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Russia and Chechnya: The Path to War

Jason A. Roberts

Thesis submitted to the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Master of Arts in History

Mark Tauger, Ph.D., Chair Robert E. Blobaum, Ph.D. Steven Zdatny, Ph.D. Department of History

Morgantown, West Virginia 2005

Keywords: Russia, Chechnya, Chechen War, Russian Politics Copyright 2005 Jason A. Roberts

UMI Number: 1426702

Copyright 2005 by Roberts, Jason A. All rights reserved.

UMI Microform 1426702 Copyright 2005 by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. This microform edition is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code.

ProQuest Information and Learning Company 300 North Zeeb Road P.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346


Russia and Chechnya: The Path to War

Jason A. Roberts

This thesis examines the causes of the 1994-1996 Chechen War by analyzing the policies of the Russian and Chechen governments between 1991 and 1994. The development of Chechen separatism in the late 1980s and the creation of a secessionist Chechen government in 1990-1991 are extensively examined. Through the use of Russian and Chechen government documents as well as contemporary reports in the Russian press, I present in detail the negotiation process between Moscow and Grozny in 1992-1994 and I examine why these negotiations failed to reach a peaceful settlement. Ultimately, I argue that the 1994-1996 Chechen War resulted from Moscows failure adequately to comprehend the history of Russo-Chechen relations, the chaotic conditions in Russia due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscows failure to develop a coherent strategy for dealing with Chechnya, and the erratic, authoritarian leadership styles of Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev.


Introduction ......................................................................................................................... iv

Chapter One Chechnya Declares Independence ................................................................ 1

Chapter Two Moscow and Grozny Fight A War of Words .............................................. 30

Chapter Three Talk Is Cheap Negotiations Fail ........................................................... 62

Chapter Four The War..................................................................................................... 104

Conclusion Peace Leads to War .................................................................................... 126

Notes ............................................................................................................................... 134

Bibliography ................................................................................................................... 145



Since 1996, much has been written about the Chechen Wars, focusing primarily on the 1994-1996 conflict. Many of these works, most notably Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus by Carlotta Gall and Thomas de Waal and Anatol Lievens Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power, are written by journalists who traveled through Chechnya during the first war. Works of this nature typically provide a brief discussion of the causes of the conflict and then offer firsthand accounts of the events on the battlefield. Gall and de Waals work is the best example of this. Anatol Lieven is another journalist who covered the Chechen War, but his work differs from Gall and de Waals in that he attempts to place the Chechen conflict in the broader context of portraying the war as a symptom of the overall sharp decline of Russia since 1991. As a result, the bulk of Lievens voluminous text examines the political, social, and economic problems of post-Soviet Russia and thus tends to marginalize the Chechen War itself. While works of this nature are quite useful to the historian studying this conflict, unfortunately these works suffer from a strong anti-Russian bias and lack in depth analyses of the causes of the conflict. Each of these works, and others like them, tend to blame Russia as the sole instigator of the war and thus minimalize Chechnyas own actions which helped lead to war. Other works exist on the Chechen conflict as well. Written primarily by historians, these include Tracey Germans Russias Chechen War and John Dunlops Russia Confronts Chechnya: Roots of a Separatist Conflict. Both of these books examine the causes of the war rather than discussing the war itself. To date, Tracey Germans work is the most thorough analysis of the wars causes. She argues that the war resulted from the combination of


Gorbachevs early attempts at democratization, the ideological and institutional vacuum caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the struggle for survival among Russias political elite, and Moscows lack of a coherent policy for center-periphery issues. In this thesis, I take the same approach as German and Dunlop by analyzing the causes of the 1994-1996 Chechen War. Like German, I also argue that the roots of the conflict can be found in the problems associated with the rapid collapse of the Soviet Union and Moscows failure to develop a coherent strategy for dealing with the Chechen situation. However, unlike German, I focus primarily on the actions taken by the Russian government in the years preceding the outbreak of hostilities. Through the much greater use of Russian government documents, documents issued by Dzhokhar Dudaevs government in Chechnya, and contemporary press reports drawn mainly from Russian sources, I examine in detail the numerous attempts made by Moscow in the period 1991-1994 to resolve the Chechen issue. While German also uses government documents and the Russian press as her primary sources, I place more emphasis on the government documents and I also examine in greater detail the many negotiations between Moscow and Grozny in the prewar period. In addition, I place greater importance on the actions of Dudaev himself, particularly his statements to both the Russian and non-Russian press in which he often threatened to bring holy war (gazavat) to Russia as well as his fiery accusations lodged against the Russian government. Ultimately, I argue that the war stemmed from several factors, some of which are interconnected. First, Russian officials, Boris Yeltsin in particular, failed to fully comprehend the history of Russo-Chechen relations. As a result, Moscows tactics in dealing with Chechnya closely mirrored earlier tsarist and Soviet policies. In sum, the Russian government failed to understand the nature of the problem, and thus underestimated the extent of Chechen separatist

sentiment. Second, in the early stages of the Chechen separatist movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Moscow was too preoccupied with the events and problems associated with the collapse of the Soviet Union to deal effectively with the Chechen situation. In this way, the Chechen conflict can be seen as another byproduct of the too rapid collapse of the Soviet Union. Related to this cause is the fact that Moscow never developed a coherent plan or strategy for dealing with Chechnya. Instead, Moscows policies before 1994 were mainly of an ad hoc nature as Moscow simply reacted to Chechen actions rather than act proactively. The authoritarian tendencies of both the Russian and Chechen governments also contributed to the war as both governments to varying degrees silenced or marginalized dissenting voices inside their respective governments. This is particularly true after 1993 when both Yeltsin and Dudaev staged dramatic showdowns with their parliaments. In Russia, this resulted in a new constitution that gave Yeltsin more power and prevented the new Federal Assembly from being able to take action to prevent the war. In Chechnya, Dudaev effectively silenced the Chechen Parliament leaving virtually no avenue for dissent. As a result, in both Russia and Chechnya, the concept of separation of powers was severely weakened, which allowed both presidents to pursue their own course with little or no obstacles in their path. Finally, the Chechen War occurred due to the failure of both sides to reach a negotiated settlement. A negotiated settlement could not be reached because the negotiations held in the prewar period did not involve the highest ranking officials from both governments. German argues that had Yeltsin and Dudaev met to discuss the issue, war likely could have been averted. I disagree. Instead, I argue that a meeting between Yeltsin and Dudaev may have made a peaceful settlement more likely, but given the refusal of both men to back down from their


respective positions, a Yeltsin-Dudaev meeting probably would not have produced favorable results. Chapter One of this thesis discusses the historical background of Russo-Chechen relations beginning with the first Russian conquests into the North Caucasus in the 16th century. I then briefly examine Russian colonization in the North Caucasus, the wars of the 19th century, tsarist policies in the region, and finally Soviet policies in the North Caucasus. I then present in detail the beginnings of the Chechen independence movement during the late 1980s and its development in the early 1990s. Through the use of Russian and Chechen documents, I discuss the way in which Dudaev came to power and how the Chechens declared independence. Chapter One concludes with an analysis of Moscows first reactions to the Chechens moves toward independence as well as why these first attempts did not prevent the situation from intensifying. Chapter Two is a detailed analysis of the period of negotiations in 1992-1993. In addition, in this chapter I discuss the internal situation in Chechnya as well as the political turmoil in both Russia and Chechnya. In this chapter, I argue that during this period, both the Russian and Chechen governments made decisive moves toward authoritarianism. This is more true in the case of Chechnya than in Russia. The political turmoil in Russia and Chechnya during this period combined with the refusal by Dudaev and Yeltsin to compromise as well as Moscows inability to form a coherent strategy contributed to the failure to reach a negotiated settlement. In Chapter Three, I focus on the final attempts to avert war in 1993-1994. I also discuss the developing rift between Yeltsin and the leaders of the Federal Assembly over how best to deal with Chechnya. In this chapter, I use the same arguments presented above to demonstrate why these final attempts also failed to prevent war. Finally, Chapter Four is a brief examination


of the war itself with the focus again placed on Moscows actions and the process that eventually led to the Khasavyurt peace settlement in August 1996. This chapter is not intended to be an overview of the military aspect of the war. Instead, it evaluates the political actions taken by Moscow during the war itself. One conclusion of this thesis is that it is incorrect to assign blame to one side or the other for starting the Chechen conflict. Instead, I argue that both sides were equally culpable for the reasons outlined above. Through the use of Russian and Chechen documents, contemporary press reports, and secondary sources, I have attempted to provide an objective analysis of the causes of the Chechen conflict.


CHAPTER ONE Chechnya Declares Independence

The history of relations between the Russians and the Chechens has been consistently acrimonious since the beginning of the Russian conquest of the Caucasus region in the 18th century. Although the Russian tsars finally conquered the Caucasus by the middle of the 19th century, the Chechens never fully accepted Russian rule. Thus, the relationship between the two peoples remained bitter and has been characterized by intermittent military clashes as the Chechens rebelled and attempted to throw off Russian rule. The current conflict, therefore, is the latest in a long series of violent episodes that dates back three centuries. What makes the contemporary war different from its numerous predecessors is its longer duration (almost ten years), the Chechens more organized, intense resistance, and the Chechens ability to inflict numerous damaging defeats on the Russian army. However, the current war, like the many previous conflicts, has so far failed to achieve the long-standing goal of Chechen rebellions: officially recognized Chechen independence. Background of the Conflict

The Chechen people, along with their close ethnic cousins the Ingush, have lived in the North Caucasus region for at least 6,000 years, making them one of the oldest ethnic groups in the region. During the late 17th to the early 19th centuries, the Chechens converted to Sunni Islam of the Hanafi School and since this conversion, Islam has been an important part of Chechen culture and ethnic identity. The Chechens practice a moderate form of Islam. Because

of this moderation, Islam has not been the primary motivation behind the Chechens numerous attempts to gain independence. The Chechens have blended Islam with other characteristics of their ethnic identity to create a nationalist idea, which has been the main motivation behind their more recent rebellions, particularly the recent conflict.1 The Chechen language belongs to the Nakh-Daghestanian, or Northeast Caucasian language family.2 This language family is indigenous to the Caucasus region and is not related to any language group outside of the Caucasus.3 The Chechen language lacked an alphabet until the 1930s when Soviet authorities, in an effort to Russify the region, adapted the Cyrillic alphabet to the Chechen language. Prior to this, many Chechens were bilingual and used Arabic as a written language. After the Russian conquest of the region, Russian replaced Arabic and other languages that had been commonly used in the area and today most Chechens speak both Chechen and Russian. In their native language, the Chechens refer to themselves as the Nokhchi. The greater Chechen-Ingush ethnic group is referred to as the Vainakhs in both the Chechen and Ingush languages. The words Chechen and Chechnya are names given to the people and their territory by the Russians during their conquest of the region. They are derived from the name of an ethnic-Chechen village in the territory called Chechen-Aul and has been used since the 18th and 19th centuries. The word Ingush is similarly derived. Chechen social structure is dominated by teipy, which are extended family groups with respected elders as their head. This society lacks class distinctions and is instead a patriarchal society in which village elders and councils of elders exercise a type of governmental authority. Although the society is patriarchal, Chechen women have the same social and economic rights as men.4 In the centuries before the Russian conquest, Chechnya was independent, but lacked a central governing authority. Villages were autonomous, consisted primarily of one teip and were

governed by elders. The various villages had extensive cultural and economic links and did unite when faced with external threats, but each village functioned as its own independent entity.

Russian penetration into the North Caucasus began during the mid 16th century. In 1559 the Russians built the first supply point in Chechnya in the village of Tark.5 By 1707, the Chechens had destroyed the Tark fort. The Chechens resisted again in 1722 when they defeated the army of Tsar Peter I in battle in the North Caucasus. Following this victory, the Chechens, led by Sheikh Mansur, built a state that lasted from 1785 to 1791.6 Meanwhile, the Russians persisted in their attempt to subjugate the North Caucasus and built forts at Vladikavkaz (1784) and at Grozny (1818). The latter fort, erected by General Ermolov, was built on the site of six Chechen villages that had been razed by the advancing Russian army.7 Christened Grozny (formidable) by Ermolov, the fort gradually evolved into a village and later became a city and the capital of the Checheno-Ingushetia ASSR within the RSFSR. As the Russian occupation intensified in the 19th century, the Chechens continued to resist. From 1834 to 1859, the Chechens established an Imamate under the leadership of Shamil and many battles were fought between the Russians and the Chechens. Despite the difficulties of Chechen armed resistance, the Russians eventually prevailed and occupied all of Chechnya by 1864. At this time, the Russians tried to solve the problem of Chechen resistance by deporting 700,000 Chechens and other Caucasian peoples from the region, an action that was repeated several times during the tsarist and Soviet periods, the most notable of which conducted almost a century later by Stalin.8 The Russians expelled thousands of Caucasians from their homeland in an effort to subdue the region. During the latter half of the 19th century, the study of populations and the implementation of population policies began to take hold in Russia and the rest of

Europe as a way to deal with minority peoples of multi-national empires. These new policies resulted in measures to subjugate conquered populations through expulsion and the replacement of expelled peoples with Russians.9 The deportation failed to quell Chechen separatism, however, and by 1877 another national struggle against the Russians appeared under the leadership of Ali-Bek Khadzhi. The Russians bloodily crushed this revolt, but the Chechens did succeed in gaining some concessions from St. Petersburg. After the rebellion ended in 1878, the tsarist authorities allowed the Chechens a certain amount of religious freedom. The Orthodox Church could no longer proselytize in Chechnya and Dagestan (the birthplace of Khadzhis revolt) and numerous mosques and religious schools were built in the region.10 This policy of tolerance continued until the end of tsarist rule in 1917. After the defeat of Khadzhis uprising, Chechnya remained quiet until 1917. In August of that year, during the upheaval created by the February Revolution and World War I, a new imamate was established in Chechnya that attempted to unite both Chechnya and Dagestan into an independent state. In March 1918, Tapa Chermoev created the Gorski Republic in the North Caucasus, which fought against Denikins White Army throughout 1919. In 1920, the Bolsheviks entered Chechnya and occupied the entire territory. The Bolsheviks soon encountered resistance from the Chechens, this time under the leadership of Sand-Bek. By January 1921, the Bolsheviks largely subdued the Chechens and included Chechnya along with Ingushetia, Osetiia, Kabarda, Balkariya, and Karachai into the Gorski Autonomous Republic within the RSFSR.11 The new Bolshevik government changed Chechnyas status again in 1924 with the creation of the Checheno-Ingush oblast. After 1921, Chechnya entered another brief period of peace. Rebellion then resumed in 1929-1930 largely as a Chechen revolt against collectivization.12 After the Soviet government

silenced this revolt, Sovnarkom decided in 1936 to again change Chechnyas status by establishing the Checheno-Ingush ASSR within the RSFSR. The new ASSR consisted of territories formerly part of the Chechen oblast and the Ingush oblast established under the tsar. In an effort to dilute the non-Russian populations here, however, Sovnarkom added the predominately Russian Grozny Autonomous City, the Sunzha okrug, and the southwestern portion of the Terskii okrug to the Checheno-Ingush ASSR.13 These additions added nearly 100,000 Slavs to the Checheno-Ingush ASSR and were intended to aid in the Russification of this area.14 The Soviet authorities again added territory to the ASSR in an effort to introduce more Russians into the region when it reinstated the ASSR in 1957. This will be discussed in more detail below. Violence returned to Chechnya in 1937 as the Stalinist purges reached their apex. On the night of July 31-August 1, the NKVD began the General Operation for the Removal of AntiSoviet Elements in Checheno-Ingushetia.15 Throughout the rest of the year, the NKVD arrested 14,000 Chechens and Ingush who appeared on lists compiled by the NKVD. This operation is a classic example of the way in which the Stalinist purges were carried out. On July 2, the Politburo issued the resolution Concerning anti-Soviet Elements which directed the secretaries and the NKVD representatives of all the oblasts, krais, and republics to compile lists of all kulaks, criminals, former party members, and potentially anti-Soviet elements who should be arrested.16 Those arrested in Checheno-Ingushetia, like their counterparts throughout the Soviet Union, were tried by NKVD troikas and either sent to labor camps or were executed. The pattern of conflict between the Russians and the Chechens continued in 1940 with the beginning of a new mountain rebellion led by Khasan Israilov and Mairbek Sheripov. This revolt occurred on a smaller scale than most of the previous uprisings and was defeated by Soviet

authorities by 1943. The most important event in modern Chechen history came in February 1944 when Stalin deported all of the Chechens and Ingush to Kazakhstan and other regions in Central Asia on the pretext of punishing the Chechens and Ingush for alleged cooperation with German occupying forces. Stalins deportation order also reflected the prior tsarist policies of using deportation to cleanse the native population of bandit elements.17 The 1940-1943 Chechen uprising likely caused Stalin to believe that the Chechens did indeed help the invading Germans, despite the fact that German forces never entered the Checheno-Ingush ASSR.18 Regardless of Stalins reasoning, though, the deportation served as a way for Stalin to tighten control of an unruly region. In the 1990s, the Russians again referred to the Chechens as bandits and would again use this label as a justification for going to war. Along with the deportation, Stalin abolished the Checheno-Ingush ASSR. This event marked the beginning of modern Chechen nationalism, although to what degree nationalist sentiment actually existed at this point has been debated among historians. Carlotta Gall and Thomas de Waal argue that the 1944 deportation provided the Chechens with a fresh historical grievance that pushed them into open separatism.19 Similarly, Anatol Lieven asserts that the years of exile from 1944 to 1957 tempered in them [the Chechens] that steely national discipline which became apparent in the war of 1994-96.20 Tracey German, however, counters the arguments by Lieven and Gall and de Waal by arguing that despite the 1944 deportation, the notion of a Chechen nation and statehood remained underdeveloped.21 Instead, German argues that the idea of Chechen statehood did not begin to develop until the late 1980s, so the 1944 deportation did not create a strong sense of nationalism as Lieven and Gall and de Waal argue. Nevertheless, the 1944 deportation was a crucial event in modern Chechen history and its memory has motivated many of the Chechen leaders of the current conflict.

Soon after Stalins death in 1953, Chechens and Ingush began to return to their homeland from exile in Kazakhstan. In 1957, Khrushchev formally allowed the Chechens and Ingush to return from exile and the CPSU Presidium reinstated the Checheno-Ingush ASSR. When Moscow re-established the Checheno-Ingush ASSR, however, it expanded the ASSRs territory by adding three Cossack regions that until then had been included in the Stavropol krai. Although no direct evidence has been found confirming this, it is fairly certain that the Soviet authorities added the Cossack regions in yet another attempt to dilute the native population with additional Russians and other Slavs. This decision not only enlarged the ASSRs territory, but it also added a new element into Chechnyas demographic composition. The addition of a sizeable Cossack population into Chechnyas territory created problems in the early 1990s, which will be discussed in Chapter Two. After 1957, Russo-Chechen relations entered a long period of relative calm. Except for minor ethnic clashes between Russians and Chechens in Grozny during the late 1950s, conflict between the two peoples virtually ended. But some friction still persisted. De facto segregation existed in Chechnya as Russians lived primarily in the cities (Russians comprised a majority of Groznys population) and the Chechens remained mostly in the countryside. The Russians were typically better educated and held higher positions both in industry and in government. Until the late 1980s, no ethnic Chechens served in top government positions in the Checheno-Ingush ASSR; the Russians held the important government posts. Since the late 19th century, the Chechen economy had been based on oil production and oil refining. By the 1980s, however, most of the Chechen oil reserves had been exhausted, but the territory remained a vital refining center that produced much of the Soviet Air Forces aviation fuel. Also, Chechnya served as a major oil transportation route as pipelines carrying Azerbaijani oil to Russian Black Sea ports

traversed the territory. As in government, Russians occupied the top positions in the Chechen oil industry as well as in other sectors of industry. This fact helped perpetuate the Chechens animosity toward the Russians.

Separatism Builds in Chechnya While the idea of Chechen nationalism existed since the 1944 deportation, it took another four decades for the idea of an independent Chechnya to develop fully. Chechen separatism and an organized push for independence grew in Chechnya during the waning years of the Soviet Union in the atmosphere of Gorbachevs reforms. As Gorbachevs Soviet Union sought to move away from communism toward a democratic, free-market system, the various nationalities in the vast Soviet territory began to capitalize on the instability created by the transition to gain certain degrees of self-determination. By the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, ethnic groups within Russia that had been governed by the minority Russians began to exploit nationalist feelings in their regions and sought to achieve autonomy from Moscow.22 This phenomenon was particularly influential in the North Caucasus due to its highly diverse population, none of which was ruled by native nationalities.23 As a result, many Chechens, both inside and outside of the ASSR government, began to advance the idea of a separate ChechenoIngush state with full sovereignty. Notwithstanding the already exiting nationalist feeling among the Chechen population, it was the gradual collapse of the Soviet Union that allowed the Chechens to once again rebel and seek statehood. The movement toward Chechen independence began in 1988 when Chechens staged a demonstration against the proposed building of a biochemical plant in Gudermes. These protests soon became political as they began to denounce Communist rule. This phenomenon occurred

elsewhere in the Soviet Union; political movements often arose out of environmental protests. This protest movement then coalesced into a political organization, the National Front, led by Khozh-Akhmed Bisultanov. Bisultanovs National Front was the first popular political organization formed in the Checheno-Ingush ASSR.24 Along with ecological concerns, the National Front began to demand democratization, the ending of press censorship, and it also began to discuss the idea Chechen independence.25 As the National Front and other subsequent organizations began publicly to discuss the possibility of Chechen-Ingush independence, the Chechens and the Ingush became the first of the North Caucasus peoples openly to support selfdetermination.26 With the development of the National Front in 1988 came the beginning of the process of politicization of the Chechen nation. This process received two major boosts in 1989. In July of that year, Moscow installed Doku Zavgaev as the Chairman of the Checheno-Ingush ASSR Communist Party. Zavgaev became the first ethnic Chechen to lead the Checheno-Ingush government. Zavgaevs placement signaled a shift in Moscows policy as regional concerns began to take precedence over the previous Soviet practice of placing Russians in charge of the national minorities.27 Soon after Zavgaev took office, he decided to work toward securing the appointment of an ethnic Chechen as a general in the Soviet army. In October 1989, he succeeded in helping to nominate Dzhokhar Dudaev as the first Chechen general in the Soviet army.28 This move later haunted Zavgaev as Dudaev worked to oust Zavgaev and the entire Soviet power structure from Chechnya. Also in 1989, the first elections to the USSR Congress of Peoples Deputies resulted in several Chechens winning seats in the Congress. Among those gaining seats was Salambek Khadzhiev, who in 1990 became the Soviet Minister for the Chemical Industry. The elections to

the Congress of Peoples Deputies further politicized the Chechen nation as Chechens were now able to participate in national (Soviet) politics. The increased politicization along with the Chechens ability to take a role in Soviet politics worked to further the embryonic ambitions of statehood among the Chechens.29 Although at this point the desire for independence remained relatively weak as the Soviet Union moved further away from Communism and the country gradually destabilized, Chechen statehood ambitions quickly grew. Events in 1990 demonstrated that the Chechens were moving quickly toward seeking full sovereignty. In February 1990, a new round of demonstrations swept Chechnya as protestors in five regions of the Checheno-Ingush ASSR succeeded in ousting the First Secretaries in these regions.30 The protests spread further into Shali where people demonstrated against a cement factory that the local citizens claimed had been poisoning the environment. In addition, they expressed discontent over the poor quality of the roads and infrastructure in the region, pollution of the water sources, and alleged social injustices.31 These demonstrations threatened to erode the Communist Partys hold on power in Checheno-Ingushetia, but Zavgaev was able to take advantage of the situation by sympathizing with the protestors concerns. In March 1990, another round of elections served to help further the Chechens goal of independence. This time the elections were for seats in the RSFSR parliament and for local government organs in the ASSR. Many members of the opposition gained seats in the Checheno-Ingush Supreme Soviet, including National Front leader Bisultanov, but the Supreme Soviet remained under the control of the Communist Party. Despite the Communists continued control, the election of opposition members to the Checheno-Ingush Supreme Soviet marked an important advancement by the separatist movement because people sympathetic to the idea of Chechen statehood were now able to participate in the republics politics.32 Moreover, the


election of Chechens to the RSFSR Parliament meant that Chechens now held seats in both the USSR Congress of Peoples Deputies as well as the RSFSRs parliament. Chechens now had a voice in all levels of government. Another important development in the March 1990 elections was the election of Ruslan Khasbulatov to the RSFSR Parliament. A Chechen academic, Khasbulatov became Boris Yeltsins first deputy when Yeltsin served as the Speaker of the Russian Parliament and later, Khasbulatov became Chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet. As the Chechen independence drama unfolded, Khasbulatov would play a large role in the standoff between Moscow and Grozny as will be discussed below. Throughout 1990, the groups opposed to communist rule in Chechnya changed. As the National Front weakened due to internal conflicts, new parties emerged to replace the National Front as the primary force for Chechen independence.33 Bart, a political organization with the goal of increasing Chechens political awareness, emerged in 1989 and gathered strength as the National Front wavered. With its new strength, Bart changed its name to the Vainakh Democratic Party (VDP) in the spring of 1990 and in May, the VDP held its first congress with Zelimkhan Iandarbiev as its leader. The VDP, according to Iandarbiev, was the first political party in Chechnya, an alternative to the CPSU, which openly proclaimed its objective to be the creation of an independent, national state.34 The VDP, then, became the first Chechen organization to call publicly for the secession of Chechnya from the RSFSR as well as the Soviet Union and marked the beginning of the political process toward declaring Chechen independence. After the VDPs initial congress in May, members of the Chechen intelligentsia who attended the congress called for the convening of a public forum to discuss the development of


the Chechen nation in response to the VDPs failure to revive the Chechen nations culture, religion, and history as the party had planned.35 The growing interest in defining and reviving Chechen national identity led to the idea of organizing a National Congress of Chechen People, which was supported by Zavgaev and other liberal republican leaders who saw the congress as a chance to help revive their own fading authority within the republic.36 On November 23-25, the National Congress of Chechen People (OKChN) held its first session in Grozny which intended to unite Chechen nationalist movements and to pressure republican authorities to speed political change.37 Each delegate to the OKChN represented around 1,000 Chechen citizens with each member of the congresss Executive Committee representing ten delegates. Representatives of three conflicting political orientations were present at the congress: the republican leadership headed by Zavgaev, who spoke at the congress, moderates, and radicals, which included Iandarbiev, Bislan Gantemirov, and Iaragai Mamodaev as its supporters.38 Despite the conflict between these three political tendencies, the congress adopted several resolutions promoting a radical form of Chechen nationalism. The OKChN declared its main objective as the struggle for democratic transformation in the republic and for the national rights of the Chechen people and later resolutions stated that only ethnic Chechens could hold certain high leadership positions.39 It also declared support for programs favorable to Chechen nationalist ideas such as support for the Chechen language, culture, and Islam.40 The first congress of the OKChN produced two very significant results that would eventually lead to the outbreak of the Chechen conflict. The first was the OKChNs adoption of the Declaration on State Sovereignty of the Checheno-Ingush Republic on November 27, 1990. The Declaration announced the creation of a sovereign Checheno-Ingush Republic on the basis of the consent of the Chechen and Ingush people. The document asserted that Checheno-Ingush


sovereignty is the natural and necessary existence of Checheno-Ingush statehood and announced the determination to create a legal, democratic state.41 The Declaration also guaranteed to the republics citizens rights and freedoms with the customary and normal rights of international law which would be protected by a forthcoming constitution.42 Until the adoption of a constitution, the Declaration stated that the republics Supreme Soviet would govern until a new constitutional government could be formed. In addition, the Declaration promised to its citizens various political, social, and cultural freedoms and declared that the natural resources and atmospheric expanse within the republics territory belong solely to the Checheno-Ingush Republic. The Declaration also emphasized the Checheno-Ingush Republics rights under international law, especially the right to conclude treaties not only with other nations, but also with other republics within the RSFSR. By issuing this Declaration, the OKChN formally and publicly announced Chechnyas independence from both the RSFSR and the Soviet Union. Aside from asserting political rights associated with national independence, the Declaration also addressed Moscows past mistreatment of the Chechens and Ingush. Article 10 condemned the acts of genocide conducted by the Soviet government against the Chechens and Ingush in the form of the 1944 deportation and reserved the right for the Chechens and Ingush to receive compensation from Moscow.43 Article 17 confirms the righteous demands of the Ingush people regarding the restoration of national statehood and the need for a decision on the restoration of territory belonging to it and torn away as a result of Stalinist repression44 and supported the re-uniting of the Prigorodny region and parts of the Malgobeksk region and of Ordzhonikidze (Vladikavkaz) with Ingush territory. These areas had been detached from the Checheno-Ingush ASSR when Stalin abolished the ASSR in 1944 and were not restored to the


republic when the CPSU Presidium re-established the ASSR in 1957. Instead, these territories were added to neighboring North Osetiia. During the early 1990s, before the outbreak of the Chechen war in 1994, the Ingush and North Osetiians fought over these disputed areas which forced Moscow to respond by sending Russian forces into the region to restore order.45 Thus, the Declaration on State Sovereignty demonstrates that the OKChN not only sought to declare Chechen independence but was also concerned with attempting to correct some of the mistreatment the Chechens and Ingush had received from Moscow. Despite the strong wording of the Declaration on State Sovereignty and its claim that the Checheno-Ingush Republic is an independent state subject to international law, in reality, the declaration meant little. During this period, autonomous republics all over the Soviet Union were declaring sovereignty as they responded to Yeltsins call to take as much sovereignty as you can swallow. Before the OKChNs declaration, the RSFSR Congress of Peoples Deputies voted in June 1990 to support Russias assertion of sovereignty in relation to the Soviet Union, which encouraged local Communist Party leaders to claim increasing amounts of political and economic independence from Moscow.46 Even Zavgaev and the Checheno-Ingush ASSR Supreme Soviet passed the OKChNs Declaration on November 27, which shows that Zavgaev and the Soviet leaders of the republic were themselves interested in capitalizing on the trend of declaring sovereignty and hoped that they could preserve their own power by supporting the OKChN. The OKChNs Declaration just added to this long list of attempts by various republics to grab power from the weakening center. But the November 1990 Declaration is still important because it was the first formal assertion of Chechen independence, it demonstrated the extent to which nationalist feeling had grown within the republic over the last few years and the force it


now had in republican politics, and it represented the strongest statement of independence among the republics of the RSFSR to date. The second major development at the OKChNs initial meeting was the rise of Dzokhar Dudaev. Born during the 1944 deportation and raised in exile in Kazakhstan, Dudaev built a career in the Soviet military, served in Afghanistan, and became the first ethnic Chechen general in the Soviet Air Force. At the beginning of the Chechen independence movement in the late 1980s, Dudaev served as the commander of a division of strategic bombers in Tartu, Estonia. In November 1991, Dudaev attended the initial OKChN meeting as a guest but delivered a powerful speech in which he declared his support for Chechen independence. As a result of this speech, along with his status as the first Chechen general in the Soviet military, the OKChN Executive Committee elected Dudaev as its Chairman.47 Despite Dudaevs support for Chechen independence at the OKChN meeting, he did not necessarily advocate complete independence at that time. In 1990, Dudaev still considered himself loyal to the Soviet Union and favored the restructuring of the Soviet Union on different principles with Chechnya as a Union Republic equal in status to Russia and the other Union Republics.48 His advocacy of Chechen sovereignty and desire to abolish Russian rule from the republic, however, sufficiently radicalized the OKChN when he became Chairman of the Executive Committee. Dudaevs election split the OKChN as moderate members of the intelligentsia walked out and began to oppose the organization. Throughout 1990, the Checheno-Ingush ASSR Supreme Soviet, the local arm of the Soviet government, cooperated with the OKChN and joined that organization in the call for independence. As stated above, Zavgaev and his colleagues believed they could maintain and possibly increase their political power in the republic by supporting the independence movement.


