, we would have informed you." [20] It was not until February 6 that the Russians were able to raise the Russian flag above the city centre. In March, the Russian army began to allow residents to return to the city.


In a March attack, a large group of more than 1,000 Chechen fighters, led by field commander Ruslan Gelayev, seized the village of Komsomolskoe in the Chechen foothills. They held off a full-scale Russian attack on the town for over two weeks, albeit admitting they suffered from 500-1,000 casaulties in the greatest Chechen defeat of the war. [21]

The village was totally destroyed. Vladimir Putin put the number of Chechen dead at 600, while the Russian side admitted 350 dead and wounded.

Guerilla war in Chechnya

Image:Chech rebels.jpg

Despite the destruction of Grozny and the Russian victory at Komsomolskoe, fighting continued, particularly in the mountainous southern portions of Chechnya. Rebels are typically targetting Russian and pro-Russian officials, security forces, and a military and police convoys and vehicles (often by IED attacks), as well as helicopters. Among the notable incidents:


  • February 29 - A Russian VDV paratroop company from Pskov was attacked and wiped out by the approximately 300 Chechen and Arab insurgents in the Argun Gorge. 84 Russian soldiers were killed in a 3-day battle.
  • March 1 - A unit of OMON from Podolsk opened fire on an OMON unit from Sergiyev Posad, who had arrived in Chechnya to replace them [22]. Omonovtsy traveling in nine trucks to a guard post in the Staropromyslovsky district of Grozny; out of the 98 OMON troops in the convoy, 22 were killed, including the unit's commander, Colonel Dimity Markelov, and 31 were wounded. Immediately after the appalling gaff, the Interior Ministry officers reported that the convoy was ambushed by "unidentified Chechen rebels, who managed to flee by planting booby-traps along their escape route;" independent journalists, however, managed uncover the truth about the incident.
  • March 29 - A total of 42 Russian soldiers were killed as a result of the rebel ambush on the OMON convoy from Perm, composed of 41 paramilitary police and 7 motorised infantry; a column led by Mayor Valentin Simonov was on its way to conduct a "mopping-up operation" in Tsentoroi, near Vedeno.
  • May 11 - 18 Russian army soldiers have been killed in an attack near the village of Galashki in Ingushetia, while returning from a tour of duty in Chechnya; only 3 soldiers were recovered alive. The deaths were the first in the republic linked to the fighting.
  • April 23 - A 22-vehicle convoy carrying ammunition and other supplies to the airborne unit was ambushed near Serzhen-Yurt, in the Vedeno Gorge; in ensuing 4-hour battle the federal side lost up to 25 dead, according to official Russian reports. The rebels claimed killing more than 50 soldiers and suffering no casaulties, while General Troshev told the press that the bodies of 4 fighters were found.
  • October 12 - A powerful car bomb went off outside Oktyabrski district police station in the capital Grozny, killing at least 15 and wounding 22 people. It appeared to have been timed to go off when a car carrying prosecutors drove up; the prosecutors were among the dead.


  • May 7 - A 2-day fight around Argun, after Chechen fighters attacked a Russian military column which was going to carry out a "mopping up" operation there, left at least 15 Russian soldiers dead; heavy fighting in the town, during which Russian artillery and military helicopters were used, ended on the next day.
  • June 25 - Russian special forces killed Arbi Barayev, a Chechen rebel commander and organised crime leader, in a week-long "cleansing" operation in Alkhan-Kala near Grozny, where Barayev was holed up with about fifty of his men. When they went on the attack the battle lasted for days, and resulted in massive destruction. House-to-house fighting left two dozen houses leveled and about 17 Chechens were killed.
  • August 13 - Rebels seized the village of Benoi-Yurt in southeast Chechnya, attacked the local military commandant's office, and placed checkpoints on a strategic road that leads further south to the town of Vedeno. Pro-Moscow administrators were reported killed.
  • September 17 - Chechen rebels carried out large coordinated attacks in towns of Gudermes and Argun, in the Nozhay-Yurt district, involving between 100 and 400 fighters. At the time of the attacks Gudermes had been functioning as de facto capital of Chechnya.
  • December 30 - Russian troops mounted a large-scale "cleansing" operation in the village of Tsotsin-Yurt south of Grozny, after 6 Russian soldiers were killed there by a reported force of 100 rebels. Alexander Potapov, the deputy head of the FSB in Chechnya, said the offensive left "more than 30" rebels dead; according to official sources, the losses among federal forces included 2 officers of the special forces of the Ministry of Defense killed and 11 wounded. A Russian Memorial group recorded 11 instances of the murders of detained residents or of detainees disappearing without a trace. [23]


  • April 18 - Rebels killed 21 and wounded 7 Chechen OMON officers in Grozny. The first bus in the convoy hit a remote-controlled mine, and rebels then opened fire on the line of vehicles from a nearby high-rise building; the blast occurred just 300 feet from Chechnya's main police headquarters, and was the most deadly attack yet on the republic's police force. The attack came a day after 11 Russian servicemen were killed and 13 wounded in two rebel attacks in the Shatoi region.
  • August 6 - 11 policemen are killed and 7 badly wounded when a landmine explodes under their truck in Shatoi, southern Chechnya; the pro-Russian Chechen policemen died in a military truck that was transporting 33 servicemen back to their barracks.
  • October 10 - A bomb attack on a Grozny police station killing 22 Chechen policemen, including senior officers. It is suspected that a pro-rebel policeman was responsible for planting the bomb, which went off during the conference of a Grozny police district commanders.


  • January 9 - 15 Russian soldiers and police officers were killed in Chechnya in the 24 hours, including 9 Russian soldiers who died when their convoy came under rebel fire in Grozny; 2 rebels were killed in the fighting.
  • March 1 - Rebels attacked the motorcade of Chechnya's pro-Moscow leader, Akhmad Kadyrov, killing four bodyguards and three policemen.
  • July 12 - In southern Chechnya rebels blew up a Russian military vehicle and staged hit-and-run attacks against federal positions, killing 16 soldiers and wounding 13, as Moscow reported it had uncovered a large rebel training camp and killed "a prominent rebel leader" and his bodyguards.
  • November 23 - Russian special forces killed 17 militants near the Chechen village of Serzhen-Yurt. The Kremlin later displayed passports belonging to an Algerian, three Turks and Thomas Fischer, a German, who were among the dead.


