Security Council Background Statement


Chechnya, a Russian republic located in the east of the North Caucasus. Chechnya is almost entirely surrounded by Russian territory, but shares a small part of its southern border with Georgia. The Chechens consider themselves a nation completely different from Russia. For example, the majority of Chechens are Sunni Muslim which comes in conflict with Russian Orthodoxy; the dominant religion of Russia. There have been two wars, one on-going, concerning the independence of Chechnya.

Chechnya, which is in a very mountainous region, has numerous and very important oil deposits, natural gas, and many minerals and mineral waters. This region has strong regional power and capability with its recourses, but has always been in conflict with Russia. As said before, Chechnya wants independence mostly because of their different cultural and religious beliefs and also to be relieved of the external rule by the Russians which subdued their independence as a nation as well as a state. Russia also has reasons for keeping Chechnya as one of its republics, one being that Chechnya is a fruitful region which can benefit the entire country. Oil plays a very significant role in this reason as there are a major oil pipelines and refineries. Another major reason is that Russia has yet to accept Chechnya as a separate state and also fears that other republics will secede if Chechnya is granted independence.
The Republic of Chechnya was established after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The two wars for independence, although they both began after the fall of the Soviet Union, were the only recognized wars; however the conflicts concerning Russia and Chechnya date back to the late-eighteenth century. It was during this time when imperial Russian forces first came to the Northern Caucasus. Chechens also opposed the Soviet rule, as the Union deported nearly the entire Chechen population to Siberia and Central Asia.

The first Chechen war started in December 1994 when Russian forces invaded the Chechen republic. The war ended in 1996 as a truce with over 40,000 deaths total and thousands of people displaced. One year after the first war ended, Aslan Maskhadov, the Chechen leader, and Russian president Boris Yeltsin signed a peace treaty which postponed the discussion of independence until 2001. The peace treaty did end the war; however the conflict of independence still remained. At the end of 1998, kidnapped foreigners were found murdered and over 100 hostages, who were mostly Russian, were held in Chechnya. In 1999, there were several ‘terrorist’ attacks and bombings that killed around 300 people. The government quickly put the blame on Chechen separatist, who do not view themselves as terrorists, but as freedom fighters.

The second Chechen war began shortly after the apartment bombings and started with a ground offensive on the Russian side. This time, Russian President Vladimir Putin was able establish control of most of Chechnya including the capital, Grozny. However, during that time, the Chechens approved a new constitution in a referendum, however there is said to be some controversy behind the referendum. This controversial referendum was approved in March 2003 and gave Chechnya more autonomy, but that it is still with Russian Federation. Also, Kremlin approved Akhmad Kadyrov was ‘elected’ president.
Now Ramzan Kadyrov, son of President Akhmad Kadyrov who was assassinated in 2004, is president of Chechnya. He was nominated for presidency by President Putin and almost unanimously approved by the Chechen parliament. Today, Doku Umarov is the separatist leader, succeeding Abdul-Khalim Saydullayev who was killed in June 2006.

During both wars and to this day, there has been an enormous amount of human rights abuses on both sides of this conflict including torture, extrajudicial killings, pillage, unlawful imprisonment, kidnappings, rape, and disappearances. Before the wars, Chechnya’s population was close to 1 million, but human rights organizations say that a minimum of 15 percent of the population has been eliminated and is now about 700,000. There have been a number of losses on the Russian side as well, about 10,000 soldiers during the second war and twice that during the first. On top of that, thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes and live as refugees elsewhere in Russia and abroad.

The Russian government agreed to end the counterterrorist operations in Chechnya on April 16, 2009. The action will strengthen the power of President Ramzan Kadyrov. Though, since that time, there have been several attacks by Chechen separatists, including the most recent one in March, 2010 where two ‘black widows’, or female Chechen suicide bombers, attacked Moscow’s metro system. These black widows are women who have lost male family members (husbands, brothers, etc.) in the conflict with Russia. The black widows have also played a part in other notorious attacks such as the attack in 2002 on a Moscow theatre and the seizure of a school in 2004. Russian investigators say that there are still many black widows active and they are possibly planning more attacks.


- Why does Chechnya want independence? Why does Russia not want to give Chechnya independence?
- How can the conflict be solved while satisfying both sides?
- What can countries not directly involved in the conflict do to help the situation?
- What can be done so that civilians do not get involved and harmed?
- Is it possible for both sides to be fully satisfied with the outcome?
- Should Chechnya receive independence from Russia?



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