But this did not mean that the Chechen populace supported Zavgaevs government. During 1991 as the OKChN, under Dudaevs leadership, became increasingly assertive in its demands for independence, the rift between Zavgaevs Supreme Soviet and the OKChN widened. In May 1991, Zavgaev announced that the Checheno-Ingush ASSR would henceforth refuse to follow mandates issued by Moscow.49 Earlier, in March, the Supreme Soviet had already declared its refusal to participate in any future Russian elections. The March and May Supreme Soviet declarations were the first instances of open defiance by the Supreme Soviet against Moscow. These rebellious acts failed to endear Zavgaev and his government to the Chechen people, however. To the Chechens, the Supreme Soviet still symbolized Communist (and Russian) domination, regardless of any acts of open defiance by that body. Sensing that the Chechen population did not support the Zavgaev government, Dudaev declared in May 1991 that because the Supreme Soviet no longer had legitimacy due to the 1990 Declaration on State Sovereignty and that it lacked support from the electorate, the Supreme Soviet must dissolve itself.50 Dudaev then announced that the OKChN Executive Committee was the only legitimate authority in the republic and proposed steps for the establishment of an independent Chechen state which included official recognition of Chechen sovereignty, the creation of a Chechen army, and the allotment of part of the Soviet Unions gold reserves.51 Since the OKChNs first session in November 1990, it gradually gained power and popular support in the republic. As this power increased, the OKChN became a rival government to the Supreme Soviet and the two bodies competed for authority. As a result, two governments existed in the republic at this time, with the OKChN eventually replacing the Supreme Soviet as the main authority in Chechnya. The Supreme Soviet received another blow to its authority when the OKChN decided to rename the Chechen republic as the Chechen Republic of Nokhchi-


Cho, a name that implied the exclusion of the Ingush from the independent Chechnya. The OKChN hoped that an agreement could be reached with the Ingush regarding the issue of Ingush sovereignty.52 This move by the OKChN presented another challenge to the Supreme Soviets authority because the Supreme Soviet had refused to consider the division of the ASSR into Chechen and Ingush parts. On September 3, 1991, the rivalry between the Supreme Soviet and the OKChN came to a head when the Supreme Soviet declared a state of emergency in the ASSR. By this time, the Supreme Soviet had lost most of its authority in the republic and thus the decree implementing the state of emergency was virtually meaningless.53 In response, the OKChN Executive Committee took the bold step of disbanding the Supreme Soviet; an act that was illegal as the OKChN was not the official government of the republic. Embroiled in turmoil by the aftermath of the August coup attempt, Moscow did not react to the OKChN Executive Committees action. Then, on September 6, the Chechen National Guard, led by Bislan Gantemirov, stormed the Supreme Soviet building in Grozny and forced Zavgaev to sign an act of abdication.54 Soon after abdicating, Zavgaev fled Grozny. With Zavgaevs abdication and the seizure of the Supreme Soviet building, power in the republic effectively transferred to the OKChN. On September 14-15, Moscow finally responded to this latest crisis when Khasbulatov persuaded the Supreme Soviet to dissolve itself and created the Provisional Council to act in its place. Khasbulatov and the Russian government intended the Provisional Council to govern until the election of a new Supreme Soviet, but Moscow did not indicate when these elections would be held. Moscow tapped B.D. Bakhmadov to serve as the Provisional Councils President.55 On September 17, 1991, the Executive Committee of the OKChN issued a document confirming the OKChNs decision to dissolve the Supreme Soviet. It accused the Supreme


Soviet of performing treacherous acts against the Chechen people, reserved all legislative authority to the OKChN until the election of a new government, and promised support to the Ingush in their quest for sovereignty. The strong wording of this document and the additional steps it took to seek international aid and recognition demonstrates that by late 1991, the OKChN Executive Committee had assumed a more radical posture. Of the more provocative statements in the document was Section 8 which outlined the poor state of health of the Chechen population, such as high infant mortality rates and the overall lack of adequate medical care in the republic. The Executive Committee blamed the previous genocide and the colonial regime for this particular hardship, despite the fact that medical care and the overall health of the population was not much better in the rest of Russia.56 The Executive Committee then appealed to the International Red Cross to render medical assistance. In addition, the Executive Committee requested the UN General Secretary and the governments of Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan to supervise the establishment of a new government in Chechnya, which would thereby provide international recognition and legitimacy to a new Chechen government. Finally, in the document, the Executive Committee designated September 6 as the official Chechen Independence Day, ordered the raising of the Chechen flag both at home and at the UN, and set October 12 as election day for the president and October 27 for the parliamentary elections. The harsh language used in this document, the appeals for international help and support, the designation of an official independence day and the scheduling of elections meant that this document represented the boldest step toward independence yet taken by Dudaev and the Executive Committee. It also further demonstrates how radicalized the OKChN and the Executive Committee had become since the ascendance of Dudaev to power. At this point, the OKChN was prepared to seek full independence for Chechnya.


Moscow Reacts to the Chechen Events: The War of Words Begins

Up to September 1991, neither the Soviet nor the Russian governments had reacted much to the Chechens actions. In June, the CPSU Central Committee issued a resolution that expressed concern about the activities of political parties in the Checheno-Ingush ASSR as well as the Chechens attempts to establish their own power structures.57 That same month, Zelimkhan Iandarbiev met with the first deputy chairman of the Moscow City Council, Sergei Stankevich, who stated his concern about the Executive Committees Declaration on State Sovereignty.58 Stankevich added that the Chechens had no right to seek complete independence but could be granted political, cultural, and economic independence provided that Chechnya remained in the RSFSR.59 This was the only response given by either the Soviet or Russian governments to Chechnyas moves before the August coup attempt. It was not until September 10, 1991, one week before the publication of the statement issued by the OKChN Executive Committee discussed above, that Moscow made any attempt to respond to the situation in Chechnya. On this date, the RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin issued an order that arranged for the sending of a delegation to Chechnya to discuss the situation. This document claimed that Yeltsin and the RSFSR government understood the importance of the situation in Chechnya and therefore would not allow the development and widening of conflict and would support peace and tranquility in the region.60 In the order, Yeltsin directed his aide and RSFSR State Secretary G.E. Burbulis to lead a delegation to Grozny in order to meet with representatives of the Chechen community and government and to also study the arrangements inside Chechnya. At this meeting, Burbulis was to make clear to the Chechens the RSFSRs


policy, reach an agreement with the Chechens on stabilizing the situation, and to clarify the RSFSR law On the Rehabilitation of Repressed Peoples.61 This delegation was doomed to failure from the beginning as the Chechens appeared unwilling to discuss the matter. Before the meeting took place, Dudaev warned Burbulis against getting involved in Chechnyas internal affairs because Checheno-Ingushetia is an independent state.62 The Burbulis delegation thus failed to meet its objectives. On October 6, Moscow tried to placate the situation again through discussions, this time between Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi and Dudaev. Moscow sent this delegation in response to the latest round of unrest in Chechnya, which included the dissolution of the Provisional Supreme Soviet, the local arm of the Russian government in Chechnya, and Zavgaevs subsequent escape from Grozny into the regions southern mountains. Just days before its dissolution, the Provisional Supreme Soviet appealed to the Russian parliament for assistance, called on all Chechens to refrain from instigating violent acts, and asked all Chechens to not participate in the upcoming Chechen elections.63 After meeting with Dudaev for an hour, Rutskoi said that he feared another Karabakh in Chechnya and that symptoms of this are already there. Following the dissolution of the Parliament [the Provisional Supreme Soviet] in the republic, an acute power deficit has emerged.64 As a result of the talks, Rutskoi and Dudaev agreed that the seizing of Russian government installations will stop, the rule of law will prevail in Chechnya, the leaders of national movements in Chechnya will stop politicizing the people, and that elections should be held for a new republican government.65 But it quickly became apparent that neither of these promises would be kept. During 1991, armed militia units in Chechnya began attacking Russian military sites. These attacks consisted of minor raids on military installations and the seizure of military


equipment. In reaction to the increasing number of these raids throughout Chechnya and to the overall intensification of the problem there, the Presidium of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet issued a directive on October 8 to address the issue. After hearing reports from Rutskoi66, members of the Checheno-Ingush Provisional Supreme Soviet, and the Checheno-Ingush General Procurator on the worsening of conditions inside Chechnya, the Presidium expressed its serious preoccupation with the complicated situation in the Checheno-Ingush Republic.67 The Presidium then noted the increasing violence perpetrated by illegal armed formations in Chechnya, the seizure of buildings and other property owned by the Russian government, and the fact that the Chechen population was being subjected to rising amounts of danger at the hands of the Chechen formations. To remedy the situation, the Presidiums Directive announced the creation of a Provisional High Soviet, led by B.D. Bakhmadov, to govern in Chechnya until the election of a new Supreme Soviet. The Provisional High Soviet was also charged with stabilizing the situation in Chechnya and to restore legal order to the republic. Along with the creation of a Provisional High Soviet, the Presidiums Directive ordered all illegal armed formations in Chechnya to surrender their weapons to the Russian Interior Ministry at midnight October 10. The issuance of this Directive was the strongest action yet taken by Moscow to deal with the growing crisis in Chechnya. Although neither of its objectives was ever fulfilled completely, it does demonstrate that by the autumn of 1991 the Russian government was finally becoming aware of the seriousness of the situation in Chechnya and it began to try to resolve the conflict. At this point, Moscow believed that the dispute with Chechnya could still be resolved politically and did not require the use of military force. The Chechens responded to Moscows most recent actions with a provocative Directive issued on October 9, 1991. This document condemned Russias attempts to deal with the crisis


as foreign interference in the internal affairs of the Checheno-Ingush Republic. The OKChN then stated that Russias actions would only result in fratricidal bloodshed and were calculated to preserve colonial rule over the republic.68 In particular, the document attacked the Rutskoi delegation and claimed that its main purpose was to prepare the dark purposes of the Russian government against the Chechen people.69 The main purposes of this directive were to denounce the Provisional Supreme Soviet (called a puppet government), declare all actions of the Provisional Supreme Soviet to be illegal, and to mobilize all Chechen males aged 15 to 55 into the newly created National Guard. Also, the OKChN used this directive to further its propaganda goals. In addition to the vicious attacks on Rutskoi and the Russian government, the OKChN also called for all peoples of the Caucasus to rise up in defense of honor, freedom, and independence.70 The directive concluded by proclaiming that The hour of determined struggle has arrived!71 With the publication of this directive, the war of words between Moscow and Grozny had begun in earnest and this particular directive further exhibits how radicalized the OKChN had become. With the creation of a National Guard, the OKChN was now prepared to achieve Chechen independence at any cost and it expected the use of military force to accomplish independence. Moscow responded to the fiery language of the OKChNs October 9 Directive with yet another decree from Yeltsin. In this document, Yeltsin accused the Executive Committee of the OKChN of illegal acts which turned the peaceful land of Checheno-Ingushetia into an arena of massive disorders and armed collisions.72 Yeltsin then ordered the Executive Committee of the OKChN to cease all illegal activities, demanded the disarming and disbanding of all illegal armed formations, and called for elections to a new Supreme Soviet and a referendum on the organization of the Checheno-Ingush Republic.


On October 27, elections were held in Chechnya for president and the parliament. Dudaev won the election and became Chechnyas first popularly elected president with more than 80 percent of the vote.73 The Chechen Central Electoral Commission reported that 458,144 people voted out of a total electorate of around 640,000, but opposition groups contested this claim by arguing that numerous instances of voting fraud occurred.74 Some members of the Russian government also alleged that voting fraud took place, including Ruslan Khasbulatov who said that only 200,000 Chechens actually voted. In addition, the residents of six regions of Chechnya were not permitted to vote because of the undefined nature of the Chechen border resulting from arbitrary border changes.75 A report delivered to Moscow by the Commander of the Russian Armys North Caucasus Military District, General Sokolov, reveals some interesting information regarding the October 27 election and its results. In this report, Sokolov stated that a total of 490,000 people participated in the elections out of a total population of 1,270,429.76 According to Sokolov, this constituted 77 percent of the electorate. He also reported that neither the Ingush nor the Russians participated in the elections. These figures contradict the assertions made by the Provisional Soviet and Khasbulatov, who argued that most Chechens did not vote due to irregularities. The Provisional Soviet had claimed shortly after the election that the suppressed majority of the electors of the Checheno-Ingush Republic boycotted these elections.77 Assuming Sokolovs report is accurate, then Khasbulatov and the Chechen Provisional Supreme Soviet were wrong in their characterizations of the elections and therefore were simply voicing these accusations for propaganda purposes. By denouncing the elections as fraudulent, the Russian government could argue that the Dudaev government lacked legitimacy, particularly by pointing out that many people were excluded from voting.


As noted above, the Russian government and the Chechen Provisional Soviet claimed the Chechen elections were illegal. The Provisional Supreme Soviet charged that certain members of the Chechen Central Election Commission, particularly Z. Akbulatov and S. Kerimov, fabricated the election results.78 The body stated further that the elections were unconstitutional, lacked legal force, and that any directives or edicts issued by Dudaev were also illegal. The Provisional Supreme Soviet then promised to take actions in accordance with Chechen (Russian) law against any attempted execution of laws promulgated by either Dudaev or the Chechen Parliament. The RSFSR Congress of Peoples Deputies directive on the Chechen elections was much shorter than that issued by the Provisional Supreme Soviet and simply called the elections illegal and not subject to execution.79 On October 27, the day of the Chechen elections, Yeltsin delivered a speech to the RSFSR Congress of Peoples Deputies in which he announced his aim to protect Russias territorial integrity.80 He told the parliament members that We cannot and will not under any circumstances allow the breakup of Russia, its disintegration into dozens of separate fiefdoms all fighting among themselves.81 In defiance of Yeltsins speech, Dudaev, on October 28, announced that Chechen-Russian relations would be conducted in accordance with the civilized norms of the international community, and on November 1, he signed the Law on the State Sovereignty of the Chechen Republic.82 These first two actions by a now popularly elected President Dudaev once again reaffirmed Chechnyas declaration of independence and sparked the first sharp response from Moscow. Until 1991, Moscow had not offered strong resistance to Chechnyas sovereignty claims. Russia had only reacted by issuing various documents condemning the recent Chechen moves or by sending high-ranking government officials to negotiate with the Chechens. But after the


October elections and Dudaevs subsequent actions, Yeltsin finally decided to act more forcefully. On November 7, Yeltsin declared a state of emergency in the Checheno-Ingush Republic to be in force from November 9 to December 9. In the decree announcing the state of emergency, Yeltsin blamed the illegal actions of Dudaev and the OKChN for destabilizing the republic and threatening the security and constitutional order of the republic. Yeltsin then justified the state of emergency by arguing that the removal of illegal nationalist activities becomes impossible without the application of extraordinary measures.83 During the state of emergency, all public demonstrations and strikes were to be prohibited and control of the territory was to be exercised by a Provisional Administration of the Checheno-Ingushetia Republic consisting of members appointed by Yeltsin. All citizens of the republic were obliged to provide universal assistance to the state organs and to carry out their obligatory orders and the RSFSR Internal Affairs Ministry as well as the Chairman of the RSFSR KGB were directed to prepare plans for the operations of these organizations in Chechnya during the state of emergency. As part of the state of emergency, 632 Internal Affairs Ministry (MVD) troops were sent to Chechnya in an effort to establish control. These troops landed at the Khankala airbase near Grozny, but were quickly turned back by Dudaevs National Guard.84 The National Guard captured another detachment of troops in Grozny. Reinforcements for these MVD troops could not be sent because the Russian Army did not yet exist; any military support had to come from the Soviet Army, which was still commanded by Gorbachev. Gorbachev refused to send Soviet troops to Chechnya as he was still trying to hold onto power after the August coup attempt.85 Although the attempt to subdue Chechnya through the use of a state of emergency and a small MVD deployment failed, this represented Yeltsins strongest action yet to try to resolve the crisis.


As expected, the Chechens protested strongly against Yeltsins state of emergency. In language now common in all Chechen documents, the Chechen Parliament claimed that the state of emergency reflected the totalitarian tendencies of the Russian government and that Russia was simply acting in its own imperialistic interests, which violated international law.86 The Chechen Parliament then declared Yeltsins edict illegal, demanded that Russia remove all of its armed forces from the republic within 24 hours, and promised to bring to the worlds attention Russias armed interference in the internal affairs of the sovereign Chechen Republic.87 Yeltsins declaration of a state of emergency also met with resistance from an unexpected source: the Russian government. The state of emergency exposed for the first time a developing rift between Yeltsin and the Russian Parliament, particularly Khasbulatov, regarding how to handle the Chechen situation. The Chechen National Guards decisive action against the small contingent of MVD troops convinced the Russian Parliament that any attempt to solve the problem militarily could easily escalate into a full war, which could then threaten to destabilize democracy in Russia.88 The Russian Parliament, therefore, refused to support Yeltsins state of emergency decree and criticized the president for not consulting the parliament before issuing the decree. In a resolution adopted on November 11, the Russian Parliament acknowledged that Yeltsin acted legally by issuing the state of emergency decree, but that the parliament did not support it.89 The Russian Parliaments resistance to the state of emergency decree forced Yeltsin to back down, and he soon rescinded the decree. The episode also served as the precursor to later disagreements between Yeltsin and the Russian government on how to deal with Chechnya that characterized Moscows treatment of the war.


Moscows Missed Opportunity to Resolve the Chechen Problem In the period 1988-1991, many factors contributed to Moscows failure to resolve the Chechen situation. In the early stages, when Chechen separatism first began to emerge in the late 1980s, the Soviet government virtually ignored the rise of nationalism in the ChechenoIngush ASSR. At first, the rise of political organizations in Chechnya was regarded as simply a by-product of glasnost and perestroika that was being replicated throughout the Soviet Union. But the main reason the Soviet government did not react is because it was too preoccupied. With the events associated with the ending of the Cold War, the turmoil in Eastern Europe, and the domestic economic and political problems, Gorbachev and the rest of the Soviet government simply did not have the time or the resources to spend in order to quell Chechen demands for sovereignty. By 1991, Gorbachev was more concerned with preserving his own power and the Soviet Union, thus preventing him from being able to deal effectively with the rise of Chechen nationalism. As Tracey German has argued, as the Russian Federation gained increasing sovereignty from the Soviet government, a rivalry developed between Russian and Soviet authorities. This fact is the best explanation for Moscows inability to resolve the situation before 1992. As Yeltsins failed November 1991 state of emergency illustrates, the Soviet and Russian governments were unable to agree on a single policy regarding Chechnya. Gorbachevs refusal to allow the use of the Soviet military to help enforce the state of emergency is just one example of the developing rivalry between the Soviet president and Yeltsin. Had Gorbachev and Yeltsin been able to agree on a single effective policy for Chechnya, it is possible that an agreement between Moscow and Grozny could have been reached, thus averting the outbreak of war in 1994.


Although the Soviet government did little about Chechnya, the Russian government tried many times to solve the problem, as has been discussed. Contrary to the arguments made by some historians that Moscow ignored Chechnya until 1993-1994, Russia did indeed try to do something. The Russian government issued several decrees addressing the situation and the RSFSR Supreme Soviet even said it was preoccupied with the subject. Two delegations were sent to Grozny in this period to try to negotiate a solution with the Chechens. But these actions obviously failed to produce results. Two main factors help explain this failure: the lack of a single, coherent strategy and Russias lack of understanding of the problem. Behind both of these explanations, of course, lies the basic problem of political and social upheaval in Russia due to the deterioration of the Soviet Union. Throughout this period, Russia was not proactive in dealing with Chechnya. It only reacted to each Chechen move toward independence. Every time the Chechens asserted their sovereignty, Russia either issued a powerless decree or sent a delegation to Grozny. Moscows only concrete action in this period was the November 1991 state of emergency, which failed because of the lack of agreement between Yeltsin and the Russian Parliament and between the Soviet and Russian governments. Instead of stabilizing the situation, the state of emergency only served to further destabilize Chechnya and help rally support behind Dudaev. If Russia had a single, concrete policy for Chechnya, perhaps war could have been avoided. Russia also failed to comprehend the rise of nationalism in Chechnya. Chechen national identity and a collective memory of Russian abuses spanning three centuries contributed greatly to the Chechens desire to secede from the Soviet Union and from Russia. In many of their documents, especially in the Declaration on State Sovereignty, the Chechens referred to their historical mistreatment by Russia. The 1944 deportation was still a fresh memory for the


Chechens, causing them to harbor deep bitterness for the Russians and Russian rule. The Chechens saw themselves as the victims of colonial rule and often referred to Russia as a totalitarian, imperialistic power. Russia did not take this into consideration when dealing with Chechnya. By issuing decrees denouncing the illegal acts of the OKChN and demanding the disarming of illegal armed formations, Russia underestimated the power of Dudaev and the strong willingness of many Chechens to seek nothing less than complete independence. Russias lack of historical empathy for the Chechens caused it to act in a condescending manner toward the Chechens, which only furthered the latters belief that Russia was nothing more than a power-hungry imperialistic nation. Moreover, Russia in this period dealt with the Chechens in much the same way that imperial Russia and the Soviet Union had dealt with them. The apparent continuation of Russian imperialist policies in Chechnya contributed greatly to the Chechens desire for independence.


CHAPTER TWO Moscow and Grozny Fight a War of Words

In the three years between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the outbreak of war in Chechnya, relations between Moscow and Grozny remained stagnant and hostile. During this period, Chechnya was a de facto independent state, although Russia, of course, refused to admit this fact. Chechnya continued to function as an independent state and made attempts to forge economic and diplomatic relations with the outside world, albeit with very little success. Dudaev traveled to several nations in the Middle East and even to the United States during this period in an effort to gain international support and recognition, but no nation offered diplomatic recognition to Dudaevs fledgling state as the world community considered the situation to be Russias internal matter. In the face of an economic blockade imposed by Moscow, Chechnya received some support from outside nations, but these were very small contributions and were only informal. Chechen shepherds in the neighboring Stavropol krai donated sheep and grain while Turkey offered such items as sugar, butter, and milk in exchange for oil, and barter trade existed between Georgia and Chechnya.1 But no formal economic or diplomatic ties ever existed between Chechnya and other nations. Meanwhile, conditions inside Chechnya continued to deteriorate. Almost constant political instability created by the dispute with Russia and internal political struggles, which included an attempted coup against Dudaev, caused drastic economic problems inside Chechnya. As stated in Chapter One, during the Soviet period, Chechnya was a major producer of oil for the Soviet Union. The Checheno-Ingush ASSR produced over four million tons of oil and 16 million tons of oil products annually, which indicates how important both crude oil production


and oil refining were to the ASSRs economy.2 The Lenin, Sheripov, and Anisimov refineries in Grozny produced 90 percent of the Soviet Unions aviation fuel and were the major supplier of benzine, kerosene, and diesel fuel for the entire North Caucasus region as well as parts of the Trans-Caucasus and nearby regions of Russia and Ukraine.3 Internal instability and Russias blockade helped to reduce Chechnyas oil output severely and by 1993, Chechnyas gross national product had fallen by 67.8 percent and per capita income had dropped 65.3 percent.4 For its part, Russia in the period 1992-1994 continued much of its same policies (or lack thereof) toward Chechnya as it had the previous few years. As outlined in Chapter One, Moscow hoped that by issuing decrees and sending delegations the situation could be defused. This belief continued into 1992 and 1993 as new delegations were sent and new, but more polite, statements were issued. Instead of using decrees, however, many of the documents issued by Moscow during this time were addressed directly to the Chechen people asking them to refrain from violence. Together with delegations and documents, Moscow added another, more forceful, element to its policy. In 1992, Moscow closed all air and ground transportation routes to the rebellious republic and imposed an economic blockade against Chechnya in an effort to isolate the Chechen government and starve the rebels into submission. As this chapter will make clear, however, these policies failed again, and by 1994 Yeltsin, incensed at Russias inability to rein in the Chechens and increasingly under the influence of more militaristic elements in his own government, gradually came to favor the use of full military force to solve the problem. The purpose of this chapter is threefold: first, to provide a basic overview of the Chechen situation between the fall of the Soviet Union and the outbreak of war in December 1994. This will include discussions on the internal Chechen political situation, the military situation inside Chechnya, and the complaints voiced by the Cossacks living in the Chechen republic. Second,


this chapter will outline Moscows efforts at resolving the problem by drawing from several Russian government documents as in Chapter One. This section will take into account the political turmoil inside Russia and will analyze how Yeltsins dramatic showdown with the Parliament in 1993 affected his strategy toward Chechnya. Also, this section will look into the rift that was forming between Yeltsin and the Russian government over how to deal with Chechnya, which became much more evident as the war progressed. Finally, this chapter will compare the leadership styles of Yeltsin and Dudaev and will argue that both moved toward authoritarian methods of rule.

The Situation Inside Chechnya In 1992, 1,309,000 people resided in Chechnya with the urban population comprising 42.7 percent of the total population.5 This total included 734,501 Chechens, 163,762 Ingush, and 293,771 Russians with Ukrainians, Armenians, Jews, Belorussians, and other nationalities comprising the remainder of the population.6 The Russian population lived primarily in Grozny as well as in the Cossack regions of Naurski and Shelkovski on Chechnyas northern border with the Stavropol krai.7 According to the Chechen Constitution, the president was to be elected for five-year terms. Among his official capacities, the president was the head of state and executive power, the commander in chief of the armed forces, and the chairman of the Security Council. In addition, the president appointed the Cabinet of Ministers, which was then confirmed by the Parliament. This body served as the main advisory council to the president and contained such posts as the Internal Affairs Minister, the Minister of Economics and Finance, the Minister of


Justice, and the Department of State Security. Finally, the vice president acted as the chief of ideology and guided the propaganda of the regime.8 The Chechen Parliament consisted of 41 deputies elected by all the citizens of the Chechen Republic. The Parliament had authority to amend the constitution, pass laws, and had jurisdiction over state issues and administration. It also confirmed the Cabinet of Ministers, appointed judges to the various courts, and oversaw elections. From 1991 to 1992, the historian Khusein Akhmadov served as Chairman of the Parliament with Yusup Soslambekov as Deputy Chairman. Other members served as chairmen of important committees such as the mass media, economics, and industry. Outside of the Chechen government, there also existed numerous other groups, many of which were openly opposed to Dudaev and his regime. Despite the fact that Moscows failed State of Emergency in 1991 rallied the Chechen people behind Dudaev, many opposition groups still existed and some at least sought to limit his powers if not force his resignation. On March 31, 1992, frustrated by the deplorable state of affairs in the republic and by Dudaevs inability (and apparent unwillingness) to alleviate the numerous problems, the opposition seized Groznys television and radio stations and demanded the resignation of Dudaev and the Parliament. The Coordinating Council for the Restoration of Constitutional Order in the Checheno-Ingush Republic, the main force behind the attempted coup, issued a statement accusing the Dudaev regime of leading the republic into chaos and ruin.9 Dudaevs National Guard quickly crushed the rebellion. According to the uprisings leader, Vakhid Itaev, his group did not seek to take power in the republic but merely demanded that Dudaev resign and be replaced by a newly elected government. He also accused Dudaev of provoking bloodshed throughout the republic and vowed that because Dudaev refused the oppositions demands, the opposition would be


forced to resort to violence.10 Dudaev and his government refused to recognize the uprising as a sign of discontent among the population. Instead, they still believed that they enjoyed overwhelming support from the citizens and that Moscow controlled the March 31 coup attempt. Elza Sheripova, Chechnyas Procurator General, claimed that Itaev was a pawn in Moscows political game and she said that It is already possible to say that the threads of the conspiracy lead to the Center, to a number of deputies to Russias Supreme Soviet, who include some of our compatriots.11 A conspiracy theory circulated around Grozny that such people as Arsanov, Khasbulatov, and Zavgaev (who, as noted in Chapter One, was the Chairman of the ChechenIngush Communist Party before being deposed in 1991) were involved in planning the attempted coup. It was alleged that Zavgaev possessed a plane ticket to Grozny dated for March 31 and that the day before, he attended a meeting at Khasbulatovs dacha.12 In addition, it was alleged that on the night of March 31, armed groupings moved into downtown Grozny from the Nadterechny District, the birthplace of Zavgaev and where Zavgaev still had strong family connections.13 The Speaker of the Chechen Parliament, Khusein Akhmadov, alleged that the day of the planned coup was carefully selected, as March 31 was the day of signing of the new Federation Treaty. He claimed that Favorable news from Grozny was awaited in Moscow in order to sign the Federation Treaty on behalf of the insurgent people.14 While Moscows complicity in this uprising is certainly plausible, no evidence has been found linking Moscow to the planning of this event. The most likely explanation is that the attempted coup was indeed homegrown and was not controlled by Moscow. Given the state of affairs in Chechnya at the time and the existence of large anti-Dudaev opposition groups in the republic, conditions were ripe for such an event to take place.15