  • March 26 - A military truck drove out of a Russian military base in Shali after curfew and hit a minefield planted outside to deter a rebel attack, killing 10 soldiers; military officer drove the truck out of the base without permission and hit a mine as soldiers approached. The incident came amid continuing fighting in Chechnya, which claimed the lives of 11 federal soldiers and police in the previous 24 hours.
  • July 13 - Guerillas entered Avtury, Shalinsky district of Chechnya. The fighters first blocked all entrances to the village and then attacked and seized the buildings of the security forces, inflicting heavy casaulties and capturing 12 pro-Moscow Chechen paramilitaries; at least 18 pro-Moscow militiamen and one attacker died in the fighting.
  • August 22 - Overnight attacks in central Grozny killed at least 58 members of security forces and 5 federal soldiers. According to estimates of the investigation group, 250-400 fighters entered the city on August 21, placed their checkpoints at roads, and simultaneously attacked a number of police targets. [24]
  • May 18 - Chechen separatist rebels killed 11 Russian soldiers and wounded 5 others in a double ambush. Military command said the rebels attacked the troops after their UAZ vehicle hit a mine and ran off the road near the town of Urus-Martan; a BTR armored troop carrier that went to their aid then ran into another mine and came under fire as well.


  • February 19 - "Black Emir" Yunadi Turchaev, the alleged sub-commander of Doku Umarov responsible for operations in and around the Chechen capital, was killed in a shootout in Grozny after a Chechen OMON patrol discovered his hiding place. Two days later on February 21, 9 Russian soldiers were killed in the village of Prigorodnoye on the outskirts of Grozny when a poultry farm building partly collapsed. While official sources attributed the incident to an ambush by a Chechen guerrillas, according to a newspapers some of the soldiers were drunk and one of them fired a grenade launcher inside the building.
  • March 14 - Security forces announced they killed Kantash Mansarov, imam of the militant Jamaat group in Grozny, who they said he was the coordinator of undercover rebel operations in the capital.
  • March 23 - Chechen field commander Rizvan Chitigov was killed by the Moscow-backed Chechen forces in the Shalinsky district. On the same day, police Lieutenant-Colonel Movsredin Kantayev, the head of an operational-investigative bureau of the Russian Interior Ministry, was found dead with gunshot wounds near the village of Petropavlovskaya in the Grozny Rural District.
  • April 16 - Saudi-born Abu al-Walid killed in the mountains by a Russian aerial bombing; he was the successor to Ibn al-Khattab.
  • May 15 - During a raid in a suburb of Grozny, Russian forces killed four militants, including Vakha Arsanov, former vice president of the rebel Chechen government; however, according to the Russian media reports confirmed by a rebel announcement in February, Arsanov was already detained by January 16 by republican OMON in Grozny. [25] Arsanov, a former Soviet traffic police officer, commanded a unit during the first 1994-96 Chechen war; in January 2001 Maskhadov fired Arsanov as vice president for not fighting federal troops. Also on May 15, a Chechen guerrilla commander Danilbek Eskiyev was killed in the village of Gerzel in the Gudermessky district, Russian sources reported.
  • May 17 - Senior rebel leader Alash Daudov and three associates were killed by the OSNAZ FSB in Grozny. Daudov, a former police official, was accused of complicity in the mass hostage takings, as well as attacks on police in the Chechen capital Grozny and neighbouring Ingushetia in 2004, and was planning "a series of terrorist acts using strong poisons", said Major-General Ilya Shabalkin, spokesman for Russian forces in Chechnya; both sides routinely accuse each other of chemical attacks. On the same day the special forces also announced killing of Rasul Tambulatov, militant commander for Chechnya's Shelkovsky District, and a capture of five of his associates who they said were specialists on bombmaking and bombing.
  • April 15 - A fierce skirmish took place between Chechen guerrillas and Russian elite forces in Grozny's Leninsky district. According to the official sources, 6 Chechen fighters from Doku Umarov's group and 4 OSNAZ soldiers were killed; there were casualties among civilians. The rebels were armed with an anti-aircraft missile launcher. According to some sources, personal guards of Shakhab Mukuev, the head of Vedensky ROVD were also killed.
  • July 19 - 10 policemen, a local FSB agent and 3 civilians were killed when a booby-trapped police vehicle was blown up in the northwestern Chechen village of Znamenskoye. The attack injured nearly 30 others.
  • August 14 - A land mine exploded in Chechnya when Russia troops came to the aid of a local official whose home was under attack by rebels, killing Colonel Aleksandr Kayak, the commander of the Urus-Martan area, and four other soldiers.
  • September 19 - Akhmed Avtorkhanov, former head of security for rebel President Aslan Maskhadov, was killed in Chechnya. The Russian government claims he was killed by Shamil Basaev in a dispute over money while the Chechen rebels claim he was killed by the Russians. President Putin called Avtorkhanov's death "a turning point", since according to him Avtorkhanov was the last nationalist rebel leader, and the remaining leaders of the Chechen resistance are radical Islamists who will not recieve as much support among the local people.

Air war

In October 1999, at the beginning of the invasion of Chechnya, Russia was able to deploy in the war zone only 68 transport and attack helicopters – a quarter of the number amassed for the war in Afghanistan, though the number of Russian servicemen sent to Afghanistan and the second Chechen war were roughly the same.

