Remember Chechnya, it’s not over


Last week, on Thursday December 4th, Mr. Vladimir Putin was addressing his nation about what’s going on this year and the perspectives for his country in the next year. A few hours before, in Grozny, a group of gunmen launched a surprise attack. The consequent battle lasted for several hours, leaving 19 bodies on the ground and many injured. The message was clear, loud and brutal as usual. Chechnya is not pacified as the Russian government pretends, neither is under total control as its president, Mr. Ramzan Kadyrov, likes to state at all times.

When Putin was re-elected, his program could be synthetized in two themes. Peace in the Caucasus area and a steady economic growth. Years later, Chechnya is still not pacified, the years of repression and civil rights deny have all but enlarged the problem to Dagestan and Ingushetia, while the recent drop in the oil price and the economic sanctions against Russia (motivated by the conflict in Ukraine) have put the economy on its knees. Not a good time to speak about success for the new Czar, isn’t it?

Understanding Chechnya and its recent history is not a secondary task for those who want to learn anything about Islamic-driven extremism in Asia. A look at a map will be enough to see how a new domino theory could be put in effect, linking countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan with the former russian republics of the south and to the Caucasus area. Boundaries are nothing more than lines on a map in the most part of that area and, of course, islamic fighters are almost free to move from country to country – just like it happens for weapons, drugs and whatever else could produce a profit.

A good recap requires a lot of information and some good analyst to put it all together, here you will find a good try, thanks to the FBI:

Chechnya: A Complete Guide – Insurgent Groups, Terrorists, Chechen Rebels and Muslims, Islamist Movement, Russian Military Invasion and War, Russian Caucasus Conflicts, Battle for Grozny

That’s not all, of course.

From an highly respected institution, the U. S. Army War College, comes a very good perspective about Russian action in the Caucasus area

Self-Inflicted Wounds: Russia’s Failed Chechen and North Caucasus Policy

But a recap is just a point to start with. The real question on the table is about Russian policy and the choice for a Russian territory to get its independence. Plain and simple, it’s a matter to understand if we think that Russia got every right to do whatever it takes to stop an islamic fundamentalist rebellion in one of its territories or if the people in Chechnya is fighting for freedom. Two different thesis and too much blood on the ground in the last twenty years.

On the Russian side, you may find book like this one:

The Wolves of Islam: Russia and the Faces of Chechen Terror

On the other side, an example is this book.

Chechnya: The Case for Independence

In my opinion people like Kadyrov is not a solution for such a complex problem. Answering to violence with more violence, erasing the word “freedom” from a whole country, can’t be a long-term strategy. Millions of people in Caucasus have had enough and the fire of insurgency is spreading all around, adding fuel every day to the cause of extremism. The actions of ISIS (or ISIL) in the Middle East are a strong warning for everybody.


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