Along with political instability and the economic crisis, Chechnya in 1992-1993 suffered from numerous minor military clashes. Since the armed seizure of the republican Supreme Soviet building in Grozny in late 1991, which forced the Supreme Soviets abdication, small units of armed Chechens roamed the republic attacking Russian military sites. On February 7, 1992, a force of around 300 Chechen National Guard soldiers attacked an arms depot of the Russian Interior Ministry in Grozny. The attack caused a fire to break out in the depot, which destroyed the facility.16 Moscow claimed that in the attack, the Chechens absconded with 2,000 machine guns, automatic rifles, and pistols. Dudaev, however, contradicted this explanation of the event by stating that storm troops of the Russian Interior Ministry and the KGB staged the attack in order to aggravate the situation.17 Dudaev then claimed that he had asked Moscow to ensure the protection of its military installations in Chechnya but Moscow ignored this request because Moscow and Russia were to gain from destroying some of the great martyrs of the former USSR armed forces personnel so as to unleash a civil war in our region [sic].18 As with his later statements following the March 31 coup attempt, Dudaev tried to shift the blame for the conditions in his republic to Moscow and its policies. While Moscow was, of course, interested in destabilizing Dudaevs regime, the Chechens likely did provoke this attack as they had been attacking Russian military installations throughout the republic in order to seize arms and equipment for its fledgling army. As a result of the failed March 31 coup attempt and in response to the February 7 clash between Chechen and Russian military elements, a series of decrees were issued by the Chechen government declaring a state of emergency and providing Dudaev with extraordinary powers. After the February 7 skirmish in Grozny, the Russian newspaper Rabochaia tribuna published a report on the first 100 days of Dudaevs rule as President. This article was a scathing indictment


on the ineffectiveness of Dudaevs government and argued that One declaration of a state of emergency following another within the first one hundred days this is a logical result of the first stage of adventurist nationalistic policy.19 The paper continued by asserting that everybody, including Dzhokhar Dudaev himself, has realized by now that there is nothing to celebrate because the crime rate had ballooned uncontrollably and the economy had collapsed.20 As Dudaev became aware that he was losing control over Chechnya, he asked the Parliament for additional powers for himself and declared a state of emergency. But the paper noted that Dudaev again blamed outside forces for the worsening conditions in Chechnya. Dudaev justified his need for additional powers by arguing that there has been an increasing number of terrorist acts carried out against the public by special groups sent in from outside.21 He also accused former KGB members of attempting to undermine the Chechen economy and attacked Yeltsin for rattling the nuclear button.22 The article concluded by quoting Dudaev as saying that We are ready for any kind of physical clash with Russia and the paper remarked that These words of President Dudaev mean, in the first place, that the military psychosis of the first wave of patriotism has given way to a criminally aggressive psychosis.23 Admittedly, the Rabochaia tribuna article is biased and exaggerates to a certain degree in order to discredit the policies of Dudaevs regime. However, it does provide insight into Dudaevs mindset at that time and does contain certain important elements of truth. The most important fact this article presents is Dudaevs characteristic attempts to shift the blame for Chechnyas problems to Russia. While Dudaev was partly correct in accusing Russia of exacerbating Chechnyas difficulties, he was incorrect in pinpointing Russia as the sole cause of these problems. Instead, he refused to take responsibility for Chechnyas instability. For example, he accused outside forces of conducting terrorist acts against the Chechen people when


in fact his own forces provoked many of the military skirmishes in 1991-1992, particularly the February 7 battle in Grozny. Russia certainly deserved a share of the blame for the deterioration of conditions inside Chechnya, but Dudaev and his government were equally if not more responsible for the causes of this situation. As stated in Chapter One, a Directive from the Presidium of the OKChN Executive Committee issued on October 9, 1991 announced the mobilization of all Chechen males aged 15 to 55. This marked the beginning of the Chechen National Guard, which by November 1, 1991 consisted of 62,000 men.24 Dudaev intended that this National Guard would then evolve into a Chechen Army. The Chechen Parliament agreed and issued the Chechen Defense Law on December 24, 1991, which declared that all male citizens of Chechnya were required to perform military service.25 In a December 9, 1991 edict, Dudaev placed the National Guard under his direction and made provisions for the creation of a general staff, the development of a coat of arms containing Latin script, the production of winter and summer uniforms for the soldiers, and directed that proper financing for the National Guard be provided.26 The only issue left unresolved at this point was how to arm the National Guard. As it turned out, the arming of the National Guard was probably the easiest problem to solve. In late 1991, Dudaev had already issued an edict giving all Chechen citizens the right to keep and bear arms. In fact, Dudaev practically encouraged people to carry arms. But the main source of arms for the National Guard and the later Chechen Army was the Soviet/Russian military. As in all the Union Republics and in many of the ASSRs inside the RSFSR, the Soviet military maintained bases in Chechnya. Because Dudaev had insisted that Chechnya was now independent and hence enjoyed an equal status with all of the former Soviet republics, he stated in an interview with Krasnaia zvezda that Chechnya would negotiate with Moscow for the transfer of Soviet arms and equipment stationed


in Chechnya to the Chechen Army.27 In reality, however, Dudaev likely never really intended to negotiate with Moscow for the transfer of military equipment and arms. In October 1991, Chechen armed units began attacking Soviet/Russian military installations and taking their equipment, as has been stated above. Under repeated attack from the Chechens, the officers of the 173rd Soviet Training Center in Grozny appealed to Gorbachev and Soviet Defense Minister Evgeny Shaposhnikov in November 1991 to provide Soviet military units in Chechnya with protection.28 As the attacks intensified in early 1992, Shaposhnikov ordered the Deputy Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev to lead a delegation to Grozny to look into the situation. Shaposhnikov then ordered that all arms and equipment be removed from Chechnya in order to protect them from Chechen looting, but the order was not carried out.29 Dudaev then issued an ultimatum ordering that all Russian military units be withdrawn from the republic by June 1, 1992. On May 28, Grachev, now the Russian Defense Minister, ordered that Russian military units in Chechnya transfer 50 percent of their equipment to the Chechens.30 Grachevs decisions to transfer military equipment to Chechnya and to withdraw Russian troops from the region were largely in response to concerns voiced by the Russian commanders there about their own safety in light of the increasing number of Chechen raids on military installations. The Russian forces were withdrawn in June. By June 1992, the Russian military had abandoned large amounts of arms and equipment in Chechnya. Based on official Russian data, this included 108 tanks of various types, 590 pieces of anti-tank equipment, 153 artillery units, 41,538 guns including 18,832 AK-74 machine guns, 10,581 pistols and millions of cartridges of various calibers.31 In addition, the Russian military left to the Chechens more than 1.5 million hand grenades and 273 aircraft which included two MiG 15 and two MiG 8 fighter planes, three destroyers, and 260 L-39 and L-29


training aircraft.32 Nezavisimaia gazeta reported in 1996 that based on this arsenal abandoned by Russia and due to Moscows non-interference in 1992-1994, the Chechen Armed Forces experienced a great buildup, which allowed Dudaev to create a competent army and to organize an effective system for the national defense of the republic.33 The amount of arms and equipment abandoned by Russia cited here is only a conservative estimate based on Russian data. The actual numbers are likely much higher as the amount of arms and equipment stolen by the Chechens between October 1991 and June 1992 is not included here. Despite the lack of precise accuracy, these numbers still represent the tremendously important fact that the Russian military itself provided the Chechen Army with the vast majority of its arms and equipment.34

The Cossack Problem As discussed above, on the eve of the war, a sizeable Cossack population existed in Chechnya as a result of the addition of Cossack regions to the Checheno-Ingush ASSR in 1957. In 1992, around 230,000 Russians lived in Chechnya with the Cossacks mainly concentrated in three northern regions bordering the Stavropol krai. In the twenty years preceding the beginnings of the Chechen Revolution, the Russian population in the Checheno-Ingush ASSR had been gradually decreasing. During this same period, even Chechens and Ingush had left the ASSR in search of work elsewhere in the USSR, although the number of Chechens and Ingush leaving the republic was relatively small. But after 1989, the number of Russians leaving Chechnya swelled. In 1989, 3,500 Russians moved out of Chechnya compared to an average of 2,000 each year in the previous decade.35 In 1990, the number of Russians leaving Chechnya doubled and in 1991, the rate was six times that of the 1989 rate of migration.36 As the number of Russians leaving Chechnya continued to increase in late 1991, members of the Russian


extreme right began to make grave predictions of a genocide against Russians in Chechnya. Instead of genocide, however, the rate of migration stabilized and then decreased by 1992, but the rate was still higher than the pre-1989 numbers.37 Those Russians who stayed in Chechnya felt increasingly uncomfortable and threatened as the Dudaev regime became increasingly nationalistic and the overall crime rate exploded. While outright genocide against the Russian population did not take place, the Chechens did commit acts of violence against the Russian population. The Cossacks in particular were targeted by groups of armed Chechens and they made several appeals to Moscow between 1992 and 1994 for help and protection. Two letters written by local Cossack leaders to Moscow in 1993 and 1994 provide graphic details of the violence allegedly perpetrated by Chechens against Cossacks. These letters also exemplify the frustration felt by the Cossacks regarding Moscows lack of an effective policy to alleviate the problems in Chechnya. The first letter was mainly concerned with arguing that the Cossack regions of northern Chechnya should be reunited with the Stavropol krai. Written by A.G. Martynov, the Ataman of the Union of Cossacks of Russia, this letter complained that Moscow had done little regarding the Cossacks previous pleas for assistance and it denounced the fact that representatives of the Cossacks in Chechnya were not invited to participate in talks between Moscow and Grozny in 1992.38 Martynov then argued that these regions historically belonged to Russia and that the decision in 1957 to include them the Checheno-Ingush ASSR ignored the fact that Cossacks had lived in these regions since the 16th century. Martynov even asserted that the majority of Chechens understand excellently that even the territory of the Naurski and Shelkovsky regions (possessing Chechens without a single shot, as they love to say for certain) do not rightly belong to them.39


Aside from Martynovs belief that the Cossack regions did not rightly belong to Chechnya, Martynov also detailed the difficulties the Cossacks, and the Russian population as a whole, were enduring during this period. First, Martynov explained to the Russian leaders, antiRussian propaganda flowed freely both in the independent newspaper Golos Chechenskoi Respubliki and in the official media. He claimed that Soslambekov, with tears in his eyes, had called the Chechens to action to ensure that Russian laughter and their songs would never sound in the mountain lands.40 Along with the Chechen propaganda, Martynov wrote that acts of violence were committed against the Cossacks including the brutal murder of an 83-year-old widow of a war veteran. In addition, pensions had not been paid for several months, the black market had ravaged the economy, and the Cossacks appeals to local and republican organs of power had gone unanswered. Despite the hardship the Chechens had inflicted on the Cossacks in northern Chechnya, Martynov wrote that the Cossacks did not oppose Chechen sovereignty. Instead, the main point of Martynovs letter was to demand in the name of 40,000 Terski Cossacks and Russians in the Naurski and Shelkovsky regions that their territory be reunited with the Stavropol krai and the rest of Russia. Martynov concluded by warning Yeltsin and the other Russian leaders that the Cossacks patience was not boundless and that if Moscow failed to meet their demands, the Cossacks would be forced to appeal for help to the Cossacks from everyone in Russia and friendly countries.41 The second letter, written in May 1994 by the Cossack residents of the Assinovski village in the Sunzhenski region of Ingushetia, was much more dramatic than the Martynov letter and demonstrates how far conditions had deteriorated by 1994. Although located in Ingush territory, the Sunzhenski region bordered Chechnya but was not immune to attacks from Chechen raiding


parties. Unlike the Martynov letter, this appeal was not concerned with having its territory reunited with Russia, as this region never belonged to Russia proper. But this letter still urgently requested help from Moscow. The Cossacks in Sunzhenski region wrote that At present, we do not have a nation, or a Native Country, we are exiled from our homes, although here we reside as our ancestors have for over 200 years.42 The letter made known that since the arrival of Chechen police in the region two years earlier, there had been growing incidents of robbery, plundering, and the lack of social order. The letter listed numerous acts of violence by the Chechens against the Cossack and Russian populations of the Sunzhenski region including many thefts and beatings of elderly residents, thefts of cars, motorcycles and farm equipment, the theft of livestock, kidnappings, and the rape of both girls and elderly women. The Assinovski residents alleged that on many occasions, while committing acts of violence the Chechens told the Russians that You, Russians, live on Chechen land and for us there is no punishment for our behavior.43 The Chechen raiding parties also stole large sums of money from Russians homes and on March 24, 1994 a group of six armed men kidnapped eight students from a classroom and raped their teacher, Lena Nazarova. To help remedy the situation, the Assinovski residents asked Yeltsin to introduce a state of emergency in the region and to use the Security Ministry along with Ingush authorities to restore order. In addition, they asked Yeltsin to appoint a commission to study how to stop the daily deterioration of conditions in the Sunzhenski region. They also proposed that if no solution to the problem could be found, then Moscow should help the remaining Russians to emigrate beyond the boundaries of this improper State of Chechnya to the territory of Mother Russia.44 Finally, the Assinovski residents promised to take the issue to the United Nations on the defense of our state rights if Moscow was unable to solve the problem.45


These letters illustrate in graphic fashion not only the severe difficulties the Cossack and general Russian population faced in pre-war Chechnya, but also the problems that were created by the CPSU Presidium when it decided to add Cossack regions to the Checheno-Ingush ASSR in 1957. While the violence committed against Russians fell far short of genocide, a campaign of fear was waged against the Russian population in Chechnya. Yeltsin likely used the accounts of violence against the Cossacks in conjunction with the Chechens raids on Russian military installations and the overall explosion of crime in the republic to justify his claims that the Chechens were bandits. President Dudaev, for his part, denied that problems existed between his government and the Russian population inside Chechnya. Although the letters from the Cossacks to Moscow do not claim that Dudaevs National Guard had perpetrated these acts of violence, Dudaev undoubtedly knew of these incidents but did nothing to stop them. Moscow, too, did very little to help the Russian population still living in Chechnya between 1992 and 1994. As the next section will make clear, Moscows policy toward Chechnya and its handling of the problem remained very similar to what it had done before 1992, which was to rely on edicts and negotiations to placate the Chechens. Again, this policy failed to anticipate war. Moscow still believed the problem could be resolved without resorting to military force.

Moscow Tries Again The tit for tat political exchange that characterized both the relations between Moscow and Grozny as well as Moscows efforts to solve the Chechen problem before 1992 continued in the period 1992-1994. As in the previous period, Russian authorities sent letters and other documents to Chechnya to try to placate the situation. Dudaev responded to these efforts both by sending delegations to meet with Russian delegations and (at the same time) denouncing Russia


as an evil imperialist power. Although Russia refrained from taking drastic measures such as declaring a state of emergency until late 1994 and instead took a more conciliatory approach toward Chechnya, the Chechens continued to defy Russian authority by maintaining its de facto status as a free state. In December 1991, the Chechens recalled all of their deputies that had been elected to the RSFSR Congress of Peoples Deputies and in January 1992, Dudaev stopped all Chechen payments to the Russian federal budget, declaring that Chechen state revenues instead be paid into the Chechen budget. Obviously, Russias continued attempts at negotiating a way out of the problem were unsuccessful as Dudaev and his regime became increasingly radical and would stop at nothing short of independence. Russia resumed its efforts to negotiate with the Chechens in December 1991 with a polite letter to Dudaev from the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, which invited the Chechens to appoint a delegation for discussions. Addressed to the Esteemed Dzhokhar Musaevich, the letter informed Dudaev that the Supreme Soviet had appointed a delegation for discussions with Chechnya. Composed of independent experts, the Supreme Soviet noted that Chechnya had not yet received this delegation.46 The Supreme Soviet then stated that as a result of the cessation of oil deliveries from Chechnya, the situation in the republic and the surrounding regions had grown worse. Because of this fact, the RSFSR Supreme Soviet argued that the path to deciding the problems of political remedies is in urgent discussions so therefore the Russian government asked Dudaev to receive the delegation and appoint one of his own.47 Talks finally took place on March 12-14, 1992 between expert groups from both sides at the Black Sea resort city of Sochi. Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Supreme Soviet Viktor Zhigulin led the Russian group while VDP founder and future Chechen Vice President Zelimkhan Iandarbiev led the Chechen side. The preliminary goal of this meeting was


to discuss the possibilities of official talks between the Russian and Chechen governments and to arrive at an agenda for these proposed discussions.48 The Chechens were primarily concerned with discussing Chechnyas sovereignty but Zhigulin argued that Chechnya needed to settle its ill-defined borders with Russia and other neighboring regions before sovereignty could be discussed. He did, however, agree with the Chechens that both the Russian and Chechen parliaments should discuss the recognition of political independence and state sovereignty of the Chechen Republic and define a legal basis of its relations with the Russian Federation.49 In similar terms, the Chechens agreed to preserve a single economic space with Russia, remain inside the ruble zone, and accepted practically all provisions of the initialed Federation Treaty.50 The suggested agenda to which both sides finally agreed proposed to discuss issues of the recognition of Chechnyas political independence and sovereignty, the political and legal aspects of Russo-Chechen relations, the protection of human rights, banking and financial systems, customs policy, commercial policies, the allocation of Chechnyas share of the gold, diamond, and hard currency stock of the former Soviet Union, and other related issues.51 The Sochi meeting set an ambitious agenda for the proposed talks, which were to take place in late April 1992. Both sides appeared to be ready to negotiate the most difficult issues, particularly Chechnyas sovereignty, and both sides seemed willing to compromise. Russia even appeared to be willing to concede to Chechnya the latters long sought-after sovereignty. While Zhigulin appeared to be willing to negotiate Chechnyas sovereignty, provided that the republics borders were clarified, it is unclear whether Zhigulin meant complete independence or simply wide autonomy. Given the fact that Yeltsin and the Russian government opposed outright Chechen independence, it must be assumed that Zhigulin only referred to greater autonomy than was given to the other Russian republics in the Federation Treaty. But the actual meaning of


Zhigulins agreement to discuss the sovereignty issue quickly became a moot point because Chechnyas persistent political turmoil prevented the proposed April discussions from occurring. The two sides did meet again in Moscow in late May, but this brief meeting did not produce any results. Notwithstanding the Sochi meetings failure to produce any concrete results, it did demonstrate that negotiations were still possible and they marked a high point in relations between Moscow and Grozny, even though these relations were still tenuous at best. Although the Sochi meeting failed to produce any real results, the two sides tried to resolve the problem again at the end of 1992. In December, the Chechen Prime Minister Iaragai Mamodaev and the Chairman of the Chechen Parliaments Foreign Affairs Committee Yusup Soslambekov met with representatives of the Russian Parliament in Moscow. Prior to this meeting, the President of the Russian Federation and the Congress of Peoples Deputies issued an announcement pledging to follow the Russian Constitution and the Federation Treaty in dealing with the Chechen problem. They also called upon the people of Russia to do the same and to abstain from the use of political activities connected with violence, [and] confrontation and also to renounce massive acts that may lead to the violation of social order, strikes, and violence.52 Both Yeltsin and Khasbulatov signed the announcement of Moscows pledge to find a peaceful, constitutional approach to settling the Chechen issue. In addition to the announcement by Yeltsin and Khasbulatov, the Congress of Peoples Deputies also issued an appeal to the people and government of Chechnya stating that the problems inherent in Russo-Chechen relations can be solved in the interests of the peoples of both republics.53 In light of the appeals issued by Yeltsin, Khasbulatov, and the Congress of Peoples Deputies, the December 1992 meeting in Moscow took place in a relatively friendly atmosphere and produced an agreement. This agreement closely resembled the agreement


reached earlier in the year at Sochi in that the two sides agreed to conduct further talks in the near future. The draft agreement went further than the Sochi agreement in that, according to Mamodaev, it proceeded from the universally acknowledged right of nations to selfdetermination.54 Mamodaevs statement seemed to imply that Russia was finally willing to recognize Chechen sovereignty, but this was not the case. Earlier, Mamodaev himself had stopped short of saying that Moscow had recognized Chechen sovereignty. He even told Rossiiskaia gazeta that We are not trying to bring about Russias disintegrationWe are ready to share with our Russian colleagues [the tackling of] such issues as the development of the armed forces and defenses, scientific and technical research, the preservation of economic ties, and the banking system.55 In effect, Mamodaev claimed that his delegation was not pressing for Moscows acceptance of full Chechen sovereignty and the agreement reached in Moscow reflected this fact. Therefore, the Moscow meeting achieved little more than the Sochi meeting in that the real issue, complete Chechen independence, was not really discussed. When asked if Chechnya was indeed an independent state, Mamodaev answered that Chechnya and Russia were advancing together on the basis of equal rights and equality,56 a safely worded statement that implied Chechen independence without actually saying it. Instead, the Moscow Agreement resulted only in the division of certain realms of authority primarily in economic matters and did not attempt to resolve the issue of Chechen independence. The Moscow meeting did at least result in further meetings in January, something the Sochi meeting failed to produce. Although the Moscow Agreement did not recognize full Chechen sovereignty, it came very close. Article One of the Agreement contained the statement The Chechen Republic a sovereign legal democratic state established at the will of the Chechen people builds its relations with Russia as an independent state.57 Russias new Nationalities Minister, Sergei


Shakhrai, even said that Chechnyas creation was based on the will of its people and Ruslan Khasbulatov asserted that the establishment of the Chechen Republic was a real and accomplished fact.58 It was Mamodaev who helped clear the vague nature of the Moscow Agreement when he explained that in the agreement, we [Chechnya] voluntarily hand over some elements of control and some plenary powers to Russian bodies.59 But when asked if Chechnya still constituted a part of Russia, Mamodaev simply answered Yes.60 Thus, the Moscow Agreement essentially implied that Chechnya still remained inside Russia, but with wide autonomy. Mamodaevs reply that Chechnya still remained a part of Russia elicited a sharp response from Grozny. In December, as the Russians and Chechens worked on the agreement, Dudaev had stated that he refused to recognize Mamodaev and Soslambekov as official negotiators.61 On January 6, the Chechen Government and the Parliament issued a joint statement asserting that Grozny could not sign the Moscow Agreement because the draft violated the Chechen Constitution.62 Because the Moscow Agreement treated Chechnya as a component part of the Russian Federation, the Chechen Government and the Parliament reasoned that the document contradicted the republics constitution and the Declaration on Sovereignty, and thus could not be signed. As a result, Dudaevs government never signed the agreement, but it did state that the Chechen Republic was ready to sign a treaty on relations provided the treaty was based on equality and a mutual recognition of state sovereignty.63 Thus, the Moscow Agreement ultimately meant little as Chechnya refused to sign the document and relations remained stagnant. Soon after the drafting of the Moscow Agreement, Dudaev resumed his anti-Russian propaganda campaign by announcing that he expected a Russian invasion in the coming months.64 This time, however, Dudaevs prediction was not


completely without merit. Throughout 1992, Russian troops had been stationed in neighboring Ingushetia to act as peacekeepers in the Ingush-North Osetiian conflict over the Prigorodny Region.65 Instead of acting as peacekeepers, however, the Russian troops sided with the North Osetiians and attacked Ingush positions both in the Prigorodny Region and in areas close to the ill-defined Chechen border. Clashes also took place between the Russians and Chechens along the Chechen-Ingush border as the Chechens claimed that Russian troops had been encroaching onto Chechen territory. In addition, Sergei Shakhrai remarked in January that the Russian Government was prepared to use strength in defense of its priority interests in the Caucasus.66 While Shakhrai made this statement in the context of the military operation in Ingushetia, the Chechens, probably correctly, interpreted Shakhrais assertion as a warning that Moscow would soon use full military force in Chechnya. This episode shows that although Moscow and Grozny appeared willing to negotiate in 1992 and early 1993 and that relations between them were at their peak in this period, a deep sense of distrust still existed, requiring more than mid-level negotiations to heal. Negotiations continued in January when Shakhrai and the Russian Parliaments Chairman of the Nationalities Committee Ramazan Abdulatipov flew to Grozny to meet with a Chechen delegation led by the Parliamentary Chairman Khusein Akhmadov. This meeting almost failed to take place as Shakhrai received a telegram shortly before his departure stating that he would be killed if he went to Grozny. Shakhrai went anyway, but Chechen officials refused to allow the plane carrying the Russian delegation to land in Grozny, forcing the plane to circle the airport for an hour before receiving permission to land.67 When the negotiations did take place, they were not much different than those conducted earlier in Moscow. One notable difference was


the fact that the new Chechen delegation had authority whereas the previous Mamodaev delegation had lacked official recognition from the Parliament and Dudaev. The Grozny meeting produced the same results as the Moscow meeting. During the Grozny talks, the two sides agreed to establish working groups to draft a treaty in February dividing various powers between Russia and Chechnya and to designate which powers would be shared by Moscow and Grozny.68 In addition, the Russians and Chechens agreed to work on defining Chechnyas borders and they recognized Chechnyas role in helping to end the IngushNorth Osetiia conflict. A Protocol issued by Moscow on the results of the Grozny meeting stated that both sides underlined the vital necessity of normal relations between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic in the preservation of the union of economic, defense, information, and cultural dimensions, the continuation of progressive traditions[and] the protection of the freedom and rights of all nationalities.69 The Protocol then outlined the major points of agreement reached in Grozny. Conspicuously absent from this Protocol as well as from the joint communiqu issued by both sides was Russias recognition of full Chechen sovereignty. When asked if the Grozny agreement constituted recognition by Russia of Chechen sovereignty, Shakhrai answered that The Chechen Republic was recognized by the Congress of Peoples Deputies of Russia, who made relevant amendments in the Constitution of the Russian Federation.70 Shakhrais response referred to a law passed by the Russian Parliament on June 4, 1992 that formally divided Checheno-Ingushetia and created a new, separate Ingush Republic.71 In December 1992, under pressure from Shakhrai, the Russian Parliament amended the constitution to include the phrases the Ingush Republic within the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic within the Russian Federation.72 To Shakhrai and the rest of the Russian government, this was enough to demonstrate that Moscow recognized Chechen sovereignty. Of


course, the Chechens disagreed, and continued to regard themselves as a nation on equal standing with Russia. Therefore, despite the goodwill displayed by the Russians and Chechens at both the Moscow and Grozny meetings and the subsequent agreements, these meetings were essentially pointless, because the real issue of full Chechen sovereignty remained unresolved. Even though both sides were willing to share certain powers and authority, neither side was willing to back down from its main position. Moreover, little could be expected from these meetings anyway because they only consisted of high-ranking parliamentary officials. During the Grozny meeting, a scheduled meeting between Dudaev and the Russian delegation failed to materialize when Dudaev canceled the affair with no explanation. With Dudaev refusing to meet the visiting Russians and Yeltsin refusing to meet with Dudaev, little could be expected to result from Moscows strategy of using negotiations to solve the Chechen problem. The planned resumption of talks scheduled to take place in Grozny in late February never took place, largely due to the increasing political strife inside Chechnya. The First Deputy of the Chechen Parliament, Bek Mezhidov, who led the Chechen delegation in the first round of Grozny discussions, told Itar-Tass that the tense political situation in Chechnya almost rules out the possibility of holding talks with the Russian delegation in our republic in the near future.73 He added the hope that talks could resume in nearby Dagomys once the Chechen political situation had stabilized, but this also failed to happen. At this juncture, the split between Dudaev and the Chechen Parliament that had been simmering for several months had finally erupted into a public showdown. After Dudaev had discredited Mamodaev following the negotiations in late 1992, Mamodaev began to openly oppose Dudaevs regime and became the head of the Chechen Government of National Trust. Soon the Chechen Parliament began to defy Dudaev


publicly and called for his resignation. Although groups opposed to Dudaev had been in existence almost from the time Dudaev became president in 1991, the Chechen Parliament had remained supportive of the president. In the course of 1992, however, even the Parliament grew suspicious of Dudaevs increasing powers and reluctance to deal with Moscow. A full split between Dudaev and the Parliament came in early 1993 when the Parliament attempted to curb some of Dudaevs authority. When Russia sent troops into the North Caucasus in 1992 in response to the Ingush-North Osetiia conflict, Dudaev used this action as an excuse to declare a state of emergency in Chechnya, thereby giving himself additional powers. In addition, Dudaev placed a strict censorship policy on the Chechen media, effectively silencing all outlets of the opposition.74 In February 1993, the state of emergency was still in effect, which convinced the Parliament that Dudaev was ruling as a dictator. On February 17, the Chechen Parliament, under Speaker Khusein Akhmadov, voted to repeal Dudaevs state of emergency and to cancel a referendum scheduled by Dudaev for February 19 intended to amend the constitution and increase Dudaevs authority.75 Instead, the Parliament resolved to conduct a referendum in March asking voters whether Chechnya needed independence and what form of government Chechnya should adopt.76 The struggle between Dudaev and the Parliament came to a head in April 1993 when large public demonstrations occurred in Grozny both in support of and against Dudaev.77 Prior to this, on April 14, the Parliament voted a measure of no confidence in Dudaevs regime and several opposition groups including SNGS and Round Table called for Dudaevs resignation, the dissolution of the government, and new elections.78 In response, Dudaev, along with his Vice President Zelimkhan Iandarbiev, closed the parliamentary newspaper Golos Chechenskoi


Respubliki and dissolved the Parliament. Only nine of the 41 members of Parliament actually obeyed his order and officially resigned.79 Despite the existence of a sizeable anti-Dudaev opposition, based mainly in the northern lowlands of Chechnya, Dudaev ultimately prevailed in his standoff against the Parliament and the opposition. After April 1993, Dudaev essentially ruled by decree with his powers unchecked by Parliament or any other governmental body. The end of the Chechen Parliament as a functioning organ combined with the increasingly authoritarian nature of Dudaevs regime also meant the end of any meaningful negotiations between Moscow and Grozny to resolve their disagreements.

Russias Internal Political Problems When Yeltsin rode the wave of popular support to power in 1990-1991 and became President of the new Russia in the wake of the Soviet Unions collapse, he enjoyed wide support from figures within the ruling elite. As Russia began the transition to a democratic state, the legislative branch of the new Russian Federation largely supported and cooperated with Yeltsins policies. But the honeymoon between Yeltsin and the Parliament soon faded and by 1993 turned into open conflict, similar to the clash Dudaev faced against the Chechen Parliament in early 1993. By 1992, Yeltsins erratic leadership style created concern among both his supporters inside his administration and the Parliament.80 At the same time, the Parliaments speaker, Ruslan Khasbulatov, and Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi had their own ambitions for higher political office, which fuelled the growing conflict between the executive and legislative branches.