According to the official data, Russian forces lost some 31 aircraft destroyed or heavily damaged as for the period of September 1999 to July 2001, including a number of fighter bombers; this figure didn't include the losses suffered in Dagestan. Some of the most severe losses included:

  • December 13, 1999 - Russian Ministry of Defense has officially confirmed the loss of Mi-8 and Mi-24. The helicopters were searching for the Su-25 plane that crashed near the village of Bachi-Yurt earlier.
  • February 18, 2000 - Russian army transport helicopter was shot down in the south of Chechnya, killing 15 people aboard.
  • November 3, 2002 - Chechen rebels shot down a Russian military helicopter, killing 9 servicemen. The Mi-8 helicopter was struck by a ground-to-air missile fired from a building near Grozny.
  • March 10, 2005 - A helicopter carrying members of OSNAZ FSB special-purpose unit as well as the FSB officers from Khabarovsk was downed by gunfire in Urus-Martan district. At least 15 died and 12 others were injured.
  • July 16, 2005 - A Russian air force Mi-8 helicopter carrying border guards crashed in mountainous southern Chechnya, killing 8 people; one man survived.

For the attacks targetting helicopters carrying Russian high-raking officers, see Assassinations.

Disaster at Khankala

On August 19, 2002 a Chechen Igla missile hit an overloaded Mi-26 helicopter, causing it to crash in a minefield at the main military base near Grozny. The helicopter was meant to carry about 80 troops, while this one was carrying around 150. A total of 127 Russian troops were killed in the crash, the greatest loss of life in the history of helicopter aviation.

The commander in charge of the helicopter, Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Kudyakov, was convicted of negligence. The Chechen who shot down the helicopter, Doku Dzhantemirov, was sentenced to life in prison in April 2004. At his trial, Dzhantemirov denied that he is a "terrorist" and described himself as "a soldier of the state of Ichkeria."

Suicide attacks

Since 2000 Chechen insurgents added suicide bombs to their weaponry. Among the attacks:

  • June 2001 - On June 6, Chechnya experienced its first suicide bombing when a young woman Khava Barayeva drove a truck loaded with explosives through a checkpoint of an OMON base at Alkhan-Yurt in Chechnya; she detonated her bomb outside a barracks, killing 2 to 27 soldiers. Another "suicide operation" was carried on June 11 at a checkpoint in Khankala by a former Russian soldier who had converted to Islam and joined the rebels; this explosion killed two OMON officers.
  • July 2-July 3, 2000 - Chechen guerrillas launch five suicide bomb attacks on bases of Russian security forces within 24 hours. In the deadliest, at least 54 people are killed at OMON dormitory in Argun, near Grozny. The Russian interior ministry for Chechnya based in Gudermes is also targeted; 6 Russian troops are killed. In all, attacks left more than 100 Russian servicemen dead or wounded.
  • December, 2001 - A suicide truck bomb driven by a 15-year-old Chechen girl was stopped by gunfire, as it smashed through checkpoints and blockposts on its way to a MVD building in Grozny.
  • December 27, 2002 - Chechen suicide bombers ram vehicles into the republic's government headquarters in Grozny, bringing down the roof and floors of the four-storey building. Chechen officials say about 80 people killed.
  • May 12, 2003 - Two suicide bombers drive a truck full of explosives into a government administration and security complex including republican FSB headquaters in Znamenskoye, in northern Chechnya; 59 people are killed, including a number of civilians.
  • August 1, 2003 - A suicide bomber driving a truck packed with explosives blows up a military hospital in the town of Mozdok in North Ossetia bordering Chechnya. The blast killed at least 50.


Russian officials have accused the bordering republic of Georgia of allowing Chechen rebels to operate out of Georgian territory, and permitting the flow of guerillas and materiel across the Georgian border with Russia.

  • In August 2002, Georgia accused Russia of a series of secret air strikes on purported rebel havens in the Pankisi Gorge.
  • In March 2004, following a series of raids from Georgia into Chechnya, Ingushetia, Abkhazia, and Dagestan, top Chechen commander Ruslan Gelayev was killed in a clash with a Russian border guards.

Death of Maskhadov

On February 2, 2005, Chechen rebel president Aslan Maskhadov issued a call for a ceasefire lasting until at least February 22: the day preceding the anniversary of Stalin's deportation of the Chechen population. The call was issued through a separatist website and addressed to President Putin, described as a gesture of goodwill.

On March 8 2005, Aslan Maskhadov was killed in a "targeted cleansing" operation by Russian security forces in the Chechen community of Tolstoy-Yurt, northeast of Grozny. Shortly following Maskhadov's death, the Chechen rebel council announced that Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev had assumed the leadership, a move that was quickly endorsed by Shamil Basayev.

In April 2006, asked whether negotiations with Russians are possible, the top rebel commander Dokku Umarov answered: "We offered them many times. But it turned out that we constantly press for negotiations and it's as if we are always standing with an extended hand and this is taken as a sign of our weakness. Therefore we don't plan to do this anymore. And the reshuffle of the [rebel] Cabinet of Ministers is connected to this."

Caucasus Front

The recent strategy of Chechen rebels is to widen the conflict far beyond Chechnya by supporting and co-ordinating local insurgents in other parts of Russia, forces known as the Caucasus Front.

  • In 2004 a force of Chechen and ethnic Inhush rebels carried out a large-scale raid on Ingushetia, led by Shamil Basayev. The overnight attacks targeted 15 official buildings in the former Ingush capital, Nazran, and at least three towns and villages located on the Baku-Rostov highway that crosses the republic from east to west. The raid lasted nearly five hours, and the assailants - said to number 200 to 300 - withdrew almost unscathed; the raiders apparently lost only two men during the attacks. The rebels killed some 80 members of security forces, including the republic's Interior Minister Abukar Kostoyev, his deputy Zyaudin Kotiev, top prosecutors, and other officials; they also captured and looted the MVD's armory and police depots. A few civilians, including a local United Nations worker, were killed in the crossfire.

Regular clashes between federal forces and local militants continue in Dagestan, while sporadic fighting erupts in the other southern Russia regions, most notably in Ingushetia.