After the failed coup attempt against Gorbachev in August 1991 which ultimately ended the state created by Lenin, Yeltsin quickly surrounded himself with various groups of differing political orientations, which then began competing for power within Yeltsins administration. Instead of choosing people of at least similar political views to serve in his government, Yeltsin simply placed people who had shown loyalty to him in 1990-1991 in government posts. Yeltsin then began assembling a political system based largely on strong presidential rule and which would allow him to rule by decree. The Russian Parliament cooperated by giving Yeltsin the additional authority to issue decrees that could contradict and replace existing laws as well as to reorganize the government without Parliaments consent. Although these additional powers were intended to last for only one year, that fact that Yeltsin sought and easily received this authority demonstrates that Yeltsin was not particularly interested in a parliamentary form of government and that the Russian Parliament trusted Yeltsin to exercise these powers wisely. But as Yeltsins leadership increasingly grew more erratic, especially in economic matters, and Khasbulatov sought more power, Yeltsins administration and the Parliament embarked on a collision course. The path toward confrontation began in early 1992 when the Supreme Soviet, led by Khasbulatov, declared that the local soviets in Russia were not subordinate to Yeltsins representatives. This was the Parliaments first attempt to assert its power against Yeltsin as both Yeltsin and Khasbulatov considered himself the fundamental center of power.81 Khasbulatovs actions then resulted in the migration of democrats and centrists from the Parliament to the executive branch, leaving effective control of the Parliament with the Communist and Nationalist elements.82 Yeltsin then chose to ignore the Parliament altogether, thus deepening the rift between himself and his former ally Khasbulatov.83


Throughout 1992, Yeltsin and Khasbulatovs Parliament continued their struggle for power. In late 1992, Yeltsin tried to defuse the situation by inviting Khasbulatov and the Parliament to engage in constructive dialogue to work out their differences. But Khasbulatov ignored Yeltsins request and responded by consolidating Yeltsins opposition in the Parliament through a series of court intrigues.84 In December, the 7th Congress of Peoples Deputies passed amendments to the constitution that would curb some of Yeltsins powers largely through requiring Parliamentary approval for the presidents nominations of prime minister and other ministerial positions. In the face of this new challenge, Yeltsin and Khasbulatov agreed to negotiate. In the resulting compromise, the two antagonists agreed to hold a referendum in April 1993 on a new Russian constitution and the Supreme Soviet agreed to not seek further amendments to the constitution until the April referendum.85 The relative calm created by the December 1992 referendum agreement proved to be short lived, however. In March 1993, Khasbulatov repudiated the agreement and the Congress of Peoples Deputies voted to end all of Yeltsins extraordinary powers that had been given to him in 1991. Yeltsin responded by announcing to the nation that he was instituting a special regime of rule, that the constitutional referendum would take place on April 25, and that all Parliamentary decisions altering presidential decrees lacked legal force.86 The Parliament then tried to impeach Yeltsin, but the measure failed by only a few votes. Yeltsin scored a major victory the following month when in the April 25 referendum, 58.7 percent of those voting expressed confidence in Yeltsin.87 Bolstered by his victory in the April referendum, Yeltsin organized a constitutional conference in the summer of 1993 to draft a new constitution. Yeltsin intended the new constitution to increase his power. By September, Yeltsin was ready to act decisively to end the


impasse between his administration and the Parliament. On September 21, he issued Decree 1400, On the Stages of Constitutional Reform in the Russian Federation which formally dissolved the Parliament and introduced presidential rule. In defiance of Yeltsins action, the Parliament immediately inaugurated Vice President Rutskoi as President and the deputies refused to leave the White House. Yeltsin ultimately resorted to military force to oust the remaining deputies from the White House and by the end of this momentous clash, Yeltsin had prevailed and Khasbulatov and Rutskoi were arrested. In December, voters approved of a new constitution amid numerous allegations of election fraud. Written largely by Yeltsin, the new constitution gave the president substantial powers and contained provisions making it very difficult to amend the constitution. The Parliament was reorganized into a bicameral body consisting of the Federation Council and the State Duma. Although the new constitution enhanced Yeltsins powers and all but ignored the concept of separation of powers, Russia did not revert back to complete authoritarian rule as had happened when Dudaev won his struggle with the Chechen Parliament. In Russia, the legislative branch continued to exist, and as the next chapter will demonstrate, during the 1994-1996 Chechen War, the Federation Council and the Duma voiced concern regarding Yeltsins decision to go to war.88

The Soviet Ghost Prevented a Peaceful Settlement The great turmoil inside the Russian political climate during this period helps explain why the negotiation process in 1992-1993 yielded few tangible results. To be sure, the primary issues exacerbating the political crisis were how best to transform Russias economy to one based on a free market and the basic power struggles between Yeltsin and Khasbulatov and the institutions of the Russian presidency and the Parliament. Chechnya was a relatively minor issue


in the political struggle compared to the economic and constitutional issues. But, as this brief overview of the political chaos makes clear, the power structures in Moscow were again too preoccupied with more pressing matters to be able to deal with the Chechen question effectively. Just as in the first phase of the Chechen issue in 1988-1991 when the Soviet government was more concerned with what were considered more important problems, the successor Russian government in 1992-1994 was also too distracted to concentrate on Chechnya. With Yeltsin, Khasbulatov, and the other top power brokers in Moscow spending most of their time and efforts vying for power within the government and trying to find less disruptive ways to reform the economy, Moscow may have been unable to devote enough energy to the Chechen problem. This resulted in the lack of a clear policy and the inability to reach a solution through negotiation. Another obstacle in the path toward a peaceful settlement was the authoritarian tendencies shared by Yeltsin and Dudaev. As has been discussed, Dudaev became increasingly authoritarian soon after he became the Chechen leader in 1991, culminating in his dissolution of the Chechen Parliament in 1993. In his dealings with Russia, Dudaev acted in a contradictory manner by being cordial toward the Russians in one statement, and then viciously attacking them in another. In November 1991, shortly after the imposition of Yeltsins ill-fated state of emergency, Dudaev called on the peoples of the Caucasus to declare holy war (gazavat) on Russia.89 Almost a year later, in September 1992, Dudaev warned, if any government decides to interfere in Chechnyas internal affairs, we will wage a war on its territory.90 A few weeks after making this pledge, Dudaev then sent a letter to Russian Vice President Rutskoi inviting him to Grozny for talks. In this letter, Dudaev praised the constructive results of the previous Russian-Chechen talks in Moscow and expressed his confidence that the future talks would


result in mutual understanding and develop bilateral cooperation in the interests of the two peoples.91 Dudaevs contradictions came full circle in October 1992 when he told Argumenty i Fakty that he had no reason to call on his people to declare a holy war on Russia.92 He then stated his belief that Khasbulatov was the instigator of all the provocations and all [the acts of] terrorism that occurred in Chechnya.93 Although these statements are accusatory and provocative, Dudaev could also be cordial. In a letter to Yeltsin in March 1993, Dudaev opened by flattering Yeltsin: I express my high respect, I wish for health and happiness for you and your family and for peace and prosperity for the Russian people.94 This is an interesting statement from someone who had called for a holy war against Russia only a few months earlier. In this letter, Dudaev asked Yeltsin to consider the acknowledgment by the Russian Federation of the sovereignty of the Chechen Republic.95 At the end of the letter, Dudaev even referred to Yeltsin as the President of a Great State.96 It is, of course, expected that a letter of this nature would be very courteous and flattering, but because it was written by Dudaev, it must have been very difficult for Yeltsin to have taken it seriously, given Dudaevs threats of a holy war. In essence, the composition of the intended audience largely determined what type of rhetoric Dudaev would use. Not unlike other politicians, Dudaev crafted his words based on whom he was talking to. When speaking to fellow Chechens or other Muslims, Dudaev boasted that Chechnya would take the fight to Russias territory and rabidly accused Moscow of causing all of Chechnyas problems. But when speaking to the Russian press or to the outside world in general, Dudaev appeared as a statesman of a small nation seeking independence who was confident that his country could become a valuable partner to Russia.


Yeltsin too had authoritarian characteristics that manifested themselves shortly after he became president of the Russian Federation. As the discussion above makes clear, by 19921993, Yeltsin had little interest in subordinating his desire for power to the principles of a democratic Russia. Indeed, by 1994 after Yeltsin had defeated the Parliament, he ruled in a tsarist manner as he grew more aloof from the Russian public and isolated himself inside a small circle of highly trusted cadres.97 Like Dudaev, Yeltsins primary interest appeared to be his quest for greater authority. Even after the ratification of the new Russian Constitution and the formation of the Duma and Federation Council, Yeltsin still enjoyed tremendous powers. Under the new constitution, the Duma and Federation Council had little ability to enact checks on the presidents power, which allowed Yeltsin to in effect rule by decree. The concept of separation of powers was virtually nonexistent. For example, under the new constitution, if the Duma had passed a motion of no confidence in the government, the president had the option of either replacing the government with new officials or dissolving the Duma and call for new elections. Thus, it was potentially political suicide for the Duma to pass a no confidence measure. Although Yeltsin and Dudaev shared authoritarian tendencies, a fundamental difference did exist between the Russian and Chechen governments. Russia at least retained some semblance of democracy. The Parliament continued to exist and elections still took place. In Chechnya, neither of these elements of democracy remained after Dudaev dismissed the Parliament in 1993. It was not until after Dudaevs death in 1996 that presidential elections were held in Chechnya. But although Russia remained basically democratic, enough authoritarian elements existed to help prevent a negotiated settlement between Yeltsin and Dudaev. Both men were products of the Soviet system and therefore practiced politics in a Soviet manner. Yeltsin and Dudaev were fiercely stubborn men who were not inclined to give ground in the pursuit of


compromise. During the negotiation period in 1992-1993, the main forces supporting a negotiated settlement existed mainly within the parliaments of Russia and Chechnya, although certain elements within Yeltsins administration, particularly Shakhrai, did favor discussions. But Yeltsins defeat of the Russian Parliament and Dudaevs dissolution of the Chechen Parliament effectively marginalized the more moderate forces in Russia and Chechnya that would have supported additional talks. To be sure, both leaders, particularly Yeltsin, preferred negotiations to military conflict, but their personalities and ambitions prevented a peaceful settlement. Yeltsin refused repeated requests from Dudaev to meet the Chechen President because he thought that such a meeting would imply Moscows recognition of Dudaev as the leader of an independent state. Dudaev, for his part, refused to meet Yeltsin unless the two met as equals, i.e. only if Moscow saw Dudaev as a sovereign leader. This climate greatly diminished the prospects for a negotiated settlement between Moscow and Grozny because the absence of direct talks between Yeltsin and Dudaev meant that talks could only continue between middle-level officials from both sides. As Tracey German and other scholars have argued, had Yeltsin and Dudaev engaged in direct discussions, the war may well have been averted. The ghost of the defunct Soviet Union helped push Russia and Chechnya toward war. As has been seen, the rapid collapse of the Soviet Union and the ensuing disorder created conditions in which the Chechens could launch a new rebellion against the Russians. In the last years of the Soviet Union, glasnost and perestroika allowed the Chechens to organize and to participate in Soviet as well as Russian politics. Moscow, too preoccupied with economic disarray and the problems associated with the Soviet dissolution, was unable effectively to respond to the Chechen situation. Later, during the momentous clash between Yeltsin and the Russian


Parliament, Moscow again was too distracted to pursue an effective policy regarding Chechnya. And throughout this period, the massive economic problems associated with the transition to a market economy further exacerbated Moscows inability to solve the issue. Finally, the Soviet system produced Yeltsin and Dudaev who still played the political game the only way they knew how: Soviet style. Even when Moscow pursued a policy toward Chechnya, that combined negotiations with menacing acts such as a state of emergency and an economic blockade, it failed to understand the lessons of history. Russias leaders ignored or may not have been familiar with the history of Russo-Chechen relations. The Chechens had never fully accepted Russian rule, but in the 1990s, Moscow continued to treat the Chechens in a colonial manner. Russia dismissed the Chechens as unruly bandits who had to be suppressed. Russias failure to understand history combined with its inability to devote its full attention to the issue and Dudaevs refusal to compromise led Russia and Chechnya into a disastrous war that still remains unresolved.


CHAPTER THREE Talk is Cheap Negotiations Fail Although the period of meaningful negotiations between Moscow and Grozny ended when Dudaev effectively sidelined the Chechen Parliament in the spring of 1993, this does not mean that discussions and attempts to resolve the situation peacefully stopped altogether. Moscow still tried to find a peaceful solution to the problem, but during 1994, these appeared to be only half-hearted attempts. Along with trying to initiate further talks with the Chechens, Russia also tried to placate the Chechens by providing the republic with 2.5 billion rubles to help pay pensions.1 But as 1994 progressed, Yeltsin increasingly became influenced by what many scholars have termed the party of war the chiefs of Russias power ministries who advocated the use of military force to resolve the situation once and for all. However, as Yeltsin gradually came to support military action as the best way to deal with the Chechens, many elements both inside Yeltsins administration and in the Federal Assembly still favored a peaceful solution. This chapter will analyze the final attempts to avert military confrontation and will argue that these attempts, like the previous actions in 1992-1993, had little chance to be successful. As in Chapter Two, I will argue that the negotiations held in 1993 and 1994 could not succeed because they did not involve the highest officials of both Russia and Chechnya. At the same time, I will not argue that had Yeltsin and Dudaev met personally to discuss the issue that the situation would have been resolved. Because such a meeting never occurred, it is impossible to say if it would have prevented the war. Instead, I argue that three primary factors helped lead Moscow to the decision to wage war: the ascendance to power of the party of war2 that helped persuade Yeltsin to use military force, the frustration felt by Moscow as a result of the failure of its policies to oust Dudaev, and finally the refusal of Yeltsin and Dudaev to back down from


their respective positions in order to reach a compromise. Both men were unwilling to compromise their primary positions: the preservation of Russias territorial integrity for Yeltsin and complete Chechen independence for Dudaev. The purpose of this discussion will not be to assign blame to either side for starting the war in 1994, as both sides are equally culpable. Instead, my aim is to explain why Moscow chose to go to war after three years of trying to avoid it. In addition, this chapter will discuss the split between Yeltsin and the Federal Assembly over the war. I will argue that from the beginning of the war, the Federation Assembly, especially the Federation Council, offered only lukewarm support for the war and on several occasions actually opposed it. Yeltsin also faced opposition to the war from inside his own administration, particularly from Sergei Shakhrai and Yeltsins Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, did not completely support the decision to go to war.

The Tatarstan Model

At the same time that Chechnya was asserting its independence, Moscow had to deal with another recalcitrant region as well. The Republic of Tatarstan, located east of Moscow along the Volga River, also sought autonomy from Moscow. Like Chechnya, Tatarstan had been an ASSR within the RSFSR during the Soviet era. It is a highly industrialized region with diverse manufactures and large oil reserves. The Tatars, descendants of the Mongol invaders of the 13th and 14th centuries, are the largest ethnic group within the Russian Federation, but only comprise 48.6 percent of Tatarstans population.3 Nevertheless, a nationalist movement emerged in Tatarstan in the late 1980s that closely resembled its counterpart in Chechnya. Unlike in


Chechnya, however, a peaceful settlement was reached between Moscow and Kazan in February 1994. In this section, I will briefly discuss Tatarstans move toward independence and why a peaceful settlement could be reached with Kazan, but not with Grozny. As in Chechnya, the Tatar independence movement emerged in 1987-88 in the atmosphere of Gorbachevs reforms associated with perestroika. This movement was largely concerned with environmental issues and the preservation of Tatar culture and language common themes among reformist-minded and independence-minded groups all across the Soviet Union. In June 1988, faculty and students at Kazan University and the Institute of Language, Literature, and History established the Tatar Public Center (TOTs). After the organizations initial congress in February 1989, the TOTs worked alongside the Tatar ASSRs authorities and emerged as the republics main forum for asserting Tatarstans economic and political rights. At this point, Tatarstans independence movement remained moderate and chose to cooperate with the republican authorities rather than work against them. In 1990, however, the Tatar writer Fauziia Bairamova formed Ittifak to promote Tatar independence. Ittifak added a radical element to the Tatar independence movement that threatened to split the movement between radicals and moderates. Ittifaks emergence in Tatarstan is similar to the rise of Dudaev in Chechnya in that it radicalized the independence movement, but unlike in Chechnya, in Tatarstan, the ruling elite refused to endorse ethnic nationalism. Instead, the republics authorities chose to contain Tatar nationalism and focus on elevating Tatarstans status to that of a union republic. Moreover, Kazan was interested in engaging Moscow on political and economic grounds. In August 1990, Tatarstan issued a declaration of republican sovereignty. On June 12, 1991, presidential elections were held in Russia. In the weeks preceding these elections, Ittifak


attempted to undermine Tatarstans relations with Moscow by staging a hunger strike in Kazan in order to persuade the Tatar Supreme Soviet to cancel the elections in Tatarstan. In a compromise, the Tatar Supreme Soviet decided to not endorse the election for the Russian presidency officially, but expressed its willingness to assist those Tatars who wished to vote. Also on June 12, Tatars went to the polls to elect a new Tatar president. In the race for the Tatar presidency, the nationalists, led by Ittifak, failed to produce their own candidate and instead supported the moderate former communist leader Mintimir Shaimiev, who won the election with 71 percent of the vote.4 Opinion polls conducted at the time of the June 1991 elections indicated the nationalists weak support among Tatarstans population. The Democratic Party of Russia and the Communist Party polled far better than Ittifak and TOTs combined. Shaimiev proved to be a more adept politician than Dudaev, which, along with Moscows more sensible handling of the Tatar situation, contributed greatly to the ability of both sides to reach a peaceful settlement. Unlike Dudaev who refused to work with the Chechno-Ingush Supreme Soviet in 1990-91, Shaimiev successfully formed coalitions with Tatar nationalists and Moscows republican authorities and was willing to work with Moscow to prevent violence. As only 18 percent of the Tatar population favored complete independence, Shaimiev had room to maneuver in his negotiations with Moscow; he could compromise with the Russian government without fear of losing popular support. For its part, Moscow appointed Galina Starovoitova as its representative to Tatarstan in September 1991. An ethnographer with extensive knowledge of the Tatar people, Starovoitova did not completely reject the idea of Tatar independence. With both sides willing to negotiate, a peaceful solution to the Tatar issue was more likely than in the Chechen situation.5


On March 21, 1992, Tatarstan held a referendum in which voters were asked Do you agree that the Republic of Tatarstan is a sovereign state, a subject of international law, that builds its relations with the Russian Federation and other republics and states on the basis of equal rights? The question was deliberately ambiguous in order to not offend Moscow by asking for outright independence and to imply that Tatarstan would not necessarily be subject to the Russian Constitution. The nationalist leaders were unhappy about the referendums ambiguity, but urged a yes vote as they felt they had no other option. The referendum was approved by a wide majority, which gave Shaimiev a mandate to negotiate Tatarstans relationship to Moscow.6 Throughout 1992 and 1993, negotiations were held between Tatar and Russian authorities. On February 15, 1994, the Tatar and Russian governments signed a bilateral treaty that confirmed Tatarstans unity with Russia but allowed Tatarstan to maintain its own international and economic relations with foreign nations and states that the Tatar government decides questions of the ownership, use and distribution of the land, mineral wealth, forests, and other natural resources, as well as the state enterprises, organizations and other movements and immovable state assets located on the territory of Tatarstan.7 Thus Tatarstan received wide autonomy from Moscow and now functions almost as an independent state with the ability to control its own internal and foreign affairs, albeit under some restraint from Moscow. Three main factors contributed to the peaceful settlement of the Tatarstan issue that were absent from the Chechen dispute. First, Shaimiev and his supporters were moderates who refused to succumb to nationalist pressures. They were willing to compromise with Moscow whereas Dudaev would stop at nothing short of complete independence for Chechnya. Second, Tatarstans population is much more diverse than Chechnyas; Tatars do not form a majority of the republics population although they are the largest ethnic group. As a result, the


independence movement in Tatarstan did not match the strength of its counterpart in Chechnya. Finally, Moscow was more willing to deal with Tatarstan due in large part to Shaimievs moderate stance and the efforts of Starovoitova during the negotiation process. As will be discussed below, Moscow made a similar offer of wide autonomy to Chechnya, but Dudaev refused to accept it. Thus, Moscow and Kazan were able to avoid military conflict, but political tensions remain over interpretations of the Tatarstan Treaty.

Final Attempts to Avert War

After President Dudaev dissolved the Chechen Parliament in the spring of 19938, the members of parliament formed a new anti-Dudaev opposition body, the Government of National Trust. On May 11, 1993, the Government of National Trust appointed Iarogi Mamodaev as its Prime Minister. As noted in Chapter Two, Mamodaev had once served as Dudaevs Prime Minister until the Chechen leader forced Mamodaev to resign after negotiating with Moscow without Dudaevs authorization. Even though the Chechen Parliament, it will be recalled, also distanced itself from Mamodaev after his talks in Moscow, the reconstituted Chechen Parliament in the form of the Government of National Trust embraced Mamodaev and named him the new Chechen leader.9 Now Chechnya had two functioning governments, each one proclaiming to be Chechnyas sole legitimate authority. Mamodaev soon set about seeking a political solution to the republics standoff vis a vis Russia. It will be recalled that in Mamodaevs talks with Moscow in late 1992 (which ultimately forced his resignation), he was willing to compromise on the issue of Chechen independence. Unlike Dudaev who would stop at nothing short of complete independence, Mamodaev let it be


known that he would agree to share certain spheres of authority with Moscow. Thus, Moscow, in Mamodaev, had someone with whom it could deal. Soon after Mamodaev took office as Prime Minister, he reinstated the Russian Central Banks Chechen Department, which had been disbanded by Dudaev in late 1991.10 Dudaevs action resulted in the republics inability to pay pensions and salaries on time.11 Through the efforts of Mamodaev, however, Russia delivered 2.5 billion rubles in cash to the republic for pensions and salaries.12 Mamodaev also initiated a plan to provide economic relief to victims of landslides and floods in May 1993.13 In June, Mamodaev announced that the Chechen Republic was prepared to immediately resume negotiations with Russia.14 He told a news conference in Grozny that Russo-Chechen relations would be built within the constitutional and treaty framework which meant that Mamodaev was ready to delegate certain powers to Moscow.15 Mamodaev then led a Chechen delegation to Moscow with the stated purpose of beginning work on a bilateral treaty.16 Although Mamodaev did not seek the complete independence that Dudaev sought, he still wanted Chechnya to be treated as a sovereign republic. In an interview with the newspaper Federatsiia, Mamodaev explained that We intend to foster our relations with the Russian Federation as ties between two sovereign states.17 Instead of complete independence, Mamodaev suggested that Chechnya remain in the ruble zone and that Moscow and Grozny should share authority over economic and military affairs. He noted that in the recent talks in Moscow, Russia suggested that Chechnya sign the Federation Treaty, but Mamodaev and his delegation refused, stating that we intend to remain a sovereign state and do not want the Chechen Republic Constitution to be subordinate to that of the Russian Federation.18 Mamodaev instead proposed constitutional and treaty based relations with Russia.19


Mamodaev declared the June 1993 talks in Moscow a success despite the fact that they failed to produce a treaty or any other tangible results for reasons I am unable to ascertain. The talks at least demonstrated that both sides were still willing to seek a peaceful solution although Mamodaev noted that he feared that Russia, falling in with Dudaevs plans, might attempt to restore order in the Chechen Republic by force.20 The willingness to talk notwithstanding, had these discussions actually produced a bilateral treaty, which was highly unlikely because once again they did not include Yeltsin or Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, the situation would still not have been solved. Mamodaevs Government of National Trust was not the official Chechen government and therefore lacked the authority to sign agreements with Moscow. Despite Dudaevs declining support from the people and his unconstitutional moves to dissipate his opposition, he still controlled the real government in Chechnya and no agreement with Russia could be enforced without his participation. Given the tense conditions inside Chechnya since Dudaevs standoff with the Parliament in April and the fact that both Dudaev and Mamodaev had their own armies,21 a Mamodaev-backed agreement with Moscow could have led to civil war inside Chechnya.22 Discussions resumed in March 1994 this time between Yeltsins Chief of Administration Sergei Filatov and Dudaevs State Secretary Aslanbek Akbulatov. Unlike the earlier Mamodaev-led talks, this round involved an official Chechen delegation endorsed by Dudaev. Filatov told the Russian press that these discussions could be seen as a serious step in the process of preparations for negotiations between Russia and Chechnya on signing a bilateral treaty between the center and the subject of the federation.23 Coming shortly after the signing of the bilateral treaty with Tatarstan, Moscow hoped that these discussions would result in Chechnya following Tatarstans example. But, once again, the talks quickly stalled. Filatov


accused Chechnya of preventing further negotiations because The Chechen side has violated a preliminary accord that a condition for the negotiations would be the recognition of Chechnya as a constituent part of the Russian Federation.24 Moscow insisted that any agreement between it and Chechnya must be founded upon a power-sharing treaty similar to the Tatarstan Treaty, but Filatov said, The Chechen side proposed its own draft treaty instead.25 Filatov added that Chechnyas proposal for a meeting between Yeltsin and Dudaev could not yet be discussed, explaining that the basic questions should be settled first.26 The breakdown of the Filatov-Akbulatov talks marked the end of the period of negotiations between Moscow and the Dudaev regime. Throughout the remainder of 1994, up to the start of hostilities in December, Dudaev made several attempts to re-start a dialogue with Moscow, only to be rebuffed by the Russian government. In September, Grozny dispatched a request to the Russian Foreign Ministry to resume constructive negotiations and invited Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev to attend events celebrating the third anniversary of Chechen independence.27 The Foreign Ministry responded to this invitation by stating that Such official notes from Grozny run counter to the constitutional fundamentals of the Russian state, and the Russian Foreign Ministry has, naturally, ignored it.28 Thus, Moscow continued its insistence that Chechnya remained a subject of the Russian Federation and as such, the Foreign Ministry could not engage in talks with Grozny. Shortly after this declaration, Moscow stated bluntly that it did not plan to negotiate a bilateral treaty with Chechnya.29 At this point, Moscow had given up on a political solution to the Chechen problem as Yeltsin increasingly gravitated toward supporting a military solution. How and why Moscow arrived at a military solution will be explained below.


Meanwhile, as Yeltsins government moved away from negotiations, the Federal Assembly began urging Yeltsin to continue to seek a political solution. In March, soon after the Filatov-Akbulatov talks came to an abrupt end, the Duma issued a resolution On a Political Settlement of Relations between the Federal State Bodies and the Authorities of the Chechen Republic. The resolution pressed the Russian Government to hold consultations with representatives of the state bodies and of all political movements of the Chechen Republic for the purpose of overcoming the current socio-political situation and to conclude a power-sharing treaty with Grozny.30 The Duma added that essential conditions for concluding such a treaty would be the holding of elections in Chechnya for deputies to the Federal Assembly and for state offices within Chechnya. Sergei Shakhrai, Russias Minister for Nationalities Affairs and Regional Policy, presented the draft of the resolution to the Duma and explained that The document is aimed, in the first place, at achieving a political settlement of the conflict between Russia and Chechnya and at consolidating the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.31 This resolution, therefore, simply reiterated Moscows policy of the previous three years: to seek a political solution that would preserve Russias territorial integrity. The resolution is significant, however, because it is the harbinger of the later split between Yeltsin and the Federal Assembly over the war and it helps demonstrate the beginning of a policy change by Moscow in its dealings with Chechnya.

Moscow Changes Course

The spring 1993 talks with Mamodaev and the Filatov-Akbulatov talks almost a year later are early indications that Moscow had begun to alter its approach regarding Chechnya. The


talks with Mamodaev were the first to take place without representatives of Dudaevs government. Although Mamodaev and not Moscow initiated these talks, they were still significant because they indicated that Moscow was open to dealing with political forces other than Dudaev and his administration. This is significant because by the summer of 1994, Moscow began exercising a policy of actively supporting the anti-Dudaev opposition. The Filatov-Akbulatov talks were of equal significance. First, these discussions, like their numerous predecessors, were doomed to failure because they once again did not involve the highest-ranking officials from both sides. Had they at least been between Chechen Vice President Zelimkhan Iandarbiev and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin they might have been able to start a serious dialogue that could have led to a Yeltsin-Dudaev meeting.32 More significant, however, is the fact that these talks ended so quickly. Previous discussions in 1992 and 1993 had at least been more substantive and lasted longer. The fact that these talks did not even come close to making any progress suggests that Moscow had already de-emphasized the use of negotiations with Dudaevs regime to reach a settlement. As later events would make abundantly clear, Moscow had indeed decided to change course. The roots of Moscows policy change vis a vis Chechnya lie primarily in the aftermath of Yeltsins showdown with the Russian Parliament in October 1993. The December 1993 elections that approved Yeltsins new constitution and sealed his victory over the Parliament persuaded Yeltsin to jettison his liberal image, supporters, and advisors in favor of a more nationalist and authoritarian strategy.33 This led to the emergence in the summer of 1994 of the party of war the replacement of liberal ministers with more right-wing figures in the power ministries. Bolstered by his victory in the December 1993 elections, Yeltsin believed he could rule with little challenge from the new Federal Assembly and thus became more authoritarian in


his approach. In addition, the resolution of the standoff with Tatarstan allowed Moscow to focus more attention on Chechnya in 1994. Meanwhile, after Dudaevs clash with the Chechen Parliament in 1993, the political climate in the republic grew more unstable as opposition to Dudaev increased and became more hostile. All of this contributed to Moscows policy change regarding Chechnya. In his memoirs, Yeltsin wrote In the summer of 1994, we became intensively engaged in the Chechen problemDudaevs authority in Chechnya was extremely unstableIt was time for Russia to intervene with the help of anti-Dudaev forces inside the republic.34 Consequently, Yeltsin agreed to a plan that would gradually but steadily introduce anti-Dudaev sentiments and forces into Chechnya; then we would encourage the people themselves to kick Dudaev out; if armed conflict broke out, we would not tolerate bloodshed.35 The first manifestation of this plan involved the financial and military support for the Chechen Provisional Council. Formed in late 1993, the Chechen Provisional Council consisted of anti-Dudaev elements centered in the Nadterechny Region of northwestern Chechnya near the border with Ingushetia. The Provisional Council soon chose Umar Avturkhanov as its Chairman. Avturkhanov had opposed Dudaev since late 1991 and in 1992 was elected as leader of the Nadterechny Region.36 Prior to becoming Chairman of the Provisional Council, Avturkhanov had belonged to other antiDudaev opposition groups such as Marsho and Round Table.37 Now Avturkhanov led the largest of the anti-Dudaev opposition groups in Chechnya and his organization soon became the only authority in Chechnya officially recognized by Moscow. In May 1994, the Provisional Council claimed that they had found support among some of the major parties in the Duma, particularly the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party and the Yabloko bloc.38 Their main goal, however, was to gain support from Nationalities Minister


Shakhrai.39 Shakhrais role in and his perspectives on the Chechen situation are quite interesting. Born in Rostov-na-donu, Shakhrai had great knowledge of the Cossack tradition in the region as well as an understanding of what it is like to live in a Slavic region bordering the multi-ethnic region of the North Caucasus.40 He had been in Yeltsins inner circle since the early days, having helped draft the RSFSRs Declaration on State Sovereignty in 1990.41 While not a true liberal, Shakhrai could not be described as a strongly devoted nationalist either. He advocated an idea of Russian national rebirth that envisioned the rebirth of the Russian nation based on authoritarianism and Orthodox tradition.42 With this ideological background, Shakhrai authored the main Yeltsin policies of reviving the Cossacks both militarily and culturally.43 Thus, Shakhrai certainly did not support Chechen independence and consistently maintained that Chechnya remained a part of the Russian Federation. He sought always to preserve Russias integrity. However, Shakhrai was an intelligent, educated man who was open to seeking all possible avenues to a peaceful settlement of the Chechen problem. For example, Shakhrai stated in March 1994 that It is legally and economically possible to conclude treaties similar to the one with Tataria [sic] with every member of the Russian FederationWith respect to the Chechen Republic, I think that we will use not the exact text of the treaty with Tataria [sic] but the methods employed.44 At the same time, Shakhrai supported more assertive efforts to solve the Chechen problem, such as the idea of isolating Dudaev by branding his regime as illegal and criminal45 and by providing aid to the anti-Dudaev opposition in the hope of using the Chechens themselves to oust Dudaev. While not really a liberal, Shakhrais ideas and his openness to explore all routes to a political settlement in Chechnya were liberal enough to warrant his replacement in May 1994 by the more conservative Nikolai Egorov who believed that only military action could resolve the Chechen problem.


Although Avturkhanov and his Provisional Council opposed Dudaev and sought closer contacts with Moscow, this does not mean that the Provisional Council necessarily wanted Chechnya to remain in Russia. Its precise goals, other than the ouster of Dudaev, are ambiguous, but it appears that the Provisional Council favored relations based on the Tatarstan model similar to the aim of Mamodaev and the Government of National Trust. Avturkhanov stated that the issues of Chechen sovereignty and political status within (or outside) the Russian Federation should be decided by a national referendum.46 Because the political situation inside Chechnya in spring 1994 remained volatile47, Avturkhanov added that such a referendum could not be held until the political climate settled.48 Therefore, the Provisional Council wanted to conduct talks in Moscow to seek help in stabilizing Chechnya. In addition, the Provisional Council hoped to gain the support of the former speaker of Russias Supreme Soviet, Ruslan Khasbulatov, in order to profit from his rising popularity inside Chechnya.49 In July 1994, the Provisional Council formally requested Moscow to recognize it as the sole body of authority in Chechnya until elections to republican and federal offices could be held.50 It also asked Yeltsin to take an active role in restoring constitutional order and calm in Chechnya.51 At this point, Iarogi Mamodaev, still acting as leader of the Government of National Trust, denounced Avturkhanov and the Provisional Council. He called the Provisional Council an imposter structure and asserted that its emergence as a major force in Chechnya constituted a crude provocation that threatened to embroil Chechnya in civil war.52 On July 24, Avturkhanov met with Yeltsins Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov in Moscow and discussed Russo-Chechen relations.53 Although at this point, Moscow had not officially given its support to the Provisional Council, the fact that Filatov met with Avturkhanov suggested that the Russian government was at least strongly considering it. The Provisional Council itself went so far as to


claim it did have Moscows support and recognition.54 Officially, Moscow responded to the Provisional Councils appeal for help and recognition by claiming that Yeltsin closely studies the reports on the situation and hopes that [the] unification of sound forces may lead the republic out of the serious crisis.55 The Provisional Council received the support it wanted from Moscow in early August after a band of Chechens took several hostages in southern Russia in late July. Throughout the summer, Chechen fighters had been taking hostages in southern Russia and the North Caucasus. The July incident acted as the final straw. Moscow now decided to increase the pressure on Dudaevs regime. The increase in pressure involved two actions occurring simultaneously. First, the Russian government launched a barrage of verbal attacks against Dudaev calling his rule illegitimate and threatening to send troops to the region to ensure security.56 In addition, Filatov alleged that Dudaevs authorities beheaded members of opposition groups and placed the severed heads on public display.57 Second, in the wake of the hostage takings in southern Russia, Moscow gave its support to the Provisional Council and recognized it as Chechnyas only legitimate authority. The Russian government used the unstable political situation in Chechnya as evidence that Dudaevs regime was on the ropes and thus gave support to the Provisional Council in the hope of uniting the anti-Dudaev opposition around that body to topple Dudaev.58 Almost immediately, Avturkhanov declared Dudaev deposed and proclaimed his Provisional Council held all state power in the republic until elections in 1995.59 The Provisional Council also promised to bring Chechnya back into the Russian constitutional fold by opening negotiations with Moscow on the republics status within the Russian Federation.60 This statement suggests that the Provisional Council did indeed intend to keep Chechnya in the Russian Federation probably based on the Tatarstan model. Presumably, Moscow required the


Provisional Council to distance itself from the idea of complete independence as a prerequisite for receiving recognition and support, but I have been unable to find evidence confirming this. Given Moscows new, more assertive stance on the Chechen problem and its previously stated intentions of preserving Russias territorial integrity, this is likely to be true. Dudaev, of course, was never really deposed by Avturkhanov. He continued to control most of Chechnya until the war began in December and after Russia invaded, most opposition groups rallied around Dudaev to fight the invading forces. But Avturkhanovs claim of power marked the beginning of real support from Moscow. The first instance of a Moscow-backed effort to remove Dudaev had actually occurred on May 27 when a car bomb intended for Dudaev exploded in Grozny.61 After August, however, the Provisional Council received Moscows full support that included both money and military equipment. This support culminated in the fall of 1994 with the failed attempts of Moscow-armed opposition groups to take Grozny. In this respect, the war in Chechnya had already begun.

The rise of the party of war to political prominence in the Kremlin occurred simultaneously with the decision to begin backing anti-Dudaev opposition groups such as the Chechen Provisional Council. The party of war consisted of eight men: General Aleksandr Korzhakov, the head of the Presidential Security Service and Yeltsins main bodyguard, First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, Secretary of the Security Council Oleg Lobov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Nationalities and Regional Affairs Nikolai Egorov, Head of the Chief Guards Administration General Mikhail Barsukov, Minister of Defense Pavel Grachev, Security Minister Sergei Stepashin, and Internal Affairs Minister Viktor Erin.62 Once in power, this group had two main goals: to implement emergency rule in Chechnya and other trouble


areas, and to replace Prime Minister Chernomyrdin with Oleg Soskovets.63 The Chechen problem did not serve as the sole motivation for the party of war to exercise power. They also wanted to forestall the continued emergence of the private sector in the economy and to reintroduce Soviet style state control into the economy. In essence, the party of war was frustrated by Russias loss of standing in world politics that had occurred since the collapse of the Soviet Union and therefore wished to regain Russias prestige and power on the world stage. As a result, they believed, Korzhakov in particular, that the economic policies followed after the abandonment of Communism had contributed greatly to Russias weakening.64 In the party of wars view, Chernomyrdin and Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais had been the main supporters of continued economic reform and thus should be replaced. The party of war also believed that firm action should be taken to deal with the Chechen problem. Just as the economic reforms had served to weaken Russia, the party of war also felt that the ongoing Chechen problem and the general continuation of center-periphery conflicts in Russia had also resulted in the nations loss of status. A primary indication that the Kremlin by the late summer and early fall of 1994 had succumbed to the influence of the party of war regarding the Chechen problem was the replacement of Shakhrai as Nationalities Minister by Nikolai Egorov. Until his appointment as Nationalities Minister, Egorov had been working in the Nationalities Ministry under Shakhrais supervision.65 Egorovs appointment to this post is a strong indication that with this action, Yeltsin and his colleagues were at least very close to deciding that war was the only option left to solve the Chechen problem. On the surface, Shakhrais replacement by Egorov appears to be relatively insignificant. Both men were from southern Russian regions near the North Caucasus and did not have much sympathy for the non-Russian ethnic groups in the North Caucasus. Also, both men displayed


varying degrees of Russian nationalist tendencies. However, enough differences exist in their backgrounds to produce different approaches to the Chechen problem. Egorov came from a Cossack village in Krasnodar krai and his lineage contained a significant Cossack element.66 Having graduated from the Stavropol Agricultural Institute, Egorov had never formally studied ethnic relations. Shakhrai, on the other hand, had an educational background that was more suitable to dealing with ethnic issues. As a result, Egorov was less flexible than Shakhrai in his ideas on how to handle the Chechen situation. Both men, as we have seen, maintained tough stances on the Chechen issue, but Shakhrai at least was open to multiple paths toward a settlement. Upon Egorovs appointment to Nationalities Minister, Duma Deputy Viktor Sheinis said, I think that the replacement of Shakhrai by Egorov was not a change from a dove to a hawk but, in the one case [Shakhrai], we have to do with an educated man with an inventive mind, and, in the other [Egorov], with a butcher an ignorant, uneducated man who prefers exclusively coercive decisions for those complicated problems which exist in Chechnya.67 This statement sums up best the significance of Egorovs appointment as Nationalities Minister. While both Shakhrai and Egorov favored tough stances regarding Chechnya, Egorov, unlike Shakhrai, was inflexible in his approach. With his appointment, and the overall emergence of the party of war, the Kremlin essentially signaled its intention to solve the Chechen problem with military force. The emergence of the party of war and the beginning of military and monetary support for Avturkhanovs Provisional Council are interconnected and occurred simultaneously. The emergence of the party of war was also a manifestation of Yeltsins increasingly authoritarian style of rule that began after his victory in the December 1993 election. Thus, the party of war was instrumental in the ultimate decision in November 1994 to go to war.


The Outbreak of War in Chechnya

In keeping with the plan outlined above in which Yeltsin agreed to use the Chechen opposition groups to oust Dudaev, Moscow, beginning with the decision to support the Chechen Provisional Council in the summer of 1994, waged a proxy war against Dudaev that lasted until Russian troops invaded on December 11. That summer, FSK Director Sergei Stepashin oversaw a coordinating group led by Egorov that began the covert supplying of armed opposition groups.68 This meant that Moscow supplied the Provisional Council with such equipment as armored vehicles, aircraft, and tanks.69 In addition, Moscow began recruiting Russian military officers to act as mercenaries alongside the Chechen fighters against Dudaev. These mercenaries were promised an easy victory and substantial remuneration.70 Moscow hoped that with Russian materiel and experts, the Chechens themselves could be used to topple Dudaev and thus solve the Chechen problem. The first such battle against Dudaev forces occurred in October when former Grozny mayor Beslan Gantemirov led a raid on the town of Urus Martan south of Grozny. On September 14, Gantemirov had been named the Joint Military Commander for Opposition Forces, i.e. the Provisional Councils military commander.71 Prior to this raid, numerous skirmishes were fought throughout Chechnya between opposition forces and Dudaevs military. In one such skirmish, the opposition managed to shoot down a Dudaev warplane.72 But the Urus Martan raid was the first major clash between the opposition and Dudaevs forces. In this raid, Dudaevs 2,000-strong force quickly subdued Gantemirovs force of 600 fighters and provided a substantial morality boost to Dudaev and his supporters.73


After the failed Urus Martan raid, the Provisional Council tried once again to remove Dudaev by launching a massive attack on Grozny on November 25. Again under the leadership of Gantemirov, the opposition forces mounted an air and ground assault on Grozny, concentrating on major government installations, particularly Groznys airport. Up to 40 attack helicopters, with Russian markings (so much for Moscows covert support), began the battle by attacking the Grozny airport and other government positions.74 On the next day, the fighting moved into downtown Grozny as tanks, grenades, and small arms were used by both sides to seize control of the city. Dudaevs forces at this point managed to keep control of the presidential palace and other important government positions, but the opposition forces had taken control of all access routes into Grozny.75 As fighting continued in downtown Grozny, Avturkhanov prematurely announced on Chechen television that the Provisional Council had taken control of Grozny.76 However, Dudaevs forces were able to regroup and repulse the opposition attack. Despite some early success, Dudaev easily defeated Gantemirovs forces and the Provisional Council was defeated a second time in one month. As the battle raged in Grozny, Russian officials consistently maintained that its forces were not involved in the fighting. General Vladimir Potalov, commander of the Russian Armys North Caucasus division denied Russian involvement in the Grozny battle, stating that What is happening there is an internal Chechen affair.77 Even Defense Minister Pavel Grachev denied any knowledge of or involvement in the operation.78 Chechen leaders, however, claimed the contrary. They reported seeing Russian markings on opposition aircraft as well as Russian soldiers fighting alongside the opposition rebels.79 After the battle had ended, Moscow was humiliated when, in the face of denials of Russian involvement, the Chechen government showed captured Russian soldiers on television.80 The Grozny battle provoked a sharp response


from Dudaev, who had already called for the mobilization of all Chechen citizens over the age of 17 and declared martial law.81 In an interview with Russian television conducted after the battle, Dudaev fervently declared that it was not the Chechen opposition, but Moscow that had initiated the attack. He claimed that All crews are Russian to a man, the military equipment is Russian. What opposition in the world has ever had assault aircraft?82 Dudaev then proclaimed that Russias supreme political leadership is intentionally whipping up the situation in order to unleash a colossal Caucasus-Russian war.83 This time, Dudaevs rants about Russia were correct. Moscow had essentially orchestrated the Grozny attack by supplying the Provisional Council with arms and men. While Moscow may not have desired a colossal Caucasus-Russian war it certainly wanted a war between Dudaev and the opposition forces which, Moscow calculated, would result in defeat for Dudaev and solve the Chechen problem. The failure of the Urus Martan and Grozny attacks shattered hopes in Moscow that its policy of divide and conquer would get rid of Dudaev. It was now obvious that this policy could not work. A major reason this policy failed was the fact that Moscow was never really able to unite the anti-Dudaev opposition. The success of this policy hinged on the ability to unite the opposition around the Provisional Council. Two of the main figures in the anti-Dudaev opposition, Avturkhanov and Khasbulatov, each had their own problems preventing the formation of a truly united front. Avturkhanov enjoyed support from his native Nadterechny region, but was little known by Chechens in other parts of the republic. Khasbulatov, on the other hand, had much greater support and popularity from the Chechens than Avturkhanov. Chechens admired Khasbulatov for his standoff against Yeltsin in 1993 and gave him a heros welcome when he returned to Chechnya after his release from prison. But Moscow refused to support Khasbulatov because Yeltsin feared he would use his popularity and political skill to


install himself as Chechen president if Dudaev could be removed. Yeltsin could not bear even the possibility of his rival returning to political prominence. Without Khasbulatov and his popularity, however, it was extremely difficult for Moscow to build the required unity within the anti-Dudaev opposition. In addition, despite providing Avturkhanovs Provisional Council with men and materiel, Avturkhanov still complained that he did not receive enough aid from the Kremlin to remove Dudaev successfully.84 As a result of these shortcomings, Moscows plan of using the opposition to remove Dudaev ultimately backfired. As it became evident that the Provisional Council was receiving Russian support, many Chechens who had been in opposition to Dudaev began to rally behind him. After the Grozny attack, Dudaevs popularity gradually increased until the Russian invasion on December 11 finally took the steam out of the Chechen opposition as people supported Dudaevs efforts to evict the invaders. With the failure of the opposition attacks to topple Dudaev, Yeltsin and his colleagues decided that direct military intervention was the only way to solve the problem. On November 29, the Russian Security Council met to discuss the Chechen situation. At this meeting, the Security Council voted to go to war in Chechnya. Ostensibly, the purpose of this Security Council meeting was to discuss the options available to Moscow to resolve the Chechen crisis and to debate possible approaches to the problem. But in reality, this meeting was used to merely rubber-stamp a decision that had been already made by Yeltsin to go to war. Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, who was a member of the Security Council, stated that few of those present [at the November 29 meeting] endorsed military intervention, but that it was impossible to voice their reservations as Yeltsin had already made his decision.85 According to Justice Minister Yuri Kalmykov, those present at the November 29 meeting were told to vote on the force option first and to discuss the issue afterward.86 These statements by Kozyrev and


Kalmykov make it clear that Soviet-style methods were used to force the decision to go to war through the Security Council and thereby obtain the necessary formal decision to use force. Tracey German adds that the Security Councils action resembled the decision making process in the Soviet era when crucial decisions were taken in secret by a narrow circle of ministers and high-ranking officials.87 Moreover, the military leadership misled the members of the Security Council. Foreign Minister Kozyrev explained that members of the Security Council were told that the use of force would be an almost bloodless blitzkrieg that would be over in a week.88 In addition, Defense Minister Grachev neglected to convey to the Security Council that the military general staff had reservations about going to war.89 Thus, the crucial decision to go to war was made in secret by Yeltsin and his immediate circle of advisors (which was dominated by the party of war) and then forced through the Security Council in an underhanded, misleading manner. This is also further evidence of Yeltsins increasingly authoritarian leadership tactics. Yeltsin has refuted the accounts stating that the November 29 Security Council meeting was secretive and stifled debate. He has written, It is true that at the session of the Security Council when the decision was made to begin the campaign, minutes were not taken.90 He claims, however, that dozens of reports were on the table before him and that he laid out the arguments and asked: What are the arguments for and against? What can we expect?91 After some debate, Yeltsin maintains that the general position was unanimous: We cannot stand idly by while a piece of Russia breaks off, because that would be the beginning of the collapse of the country.92 Yeltsin also justifies the decision to go to war by arguing that it would help break up the criminal world in Russia. According to Yeltsin, We had to remove the bandits sense of impunity and deliver not just a surgical strike but a really powerful blow against the criminal world, which had occupied an entire republic.93 To Yeltsin, then, the war in Chechnya was


necessary not only to preserve Russias territorial integrity, but also to crush the criminal world. But his argument that the Security Council did not act simply as a rubber stamp of approval for his decision to use force lacks credibility in the face of the testimonies by Kozyrev and Kalmykov. Meanwhile, in and around Grozny, armed conflicts continued. Despite their failure to capture Grozny, the Provisional Councils forces were still launching attacks to try to dislodge Dudaev from Grozny. Against this backdrop, just hours after the November 29 Security Council meeting Yeltsin issued an ultimatum requiring all warring sides in Chechnya to surrender all arms within 48 hours. If the fighters failed to comply, Yeltsin threatened to use all forces and resources at the disposal of the state to enforce the ultimatum and restore order.94 Beslan Gantemirov, the leader of the Provisional Councils armed forces, said that Yeltsins ultimatum had been unexpected but was ready to comply with the ultimatums demands.95 Dudaevs forces, however, had no intention of surrendering. Chechen Foreign Minister Yusef Shamsedin stated that Dudaevs government would completely reject the ultimatum and vowed that We will fight to the last drop of blood, Chechnya will never return to Russia.96 Shamsedin then added, I think Yeltsin was drunk when the ultimatum was issued.97 On December 1, Yeltsins ultimatum expired without compliance from either of the warring sides in Chechnya. Although Russian troops had been assembled near Mozdok, North Osetiia near the Chechen border, Yeltsin chose at this point not to invade. Instead, Yeltsin spokesman Viacheslav Kostikov explained, Under the leadership and control of the Russian president, a complex of measures is being implemented to resolutely improve the situation in the Chechen republic and restore the constitutional order, lawfulness, and human rights there.98 Kostikov would not elaborate on what these measures involved.99 Apparently these measures


were a last minute effort to resolve the crisis peacefully. On December 1, the day the ultimatum expired, Yeltsin issued a decree On certain measures strengthening legal order in the North Caucasus. In this decree, Yeltsin, in the interests of stabilizing the arrangements in the North Caucasus region, guaranteed legal amnesty for all persons not participating in serious violations against the peaceful population who would voluntarily surrender all arms by December 15.100 By issuing this decree, Yeltsin temporarily backed down from the use of force and apparently made a final effort to end the crisis peacefully. The reasons for Yeltsins actions are unclear, but presumably he did this in a genuine effort to give the Chechen rebels one last chance to comply with the November 29 ultimatum. Also, the December 1 edict may have been a used by Yeltsin to buy some additional time to ensure military readiness for the impending invasion. Yeltsin changed course again a few days later when, on December 9, he directed the Russian government to disarm the Chechen Republic. In this edict, Yeltsin ordered the government to use all state resources for the guarantee of state security, legality, the rights and freedom of the citizens, the defense of social order, struggles with crime, and the disarming of every illegal armed formation.101 This edict was, in effect, the declaration of war that began the hostilities. In accordance with Yeltsins edict, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin issued a directive On the guarantee of state security and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, the legality, rights and freedom of the citizens, and the disarming of the illegal armed formations in the territory of the Chechen Republic and adjoining regions of the North Caucasus.102 This directive, like Yeltsins edict, characterized the purpose of government action as one to guarantee state security, preserve Russias territorial integrity, and to disarm the illegal armed formations. These were the primary justifications for going to war in Chechnya. The


documents issued by Moscow in this period consistently repeated these themes, particularly the references to illegal armed formations. To carry out Yeltsins edict, Chernomyrdins directive ordered the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and the Ministry of Defense to disarm the armed formations and the Ministry of Defense was ordered to destroy aviation, tank, and artillery equipment.103 The MVD and the Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) were directed to oversee security in the republic through the inspection of documents, examination of citizens, and the expulsion of those persons presenting threats to social security and personal security of the citizens and not residing in the territory of the given republic.104 In addition, the directive gave the Federal Border Service the responsibility of sealing Chechnyas borders and ordered the Ministry of Defense to close Chechnyas airspace.105 Finally, the MVD was directed to abolish attempts at propaganda and national agitation and religious hatred in the zone of armed conflict.106 This latter task was to be accomplished by implementing an accreditation process for all journalists covering the war and to revoke the accreditation of any journalist suspected of spreading such propaganda. The government gave Nikolai Egorov the responsibility of overseeing the execution of these actions. Two days later, on December 11, the execution of Yeltsins edict and Chernomyrdins directive began. On that day, Russian troops crossed into Chechnya from Mozdok and thus began a war which, after ten years, has still not ended. Conveniently, the Kremlin itself was partly responsible for creating the conditions that the introduction of military force was intended to rectify. As the above documents state, one of the primary objectives for going to war was to disarm the illegal armed formations and to restore security and order in the Chechen Republic. Moscows policy of supporting and arming the anti-Dudaev opposition served only to aggravate the already unstable situation in Chechnya. By arming and then encouraging the Provisional Council to depose Dudaev, Moscow helped


push the republic on the brink of civil war. Indeed, the illegal armed formations referred to in the documents likely included the Provisional Councils army as well as Dudaevs forces. Moreover, Moscows actions threatened state security by encouraging these military clashes which then threatened the rights and freedom of the citizens. In this way, even though Moscows policy of supporting the opposition failed, it at least helped create an environment in which Moscow had to act to prevent further destabilization and thereby provided Russia with an excuse to use military force.

The Federal Assembly Urges Peace

As the Kremlin made plans to go to war, officials in the Federation Council and the State Duma made efforts to prevent armed conflict. As stated previously, throughout the years leading up to the war, the Federal Assembly had attempted to seek a peaceful resolution to the crisis and had urged restraint. These efforts continued in 1994 and early 1995 as events in Chechnya intensified. In October, as the Kremlin was pursuing its policy of supporting the Provisional Council, the Federation Council issued an appeal to the Chechen people. Beginning with the salutation Dear fellow countrymen, brothers and sisters! this letter appealed to the Chechen people to stop the violence that had been plaguing their land and come to the negotiating table. The Federation Council wrote, Great misery has arrived in your home, ruining the peaceful people. But no sly enemy from outside is ruining your homeland; not from threats of enslavement do you protect your land. The peace and happiness of the numerous peoples of Chechnya is brought to sacrifice by the ambitions and greedy interests of its politicians.107 By making this statement, the Federation Council tried to impart on the Chechen population that the


violence there was homegrown and not provoked by Russia. Either the Federation Council did not know about the Kremlins plan to support the Provisional Council or it was simply not acknowledging this fact. The Federation Council then addressed the mothers and wives in Chechnya, asking them to Stop your sons and husbands from participating in civil war, which may stir up additional wars in the Caucasus.108 After this appeal, the Federation Council asked other groups such as the clergy, the elderly, the Chechen youth, and the Chechen political leaders to find a peaceful solution to the crisis. In particular, the Federation Council asked the clergy to Help stop this foolishness, summon the believers to peace, cool the heated heads, and calm the angry people.109 The appeal invited Chechnyas politicians to come to the negotiating table as not strong weapons, but democratic dialogue is found in the path of peaceful solutions.110 Although this appeal sounded rather nave and obviously failed to produce peace, it is still remarkable in that it demonstrates that the Federation Council appeared to disagree with the Kremlins increasingly militant stance on Chechnya. The Federation Council acted again in December in an effort to defuse the situation in Chechnya. On December 8, three days before the outbreak of war, the Federation Council issued a directive On the Situation in the Chechen Republic. This directive sought to prevent the application of forceful methods to decide the problem by proposing that the president accept constitutional measures on the normalization of arrangements in the Chechen Republic.111 In pursuit of this objective, the Federation Council recommended that the president should follow the Russian Constitution and relevant federal laws before the acceptance of measures on the guarantee of the state integrity of the Russian Federation, approach the leaders of the various factions in Chechnya with the offer to stop without delay the armed resistance and to begin


negotiations on the restoration of constitutional order in the republic, create an expert group composed of jurists and persons familiar with the Caucasus region in order to provide guidance in the negotiation process, and to form a commission comprised of members of the Federal Assembly to conduct negotiations with the Chechens.112 The directive mandated that negotiations should be based on two basic principles: the establishment of democracy in Chechnya and the preservation of the integrity of the multinational federated Russian state.113 Finally, the Federation Council commissioned the Federal Procurator to investigate the actions of officials participating in the tragic events of November-December 1994 in the Chechen Republic and to deliver a report on this investigation to the Federation Council in two weeks.114 None of these proposals were acted on by Yeltsin, which suggests that although the Federation Council could voice its concern on the deteriorating situation in Chechnya; it was virtually powerless to do anything meaningful about it. Despite its impotence on the issue, the Federation Council tried again on December 17, a week after the start of the war, to end the hostilities by issuing another directive. This directive reiterated the December 8 directive by directing the president and the government to act within the Russian Constitution and federal law.115 In addition, this new directive asked the president to accept measures on the quick discontinuation of military activities by all sides and to propose that negotiations progress to the higher level of government delegates from the principles of the preservation of the integrity of the Russian Federation and reserving the possibility of freedom to the Chechen people.116 Lastly, the directive suggested that the president place the issue of regulating the situation in Chechnya before the Federation Council and directed various committees within the Federation Council to prepare a proposal on the rights of the regulating executive of the Russian Armed Forces in the territory of the Russian Federation.117 As with


the previous directive of December 8, Yeltsin did not follow the suggestions offered in this directive. Although the Federation Council opposed the use of force to settle the dispute with Chechnya, this does not mean that it supported Chechen independence. In a press conference with the Russian media on December 5, the Chairman of the Federation Council Vladimir Shumeiko declared all of the Dudaev regimes legislation invalid as the Chechen Republic had illegally declared itself independent. He stated unequivocally that the Constitution and federal laws should prevail on the territory of the Russian Federation.118 Moreover, Shumeiko supported the Kremlins position of territorial preservation by declaring that The Russian Federation should ensure the integrity and inviolability of its territory.119 Even though he supported the Kremlins basic positions of territorial integrity and of disarming all factions inside Chechnya, Shumeiko believed that war would not solve the problem. He urged both the Russians and the Chechens to negotiate. Shumeiko admitted, however, that in the climate of military clashes and political turmoil in the republic, talks were almost impossible. He blamed both the Kremlin and Dudaev for creating an environment hostile to the holding of meaningful discussions. Shumeiko told the Russian media that the battles between Dudaev and the Provisional Council created almost insurmountable obstacles for such talks.120 Shumeiko made it clear that Moscow was also to blame as its support for the Provisional Council was a grave mistake and resulted from political short-sightedness.121 Nevertheless, Shumeiko still held out hope that talks could proceed and could potentially prevent the war from escalating. On December 3, the Federation Council established a plenipotentiary working commission chaired by Viacheslav Mikhailov, the deputy minister for nationalities affairs and regional policy, to hold talks with all sides in the Chechen dispute. In an


appeal to the participants in the fighting in Chechnya, the commission stated that wholly innocent, peaceful citizens of the Russian Federation are dying as the south of Russia stands on the tragic brink of civil war.122 In a press conference on December 4, Mikhailov even went so far as to say that federal authorities in Russia were ready to agree to a power-sharing deal with Chechnya similar to those agreements signed with other regions in Russia provided that the fighting cease and all sides disarm immediately. Otherwise, Mikhailov warned, forceful measures would be used and Moscow would declare a state of emergency in Chechnya.123 Three-way talks were scheduled for December 13 at Vladikavkaz between the Mikhailov Commission and representatives from Dudaevs government and the Provisional Council. Meanwhile, as discussed above, Yeltsin issued his decree ordering the government to use all measures at its disposal to disarm all forces in Chechnya. Yeltsin obviously must not have had much confidence in the scheduled Vladikavkaz talks to prevent an escalation of the crisis. Nor did the Provisional Council as it placed its forces on a war footing.124 The three sides met as scheduled in Vladikavkaz, but quickly broke down on the second day. The Dudaev representatives asked for an intermission in the talks in order to consult their superiors in Grozny. Before this intermission, however, the three sides agreed on a protocol that stated, among other things, the need to end the fighting immediately, to begin disarming both the population and the illegal armed formations through the joint efforts of Russian and Chechen law enforcement agencies, and to begin the removal of economic barriers between Russia and Chechnya.125 This protocol, however, was not signed and thus did not have any binding authority. The working interval that had been requested by Dudaevs representatives became permanent when Dudaev refused to participate further in the talks. Dudaev declared on Chechen television that he had no other choice but to defend [Chechnya] from the Russian forces


although officially the Dudaev delegation ended the talks over the issue of which should come first, the disarming of the illegal armed formations or the removal of Russian military forces from Chechnya.126 As neither the Kremlin nor Dudaev appeared to be genuinely interested in making the Vladikavkaz talks work, the efforts of the Mikhailov Commission appeared to be doomed before the talks even began. On December 12, the day after Russian forces entered Chechnya, Yeltsin responded calls from the Federation Council and the State Duma to conduct talks in a message communicated to both parties. In this message, Yeltsin assured the members of the Federal Assembly that I share your alarm in connection with the development of events in the Chechen Republic and certain other areas of the Russian Federations North Caucasus. We are united by our recognition of the preeminence of the constitution and the use of political methods, and first of all negotiations, in resolving the Chechen problem.127 Later in the message, however, Yeltsin appeared to make a case for why negotiations could not succeed. He argued that too many questions regarding negotiation existed, such as is the Federal Assembly prepared to amend the constitution to accommodate possible changes in Chechnyas status? Yeltsin also asked with whom Moscow should negotiate in Chechnya and should the conducting of free elections in Chechnya be a precondition for holding discussions. Yeltsin concluded the message by declaring that The Chechen crisis, threatening the integrity of Russia and the calm and security of its citizens, calls for an urgent solutionSuccess can be achieved only through consolidation of all the countrys constructive political forces and uniting the forces of all bodies of federal power.128 By asking the Federal Assembly these questions and cautioning them that negotiations would necessitate certain actions from the Federal Assembly, Yeltsin appeared to be arguing against negotiations. His previous actions indicate this as well. Yeltsins apparent forcing of the resolution to use


force through the Security Council on November 29 demonstrates that he had already given up on a negotiated settlement. Moreover, in his message to the Federal Assembly, he asked the Federation Council and the Duma to pass certain measures that he deemed necessary to clear up the questions regarding the holding of negotiations. But he did not need measures passed by the Federal Assembly to approve of his use of force. In his December 9 decree, Yeltsin directed the government to use all means at its disposal to establish constitutional order in Chechnya and to disarm all illegal armed formations, which essentially declared war on Chechnya. By issuing this decree, Yeltsin effectively used a loophole in the Russian Constitution to bypass the Federal Assembly in using force. According to the Russian Constitution, the president can issue decrees that can be enforced without being approved by the Federation Council. The Federation Council, on the other hand, must approve States of emergency, in order to be implemented legally. Yeltsin did not impose a state of emergency in Chechnya and instead used his power of decree to use force in Chechnya.129 Therefore, Yeltsin sidestepped the Federation Council in his use of force as he was likely aware that it would be difficult to pass a state of emergency through that body due to its support of continued negotiations. Yeltsins use of the loophole in the constitution to use force in Chechnya indicates that he was aware of two important facts: first, that the Federation Council likely would not have approved of a state of emergency in Chechnya because of its efforts to avert war and second, that he could virtually do whatever he wanted regarding Chechnya as the Federation Assembly could do little to stop him. The latter fact exposes the absurdity of Yeltsins message to the Federation Council in which he essentially stated that he could not negotiate with the Chechens without certain actions by the Federal Assembly. If he could simply issue a decree to use force in Chechnya, he surely could conduct negotiations with the Chechens, and with Dudaev directly,


without approval from the Federal Assembly. Therefore, it is clear that by December Yeltsin believed that only military force could solve the Chechen problem and that he had given up on a negotiated settlement. Yeltsin himself has written that a person like Dudaev, who was blackmailing [Russia] with terrorist acts and explosions at military bases and nuclear plantsshould not and cannot be negotiated with.130 In his defense, however, Yeltsin has accepted responsibility for the conduct of the war in Chechnya, truly believed that military force was the only way the situation could be solved131 and went to war as a final resort to solving the problem. Even Shumeiko inexplicably wavered in his opinion on the war when he told the diplomatic corps that the use of force in the Chechen Republic for the sake of protecting its residents from gangsterism and restoring constitutional order is a justified measure.132 The fact that Yeltsin did not go to war earlier, in 1992 or 1993 for example, also suggests that Yeltsin used military force as a final resort. For its part, the State Duma expressed support for continued negotiations as well. In September, as tensions escalated between Dudaevs forces and the Provisional Council, Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin urged restraint and calm in relation to the Chechen Republic.133 Like Vladimir Shumeiko in the Federation Council, Rybkin asserted that Chechnya was and should remain part of the Russian Federation, but that force should not be used to resolve the situation. He believed that the solution to the problem would be to conduct democratic elections in Chechnya and then after these elections, Moscow and Grozny could draft a power-sharing treaty similar to those signed with Tatarstan and Bashkortostan.134 Rybkin, therefore, sided with Shumeiko in that a peaceful solution to the problem could and should be reached. As the crisis in Chechnya intensified in November and early December and the region tottered on the brink of civil war, Rybkin and the Duma sought ways to defuse the situation.