Restoration of federal government

Government of Akhmad Kadyrov

Russian President Vladimir Putin established direct rule of Chechnya in May 2000. The following month, Putin appointed Akhmad Kadyrov interim "head of the government".


On March 23, 2003, a new Chechen constitution was passed in a referendum. The 2003 Constitution granted the Chechen Republic a significant degree of autonomy, but still tied it firmly to the Russian Federation and Moscow's rule; the new constitution entered into force on April 2, 2003. The referendum was strongly supported by the Russian government but met a harsh critical response from Chechen separatists. Many citiziens chose to boycott the ballot.

The international opinion was mixed, as enthusiasm for the prospect of peace and stability in the region was tempered by concerns about the conduct of the referendum and fears of a violent backlash. Chief among the concerns are the 40,000 Russian soldiers that were included in the eligible voters' list (out of approximately 540,000). No independent international organization (neither the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) nor the United Nations) officially observed the voting. The OSCE, the United States State Department, and the United Kingdom's Foreign Office all questioned the wisdom of holding the referendum while the region was still unsettled.


  • 2003 presidential elections

On October 5 2003, presidential elections were held in Chechnya under the auspices of the March constitution. As with the constitutional referendum, the OSCE and other international organizations did not send observers to monitor proceedings. The Kremlin-supported candidate Akhmat Kadyrov earned a commanding majority, taking about eighty percent of the vote. Critics of the 2003 election argue that separatist Chechens were barred from running, and that Kadyrov used his private militia to actively discourage political opponents.

  • 2004 presidential elections

At night of August 21, 2004, a week before the appointed elections of the President of the Chechen Republic, large scale military operation was carried out by Chechen fighters in the capital city of Grozny, targetting polling stations and other government targets. The Kremlin-backed Militsiya General Alu Alkhanov was reported to have won the elections with almost 74%, with over 85% of the people having voted according to Chechen elections commissions head Abdul-Kerim Arsakhanov. [26]

  • 2005 parliamentary elections

The latest Chechen elections were held on November, 2005. The independent observers said that there were plenty of Russian troops and more journalists than voters at polling stations. Lord Judd, a former Council of Europe special reporter on Chechnya, regarded the elections as flawed; "I simply do not believe we will have stability, peace and a viable future for the Chechen people until we have a real political process," he said. [27] The candidates all belonged to Moscow-based parties and were loyal to Chechnya's prime minister Ramzan Kadyrov, widely seen as a Kremlin puppet. [28]

Ramzan Kadyrov and Islamization

Since December 2005, the pro-Moscow militia leader Ramzan Kadyrov is functioning as the Chechnya's prime minister and the republic's de-facto ruler. Kadyrov, whose irregular forces are accused of carrying out many of the abductions and atrocities; he has become Chechnya's most powerful leader since the 2004 assassination of his father Akhmat.

The 29-year-old was elevated to full-time premier in March 2006, in charge of an administration that is a collection of his allies and clan members. Same month, the Ramzan Kadyrov government officially took control of Chechnya's oil industry and rejected a federal proposition of the republican budget, demanding much more money to be sent from Moscow; for years, Chechnya was know as a Russia's "financial black hole" where the funds are widely emblazed and tend to vanish without trace. On March 30, Interfax reported Chechen People's Assembly Chairman Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov has spoken in favor of a complete withdrawal of all Russian federal forces except the border guards. In April, Ramzan himself criticiesed remaining units of federal police and called for their immediate withdrawal from the republic's proper. He also called for refugee camps scattered about Chechnya to be closed down, saying they were populated by "international spies" intent on destabilizing the region.

Sharia law

In 2006 Kadyrov has also started to create laws he says are more suitable to Chechnya's Islamic heritage -- banning alcohol and gambling on January 20, and enforcing women's use of headscarves -- in defiance of Russia's secular constitution. He also publicly spoke in favor of polygamy on January 13, and declared that lessons in the Koran and Sharia should be obligatory at Chechen schools. On February 11, Ramzan criticized the republican media for broadcasting immoral programs and officially introduced censorship in Chechnya.

Because of the cartoon scandal that shook the whole Muslim world, Kadyrov issued a brief ban on the Danish Refugee Council, the most active humanitarian organization in Caucasus.

Continuing tension

War crimes

Russian officials and Chechen rebels have regularly and repeatedly accused the opposing side of committing various war crimes including kidnapping, murder, hostage taking, looting, rape, and assorted other breaches of the laws of war. International and humanitarian organizations, including the Council of Europe and Amnesty International, have criticized both sides of the conflict for blatant and sustained violations of international humanitarian law.

In 2001 the Holocaust Memorial Museum has placed Chechnya on its Genocide Watch List. [29]

On March 31, 2003, Akhmad Kadyrov, the head of the pro-Moscow administration of the Chechen Republic, has suggested that Russian federal forces are behind breaking into homes at night and abducting people. "People continue to go missing in Chechnya. They are taken away in the middle of the night. Their bodies are not found and they are never seen again," Kadyrov said to reporters in Grozny. "Through their crimes, they maintain tension in the republic, and their hands are stained with the blood of innocent people. The force is made up of kidnappers in armored vehicles. They are a death squad." But according to many journalists and experts on Chechnya, many such abductions are the work of Chechen security police headed by Kadyrov's son, Ramzan. The Kadyrovtsy were also in turn accused by commmanders of the Russian federal forces. Template:Fact

Massacre incidents

Indiscriminate attacks

  • On October 5, 1999, a bus filled with refugees reportedly was shelled by a Russian tank in Chechnya, killing as many as 40 civilians and wounding several others. [30]
  • On October 21, 1999, US satellites [reportedly the Defense Support Program] tracked two Russian short-range ballistic missile launched from the Russian city of Mozdok some 60 miles northeast of Grozny. The missiles slammed into a crowded Grozny marketplace and a maternity ward, killing at least 143 persons, according to reports from the region. The missiles are believed by intelligence analysts to have been SS-21 Scarabs. [31]
  • On February 4, 2000, in an attempt to stop the Chechen retreat, the Russians bombed the villlage of Katyr-Yurt, and then a civilian white-flag convoy, when up to 20,000 civilians desperately fled an intense bombardment there that commenced following the arrival of large numbers of fighters in the village; the bombing lasted for two days. At least 170 civilians died while many more were injured; according to the later reports 343 refugees were killed. [32]