Rybkin told the press in November that an agreement between the clans (between Dudaev and the Provisional Council) was essential in preventing full-scale war while the Chairman of the Duma Committee on Security Viktor Iliukhin argued that only an immediate mediation mission of the Russian Parliament and government can stop the bloodshed in Chechnya and added that Moscow should mediate talks between the warring factions.135 Iliukhin believed that Moscow could act as a neutral partner in these talks. Apparently, Iliukhin was unaware about Moscows support for the Provisional Council, which, of course, destroyed Moscows neutrality. Such a mediation mission never went to Grozny to foster talks among the Chechens, presumably because by this time, the Kremlin had already decided to go to war. Aside from further calls from Rybkin to seek a peaceful resolution, the Duma made a final attempt to prevent war on December 7 when it overwhelmingly approved a motion to invite Dudaev to appear before it.136 Dudaev did not take up the offer, and thus the attempt failed. When Russian troops entered Chechnya on December 11, the Duma immediately criticized the action. All major parties in the Duma, including the pro-Kremlin Russias Choice Party, publicly objected to the use of force. Many parties still believed that negotiations could end the crisis. Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin espoused this hope when he told reporters despite the dispatch of troops to Chechnya, there are still opportunities for negotiations.137 Grigori Iavlinskii, leader of the Yabloko party, opined what is happening in Chechnya today will not yield positive results and warned that the action would lead to a long Caucasian war.138 Egor Gaidar, leader of the Russias Choice Party and former member of Yeltsins administration until his dismissal over economic issues when the party of war came to power, added that all troop movements in Chechnya should stop immediately and not attempt to seize Grozny.139


Other Duma deputies called for an investigation to discover which Russian government officials were responsible for approving of the use of force. For its part, the Communist Party used the start of the war to play politics. As the primary opposition party in Russia and the Duma, the Communists were expected to oppose the action, which they did, albeit in an ambivalent way. Unlike the other major parties, the Communist Party kept a relatively low profile.140 They denounced the use of force by declaring that the regime has once again demonstrated a policy spearheaded against the people and encouraged their supporters to hold campaigns of civil disobedience to protest the war.141 Despite this rhetoric, the Communists in the Duma remained silent on the issue and actually tried to block efforts by Yabloko and Russias Choice to take action.142 Based on conversations with Communist Duma deputies, the newspaper Obshchaia Gazeta that the Communists acted this way because they believed that Yeltsins decision to use force in Chechnya would fail. As a result, the Communists believed, Yeltsins popularity would plummet, thus making it likely that a Communist Party candidate would defeat Yeltsin in the 1996 presidential election.143 The Communists, then, in a way welcomed the coming of the Chechen war as they felt it enhanced their chances of winning the presidency in 1996. As the major parties in the Duma voiced strong opposition to the war, no major actions were taken by the body to try to end it. The Duma voted against two protest measures that would have suspended the Duma session to allow all deputies to travel to Chechnya and would have called all women in the Duma to begin an action of protest against the war in Chechnya.144 Two important factors help explain why the Duma did not take forceful action at the beginning of the conflict to bring the war to an end. First, Rybkin, like his counterpart in the Federation Council Shumeiko, appeared to waiver somewhat regarding the war. While not going so far as


to call the use of force justified as Shumeiko had, Rybkin preferred not to spark a confrontation between the Duma and the Kremlin. He counseled the Duma to calm down and begin normal work and to not to try and supplant the president and the government.145 Rybkin probably urged this course of action in order to prevent another disastrous showdown between the Yeltsin and the legislative branch as had occurred in 1993.146 He did not want to provide Yeltsin with an excuse to exercise another crackdown on his opponents and thereby dismiss the Duma. Second, Rybkin knew the Duma was powerless anyway to end the conflict. When asked by Russian media why he refused to call a plenary session of the Duma to stop the war as requested by some Duma deputies, Rybkin explained that Under the Constitution, the State Duma has no opportunity to prevent further escalation of hostilities in Chechnya. Matters of war and peace lie within the jurisdiction of the Federation Council.147 All Rybkin could do, then, was to continue calling for peace. He urged the Chechens to lay down arms and begin negotiations and asserted that Chechnya had been attracting criminals from all CIS countries.148 Rybkin then asked Russias politicians whether 3,000 criminals should be allowed to leave Chechnya or should Chechnya be disarmed at the cost of thousands of innocent Chechen lives.149 Rybkins inability to act in a meaningful way to end the hostilities exposes the major flaws in Russias system of democracy. First, his apparent fear that Yeltsin would exact retribution on the Federal Assembly if the Duma acted too decisively against the Kremlin demonstrates the amount of power Yeltsin could wield. It also makes a mockery of the concept of separation of powers in Russias democratic system. Legislative officials must be able to act decisively without fear of being dismissed by the executive branch in order for a democratic system to function effectively. Second, Rybkins comment that only the Federation Council


could stop the war further exemplifies the weakness of the separation of powers principle in the Russian political system at that time. The Russian Constitution adopted in 1993 after Yeltsins victory in the showdown against the parliament stipulated that the Federation Council would be composed of presidents of the republics and the chiefs of administration in the regions (oblasty).150 Because these officials were typically appointed by the president, the upper house of the Federal Assembly essentially became just another arm of the executive branch, which is obviously detrimental to the concept of separation of powers.151 As a result, it was highly unlikely that the Federation Council would make a concerted effort to stop the war. This fact also provides a possible explanation for why Shumeiko suddenly changed his course by calling the use of force justified as noted above. Finally, the fact that Yeltsin could simply issue a decree ordering the government to use all resources at its disposal to bring order to Chechnya (in reality, a veiled declaration of war) that carried legal force without requiring approval from the Duma or the Federation Council is further proof that separation of powers virtually did not exist in Russia at this time. This fundamental flaw in the Russian democratic system is perhaps the greatest political contribution to the outbreak of the war in Chechnya. Had Yeltsin been required to gain legislative approval for the use of force, the war may have been prevented, given the opposition expressed in the Duma at the start of the war. It at least would have made the decision to go to war appear more transparent and democratic instead of the secretive Politburo type of decision that it was.

The ultimate causes of the war in Chechnya, as can be seen, are multidimensional. To begin with, Yeltsin and his administration failed to take into consideration the long history of Chechen struggles against Russian rule. Yeltsin knew of this history and wrote, Chechens are


very proud of the fact that they have fought against greater Russia for so long and so frequently in the nineteenth century, with the tsar; during the civil war, against the White generals; and after the war, against the Chekists.152 He even charged that Dudaev manipulated this national myth, emphasizing that since ancient times the Chechens have been hostile to the other mountainous tribes surrounding them.153 That Yeltsin referred to the Chechens resistance to Russian rule as a national myth suggests that he failed to understand the significance of this history. The Chechens never completely accepted Russian rule in their region and this fact should have caused Yeltsin and his administration to take this into consideration and seek more creative ways to reach an agreement. To be sure, Yeltsin did pursue negotiations for three years prior to sending troops into Chechnya and thus at least made the attempt to find a peaceful settlement of the issue. Because Yeltsin never personally participated in these negotiations suggests, however, that Yeltsin did not respect the Chechens and believed he did not need to honor them with his presence. Instead, with the outbreak of war, Yeltsin merely followed the same policies implemented by the previous tsarist and Soviet regimes toward Chechnya, which perpetuated the Chechens belief that Russia was simply a colonial power maintaining its imperialist interests in the region. The war also partly resulted from Moscows preoccupation with other important matters during the early stages of the Chechen independence movement. As the separatist movement emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Soviet government had much more important issues to deal with such as the severe economic problems, the ending of the Cold War and its implications in Eastern Europe, and the difficulties associated with the dismantling of the Soviet Union. After August 1991, the Russian Federation government also found itself too distracted by more pressing matters to deal with Chechnya. The transition to democracy and to capitalism


as well as the clash between Yeltsin and the Russian Parliament tended to diminish the importance of the Chechen issue on the national agenda. As a result, Moscow was unable to develop a coherent policy toward Chechnya, which gave rise to the mostly ad hoc strategy pursued by Moscow until 1994. When Moscow did develop a set policy in mid 1994, it reflected the hard-line tendencies of the party of war, which came largely out of frustration associated with the severe difficulties presented by the collapse of Communism. As we have seen, this hard-line policy only continued the previous tsarist and Soviet approaches and served to strengthen the Chechens resolve to fight. The development of a hard-line approach to the Chechen problem leads us into another cause of the war: the weakening of democracy in both Russia and Chechnya. As we have seen, Yeltsin emerged from the dispute with the parliament in 1993 with greatly enhanced authority and the subsequent constitution ratified in December 1993 extremely curtailed the effectiveness of separation of powers. The new Federal Assembly could only offer verbal objections to the use of force for the constitution limited the legislative branchs power to check the actions of the executive. That Yeltsin could simply issue a decree ordering the government to forcibly disarm the Chechens is ample proof of the breakdown of the separation of powers principle. This defect in Russias democratic system contributed to the outbreak of war because it shut out the Federal Assembly from participating in the decision making. If Yeltsin had to gain the Federal Assemblys approval to go to war, then the ensuing deliberations on the question of going to war may have helped persuade Yeltsin to seek another strategy. A legislative veto would also have helped prevent the war. In a similar way, Dudaevs authoritarian nature was another underlying cause of the war. In the months preceding Dudaevs dissolution of the Chechen Parliament, members of the


parliament began to criticize Dudaevs increasingly authoritarian rule and his reluctance to negotiate with Russia.154 Moderate elements both inside Dudaevs government (particularly Mamodaev) and in the parliament appeared to favor compromise with Moscow. When Dudaev dissolved the parliament, however, these moderate views vanished from his government. Like his counterpart in the Kremlin, Dudaev no longer had to consider the legislative branch of his government when making decisions on how to deal with Moscow. In both cases, the minimization, or outright abolishment of the legislatures allowed the executives to handle the situation however they wanted, which effectively shut out possible moderate influences from their decision making. Finally, the most obvious cause of the war is the failure to reach a negotiated settlement. This is a result of a combination of all the causes outlined above. In addition, negotiations failed because they never involved the highest Russian and Chechen officials. At best, they were only between high-ranking officials from the Yeltsin and Dudaev administrations or top members of the Russian and Chechen parliaments. In some instances, the negotiations even involved delegations unrecognized by the Chechen government, such as the Mamodaev-led delegation in December 1992. Moreover, Dudaevs fiery rhetoric and his threats to bring holy war to Russia reduced the likelihood that the Russians would place much faith in negotiations. How could the Russians be expected to negotiate with a regime that denounced them publicly and threatened to wage war on their territory? The Russians also made this mistake when it sent troops to neighboring Ingushetia to police the Ingush-North Osetiia conflict and Shakhrai stated in January 1993 that Russia was prepared to use strength to protect its interests in the North Caucasus.155 These statements and actions created an atmosphere of mistrust on both sides in the dispute, which critically limited the possibility that negotiations could produce positive results. Also,


with both Yeltsin and Dudaev refusing to compromise their respective positions and Yeltsins refusal to meet with Dudaev, war appeared to be the only option left to decide the dispute. The causes leading to the war, then, are multi-faceted and complex. No single factor acted alone to push the two sides toward war; rather, they were all interconnected and combined to intensify the problem.



When Russia invaded Chechnya on December 11, 1994, it began a long, bloody conflict that has continued to this day. It also continued the policies previously followed by the tsarist and Soviet governments for the last three centuries. What differentiated this conflict from its numerous predecessors, as noted in Chapter 1, is the prolonged duration of this war, the intensity of the fighting, and the fact that the Chechens have dealt serious blows not only to Russian security and territorial integrity, but also to Russian morale. In addition, the 1994-96 war achieved what no previous Chechen uprising had accomplished: de facto Chechen independence. As this chapter will make clear, the 1994-96 war at best (for Moscow) resulted only in stalemate and for the Chechens de facto independence. In one sense, this war created a compromise between Moscow and Grozny in that Moscow officially did not lose Chechnya and Chechnya unofficially did not lose its bid for independence. Unfortunately, as this chapter will point out, the indecisive conclusion of the 1994-96 war contributed to the outbreak of the second war in 1999. The purpose of this chapter is not to provide a narrative of the military operations of the war.1 Instead, I will continue the theme of analyzing Moscows policies toward Chechnya during the course of the war. Only the major military operations that influenced or affected Moscows policies will be discussed. In this analysis, I will borrow Tracey Germans chronological framework and divide the war into three periods.2 This will be a brief treatment of the war intended to argue that Moscows conduct of the war, particularly after Spring 1995, resumed policies pursued previously until the autumn of 1994, namely that Moscow returned to seeking a political solution through negotiations. This time, these negotiations involved cease-


fire agreements and ultimately included a meeting between the Russian and Chechen presidents. In the end, Moscows realization that the war could not be won easily and the 1996 presidential election combined to convince Moscow to enter into serious negotiations with Grozny to end the war.

The Early Stages of War

On December 11, three armies marched into Chechnya from the north, east, and west. The Kremlin hoped these armies would quickly take Grozny, which would force Dudaev to abdicate and then allow Moscow to install its own government in Chechnya. This plan quickly failed. First, the invasion forces became bogged down when Chechen civilians impeded the progress of the western and eastern units.3 This dramatically slowed the armies advance toward Grozny. By December 25, two weeks into the operation, the Russian forces had only reached the suburbs of Grozny, which greatly concerned Defense Minister Pavel Grachev who was in charge of the operation. Grachev traveled to Mozdok in North Osetiia and replaced several military commanders in an effort to jumpstart the seizure of Grozny.4 By New Years Eve, the Russian forces had ended their approach to Grozny and launched a major offensive to take the city. This led to the second reason the plan failed. The operation to take Grozny quickly became a bloody fight to capture each street individually, not unlike the battle for Stalingrad in World War II. After weeks of intense fighting that left the city in ruins, the Russian forces finally took control of Grozny in February 1995. Instead of forcing Dudaev to flee, the battle for Grozny only served to rally Chechens around Dudaev, thereby erasing the Chechens growing discontent toward


Dudaevs rule. In this respect, the military action produced the opposite of what the Kremlin had anticipated and thus further exacerbated the problem. After the capture of Grozny (which was tentative at best as the Russians never could take full control of the numerous access routes into the city), the bulk of the fighting moved into the mountainous regions of southern Chechnya. Dudaevs government fled into the villages south of Grozny. As the Russian forces took these villages, Dudaev and his forces continued to move south and eventually took refuge in the mountains to wage a guerilla war against the Russians. Despite the failure to attain the primary objective of removing Dudaev from power and the fact that Russian forces only controlled small portions of Chechen territory, Yeltsin acted quickly to install a new government in Grozny. At the end of 1994, the Kremlin created the Government of National Revival with former Soviet Oil Minister and native Chechen Salambek Khadzhiev as its prime minister.5 Meanwhile, Umar Avturkhanovs Provisional Council continued to exist. In an edict issued January 27, 1995, Yeltsin replaced Avturkhanovs Provisional Council with a new body, the Committee of National Accord. This committee was created In accordance with the proposals of the representatives of the regions, cities, elders, clergy, [and] socio-political organizations in the Chechen Republic.6 Avturkhanov became the head of this body. It thus appeared that Chechnya now had two rival governments, one led by Avturkhanov and another led by Khadzhiev. In an effort to clarify this situation, Yeltsin issued another edict on March 23 that reaffirmed the Committee of National Accord under Avturkhanov on the basis of the Provisional Council of the Chechen Republic with the introduction into its composition of deputies from the former Supreme Soviet of the Checheno-Ingush Republics.7 The committee now would consist of 45 members and was charged with drafting a new constitution for Chechnya. Therefore, in March 1995, Khadzhievs Government of National


Revival acted as the official Kremlin-backed government of Chechnya while Avturkhanovs Committee of National Accord acted as a constitutional convention to draft a new Chechen constitution. Khadzhievs government was intended to rule until new elections could be held when Moscow established control of the republic. The fact that both of these bodies contained members who were former Soviet officials would cause difficulties later, as will be discussed below. Since its inception, the Government of National Revival acted as a functioning government for Chechnya, concerned with such issues as the rebuilding of Grozny, economic recovery, the providing of basic services to the citizens, and security. The government consisted of 21 portfolios, which included all the main ministries associated with a typical government such as the Agricultural Ministry, a foreign trade commissioner, internal affairs, and a Ministry of Education.8 All of these positions were staffed by native Chechens from the northern regions of Chechnya where opposition groups such as Avturkhanovs Provisional Council enjoyed the greatest support before the war. These were also the same regions where Khadzhievs government had the most authority. As noted above, however, these opposition groups lost most of their support when the invasion began. One of the primary tasks faced by the Government of National Revival involved Chechnyas economic rebuilding. To aid in this effort, Yeltsin issued an edict on February 16 directing the prime minister to establish the State Commission on the Restoration of the Economic and Social Spheres of the Chechen Republic for the undertaking, foundation, and organization participating in the restoration of the economy and the security of the life of the population of the Chechen Republic.9 Up to 800 billion rubles had already been appropriated from the federal budget for humanitarian aid and economic recovery.10 Yeltsin directed the State


Commission to devise a plan for economic recovery by the middle of March. In late February, Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, the Chairman of the State Commission, declared the payment of wages and pensions to be the priority task in the initial stages of economic recovery.11 In addition, Soskovets directed the Ministry of Agriculture to distribute seeds to Chechens for the spring growing season as well as 4,000 tons of fuel and oil for farm machinery. Soskovets also stated that 3,000 houses were to be supplied to homeless Chechens.12 At the same time, Khadzhiev reported that economic life in the Chechen Republic is returning to normal as oil and gas production had resumed as well as metallurgical plants and the transportation system.13 Along with these efforts, an additional 180 billion rubles in commercial loans backed by the government were reportedly secured for Chechnya.14 I am unable to determine the validity of Soskovets and Khadzhievs assertions regarding the progress that was being made or whether or not Chechnya ever received the money allocated to it in 1995. Due to the level of fighting still going on in Chechnya at the time and the overall instability in the republic, it is doubtful if the picture was as rosy as Soskovets and Khadzhiev had implied. Notwithstanding the somewhat dubious nature of these government reports, they at least indicate that both the Kremlin and Khadzhievs government were making some efforts to rebuild Chechnya. Not surprisingly, Khadzhiev echoed the Yeltsin administrations accusation that Dudaev was little more than a criminal with whom negotiations were impossible. He declared at a press conference in February 1995 that No peace talks are possible with Dudaev. They are nothing but an illusion.15 Instead, Khadzhiev reasoned, talks should be held with those who are deceived by Dudaevs propaganda, with those who have not realized yet that Dudaev fights not for his motherland, not for his people, but for power.16 Khadzhiev also portrayed the Chechen


conflict as one against a vast criminal cartel. In language similar to that used by Yeltsin and his government since 1991, Khadzhiev insisted that the entire war was nothing more than a struggle between the Russian army and criminal Russia.17 He charged that a basic part of criminal Russia is giving powerful support to Dudaev via all possible and impossible channels and a war is going on against the Russian army.18 Like his benefactors in Moscow who had always made these allegations, Khadzhiev did not provide any concrete evidence to support his claim of strong criminal support to Dudaev. It is, however, known that in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, large numbers of Chechens formed a criminal underworld in Moscow, which evolved into a sort of Chechen mafia. It is also highly likely that this Chechen mafia provided financial support to Dudaev before and during the war. But Khadzhiev and the Yeltsin administration greatly oversimplified the conflict by labeling it as a struggle against criminal circles. Despite the Government of National Revivals appearance as a functioning political entity and its efforts to begin rebuilding Chechnya as outlined above, this body had very little support from the Chechen people and had virtually no real power in the republic. Khadzhiev himself admitted this fact. At a press conference in February, he said, I believe that all the authorities that now exist in Chechnya are illegitimate, including our government. It would be ludicrous to say the opposite.19 Khadzhiev justified his governments existence as well as his own position as its head by stating simply that someone had to do the job of providing food, water, and other necessities to the Chechen people. He saw his governments role as that of a caretaker for the Chechen people until elections could be held for a new Chechen government once stability had been achieved. In this respect, Khadzhiev appeared to sincerely care about the fate of the Chechen people. He refused to take part in a government that will not be able to help people at least in something, to improve their lot. I will take part for as long as I see a possibility


of providing at least some assistance.20 However, Khadzhievs legitimacy, as well as the legitimacy of his government, was crippled by three powerful circumstances. First, the Chechen people by this time had rallied around Dudaev in a wave of patriotism that swept the republic when Russian forces invaded in December 1994. Dudaev now enjoyed almost universal support for his efforts to fight the Russians. Second, Khadzhiev, Avturkhanov, and other officials in the Moscow-backed organs of power were viewed by most Chechens as Moscows stooges. Himself a former Soviet oil minister, Khadzhiev had closer ties to Moscow than to Grozny. Except for a brief stint as a high-ranking official in Groznys oil industry in the early 1980s, Khadzhievs political and professional roles had been in Moscow.21 Finally, the Government of National Revival was itself plagued by divisions among its members. These divisions resulted largely from differences among the various teipy from which the governments members came as well as political differences. Khadzhiev claimed that he had built a coalition government with representatives from several opposition movements based largely in Northern Chechnya. These included Khadzhievs own democratic movement, Avturkhanovs Freedom Party, and followers of Ruslan Khasbulatov.22 Although he did not specifically state that internal divisions had hampered the Government of National Revival, Khadzhiev implied that problems existed and stated that Under such complex conditions, we should not be divided.23 Discord within the anti-Dudaev opposition became glaringly apparent in early March 1995. At this time, leaders of the Chechen diaspora held a secret meeting in Moscow attended by Khadzhiev, Avturkhanov, Khasbulatov, Doku Zavgaev, and other prominent Chechens. At first, it appeared that the anti-Dudaev opposition would split irrevocably. Khadzhiev, with support from other participants at the conference, attacked Khasbulatov for his allegations that Khadzhiev had been the mastermind behind the failed assault on Grozny in November 1994.24


According to Khadzhiev, this accusation was made as part of Khasbulatovs unscrupulous fight for his political future.25 Khadzhiev then attempted to prevent further division among the anti-Dudaev opposition by offering Khasbulatov the post of finance minister in the Government of National Revival or, if this were not enough, to replace Khadzhiev as its chairman. Khasbulatov refused these offers for reasons that remain unknown. Even if he had taken Khadzhievs offer, it is extremely doubtful that Moscow would have sanctioned such a move due to the lingering animosity between Khasbulatov and Yeltsin after their 1993 showdown. At the end of the Moscow conference, the anti-Dudaev opposition finally reached a compromise. They pledged themselves to begin uniting all anti-Dudaev groups within Chechnya, to return the conflict from one between Russians and Chechens to an internal clash between Dudaev and his opposition as it had been before December 1994, and to persuade Chechen civilians to not participate in the fighting.26 In the interests of building political unity, the opposition members pledged to support the Government of National Revival until new parliamentary elections could be held. It was also decided to reconstitute the Chechen section of the former Checheno-Ingush Supreme Soviet with Doku Zavgaev at its head in order to prepare the republic for parliamentary elections. Although Zavgaev replaced Khadzhiev as the republics Russian-sponsored leader in late 1995 (as will be discussed below), no effort was made to resurrect the former Supreme Soviet as the war on the ground never achieved the necessary stability for such an undertaking and the anti-Dudaev opposition failed to make any inroads into the civilian population.


The War Comes to Russia By Spring 1995, the bulk of the fighting in Chechnya had shifted to the areas around Grozny and into the mountainous southern regions. Northern Chechnya had largely been secured by Russian forces at the cost of thousands of military and civilian casualties. Sporadic fighting still took place in the north, which exasperated the refugee crisis that had plagued the republic since the start of hostilities. At this point, a contingent of 100 Chechen fighters led by the radical general Shamil Basaev launched a dramatic raid into the southern Russian city of Budennovsk, seized control of a hospital there and escaped with dozens of hostages after a botched attempt by Russian forces to flush out the Chechen raiders. The Budennovsk raid dealt a serious blow to Russian morale as it demonstrated that although much of Chechen territory had been subdued by the Russian military, Chechen forces could still mount major offensives and take the war into Russia proper. Budennovsk also marked a major turning point in the war by forcing Moscow to again seek a political settlement to end the fighting. Although serious negotiations between Russian and Chechen officials to end the war began with the Budennovsk raid in June, Yeltsin made a half-hearted attempt to declare an armistice two months earlier. On April 26, Yeltsin issued the decree On Supplementary Means for the Normalization of Arrangements in the Chechen Republic. This decree declared a moratorium in the fighting from April 26 to May 12. Yeltsins moratorium, however, was not an attempt by the Russian president to unilaterally cease fighting in the interest of seeking peace. Instead, Yeltsin was trying to improve Russias world standing in light of the upcoming 50th anniversary celebration of the ending of World War II on May 9. The leaders of several Western nations had been invited to take part in the elaborate celebrations in Moscow and Yeltsin wanted to show the West that the situation in Chechnya was under control. In his decree, Yeltsin


intimated that the Government of National Revival as well as other Chechen representatives had agreed with the moratorium showing goodwill in connection with the celebration of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War.27 Yeltsin also offered immunity from criminal prosecution to any Chechen fighter who voluntarily surrendered his arms during the moratorium period. Russian military commanders on the ground in Chechnya, however, had no intention of honoring Yeltsins moratorium. Instead of a complete cease-fire, the Russian military simply scaled back the intensity of their offensive. Bombing missions continued on Chechen villages while United States President Bill Clinton and other prominent world leaders took part in the festivities in Moscow.28 Once the Western leaders had left Russia after the conclusion of the VE Day celebration, the Russian military renewed the intensity of its offensive in southern Chechnya forcing thousands of refugees to flee north toward Grozny.29 Yeltsins disingenuous gesture of goodwill apparently was never intended to be enforced fully and it failed to convince the West that Moscow was seriously trying to seek peace with the Chechens as the Western leaders declined to attend a major military parade through Red Square in a subtle sign of disapproval of the war.30 In the period from December 1994 to June 1995, Moscow appeared unwilling to consider seeking serious negotiations with the Chechens to end the fighting. As long as the war remained confined to Chechen territory, Moscow was content to resolve the situation militarily and to establish a pro-Russian government in Grozny. Shamil Basaevs raid on Budennovsk on June 14 altered Moscows strategy and convinced the Russian government that it must resume efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement. The Budennovsk raid involved over 100 Chechen fighters who entered the city on June 14 and quickly took control of several important buildings including the city hall and the police


headquarters. The raiders then seized control of the main hospital, took hundreds of hostages inside the main hospital building, and threatened to kill all of the hostages unless Moscow agreed to withdraw all federal troops from Chechnya. The hard-line Interior Minister Viktor Erin and deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Egorov were quickly sent to Budennovsk to resolve the crisis.31 This action brought condemnation from certain Duma deputies including Viktor Kurochkin, who charged that the same hard-line elements conducting the war in Chechnya (Erin, Egorov, and others) were also trying to resolve the Budennovsk standoff.32 As the situation escalated, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin took over the task of negotiating with Basaev and his representatives. On the third day of the crisis, June 16, Yeltsin left Russia to attend the G-8 conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Yeltsin assured his Western counterparts that the situation both in Budennovsk and in Chechnya were under control, but the crisis was a source of great embarrassment for Yeltsin at the G-8 summit. After three long days of negotiations between Chernomyrdin and Basaev, which were broadcast live on Russian television, Moscow decided to defuse the standoff with a show of force. At 5 a.m. of the fourth day of the crisis, Russian forces stormed the hospital where Basaevs forces had taken up to 1,000 hostages.33 As Russian troops forced their way into the hospital complex accompanied by three helicopters swirling around the main building, the Chechen fighters mounted a stiff resistance while the hostages tried their best to avoid being killed in the crossfire. The Russian offensive ended when a doctor from the hospital approached the Russian forces with a message signed by several hostages asking them to cease-fire.34 Negotiations with Basaev then resumed with Basaev refusing to back down from his demand that Russia remove all federal troops from Chechnya. Two more attempts were made that day by


federal forces to oust the Chechens from the hospital with no success. The botched Russian offensive resulted in the death of five Russian troops and 121 civilians.35 Realizing that the standoff could not be resolved by force, Chernomyrdin decided to accede to Basaevs demands. In a telephone conversation with Basaev, Chernomyrdin agreed to Russias immediate cessation of all military activities in Chechnya and to begin peace talks with Dudaev.36 Chernomyrdin also agreed to guarantee safe passage for Basaev, his fighters, and 150 hostages back to Chechnya whereupon the hostages would be released. This agreement marked the first real turning point in the now six-month long war. Moscow now realized that it could not solve the Chechen problem by relying solely on military action and it also realized that a continuation of the war could lead to further raids by Chechens into Russia proper. From the end of the Budennovsk raid to the end of the first war in August 1996, the war would be characterized by continued fighting in the mountains interspersed with negotiations to end the conflict. Talks between Moscow and Grozny began on June 19 under the auspices of the OSCE. Conducted at the OSCEs mission in Grozny, the negotiations took place between delegations from the Russian and Chechen governments. As with all previous negotiations in the pre-war period, however, these talks did not involve the highest authorities of Russia and Chechnya, i.e. Yeltsin and Dudaev. Instead, the Russian delegation was led by First Deputy Prime Minister for Nationalities Affairs Viacheslav Mikhailov and included the chief representative of the federal bodies of executive power in Chechnya Nikolai Semenov as well as Arkady Volskii, a representative from the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.37 Chechen Prosecutor Usman Imaev, Dudaevs chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov, and Sultan Geliskhanov, head of Chechnyas security ministry, represented the Chechen side.38 Of particular significance is the fact that


Khadzhievs Moscow-supported government did not participate in the talks. This point suggests that Moscow desired to participate in the talks in good faith by not including its puppet Chechen government in the negotiations. At first, the talks in Grozny proceeded well. On June 20, the second day of negotiations, the two sides issued a protocol focusing on military issues in which Russia and Chechnya agreed on a cease-fire, the mutual release of prisoners, a discontinuation of acts of terror and subversion, and the disarming of illegal armed forces (Chechen forces) accompanied by a gradual withdrawal of federal troops.39 Mikhailov indicated that these conditions would help pave the way for future free and democratic elections in Chechnya monitored by outside observers while his Chechen counterpart, Imaev, proclaimed that the talks put an end to the warwe have reached the main thing, no field commander wants the war to continue.40 For its part, the Chechen delegation, after the fourth round of talks on June 22, condemned all terrorist acts, including the Budennovsk raid and promised to assist federal troops in the search and arrest of Basaev. On this gesture41, Mikhailov said, The condemnation of terrorism and sabotage opens the opportunity to end the war.42 Unfortunately, Chechnyas condemnation of terrorism was not the opportunity Mikhailov had hoped for. While both sides were able to reach agreement on military issues, the political questions quickly became the main sticking point in the talks. Neither side appeared to be willing to back down from its respective position on the question of Chechen independence. In the initial stages of the talks, Moscow suggested that the question of Chechnyas status be placed aside until new elections could be held. Once a new government had been elected in Chechnya, its status could then be negotiated. Throughout the talks, Moscow was particularly concerned about Dudaevs possible role in a future Chechen government. Believing that Dudaev was a


criminal who would never settle for anything less than complete Chechen independence; Moscow did not want him to be included in a future government. This point gave rise to the two options proposed by the Russian delegation regarding the composition of a future government. The first option, proposed on June 29, envisioned the formation of a coalition government including both Dudaev supporters as well as representatives from Khadzhievs Government of National Revival. The second proposal, the zero option, called for the resignation of Khadzhievs government and for Dudaev to give up all claims on power.43 Elections for a new government would then be held, which were tentatively scheduled for November.44 To promote the zero-option plan, both Khadzhiev and Avturkhanov promised to resign and urged Dudaev to do the same.45 Dudaev failed to respond. After more than a month of negotiations, Russia and Chechnya signed an armistice on July 30, 1995. As expected, given the difficulty of discussing political issues at the talks, the armistice concerned only military affairs. The armistice called for the immediate end to hostilities, a gradual withdrawal of federal troops from Chechnya, the disarming of Chechen fighters, and a prisoner exchange.46 Despite the failure of the agreement to settle political questions, Mikhailov praised the armistice as an important step toward a final peace, which it would have been had both sides adhered to the agreement. Immediately after the armistice had been signed, Dudaev rejected the protocol, denouncing it as not having the force of law.47 Dudaev claimed that the Russians had used blackmail, threats and physical pressure to extort an agreement from the Chechen delegation.48 He also accused the Russians of keeping the Chechen delegation under arrest and he complained to the OSCE that he had not had contact with his delegation for six days. Usman Imaev, the head of the Chechen delegation, said earlier, however, that Dudaev had agreed to the armistice. In addition to Dudaevs apparent reversal,


minor skirmishes had been occurring throughout Chechnya, as well as in Grozny, between Russian and Chechen forces throughout the negotiations. When Dudaev refused to sign on to the agreement, military operations resumed in Chechnya. Although the Grozny agreement failed to both end the war and to resolve the outstanding political issues, it does demonstrate that Moscow was again willing to seek a political settlement of the conflict. The agreement failed, however, because the negotiations did not include Yeltsin or Dudaev, and because Moscow insisted on keeping Chechnya within the Russian Federation while Dudaev would settle for nothing less than Chechen independence. Throughout the negotiating process, Mikhailov on numerous occasions maintained that Chechnya would remain within the Russian Federation. Therefore, the summer 1995 negotiations and agreement were very similar to the numerous negotiations conducted before December 1994 in that they did not involve the highest officials from Moscow and Grozny and neither side would retreat from its position on the question of Chechnyas status. One important difference, however, is the absence of extremist rhetoric on the part of both sides in the summer 1995 negotiations. Unlike before the war when Russia condemned the Chechens as bandits and criminals, such accusations were absent in 1995. Except for Dudaevs brief outburst when he rejected the agreement, the Chechens, too, refrained from denouncing their Russian counterparts. In one way, this can be seen as an important breakthrough in that it suggests that the two sides were beginning to share a mutual respect. Both sides now had a strong interest in ending the conflict. However, it took another year of fighting and the death of Dzhokhar Dudaev to bring an end to the first Chechen War.