Major rampages

  • In early December 1999, Russian troops under command of general Vladimir Shamanov killed some 41 civilians during drunken rampage in the village of Alkhan-Yurt, near Grozny. [33] [34]
  • In February 2000, the frustrated Russian troops who entered the pulverized Grozny appeared to have taken out their wrath on the surviving inhabitants who emerged from basements and cellars; a particularly brutal massacre was carried out on February 5 in the suburb of Novye Aldi, where suspected members of OMON from St Petersburg and contract soldiers summarily executed at least 60 civilians. [35]

European Court

In October 2004, the European Court of Human Rights agreed to try cases brought by Chechen civilians against the Russian government.

The first trial concluded in February of 2005. The Court ruled that the Russian government violated several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, including a clause on the protection of property, a guarantee of the right to life, and a ban on torture and inhumane or degrading treatment, and ordered the Russian government to pay compensation to the six plaintiffs of the case. [36]

The compensations were not paid, NGOs claim that applicants to the court are met with repressions, including murders and disappearance.[37]

United Nations

  • In April 2004 the Commission rejected another resolution on Chechnya. 23 of 53 countries voted against the resolution, while 12 countries voted for the resolution - mainly European Union countries. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said "all attempts to depict the situation in Chechnya as a human rights problem have been unrealistic."Template:Fact
  • On March 30, Manfred Nowak, the United Nations investigator on torture said that Moscow had agreed to let him visit Russia, including the troubled region -- the first such trip by a UN torture envoy in more than a decade.Template:Fact

Trials in Russia

  • One of the earliest war crimes trials to be held was that of Salman Raduyev, a field commander for the rebel Chechen forces. He was convicted in December 2001 of terrorism and murder charges, sentenced for life, and died in a Russian prison colony a year later. [39]
  • In 2003 Russian Colonel Yuri Budanov was tried and sentenced for the abduction and murder of Elza Kungaeva, a Chechen woman whom Budanov claimed was a rebel sniper. Legal proceedings against Budanov, who underwent several retrials, lasted a total of 2 years and 3 months; it was the only case of a Russian officer sentenced for a war crime commited in Chechnya to date. Budanov, who was commanding a tank regiment, has been a popular national hero, decorated for his conduct in Chechnya with the highest contry's award, the Hero of Russia.
  • On April 29, 2004, a Russian court in Rostov-on-Don acquitted four SPETSNAZ GRU officers of the shooting dead six Chechen civilians, after the commandos admitted in court that they executed the mistakenly wounded victims and set them on fire to conceal the incident, but said they were only acting following orders from their superiors. The acquittal of Captain Eduard Ulman and three subordinates sparked public outrage in Chechnya, where rights advocates and many Chechens say Russian forces act with impunity.
  • On April 5, 2006, a Russian serviceman, accused of killing three Chechen civilians at a roadblock last year, has admitted his guilt in his final plea. On April 6, Alexey Krivoshonok, a contract soldier since 1995, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the violent murder of 3 people in a state of alcoholic and narcotic intoxication.


  • May 31, 2000 - Sergei Zveryev, Russia's second highest official in the area, was killed by a remote controlled bomb in Grozny. Grozny's Mayor Supyan Makhchayev was injured and his assistant was also killed.
  • October 17, 2001 - Chechens shot down a VIP Mi-8 helicopter over Grozny, killing 13. The helicopter was carrying Major General Anatoli Pozdnyakov, member of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Major General Pavel Varfolomeyev, deputy director of staff of the Russian Defense Ministry, 8 Colonels, and 3 members of the crew; all aboard were killed.
  • November 29, 2001 - In Urus-Martan, a young Chechen woman Elza Gazuyeva carried out an assassination attempt on Russian military district commandant General Geydar Gadzhiev, blowing herself up with a hand grenade near a group of Russian soldiers. Gazuyeva had lost a husband, two brothers, and a cousin in the war. Gadzhiev, who was accused of atrocities against civilians by locals, reportedly had personally summoned Elza to witness her husband's torture and execution. He later died of his wounds; several other soldier were killed as well.
  • January 27, 2002 - Another VIP Mi-8 is shot down in the Nadterechny district, killing 11. Among those killed in the crash were Russian deputy Interior Minister Lieutenant General Mikhail Rudchenko, who was responsible for security in the Southern federal district, and deputy commander of the Interior Troops Major General Nikolai Goridov, as well as several other high-ranking officers including 3 Colonels.
  • March 2002 - One of the leaders of the radical wing of the Chechen resistance, the influential Jordanian volunteer known as Amir Khattab, was reportedly poisoned in an operation by the FSB.
  • November 16, 2002 - Lieutenant-General Igor Shifrin, who headed the army's Glavspetzstroi (Chief Special Construction Directorate), was killed in Grozny when his and another vehicle came under fire. During unsuccesful manhunt for the killers of general, two policemen were shot dead and two were wounded.
  • February 13, 2004 - Former Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev was killed by a car bomb in Qatar. The Russian government denied involvement in the attack, blaming infighting among rebel factions or a dispute over money; Moscow had at the time been involved in a bid to extradite Yandarbiyev to Russia to face terrorism-related charges. A Qatari court convicted two Russian government Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) agents in the bombing.
  • May 9, 2004 - Pro-Russian President Akhmat Kadyrov was killed in a substantial bomb blast in a Grozny football stadium during the celebration of Russian Victory Day. A number of other top government and military officials were killed or injured in the attack, including the chairman of the State Council of Chechnya, Hussein Isayev, the military commander in the North Caucasus, Colonel-General Valery Baranov, the Chechen interior minister, Alu Alkhanov, and the military commandant of Chechnya, Major-General Grigory Fomenko. In all, 13 persons in the VIP stand were killed, and some 53 wounded.