The War Comes to a Temporary End

The Budennovsk raid marked the beginning of the final stage of the first Chechen War. This period, from July 1995 to August 1996, was characterized by continued fighting between Russian and Chechen forces, Chechen raids on Grozny and Kizliar, and further Russian attempts to seek a political solution to the war. Moscows policies to end the war ranged from attempting to establish legitimacy for its regime in Grozny, additional offers to implement a cease fire, and finally, in the face of upcoming presidential elections in Russia, a meeting between Yeltsin and the Chechen president. Ultimately, a tentative peace was reached between Moscow and Grozny after Shamil Basaev led yet another raid outside of Chechnya. In October 1995, Salambek Khadzhiev, the head of the Government of National Revival, resigned. Khadzhiev left his post voluntarily due to his increasing disagreement with Moscows policies in Chechnya. He had recently spoken out against the killings of Chechen civilians by Russian troops and had complained that Moscow was not doing enough to rebuild Chechnya.49 To replace Khadzhiev, Moscow named Doku Zavgaev, the former Chairman of the ChechenoIngush ASSR Supreme Soviet who had been forced to abdicate by Dudaev in 1991, as the new Prime Minister of the Government of National Revival. By naming Zavgaev as Khadzhievs replacement, Moscow damaged its own efforts to establish legitimacy for its government in Chechnya. Since the beginning of the war, Chechen citizens had never supported the Russianbacked authorities in Grozny. Now, with the return of Chechnyas former Soviet leader reinstalled by Moscow, Chechens were even less likely to support the Russian-supported regime. Most Chechens viewed Zavgaev as little more than Moscows stooge and thus continued to support Dudaev.50 At this point, however, Moscow had little choice other than to nominate Zavgaev for the post. Russia needed to place an ethnic Chechen as its leader in the republic in

order to create at least a semblance of legitimacy. Ruslan Khasbulatov would have been the only other possible candidate for the job, but due to the animosity between him and Yeltsin, he could not have been chosen. In an attempt to establish credibility for Zavgaev and the Government of National Revival, Moscow scheduled elections in Chechnya to coincide with Russias parliamentary elections on December 17. Prior to these elections, however, a new agreement was reached and signed by Chernomyrdin and Zavgaev. Talks between Russia and Chechnya had continued intermittently since the conclusion of the ill-fated July armistice. Despite an assassination attempt on Zavgaev during the negotiations in which shrapnel from a bomb blast injured his face, an agreement On the Main Principles of Relations Between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic was signed in Moscow on December 8. The agreement provided for the independent functioning of Chechnyas organs of state power, Chechnyas right to establish international and foreign economic relations, and, most strikingly, Chechnyas right to place its representatives in other countries in order to promote cultural, commercial, and economic relations.51 In addition, the agreement stipulated that Moscow would provide Chechnya with the necessary resources to rebuild its shattered economy and that the command of Russian troops would be coordinated with the new Chechen government.52 Finally, the agreement envisaged the signing of a bilateral treaty between Moscow and Grozny on the division of powers after the election of a new Chechen government and the ratification of a new constitution.53 Even though this agreement gave Chechnya wide autonomy including the right to establish and maintain foreign relations, a right that no other subject of the Russian Federation had the republic still remained within the Russian Federation and therefore neither Dudaev nor the majority of the Chechen population supported the agreement.54 Due to its lack of popular support, the Zavgaev


governments lack of legitimacy, and continued fighting, the December 8 Main Principles Agreement never materialized. Election Day, December 17, was marred by heavy fighting throughout Chechnya as Dudaevs forces attempted to prevent the election from taking place. Despite this violence, Russian and Chechen election officials claimed that voter turnout reached 50.42 percent.55 Zavgaev, who ran unopposed56, won the election with 93 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results.57 The election, however, was fraught with irregularities. One voter in Grozny proudly proclaimed that he voted for Zavgaev four times58, while Carlotta Gall and Thomas de Waal claim that Russian soldiers, local government officials and even some Western reporters voted, but few ordinary Chechens.59 The Russian Central Electoral Committee, however, declared that the elections were valid and conformed to Russias election laws.60 In the end, these elections did little to bolster Zavgaevs legitimacy due to the widespread irregularities, the lack of any candidates opposing Zavgaev, and the Chechens continued belief that Zavgaev simply acted as Moscows puppet. The December 1995 election and the installation of Zavgaev as the new Russian-backed leader of Chechnya encouraged the Chechen separatists to launch a new series of attacks. This began with a raid led by Salman Raduev on the town of Kizliar, Dagestan on January 9, 1996. Like the 1995 Budennovsk raid, the Kizliar operation threatened to spread the conflict throughout the North Caucasus. Three thousand hostages were taken when Raduev seized the Kizliar hospital, but most were released the next day. Raduev then left Kizliar with 160 hostages in an effort to return to Chechnya, but the raiding party met stiff Russian resistance at the town of Pervomaiskoe near the Chechen border. After a five-day standoff, Russian MVD troops attacked the Chechens, resulting in the deaths of 38 hostages.61 Raduev and 70 of his fighters


managed to escape the Russian assault and returned to Chechnya. After the Kizliar raid, Chechen fighters renewed their assault on Grozny in March, thereby escalating the fighting throughout the republic. In the wake of the renewed intensity of the violence in Chechnya and in the face of upcoming presidential elections, Yeltsin decided to redouble his efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Chechen conflict. At a time when Yeltsins popularity was dismal, he knew he had to bring peace to Chechnya or else lose the election.62 On March 31, Yeltsin issued a decree On a Program to Resolve the Crisis in the Chechen Republic. This decree, like the numerous prior attempts to seek peace in Chechnya, called for a cease fire to begin March 31, the withdrawal of federal forces from Chechnya, the conducting of negotiations on disarmament, free democratic elections in Chechnya, negotiations on the specifics of the status of the Chechen Republic between Russian and Chechen representatives, and, finally, a recommendation to the State Duma to grant an amnesty for participants of armed activities in the Chechen Republic.63 In addition, Yeltsins decree created a government commission chaired by Chernomyrdin and charged with the task of coordinating federal efforts to normalize the situation in Chechnya. Although Yeltsin called for negotiations with Dudaev when he issued this decree, he would only talk to Dudaev through an intermediary as Yeltsin still could not bring himself to agree to a personal meeting with the Chechen leader.64 As with all previous attempts to negotiate a way out of the war, Dudaev rejected this latest plan because it still would have required the Chechen leadership to accept defeat and for Chechnya to remain a subject of the Russian Federation. Fighting thus continued into the summer. The final breakthrough that ultimately led to the end of the first Chechen War came on April 21, 1996 when a Russian rocket attack killed Dudaev southwest of Grozny. Dudaevs vice


president, Zelimkhan Iandarbiev took over as president. A former bricklayer, Iandarbiev became a writer and a member of the Checheno-Ingush ASSR writers union and an ardent supporter of Chechen independence.65 In 1989, Iandarbiev became a founding member of the opposition Bart party and was named deputy chairman of the executive committee of the OKChN in November 1990. Dudaev elevated Iandarbiev to the post of vice president on April 17, 1993.66 Considered by Moscow to be more reasonable and less erratic than Dudaev, Iandarbievs ascendancy to the presidency helped convince Yeltsin and his administration that serious peace talks could now proceed. At Yeltsins invitation, Iandarbiev led a Chechen delegation to Moscow on May 27 to begin the negotiations for a cease-fire. This May 27 meeting marked the first time since Chechnyas declaration of independence in 1991 that Yeltsin agreed to meet personally with a Chechen leader. After the two sides quarreled over seating arrangements Yeltsin at first insisted that he sit at the head of the table, but Iandarbiev refused as this arrangement implied that Yeltsin was his superior an agreement was reached whereby a cease-fire would begin June 1.67 The May 27 cease-fire agreement is significant for two reasons. First, it was the first such agreement to be reached by the highest officials of both Russia and Chechnya. It will be remembered that all previous negotiations and agreements made since 1991 had always been conducted and reached by lower-ranking officials, only to be repudiated by Dudaev. Now, the presidents of both Russia and Chechnya took part in the negotiations and signed the agreement. Secondly, the May 27 cease-fire constituted an important moral victory for the Chechens. The Chechen leadership now felt that it had finally gained recognition from Moscow in the form of Yeltsins invitation to meet with them. Yeltsins decision to talk to Iandarbiev, however, was not motivated by humanitarian or political goals. With the first round of the presidential election


scheduled for June 16, Yeltsin knew that he needed a settlement in Chechnya to have a chance at winning a second term in office. By 1996, the war had become grossly unpopular, which placed Yeltsins political capital at an all-time low. Organizations such as the Committee of Soldiers Mothers worked to send the parents of Russian soldiers fighting or captured in Chechnya to rescue their sons.68 In this respect, Russias embryonic democratic system actually worked to help bring an end to the conflict, sharply contrasting the fact that it was the shortcomings of Russias democracy, namely in the breakdown of the separation of powers as noted in Chapter Three, that contributed to the outbreak of war in the first place. Without upcoming presidential elections, Yeltsin may have been content to continue the fighting. Although the May 27 agreement is significant, it still did not formally end the war. The agreement only called for the cessation of all fighting as of midnight June 1 and for both sides to release all prisoners of war within two weeks.69 The agreement also established a working group composed of representatives from both sides to oversee the cease-fire and the exchange of prisoners. Despite the signing of the cease-fire, fighting continued throughout the republic, even as Russian troops began to withdraw in late June. The heaviest fighting came on August 6 when Shamil Basaev led a massive assault on Grozny to protest Yeltsins recent victory in the presidential election. Basaevs attack appeared to destroy the peace process that had been ongoing since the May 27 cease-fire agreement. Yeltsin responded to Basaevs attack by appointing Aleksandr Lebed his personal envoy to Chechnya armed with extensive powers to negotiate a lasting peace with Chechnya. Lebed had run against Yeltsin in the first round of voting in the presidential election and his popularity (he placed third in the polls) prompted Yeltsin to appoint him as chairman of the Security Council.


On August 30, Lebed signed a peace agreement with Aslan Maskhadov, chief of the Chechen armed forces, at the Dagestani village of Khasavyurt. The Khasavyurt Accord called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya, establish joint Russian-Chechen crime fighting measures, the arrangement of financial relations and for Chechnyas economic recovery.70 Conspicuously absent from the Khasavyurt Accord, however, was a final delineation of Chechnyas political status. The Accord stipulated that the question of Chechnyas status would be deferred until 2001; both sides envisioned the election of a new government in Chechnya by 2001 at which time further negotiations could be held between Moscow and Grozny. Unlike all previous agreements, both sides adhered to the Khasavyurt Accord and despite its incomplete nature, this agreement did finally achieve an end to the First Chechen War. Although the Khasavyurt Accord succeeded in ending the fighting between Russia and Chechnya, it ultimately did not solve the real issue: Chechen independence. As a result, on paper, the Khasavyurt Accord was merely a stalemate; Russia had still not subdued the rebel republic and Chechnya still did not have formal independence. The situation remained what it had been since 1991 with Chechnya possessing de facto independence and Moscow pretending that the republic still remained within the Russian Federation. In this respect, however, the Khasavyurt Accord symbolized an important moral victory for the Chechens. They had successfully fought against the Russian military and prevented Russia from establishing a firm hold on the republic. The war also created severe embarrassment for Russia, as it was unable to subdue what it officially considered as illegally armed bandits. As the Conclusion will demonstrate, the Khasavyurt Accord turned out to be only a temporary armistice as more radical elements came to power in Chechnya and renewed hostilities in 1999.


CONCLUSION Peace Leads to War

The First Chechen War lasted 20 months, took the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers and citizens, left Chechnya, particularly Grozny in ruins, created a severe refugee crisis in neighboring Ingushetia and other adjoining regions, and greatly exposed Russias military and political weaknesses in the wake of the collapse of communism. The war also provoked much criticism from the West regarding Moscows heavy-handed approach in Chechnya as well as alleged war crimes committed by the Russian military.1 Most important, however, is the fact that the Chechen conflict served as a manifestation of the numerous problems associated with the rapid collapse of the Soviet Union, as I have argued throughout this paper. Moreover, the Chechen conflict demonstrates the extent to which Soviet-style strategies and policies were still employed after 1991. Both Yeltsin and Dudaev, as I have argued above, ruled their respective republics with relatively little regard for democratic principles. At the root of the Chechen conflict lie three primary causes. First, as outlined in Chapter One, is the long history of acrimony and mistrust between the Russians and the Chechens. The initial Russian incursions into Chechen territory in the 18th and 19th centuries met with considerable resistance from the Chechens. Even after the consolidation of Russian rule in the North Caucasus, Chechen rebellions periodically erupted, which persisted into the Soviet era. Russian and later Soviet policies toward the Chechens only exacerbated these problems. Collectivization, the purges, and the 1944 deportations contributed to the formation of a Chechen national awareness2 that was able to assert itself amid the confusion created by the dissolution of the Soviet Union.


Secondly, the rapid collapse of the Soviet Union created the conditions for not only the constituent republics but also for regions within the RSFSR to assert their independence or sovereignty. The failed August 1991 coup attempt even spurred Yeltsin to demand Russian independence, which began the dramatic process of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. At the same time, as described in Chapter One, the OKChN formed and declared Chechen independence, which even Doku Zavgaev, the Checheno-Ingush Communist Party chief signed onto in an attempt to preserve his own power. Moreover, the severe economic and political problems that plagued Russia in 1991 and 1992 prevented Moscow from formulating a coherent policy aimed at reaching an agreement with Chechnya. Finally, the absence of a stable democratic system in both Russia and Chechnya contributed greatly to the outbreak of war. Throughout this paper, I have refrained from assigning blame for the war solely on the Russians or the Chechens. Instead, ultimate culpability lies with the legacy of the Soviet Union. The transition from authoritarianism to democracy is always difficult, especially where the democratic leaders of a nation also served in high positions within the previous authoritarian regime. Yeltsin is an excellent example of this problem. While he may indeed have been committed to democracy, he was trained in the authoritarian Soviet system and he continued to play the political game in a Soviet manner. When the Russian Parliament began to assert too much authority in 1993, Yeltsin violently dissolved it and enacted a new constitution that provided him with more power. Dudaev had a similar experience with the Chechen Parliament earlier that year. Thus, Yeltsin and Dudaev still harbored authoritarian tendencies. A much-weakened parliament in Russia and the total absence of one in Chechnya effectively destroyed the system of checks and balances within these governments. As a result, Yeltsin and Dudaev could act almost on their own volition with little


or no oversight. Had the Russian Duma or the Chechen Parliament had sufficient authority in 1994, perhaps the war could have been averted. At the same time, one should be careful not to accuse the Russians or the Chechens of abandoning democracy altogether. Democracy is a fragile concept that requires years of experience to strengthen and perfect. Russia could hardly have been expected to have a strong, dynamic democratic system after only three years of existence. In the end, however, as I argued in Chapter Four, democracy ultimately helped bring the end of the First Chechen War. Despite his authoritarian ruling style in his first term, Yeltsin still held elections in 1996 and it was out of concern for his dismal approval rating before these elections that Yeltsin actively sought an agreement to end the war.

The First War Leads to the Second

The Khasavyurt Peace Agreement signed in August 1996 should more precisely be termed an armistice. As stated in Chapter Four, the Khasavyurt Agreement only declared a cease-fire that avoided a final settlement on the issue of Chechen independence. As a result, the first war ended as a stalemate. This fact, along with developments in Moscow and inside Chechnya, which will be discussed below, caused a resumption of hostilities in August 1999. This second conflict still continues, although not on the scale of the first war. On January 27, 1997, Chechens went to the polls to elect a new parliament and president. Acting President Zelimkhan Iandarbiev ran against Aslan Maskhadov, Chechnyas military chief, and Shamil Basaev, the leader and coordinator of the Budennovsk raid in 1995.3 Maskhadov won the election with 59.3 percent of the vote while Iandarbiev finished a distant


third winning only 10.1 percent.4 Following this election, Chechnyas internal stability quickly began to disintegrate. Even before the election, radical elements within Chechnya, such as Salman Raduev, had kidnapped Russian Interior Ministry troops as they were withdrawing from the republic. Despite stern warnings from then Prime Minister Maskhadov, Raduev refused to release the hostages, although later Raduev relented.5 Once Maskhadov became president, Raduev refused to recognize his authority, claiming that Dudaev was still alive and only Dudaev could order him to cease fighting against Russia.6 Moreover, after Maskhadovs election, supporters of Iandarbiev and Basaev refused offers to join his government. Ultimately, Maskhadovs new government included elements from Dudaevs former cabinet as well as two members from Doku Zavgaevs Moscow-backed regime.7 Basaev also later agreed to join Maskhadovs government and took the post of first deputy prime minister in charge of industrial affairs. Relations with Russia initially were cordial despite continued kidnappings and internal disorder within Chechnya. On May 12, 1997, Yeltsin and Maskhadov signed the Agreement on Peace and Principles of Reciprocity between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. This document pledged both sides to agree to high principles and adhere to the wish to end the long lasting antagonism, [and] to arrange a long lasting, equal, mutual relationship.8 The agreement consisted of five points, the most significant of which were points 1 and 2 that promised To forever deny from application and the threat of application of force in the solution of any contentious issue and To build relations in agreement with customary, principled, and normal international justice, by each side mutually in the spheres of strict, concrete agreement.9 The language of this agreement is significant in that it implies Moscows treatment of Chechnya as an equal and because it refers to the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria


and pledges to act in accordance with normal international justice. On the surface, then, the agreement appears to consider Chechnya as an independent state. Moscow, however, still considered Chechnya as a subject of the Russian Federation and would not negotiate what it viewed as a threat to Russias territorial integrity. Basically, this agreement merely formalized the political stalemate that Khasavyurt created and seemed to recognize Chechnyas de facto independent status. Meanwhile, Chechnyas internal stability continued to crumble. Many former fighters, including Basaev, opposed Maskhadovs moderate policies and his desire for better relations with Moscow. Under the influence of radical Islam and a growing sense of nationalism, several groups emerged that favored the continuation of the war with Russia and envisioned the creation of an Islamic nation that would stretch from the Black to the Caspian seas with Chechnya at its core. The Caucasus Confederation, led by Iandarbiev and Raduev, promoted nationalist movements in Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkariia, and Karachaevo-Cherkesiia against the Russian occupation.10 Another organization, the Congress of Peoples of Ichkeria and Dagestan, was formed in part by Basaev with the goal of uniting Chechnya and Dagestan. Basaev stated that through his group, he could monitor Maskhadov and correct him in the case of attempts to deviate from the course of independence.11 As I stated in Chapter One, Islam traditionally had not been a political force in Chechnya and initially played a minor role in motivating the Chechens to fight the Russians. The first war was fought primarily for political, not religious, purposes. As the first war progressed, however, Islam increasingly was used by Chechens to distinguish themselves from the Russians.12 During the interwar period, radical Islam, particularly Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia, gained a foothold among the anti-Maskhadov opposition groups. Islam as a political force and a rallying point for


the opposition in the interwar period had been brought to Chechnya by foreign mercenaries during the first war. Perhaps the best known of these mercenaries was the Saudi-born Khattab, a Wahhabi who led a group of Middle Eastern mujahideen into Chechnya in 1995.13 Khattab had been trained in Afghanistan where he fought against the Soviet invasion in the 1980s. By 1999, Maskhadovs hold on power had become tenuous at best. With the Chechen economy still in ruins, due primarily to extreme corruption, Moscows insufficient attempts to provide economic support, and Chechnyas internal instability, Maskhadov faced a growing and increasingly violent opposition. He had been the target of numerous assassination attempts since taking office. Under pressure from Basaev, Iandarbiev, and other Islamic opposition elements, Maskhadov agreed in February 1999 to declare Chechnya an Islamic state governed by Sharia law.14 In order to appease hard-line opposition leaders, Maskhadov revoked the legislative powers of the secular parliament and ordered the drafting of an Islamic constitution.15 In spite of Maskhadovs efforts, however, the opposition formed a rival Islamic council to govern Chechnya according to Sharia law. Chechnya now was more divided than it had been under Dudaev before the first war began. Throughout 1999, a series of skirmishes had been fought between Chechen fighters and Russian security forces along the Chechen-Dagestani border. This culminated on August 7 when Basaev and Khattab led a force into Dagestan and took control of two villages. Two days into the attack, Yeltsin replaced Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin with Vladimir Putin, who quickly gained popular support to impose order and discipline in Dagestan an operation that Putin believed could be finished in one or two weeks.16 By September, well beyond Putins prediction of one or two weeks, the Russian military had again entered Chechnya and the second war had begun in earnest. This time, however, in the wake of several bombings throughout Russia that


included the destruction of apartment buildings in Moscow, the Russian public largely supported the war. Indeed, Putins rise to power can be attributed to his vows to rid the country of the Chechen bandits. Although the Second Chechen War is beyond the scope of this study, a few observations on the cause of this war and Moscows handling of it can be made. First, the second war tragically exposes the failure of the Khasavyurt Agreement, in particular the agreements incomplete nature. By leaving Chechnyas formal status unresolved, many people in Moscow and in Chechnya believed the war had not been concluded. Hard-line elements in Moscow still wished to eradicate completely the Chechen rebellion and re-establish strong Russian control there. Similarly, the opposition groups in Chechnya did not accept defeat and felt compelled to continue the war. Had Russia either achieved a complete victory or granted Chechnya formal independence, Chechnyas status would not have been left unresolved and the ensuing confusion could have been avoided. Secondly, Moscow did not provide Maskhadov with much support, despite promises to do so. For example, funds earmarked for the rebuilding of Chechnya were embezzled by corrupt officials, which left Chechnyas economy devastated even two years after the end of the first war. Moreover, in December 1998, Yeltsin revoked a September 1997 directive to negotiate a power-sharing treaty with Chechnya. This policy reversal seemed an illtimed slap in the face to Maskhadov who had expressed a willingness to cooperate with Moscow.17 Thus, Moscow had all but abandoned Maskhadov, which left him little choice than to succumb to the demands of his opposition. Finally, Moscow has conducted the current war in much the same way that it waged the first conflict. After seizing Grozny, Moscow ousted Maskhadovs government and replaced it with another puppet government, as it had in the first war. In addition, Putins government, like


its predecessor, has characterized the Chechens as criminals and bandits. Early in the war, Putin even pledged to bang the hell out of those bandits.18 For their part, the Chechens have increasingly used terrorism to battle the Russians. Since 1999, numerous terrorist attacks have been committed throughout Russia, which have been attributed to Chechen fighters. The most dramatic of these attacks came in August 2004 with the raid on Beslan in North Osetiia where the Chechens took hundreds of schoolchildren hostage. Presumably, Basaev coordinated this attack. Thus, the bloody conflict between the Russians and the Chechens continues with no end in sight.

The Chechen conflict is yet another tragic episode in Russias long history. In many respects, this is the most tragic event in modern Russian history. Unlike previous wars Russia has fought, this conflict is against fellow countrymen and has aroused strong emotions in both Russians and Chechens. It has been an expensive war, both in lives lost and resources spent, that can produce little tangible rewards for either side. Russia can only regain a small rebellious territory and the Chechens can only obtain independence for a tiny state that would still need to rely heavily on Russia for survival. However, this is a war driven primarily by emotion. Russia is fighting for its pride, which was severely damaged after the collapse of the Soviet Union that resulted in the loss of substantial amounts of territory and Moscows superpower status. Chechnya is fighting for its independence and to avenge what it perceives as two centuries of misrule and occupation from Moscow. It is difficult at best to foresee when and how this conflict will finally be resolved. After the war ends, however, it will require much time and effort by both Russians and Chechens to heal the deep emotional wounds that this conflict has opened.




Tracey German. Russias Chechen War. London: Routledge Curzon, 2000. 155-156.

CHAPTER ONE Although the Chechens practice a moderate form of Islam, radical Islamic elements have entered Chechnya since 1996, which has helped to further the cause of independence during the current conflict, which began in 1999. This will be explained in more detail in the Conclusion. 2 Johanna Nichols. Who are the Chechens? article on H-Net Russia January 12, 1995. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid. 5 I.N. Eremenko & Yu.D. Novikov, Eds. Rossiia i Chechnya (1990-1997 gody) Dokumenty svidetelstvuyut. Moscow: RAU-Universitet, 1997. 212. 6 Ibid. 7 Carlotta Gall & Thomas de Waal. Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus. New York: New York University Press, 1998. 40. 8 Eremenko & Novikov, 212. 9 Peter Holquist. To Count, to Extract, and to Exterminate in A State of Nations: Empire and Nation-Making in the Age of Lenin and Stalin, Eds. Ronald Grigor Suny & Terry Martin. Oxford University Press, 2001. 117. 10 John B. Dunlop. Russia Confronts Chechnya: Roots of a Separatist Conflict. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 32-33. 11 Holquist, To Count, to Extract, and to Exterminate, 117. 12 Holquist, To Count, to Extract, and to Exterminate, 117. 13 Dunlop, Russia Confronts Chechnya: Roots of a Separatist Conflict, 48. 14 Dunlop, Russia Confronts Chechnya: Roots of a Separatist Conflict, 48. 15 Dunlop, Russia Confronts Chechnya: Roots of a Separatist Conflict, 55. 16 Oleg Khlevnyuk. The Objectives of the Great Terror, 1937-1938 in Stalinism: The Essential Readings Ed. David L. Hoffman. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, Ltd., 2003. 90. 17 See the Holquist essay cited above. 18 Although the German forces never entered Checheno-Ingushetia, they did come close in 1942. During the German occupation of the northwestern Caucasus, many local inhabitants, like their counterparts in other occupied areas of the Soviet Union, assisted the German invaders. While these collaborators may have included Chechens or Ingush, these actions still did not warrant the deportation of the entire Chechen and Ingush populations. 19 Gall & de Waal, Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus, 73. 20 Anatol Lieven. Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. 321. 21 German. Russias Chechen War, 19. 22 German, Russias Chechen War, 17. 23 German, Russias Chechen War, 17. 24 German, Russias Chechen War, 23. 25 Timur Muzaev. Chechenskaia Respublika: Organy Vlasti i Politicheskie sily. Moscow: Panorama, 1995. 157. 26 Lieven, Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power, 56. 27 German, Russias Chechen War, 24. 28 Gall & de Waal Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus, 81. 29 German, Russias Chechen War, 24. 30 German, Russias Chechen War, 25. 31 German, Russias Chechen War, 25.