Kadyrov had survived at least three preceding bomb attacks, one on his Grozny headquarters in 2002, one by a pair of female suicide bombers at a religious festival in Iliskhan-Yurt on May 14, 2003, and another by a young shakhidka Mariam Tashukhadzhiyeva in Grozny few weeks later. His successor, acting President Sergei Abramov, was targeted by yet another bombing in July of 2004; Abramov survived the attack.

Hostage takings

The Moscow theater hostage crisis

On October 23 2002, gunmen took more than seven hundred hostages prisoner at a Moscow theater. The hostage-takers demanded an end to the Russian presence in Chechnya, and threatened to execute the hostages if their conditions were not met. The siege ended violently on October 26, when Russian troops stormed the building. More than one hundred of the hostages perished from the incapacitating effects of knockout gas used by the Russian forces.

Russian officials blamed Maskhadov and Baseyev for the attack; both initially denied responsibility and insist that the attack was the work of independent rebels and terrorists. On November 2 Baseyev recanted his statements, assuming responsibility in a statement on his web site and apologizing to Maskhadov for not informing him of the plan.

The Beslan school siege

On September 1 2004, approximately thirty individuals seized control of Beslan's Middle School Number One and more than one thousand hostages. Most of the hostages were students under the age of eighteen. Following a tense two-day standoff punctuated by occasional gunfire and explosions, Alpha Group of the OSNAZ raided the building. Fighting lasted more than two hours; ultimately 331 civilians, 11 commandos, and 31 hostage-takers died.

Once again, Russian officials publicly linked Baseyev and Maskhadov to the attack, and Baseyev again claimed responsibility in a September 17 website publication. Maskhadov denounced the attacks and denied involvement.

Other hostage incidents

  • March 15, 2001 - Three Chechens hijacked a Russian Tu-154 plane with 174 people after it left Turkey; they forced a landing in Medina, Saudi Arabia. On March 16, Saudi commandos freed over 100 hostages, killing three people including a hijacker, a female flight attendant and a Turkish passenger. A Russian diplomat in Saudi Arabia said the leader of the hijackers was a "highly-trained military officer who appears to know what he is doing."
  • April 22, 2001 - In Turkey pro-Chechen gunmen seized up to 100 hostages at a luxury hotel in Istanbul. The standoff involving had lasted nearly 12 hours before the hostage-takers armed with automatic rifles surrendered; police said they had encountered no resistance from the gunmen and there were no reports of anybody being injured. [40]
  • October 29, 2004 - The State Duma hosted Vladimir Ustinov, head of the Prosecutor General's Office, to discuss the Putin administration's anti-terrorism strategy. As he explained it to the deputies, in future hostage-taking episodes the security agencies would have a formal statutory right to seize and detain the relatives of the suspected hostage-takers. The government would then let the terrorists know that it will do to these "counter-hostages" whatever the terrorists do to their own hostages.

Meanwhile, the practice of taking civilians hostages exists among officers of Russian and local security agencies in Chechnya. On March 1, 2004, officers of security agencies seized more than 30 relatives of of Ichkerian defense minister Magomed Khambiyev, including women, in the Khambiyev family's native village of Benoy in Chechnya's Nozhay-Yurt district. Magomed Khambiyev got an ultimatum to lay down arms in exchange for lives of his relatives, and he did it giving himself up to the authorities in a few days.

Mass graves

  • April 30, 2000 - Eight decapitated bodies were found in a fresh burial place near the village of Dargo, Vedeno district in southern Chechnya. They were identified as three OMON and three regular police officers, and one military conscript; all were missing in action for weeks.
  • July 27, 2000 - The bodies of about 150 people are reported to have been found in a mass grave near the village of Tangi-Chu, Urus-Martan district in southern Chechnya. 74 bodies, mostly men, were removed from a grave. As many as 80 more remained; people who happened to witness the exhumations said later that the hands of the killed had been tied with barbed wire. An official of the republic's Moscow-approved government said about half the bodies were wearing Chechen rebel uniforms. The rest were civilians who, he said, appeared to have no marks of violence on them.
  • April 10, 2001 - Pro-Moscow Grozny Mayor Bislan Gantamirov announced 17 bodies with gunshot wounds had been found in the basement of a bombed-out dormitory next to the Oktyabrskoye district police station, manned by the OMON troops from Siberia's Khanty-Mansiisk. An initial examination of the corpses showed that a majority of those killed were middle-aged men and that the bodies were approximately six months old. The place was then cordoned off by the military, and the basement was soon destroyed in an apparent cover up. "We long suspected federal troops [of such crimes]," Gantamirov noted. "The mayor's office has hundreds of inquiries from city residents asking to find out about relatives who have disappeared. An especially high number of complaints concerned the Oktyabrsky district police station where detainees often disappeared without a trace."
  • February 21, 2001 - Some 50 bodies began to be uncovered across from the main Russian Khankala military base at Zdorovye, near Grozny. In all 48 to 51 bodies of men, women and children were found with gun shot wounds. Some bore the marks of torture and mutilation. The absolute majority of bodies identified in the grave near Khankala belong to people who were not in combat and were detained by federal forces; they had been dumped over the course of a year.
  • May 4, 2001 - Another 35 bodies are found near Khankala. Human rights groups suggested that Russian servicemen at the Khankala base used the village as a disposal site for executed prisoners. Before the breakdown of Soviet Union, the Zdorovye dacha settlement had been a comfortable place to live for local Communist Party bosses.
  • April 9th, 2002 - A mass grave containing human remains was found in a mountain cave in the Achkhoy-Martan district. Local people who discovered the grave said the skulls and bones make it easy to define the age of the victims; some bones reportedly prove there are children aged 10-12 among the bodies. Lieutenant-General Vladimir Moltenskoi, who commanded combined federal forces in Chechnya, promptly announced the bodies might be of Russian soldiers captured by Chechen fighters in the first Chechen war. However, eyewitnesses say stewed-pork tins and bottles of vodka found on the spot prove roistering Russian soldiers stayed there, and local people say as early as in December 2000 several Russian military columns with Chechens detained during "mopping-up" operations, including children aged between 10-14, were stationed in the area of the caves.
  • September 8, 2002 - Police from the republic of Ingushetia have discovered a common grave near Goragorsk, on the border with neighboring Chechnya, containing the bodies of 15 people who had been arrested by Russian troops. According to Memorial group, the police was contacted by relatives of the victims who had been tipped off about the mass grave after paying the Russian military large sums of money.
  • January 13, 2003 - Ten blown up corpses were discovered near Grozny and later taken to a mosque in the Tolstoy-Yurt for identification. On the next day the attorney-general of the Chechen Republic, Vladimir Kravtshenko, said that the bodies belong to people who had earlier been abducted by Chechen fighters. However, the three identified bodies belonged to inhabitants who had been taken into costudy by federal forces in the end of 2002; after the blast only fragments remained of the other bodies.
  • March 31, 2003 - Russian government's human rights commissioner Oleg Mironov has called on the authorities to open mass burial sites in Chechnya to identify the bodies and establish the reasons for their deaths. "It is necessary to open a number of graves in Chechnya and see why the people died, carry out necessary expert examinations, and then bury them as humans deserve," Mironov told a news conference in Moscow. At the same time, Mironov rejected the proposal by Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to establish an international tribunal to investigate alleged war crimes committed in Chechnya.
  • April 6, 2003 - Police in Chechnya said they had discovered four graves filled with disfigured bodies over the past 24 hours. Three sites were found in the northern Nadterechny district, usually a relatively peaceful area, Chechnya's Emergency Situations Ministry said. The heads and arms had been cut off of the corpses, which were stacked in a shallow grave and covered with soil, the ministry said. It did not say how many bodies were in the graves.
  • October 9, 2004 - A mass grave containing six unidentified bodies has been discovered in the capital Grozny during excavation work at a building site, Russia's NTV television said. The agency said on Saturday that the six had apparently been shot and buried about three months ago.
  • November 20, 2004 - A mass grave containing the bodies of eleven unidentified young people, aged 12 to 20, was discovered near the Gudermes district village of Jalka. On November 16, local residents in the Grozny rural district discovered three bodies in the vicinity of residences located near a dairy farm; the victims, males aged 20-40, showed multiple signs of torture.
  • June 16, 2005 - There are 52 mass graves in Chechnya, local pro-Russian government admitted. The chairman of the Chechen government committee for civil rights, Nurdi Nukhazhiyev, was quoted by ITAR-TASS news agency as saying the graves have not been opened, so the total number of dead is difficult to determine. Nukhazhiyev had earlier said that up to 60,000 people had lost a relative or friend in the disappearances that have blighted the republic for the past five years.
  • April 02, 2006 - 57 bodies have been discovered in Sergey Kirov Park in Grozny. Valery Kuznetsov, the Chechnya's prosecutor, said an examination of the corpses buried in unmarked grave indicated that they belonged to "ordinary citiziens" who had died from explosions of artillery shells and bombs between 1999 and 2000; he said there will be no investigation on the finding. On the site of the former Kirov Park, where in April-May of 2000 nine graves were uncovered, the local authorities plan to build a large entertainment centre which will bear the name of Akhmad Kadyrov.

Terrorist bombings

  • May 8, 2002 - An explosion of a Russian-made antipersonnel mine in the Dagestani town of Kaspiysk killed and wounded some 200 soldiers and civilian bystanders during a military parade. By the 12th, this toll had totaled 42 dead (17 of them children) and 130 wounded; only 19 of the dead were Russian Marines. A Dagestani pro-Chechen group blamed for an attack had previously killed seven Russian soldiers on 18 January 2001, in the Dagestani capital Makhachkala. Several Russian officers from the garrison of the nearby Dagestani town of Buynaksk were accused of selling the radio-controlled MON-90 mine that was used in the attack, and were put on trial in January 2003.
  • July 5, 2003 - Two young Chechen girls were stopped by security guards at separate entrances outside a rock festival at the Tushino airfield near Moscow, and detonated their explosives, killing 15 people. For many observers, the Tushino suicide attacks appeared out of place. The bombings marked the first time that Chechen separatists had attacked Russian civilians with no apparent motive; there were no demands or political aims, not even a claim of responsibility.
  • December 5-10, 2003 - A shrapnel-filled bomb believed strapped to a lone male suicide attacker ripped apart a commuter train near Chechnya, killing 44 people and wounding nearly 200. The explosion occurred during a busy morning rush hour when the train was loaded with many students and workers; it ripped the side of the train open as it approached a station near Yessentuki, 750 miles south of Moscow. Only five days later on December 10 another blast shook Russia -- this time the attack occurred in the very center of Moscow a female suicide bomber set off explosives near the Kremlin and State Duma; the bomber used suicide belts packed with ball bearings to kill 6 people and injure another 44. Shamil Basayev later claimed responsibility for organising the December 2003 attacks.
  • February 6, 2004 - A bomb ripped through a Moscow subway car during rush hour morning, killing 39 people and wounding 134. A previously unknown Chechen rebel group claimed responsibility for the bombing; the claim came from a group calling itself Gazoton Murdash, led by Lom-Ali ("Ali the Lion"). According to the statement, the group launched the attack to mark the fourth anniversary of the killing of scores of Chechen civilians by Russian soldiers who took control of the Chechen capital Grozny.
  • August 27, 2004 - Officials said two Russian airliners that crashed nearly simultaneously was brought down by a terrorist act, after finding traces of explosives in the planes' wreckages. An Islamic militant group claimed responsibility for the attack in which 90 people died in a Web statement. Chechen women Amanta Nagayeva (30) and Satsita Dzhebirkhanova (37), who lived in an apartment in Grozny, had purchased their tickets at the last minute; Nagayeva's brother disappeared three years ago and the family believed he was abducted by Russian forces.
  • June 12, 2005 - A bomb planted by a Russian nationalist extremists, veterans of the Chechen wars, derailed the Grozny-Moscow passenger train some 150 kilometers south of the Russian capital. Dozens of people were injured, but only eight hospitalized.

Influence on Russian politics

Early conflict

Among ordinary Russian citizens, there existed a strong perception that Chechnya was firmly a part of Russia. The notion that it might secede was implausible and unacceptable, even after events of the First Chechen War; the violent acts of Chechen militants were portrayed within Russia as having been carried out by dangerous, unrepresentative fringe groups. Within the Russian government, there was a concern that allowing Chechnya substantial autonomy might lead to a domino effect—other regions within the already-fragmented former Soviet Union might choose to follow suit.

Motivated by these factors, President Yeltsin authorized the invasion of Chechnya. Many argue over whether Yeltsin genuinely believed that victory would be swift and decisive, or that his assertions to that effect were simply meant to assuage the concerns of Russian citizens. Despite assembling a much larger and better-supported force than was brought to bear in the First Chechen War, the Russian army sustained appreciable losses but won the bloody battle for Grozny.

Rise of Putin

The election of Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency changed the tenor of the Chechen conflict; Putin was often less concerned about Western public opinion than Yeltsin, and continued to prosecute the war.

Putin officially reestablished Russian rule in Chechnya in 2000; this development met with early approval in the rest of Russia, but the continued deaths of Russian troops dampened public enthusiasm. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, Putin was able to attract more foreign support for his actions in Chechnya by highlighting the links between Chechen rebels and Islamist terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda.

Although large-scale fighting within Chechnya has ceased, daily attacks continue. The local government is not stable and Russians are mindful of the potential for renewed conflict. Russia continues to maintain a substantial military presence within Chechnya.

President Putin and newly-minted Chechen leaders face a difficult task of restoring stability to the region and convincing the Russian people that they can manage the situation effectively. Currently the FSB has taken over the operations in Chechnya. Most soldiers in Chechnya are now kontraktniki (contract soldiers) as opposed to the earlier conscripts. Local militias are also being used to provide security. Ironically, many of the militiamen are former Chechen rebels from the First Chechen War.

Influence on society

Chechen syndrome

The "Chechen syndrome" among security forces returning from their service in Chechnya spreads an atmosphere of violence and disregarding human rights to other parts of Russia. The regular troops and police carry the Chechen syndrome home with them, haunted by the horrors they have witnessed and committed.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Since the Chechen conflict began in 1994, similar cases have been reported all across Russia: depressed young veterans return embittered and traumatized to their home towns and begin lashing out at those around them; soldiers are psychologically scarred. Russian psychiatrists, law-enforcement officials and journalists have started calling the condition Chechen syndrome (CS), drawing a parallel with the post-traumatic stress disorders suffered by American soldiers who served in Vietnam and Soviet soldiers who fought in Afghanistan. "At least 70% of the estimated 1.5 million Chechnya veterans suffer CS," says Yuri Alexandrovsky, deputy director of the Serbsky National Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry in Moscow. "Some readjust. Many don't. All need help." [41]

Police brutality

This is particulary visible in the rising brutality and criminalisation of the Russia's police forces. According to human rights activists and journalists, tens of thousands of police and security forces have done tours of duty in Chechnya, after which they return to their home regions, bringing with them learned patterns of brutality and impunity.

In a 2003 report, the International Helsinki Federation said "torture, ill-treatment and inhumane and degrading treatment are commonly employed in order to get a confession to a crime." A Human Rights Watch report said that in the first hours after detention, "police regularly beat their captives, nearly asphyxiate them, or subject them to electroshock in pursuit of confessions or testimony incriminating others".

Reliable numbers on police brutality are hard to come by. In a statement released January 31, 2006, the internal affairs department of Russia's Interior Ministry said that the number of recorded crimes by police officers rose 46.8 percent in 2005. In one nationwide poll in 2005, 71 percent of respondents said they didn't trust the police; in another, 41 percent said they lived in fear of police violence.

Impact on the Chechen population

The 2003 WHO in-depth study of the psychological health of the population of Chechnya, which has experienced crisis almost continuously since 1991, concluded that 86 percent of the Chechen population was suffering from physical or emotional "distress" - about 30 percent more people living in the Chernobyl reactive zone. 31 percent of those studied showed symptoms of ill health recognizable as post-traumatic stress syndrome. [42]

Psychologists are discovering that a whole generation of Chechen children is showing symptoms of trauma. In 2006 Sultan Alimkhadzhiyev, pro-Russian Chechnya's deputy health minister, said the Chechen children had become "living specimens" of what it means to grow up with the constant threat of violence and chronic joblessness and poverty. "Our children have seen bombings, artillery attacks, large-caliber bombardment. They saw houses, schools and hospitals burning. They lost parents, brothers, sisters, neighbors. And they still see tanks and armored vehicles every day in the street. (...) A state of panic. Children are feeling constant fear, a premonition of tragedy." [43]

Rise of racism and xenophobia

The war in Chechnya and the associated Caucasian terrorism in Russia resulted in growing intolerance and racist violence in Russia, directed in a great part against the people from Caucasus. Even while the Russian authorities are unlikely to label attacks on people with dark skin as racist, preferring calling this "hooliganism", a report in November 2005 found that murders officially classified as racist more than doubled in Russia between 2003 and 2004 from around 20 to at least 45.

A nationwide opinion poll in 2005 found that 61% of respondents approved of the "Russia for Russians" slogan, almost twice the 31% level recorded in 1998. [44] According to the 2006 poll by the Public Opinion Foundation, 12% of Russians see "positive ideas" in fascism; 24% think that people who hold fascist views do not constitute a danger to society.

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Timelines and chronologies

Human rights issues

2005 ceasefire events


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