German, Russias Chechen War, 26. German, Russias Chechen War, 27. 34 German, Russias Chechen War, 27. 35 German, Russias Chechen War, 27. 36 German, Russias Chechen War, 27. 37 German, Russias Chechen War, 27. 38 German, Russias Chechen War, 27. 39 These included the KGB Chairman, the Minister of Internal Affairs, and the Procurator. 40 German, 27-28. 41 Deklaratsiia o gosudarstvennom suverenitete checheno-ingushskoi respubliki in Eremenko & Novikov, 7. 42 Ibid. 43 Ibid., 9. 44 Ibid., 10. 45 The implications of Russian military intervention into the Ingush-North Osetiian conflict on the start of the Chechen conflict will be examined in Chapter Two. 46 German, Russias Chechen War, 29. 47 German, Russias Chechen War, 28. 48 Lieven, Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power, 58. 49 German, Russias Chechen War, 30. 50 German, Russias Chechen War, 30. 51 German, Russias Chechen War, 30. 52 German, Russias Chechen War, 31. 53 German, Russias Chechen War, 39. 54 German, Russias Chechen War, 39. 55 Postanovlenie Prezidiuma Verkhovnogo Soveta RSFSR O politicheskoi situatsii v Checheno-Ingushskoi Respublike October 8, 1991 in Eremenko & Novikov, 19. 56 Postanovlenie Ispolkoma obshchenatsionalnogo kongressa chechenskogo naroda 17 September 1991 in Eremenko & Novikov, 17. 57 German, Russias Chechen War, 31. 58 German, Russias Chechen War, 31. 59 German, Russias Chechen War, 31. 60 Rasporiazhenie Presidenta Rossiiskoi Sovetskoi Federativnoi Sotsialisticheskoi Respubliki O napravlenii delegatsii RSFSR v Checheno-Ingushskuyu Respubliku September 10, 1991 in Eremenko & Novikov, 15. 61 Ibid. 62 V. Kharlamov. Running the Show from a Hiding Place? Pravda September 13, 1991, 6. 63 Aleksandr Rutskoi in the Chechen-Ingush Republic, Provisional Supreme Council vs. Congress. Rossiiskaia gazeta October 8, 1991, 1. 64 Sharip Asuev. Russian Vice President Arrives in Grozny for Talks Tass October 6, 1991. 65 Asuev. 66 During his trip to Chechnya to meet with Dudaev, Rutskoi traveled through the republic to assess the situation. He then reported on the Chechen situation to the Russian Parliament. 67 Postanovlenie Prezidiuma Verkhovnogo Soveta RSFSR O politicheskoi situatsii v Checheno-Ingushskoi Respublike in Eremenko & Novikov, 19. 68 Postanovlenie Prezidiuma Ispolnitelnogo Komiteta Obshchenatsionalnogo Kongressa Chechenskogo Naroda in Eremenko & Novikov, 20. 69 Ibid. 70 Ibid., 21. 71 Ibid. 72 Obrashchenie k lideram Ispolkoma Obshchenatsionalnogo Kongressa Chechenskogo Naroda October 19, 1991 in Eremenko & Novikov, 22. 73 German, Russias Chechen War, 46. 74 German, Russias Chechen War, 46. 75 German, Russias Chechen War, 46. 76 I. Sokolov. Doklad Ob obshchestvenno-politicheskoi obstanovke v Checheno-Ingushskoi Respublike in Eremenko & Novikov, 25.



Obrashchenie Vremennogo Bysshego Soveta Checheno-Ingushskoi Respubliki k narodam, partiyam, dvizheniyam, trudovym kollektivam, rukovoditelyam ministerstv, predpriyatii, organizatsii, mestnym organam gosudarstvennoi vlasti i upravleniya in Eremenko & Novikov, 23. 78 Ibid. 79 Postanovlenie Sezda Narodnykh Deputatov Rossiiskoi Sovetskoi Federativnoi Sotsialisticheskoi Respubliki O priznanii nezakonnymi vyborov, provedennykh 27 oktyabrya 1991 goda v Checheno-Ingushskoi Respublike in Eremenko & Novikov 24. 80 German, Russias Chechen War, 46. 81 German, Russias Chechen War, 46. 82 German, Russias Chechen War, 46. 83 Ukaz Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Sovetskoi Federativnoi Sotsialisticheskoi Respubliki O vvedenii chrezvychainogo polozheniya v Checheno-Ingushskoi Respublike in Eremenko & Novikov 29. 84 German, Russias Chechen War, 48. 85 German, Russias Chechen War, 49. 86 Postanovlenie Parlamenta Chechenskoi Respubliki O nezakonnosti Ukaza Prezidenta RSFSR o vvedenii chrezvychainogo polozheniya na territorii Chechenskoi Respubliki in Eremenko & Novikov 31. 87 Ibid. 88 German, Russias Chechen War, 50. 89 German, Russias Chechen War, 50. CHAPTER TWO V. Tkachuk, L. Krutakov, & Ye. Dotsuk. Grozny: State of Emergency Lifted, Situation Critical, in Komsomolskaia Pravda Nov. 15, 1991, 1. 2 Timur Muzaev. Chechenskaia Respublika: Organy Vlasti i Politicheskie Sily. Moscow: Panorama, 1995. 146. 3 Muzaev, Chechenskaia Respublika, 146. 4 Muzaev, Chechenskaia Respublika, 147. 5 Muzaev, Chechenskaia Respublika, 7. 6 I. Sokolov. Doklad Ob obshchestvenno-politicheskoi obstanovke v Checheno-Ingushskoi Respublike in Eremenko & Novikov, 25. 7 Muzaev, Chechenskaia Respublika, 7. 8 Muzaev, Chechenskaia Respublika, 10-11. 9 German, Russias Chechen War, 81-82. 10 Leontyeva Lyudmila. A Coup or a Provocation? Moscow News April 19, 1992. 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid. 13 Ibid. 14 Ibid. 15 Interestingly, even though Chechnya claimed to be an independent republic outside of the Russian Federation, it still used Russian law to prosecute the perpetrators of the March 31 uprising. The Chechen Procurators Office charged 20 suspects accused of helping in the seizure of the television and radio stations with violation of Article 64 of the Russian Federations Criminal Code: conspiracy aimed at seizing power. Ibid. 16 Sharip Asuev. Russia Gives a Different Story of Events in Grozny Itar-Tass Feb. 7, 1992. 17 Grozny Sunday Incidents: Chechenyas Presidents Version Komsomolskaia Pravda Feb. 11, 1992. 18 Ibid. 19 Boris Prokhorov. Chechnya: 100 Days Before Decree Rabochaia Tribuna Feb. 19, 1992, 3. 20 Ibid. 21 Ibid. 22 Ibid. 23 Ibid. 24 Sokolov, 25. 25 German, Russias Chechen War, 56. 26 Ukaz Prezidenta Chechenskoi Respubliki 9 December 1991 in Eremenko & Novikov, 34. 27 German, Russias Chechen War, 56. 28 German, Russias Chechen War, 56.



German, Russias Chechen War, 57. German, Russias Chechen War, 57. 31 Eremenko & Novikov Spravka Vooruzhenie i boevaia tekhnika ostavlennye v Chechne v iiune 1992 g. in Eremenko & Novikov 44-46. 32 Ibid. 33 Ibid. 34 In addition to the large amounts of military equipment left behind by Russia and stolen from Russia, Chechnya also received arms from a vast illegal arms trade across the porous borders with Russia and Georgia. In March 1992, Izvestia reported that the Russian Information Agency quoted the newspaper Zakavkazkie Voennye Vedomosti as stating that a factory in Grozny began manufacturing automatic weapons. The number of weapons produced by this factory as well as the validity of this assertion is unknown. See Ali Kazikhanov Chechnya Begins Arms Production; Parliament Wants to Hear President D. Dudaevs Report Izvestia March 23, 1992, 1-2. 35 Irina Dementyeva House for Sale Izvestia July 9, 1992, 3. 36 Ibid. 37 Ibid. 38 Letter from Ataman Martynov to President Yeltsin, Vice-President Shakhrai, and Supreme Soviet Chairman Khasbulatov Ot kazakov Naurskogo i Tersko-Grebenskogo otdelov Terskogo Voiska in Eremenko & Novikov, 5657. 39 Ibid., 58. 40 Ibid. 41 Ibid., 59. 42 Obrashchenie Zhiteli stanitsy Assinovskoi Sunzhenskogo raiona mai 1994 g. in Eremenko & Novikov, 62. 43 Ibid., 64. 44 Ibid., 67. 45 Ibid., 68. 46 Letter from the RSFSR Supreme Soviet to Resident Dzhokhar Musaevich Dudaev December 19, 1991 in Eremenko & Novikov, 37. 47 Ibid. 48 Viktor Zhiliakov. Russian and Chechen Parliament Experts Arrive in Sochi Itar-Tass March 12, 1992. 49 Aleksei Tabachnikov. Experts Suggest Russia Negotiate Recognition of Chechnya Itar-Tass March 18, 1992. 50 Ibid. 51 Russian-Chechen Meeting Puts Forward Agenda for Negotiations BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Part 1: the USSR; Russias Regions, March 18, 1992. 52 Zayavlenie Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii, Sezda narodnykh deputatov Rossiiskoi Federatsii December 11, 1992 in Eremenko & Novikov, 50. 53 Wisdom and Patience Helped to Preserve Peace Rossiiskaia Gazeta Dec. 17, 1992, 1. 54 Chechnya and Russia Soon to Agree on Division of Powers Itar-Tass Dec. 28, 1992. 55 Wisdom and Patience Helped to Preserve Peace 56 Chechnya and Russia Soon to Agree on Division of Powers 57 Aleksandr Alyoshkin Division of Powers Only Planned So Far Rossiiskaia Gazeta Jan. 4, 1993, 2. 58 Ibid. 59 Chechen First Deputy Premier on Russian/Chechen Relations and Possible Treaty BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Part I: The USSR; Russias Regions, Jan. 4, 1993. 60 Ibid. 61 Sharip Asuev. Dzhokhar Dudaev on Deputies Congress Decisions Itar-Tass Dec. 11, 1992. 62 Chechnya Nezavisimaia Gazeta Jan. 6, 1993, 3. 63 Ibid. 64 Timur Muzaev. Grozny Expects Invasion of Russian Troops Nezavisimaia Gazeta Jan. 15, 1993. 3. 65 After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a dispute erupted between Ingushetia and North Osetiia over the Prigorodny Region. Because this region contained a significant number of ethnic Ingush, Ingushetia demanded that this region be added to its territory. Violence soon flared between the Ingush and North Osetiians prompting Moscow to send a Russian peacekeeping force, which the Ingush often accused of siding with the North Osetiians instead of acting as neutral peacekeepers. This conflict as well as the problems caused by the CPSU Presidiums addition of Cossack territories to the Chechen-Ingush ASSR in 1957 demonstrates how the arbitrary drawing of borders without regard to local populations can create serious aggravations later on.



Ibid. Sergei Chugaev. Talks in Grozny Give Hope for Ending Confrontation in North Caucasus Izvestiia Jan. 18, 1993, 1. 68 Sharip Asuev. Results of Talks between Russia and Chechnya in Grozny Itar-Tass Jan. 14, 1993. 69 Protokol o resultatakh vstrechi delegatsii Rossiiskoi Federatsii i Chechenskoi Respubliki v g. Groznom Jan. 14, 1993 in Eremenko & Novikov, 53. 70 Asuev, Results of Talks between Russia and Chechnya in Grozny. 71 German, Russias Chechen War, 70. 72 Ibid., 71. 73 Sharip Asuev. Chechen Republic Doubts Soon Resumption of Talks with Russia Itar-Tass Feb. 26, 1993. 74 German, Russias Chechen War, 84. 75 Sharip Asuev. Chechen Parliament Repeals Dudaevs Decrees Itar-Tass Feb. 17, 1993. 76 Ibid. 77 Timur Muzaev & Georgy Melikyants. Political Crisis in Chechnya Nezavisimaia Gazeta Apr. 20, 1993, 1. 78 German, Russias Chechen War, 86-87. 79 Murzaev & Melikyants, 1. 80 Lilia Shevtsova. Yeltsins Russia: Myths and Reality. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1999. 36. 81 Shevtsova, Yeltsins Russia: Myths and Reality, 38. 82 Shevtsova, Yeltsins Russia: Myths and Reality, 39. 83 Shevtsova, Yeltsins Russia: Myths and Reality, 39. 84 Shevtsova, Yeltsins Russia: Myths and Reality, 55. 85 Shevtsova, Yeltsins Russia: Myths and Reality, 60. 86 Shevtsova, Yeltsins Russia: Myths and Reality, 71. 87 Shevtsova, Yeltsins Russia: Myths and Reality, 74. 88 This is a very basic, simplistic overview of Yeltsins standoff against the Russian Parliament and is intended only to provide a basic understanding of the complexities of Russian politics leading up to the war. For a more thorough discussion of these events, see ibid. 89 Aleksandr Snopov. Highlanders Judgment: Yeltsin Whipping up Second Caucasus War Kommersant Nov. 11, 1991, 23. 90 Komsomolskaia pravda Sept. 8, 1992 p. 1 quoted in Interfax Sept. 8, 1992. 91 Sharip Yusupov President Dudaev Invited Rutskoi to Visit Chechnya Itar-Tass Sept. 23, 1992. 92 A. Sargin. Hello, Dudaev Speaking Argumenty i Fakty No. 40 p. 4. 93 Ibid. 94 Pismo Prezidentu Rossiiskoi Federatsii Yeltsinu B.N. ot Prezidenta Chechenskoi Respubliki Dzh. Dudaeva March 30, 1993 in Eremenko & Novikov, 54. 95 Ibid. 96 Ibid. 97 Shevtsova, Yeltsins Russia: Myths and Reality, 99.


1 2

Viktor Shirokov. What Does Chechnya Want? Pravda Feb. 6, 1993, 1. Tracey German also makes this argument in Russias Chechen War. 3 Matthew Evangelista. The Chechen Wars: Will Russia Go the Way of the Soviet Union? Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2002. 96. 4 Evangelista, 99. 5 Evangelista, 102. 6 Evangelista, 103. 7 Gail W. Lapidus & Edward W. Walker. Nationalism, Regionalism, and Federalism: Center-Periphery Relations in Post-Communist Russia in The New Russia Ed. Gail W. Lapidus. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1995. 107. 8 See Chapter 2. 9 Sharip Asuev. New Chechen Premier Accuses Dudaev of Republican Crisis Itar-Tass May 21, 1993. 10 Sharip Asuev. Chechen Republic Restores Fiscal Relations with Russia Itar-Tass May 22, 1993. 11 Ibid.


Ibid. Chechnia: Government Economic Measures to Cool Conflict; Premier in Moscow BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Part 1 the USSR, May 29, 1993. 14 Igor Belsky. Chechnya Ready for Talks with Russia Itar-Tass, June 2, 1993. 15 Ibid. 16 Rival Chechen Governments Disagree on Relations with Russia BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Part 1 the USSR, June 3, 1993. 17 Chechen Premier on Sovereignty and the Economy BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Part 1 the USSR, June 12, 1993. 18 Ibid. 19 Ibid. 20 Sharip Asuev. Traditional Political Means will not Suffice Official Itar-Tass, June 16, 1993. 21 In May, shortly after being named the new Chechen Prime Minister by the Government of National Trust, Mamodaev signed a decree to establish a 200,000 strong army. I am unable to determine whether this army ever existed, but because of the size of the anti-Dudaev opposition in Chechnya, it is very probable that Mamodaev could assemble an army, but it is doubtful he could muster 200,000 men. See Nikolai Sergeev & Aleksandr Dymov. Where is the Lone Wolf Going Krasnaia zvezda May 27, 1993, 3. 22 After Mamodaevs negotiations with Moscow, Dudaev responded by repudiating the talks and by stripping Mamodaev and all other Chechens participating in the talks of their Chechen citizenship. Thus, Dudaev again demoted Mamodaev for his efforts aimed at resolving the crisis. Natalya Pachegina. Chechen Republic: Khasbulatov Deprived of his Historical Homeland Parliament was Attacked, but did not Yield Nezavisimaia gazeta June 4, 1993, 1,3. 23 Russia, Chechnya Get Ready for Talks Itar-Tass March 21, 1994. 24 Tamara Zamyatina. Russia Accuses Chechnya of Bringing Talks to Deadlock Itar-Tass, March 24, 1994. 25 Ibid. 26 Ibid. 27 Valeri Sevrykov & Andrei Shtorkh. Russia Cannot Guarantee Foreigners Safety in Chechnya Itar-Tass Sept. 6, 1994. 28 Ibid. 29 Vladimir Taranov. Moscow Plans no Negotiations with Chechnyas Dudaev Itar-Tass Sept. 16, 1994. 30 Pavel Kuznetsov. State Duma Urges to Normalize Relations with Chechnya Itar-Tass March 25, 1994. 31 Ibid. 32 Although a Iandarbiev-Chernomyrdin meeting may have led to a Yeltsin-Dudaev meeting, I reiterate my argument that had Yeltsin and Dudaev met there is still no guarantee that an agreement would have been reached. I am merely asserting that had Yeltsin and Dudaev held direct negotiations, the possibility for a peaceful settlement would have increased greatly. 33 Gail W. Lapidus. Contested Sovereignty: The Tragedy of Chechnya. International Security, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Summer 1998), 17. 34 Boris Yeltsin. Midnight Diaries. Tr. Catherine A. Fitzpatrick. New York: Public Affairs, 2000. 57. 35 Ibid. 36 Muzaev, Chechenskaia Respublika, 54. 37 Ibid. 38 Maria Eismont. Chechen Opposition Works for Downfall of Dudaev Regime Segodnia, May 12, 1994, 3. 39 Ibid. 40 Peter Reddaway & Dmitri Glinski. The Tragedy of Russias Reforms: Market Bolshevism against Democracy. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute for Peace Press, 2001. 169. 41 Ibid., 162. 42 Ibid., 168. 43 Ibid., 169. 44 Tamara Zamiatina. Shakhrai: Only Federalism can Keep Russia Whole. Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press, Vol. 96, No. 8 (March 23, 1994), 16. 45 Lapidus, Contested Sovereignty: The Tragedy of Chechnya, 16 FN 20. 46 N. Gorodetskaia. Chechen Foreign Ministry to Suspend Ties with U.K.; Opposition to Talk in Moscow. BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Part 1 Former USSR; Russia, May 7, 1994.



After Dudaev dissolved the Chechen Parliament in 1993, his popularity plummeted and numerous opposition groups formed. In a situation not unlike Weimar Germany when political parties such as the Nazis, Communists, and Socialists had their own paramilitary units, most of the major opposition groups in Chechnya in 1993-94 controlled their own armies. Because of the existence of these armed units, the political situation in 1994 was extremely volatile and threatened to erupt into civil war. 48 Ibid. 49 After his victory in the October 1993 showdown with the Russian Parliament, Yeltsin had his rival Khasbulatov arrested. Because of his Chechen ethnicity and his attempt to confront Yeltsin, Khasbulatov became a hero in Chechnya. Upon his release from prison, Khasbulatov returned to Chechnya and soon entered politics by openly opposing Dudaev. Khasbulatov reportedly hoped to secure Dudaevs ouster and thus return to big politics by installing himself as Chechnyas leader. Tracey German, among other scholars, argues that Khasbulatovs rising popularity and the possibility that he may use the Chechen crisis to return to power contributed to Yeltsins decision to invade Chechnya. By doing so, she argues, Yeltsin could prevent the return of his now despised former ally. See German, 107. 50 Contradictory Reports Coming in from Chechnya. Itar-Tass, July 26, 1994. 51 Ibid. 52 Ibid. 53 Aleksandr Bushev. A Little but Proud Mountain Republic Falls Down into a Canyon. Komsomolskaia pravda, July 27, 1994, 1. 54 Ibid. 55 Ibid. 56 Oliver Wates. Russia Loses Patience with Chechen Rebels The Independent (London), Aug. 1, 1994, 8. 57 Ibid. 58 Lapidus, Contested Sovereignty: The Tragedy of Chechnya, 18. 59 Gregory Gransden. Tensions Rise in Breakaway Russian Province United Press International Aug. 2, 1994. 60 Ibid. 61 Lapidus, Contested Sovereignty: The Tragedy of Chechnya, 18. 62 John B. Dunlop. The Party of War and Russian Imperial Nationalism Problems of Post-Communism Vol. 43 No. 2 (March/April 1996), 35. 63 Ibid., 29. 64 Ibid., 33. 65 Ibid., 31. 66 Ibid. 67 Quoted in Ibid. 68 Lapidus, Contested Sovereignty: The Tragedy of Chechnya, 18. 69 Ibid. 70 Ibid., 19. 71 Key Events Leading to Chechnya Showdown. Agence France Presse Nov. 26, 1994. 72 Maria Eismont & Dmitry Kuznets. Struggle for Redivision of Power Begins in Chechnya. Segodnia Oct. 5, 1994, 2. 73 Chris Bird. With Offensive, Chechen Leader Takes the Initiative. Agence France Presse Oct. 20, 1994. 74 Key Events Leading to Chechnya Showdown 75 Ibid. 76 Chechen Opposition Attack Repulsed, Government Army Says. Deutsche Presse-Agentur Nov. 27, 1994. 77 Ibid. 78 Lapidus, Contested Sovereignty: The Tragedy of Chechnya, 19. 79 Chechen Opposition Attack Repulsed, Government Army Says. 80 Lapidus, Contested Sovereignty: The Tragedy of Chechnya, 19. 81 Dudaev Declares Martial Law and Curfew BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Part 1 Former USSR; Russia; SU/2162/B Nov. 25, 1994. 82 Chechnya: Dudaev Says Grozny Offensive was by Russians, not Opposition. BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Part 1 Former USSR; Russia; SU/2165/B Nov. 29, 1994. 83 Ibid. 84 Bird, With Offensive, Chechen Leader Takes the Initiative. 85 German, Russias Chechen War, 124.



Lapidus, Contested Sovereignty: The Tragedy of Chechnya, 19 FN 27. German, Russias Chechen War, 124. 88 Lapidus, Contested Sovereignty: The Tragedy of Chechnya, 20. 89 Ibid., 19 FN 27. 90 Yeltsin, Midnight Diaries, 58. 91 Ibid. 92 Ibid., 58-59. 93 Ibid., 58. 94 Margaret Shapiro. Yeltsin Sets Deadline to End Caucasus War; Intervention in Chechen Fighting Threatened. The Washington Post Nov. 30, 1994, A29. 95 Opposition Chechen Military Leader Ready to Lay Down Weapons. Agence France Presse Nov. 29, 1994. 96 Isabelle Astigarraga. Chechens Reject Russian Intervention Threat. Agence France Presse Nov. 29, 1994. 97 Ibid. 98 Colin Peck. Russian-Chechen Conflict at Turning Point. United Press International Dec. 1, 1994. 99 Ibid. 100 Ukaz Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii O nekotorykh merakh po ukrepleniiu pravoporiadka na Severnom Kavkaze Dec. 1, 1994 in Eremenko & Novikov, 74-75. 101 Ukaz Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii O merakh po presecheniiu deiatelnosti nezakonnykh vooruzhennykh formirovanii na territorii Chechenskoi Respubliki i v zone osetino-ingushskogo konflikta Dec. 9, 1994 in Eremenko & Novikov, 78. 102 Postanovlenie Pravitelstva Rossiiskoi Federatsii Ob obespechenii gosudarstvennoi bezopasnosti i territorialnoi tselostnosti Rossiiskoi Federatsii, zakonnosti, prav i svobod grazhdan, razoruzheniia nezakonnykh vooruzhennykh formirovanii na territorii Chechenskoi Respubliki i prilegaiushchikh k nei regionov Severnogo Kavkaza Dec. 9, 1994 in Eremenko & Novikov, 78-79. 103 Ibid., 79. 104 Ibid. 105 Ibid. 106 Ibid. 107 Obrashchenie Soveta Federatsii Federalnogo Sobraniia Rossiiskoi Federatsii k narodu Chechenskoi Respubliki October 7, 1994 in Eremenko & Novikov, 71. 108 Ibid. 109 Ibid. 110 Ibid., 72. 111 Postanovlenie Soveta Federatsii Federalnogo Sobraniia Rossiiskoi Federatsii O polozhenii v Chechenskoi Respublike No. 291-I SF Dec. 8, 1994 in Eremenko & Novikov, 76. 112 Ibid. 113 Ibid., 77. 114 Ibid. 115 Postanovlenie Soveta Federatsii Federalnogo Sobraniia Rossiiskoi Federatsii O polozhenii v Chechenskoi Respublike No. 307-I SF Dec. 17, 1994 in Eremenko & Novikov, 82. 116 Ibid. 117 Ibid. 118 Press Conference with the Chairman of the Russian Federation Council Vladimir Shumeiko Regarding the Political Situation in Russia Federal Information Systems Corporation Official Kremlin International News Broadcast Dec. 5, 1994. 119 Ibid. 120 Ibid. 121 Ibid. 122 Chechnya: Vyacheslav Mikhaylov to Chair Commission on Chechnya, Seeks Immediate Talks BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Part 1 Former USSR; Russia; Russias Regions; SU/2171/B Dec. 6, 1994. 123 Ibid. 124 John Lloyd. Chechnya Talks Due Monday The Financial Times (London) Dec. 10, 1994, 3. 125 Valery Shanaev. Working Interval Declared at Russo-Chechen Talks Official Itar-Tass Dec. 14, 1994. 126 Maria Eismont. Chechen Delegation Discontinues Negotiations Segodnia Dec. 15, 1994, 1.



Parliament and Chechnya; Yeltsin Statement to Parliament on Chechnya BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Part 1 Former USSR; Russia; SU/2178/B Dec. 14, 1994. 128 Ibid. 129 Ilia Bulavinov. Moscow Begins And Kommersant Dec. 10, 1994, 1,3. 130 Yeltsin, Midnight Diaries, 55. 131 Ibid., 58. 132 Aleksandr Nechaev. Use of Force in Chechnya Justified, Shumeiko Says Itar-Tass Dec. 22, 1994. 133 State Duma Speaker Comments on Situation in Chechnya Itar-Tass Sept. 11, 1994. 134 Ibid. 135 Russian Security Council to Discuss Chechen Solution Xinhua News Agency Nov. 28, 1994. 136 Russian Parliament Invites Rebel Chechen President Agence France Presse Dec. 7, 1994. 137 Russian Lawmakers Object to Use of Force in Chechnya Xinhua News Agency Dec. 12, 1994. 138 Ibid. 139 Ibid. 140 Nikolai Troitskii. Communists Ambivalent Stance on Chechnya Obshchaia Gazeta Dec. 29, 1994, 8. 141 Ibid. 142 Ibid. 143 Ibid. 144 Ivan Novikov. Duma Turns Down Emotional Proposals on Chechnya Itar-Tass Dec. 15, 1994. 145 Ibid. 146 Ibid. 147 Tamara Zamiatina. Rybkin Urges End to Hostilities in Chechnya, Calls for Talks Itar-Tass Jan. 2, 1995. 148 Itar-Tass Domestic News Digest of January Itar-Tass Jan. 2, 1995. 149 Ibid. 150 Shevtsova, Yeltsins Russia: Myths and Reality, 93. 151 Ibid. After he became president in 2000, Vladimir Putin ended the practice of republic presidents and oblast chiefs being ex officio members of the Federation Council. The members are now elected by the people of the republics and regions. 152 Yeltsin, Midnight Diaries, 55. 153 Ibid. 154 See p. 52. 155 See p. 48. CHAPTER FOUR For a good, detailed analysis of the military aspects of the war, see Stasys Knezys & Romanas Sedlickas, The War in Chechnya. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 1999. 2 German, Russias Chechen War, 130-147. 3 German, Russias Chechen War, 130. 4 German, Russias Chechen War, 132. 5 Bertrand Rosenthal. Moscow Faces Problems in Setting Up New Chechnya Government Agence France Presse Jan. 20, 1995. 6 Ukaz Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii Ob obespechenii uslovii dlia vossozdaniia konstitutsionnykh organov vlasti v Chechenskoi Respublike January 27, 1995 No. 79 in Eremenko & Novikov, 102. 7 Ukaz Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii O vremennykh organakh gosudarstvennoi vlasti Chechenskoi Respubliki March 23, 1995 No. 309 in Eremenko & Novikov, 106. 8 Dmitry Balburov & Sanobar Shermatova. The Kremlin Stakes Not Only on Salambek Khadzhiyev Moscow News Jan. 20, 1995. 9 Ukaz Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii O dopolnitelnykh merakh po vosstanovleniiu ekonomiki i sotsialnoi sfery Chechenskoi Respubliki February 16, 1995 No. 140 in Eremenko & Novikov, 104. 10 Chechen Economy and Life Support System Being Restored Itar-Tass, Feb. 2, 1995. 11 State Commission for Restoring Chechen Economy Hears Russian and Chechen Officials BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Part 1 Former USSR; Russia; SU/2241/B, March 2, 1995. 12 Ibid. 13 Ibid.



Commercial Banks to Lend R180 bn to Revive Chechen Economy BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Part 1 Former USSR; Russia; SU/2260B, March 24, 1995. 15 Liliia Kuznetsova. Peace Talks with Dudaev Is Illusion Khadzhiev. Itar-Tass, Feb. 20, 1995. 16 Ibid. 17 Chechen Opposition Head: War is between Russian Army and Criminal World. BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Part 1 Former USSR; Russia; SU/2213/B, Jan. 28, 1995. 18 Ibid. 19 Press Conference with the First Deputy Head of the Territorial Directorate of the Federal Executive Bodies of the Chechen Republic, Salambek Khadzhiev. Official Kremlin International News Broadcast, Feb. 21, 1995. 20 Ibid. 21 Muzaev, Chechenskaia Respublika, 87. 22 Press Conference with the First Deputy Head of the Territorial Directorate of the Federal Executive Bodies of the Chechen Republic, Salambek Khadzhiev. 23 Ibid. 24 Valery Batuev. Secret Meeting of Chechens in Moscow. Argumenty i fakty No. 9, p. 2 March 1995. 25 Ibid. 26 Ibid. 27 Ukaz Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii O dopolnitelnykh meropriiatiiakh po normalizatsii obstanovki v Chechenskoi Respublike No. 417 April 26, 1995 in Eremenko & Novikov, 108. 28 Gall & de Waal, Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus, 252. 29 Gall & de Waal, Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus, 253. 30 Gall & de Waal, Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus, 252. 31 German, Russias Chechen War, 139. 32 German, Russias Chechen War, 139. 33 Gall & de Waal, Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus, 268. 34 Gall & de Waal, Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus, 270. 35 Gall & de Waal, Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus, 270. 36 Moscow Makes Concession to Chechen Rebels Xinhua News Agency June 18, 1995. 37 Sharip Asuev & Oleg Velichko. Russian-Chechen Talks Begin in OSCE Mission Itar-Tass, June 19, 1995. 38 Ibid. 39 Talks in Chechnya Focus on Military Issues on Tuesday Itar-Tass, June 20, 1995. 40 Sharip Asuev & Oleg Velichko. Russia and Chechnya Sign Settlement Protocol Itar-Tass, June 20, 1995. 41 The Chechens promise to help track down Shamil Basaev proved to be a hollow one. To this day, Basaev has not been captured and was likely the mastermind behind the bloody seizure of the school in Beslan, North Osetiia in August 2004 during which dozens of schoolchildren died at the hands of their captors. Basaev has also led other raids and terrorist acts since 1999 and in many respects has become Russias Osama bin Laden. 42 Oleg Velichko & Sharip Asuev. Political Problems Discussed at Negotiations in Grozny Itar-Tass, June 22, 1995. 43 Maria Eismont. Parties Have Confirmed Adherence to Peaceful Settlement Segodnia, June 29, 1995, 1. 44 Sharip Asuev, Nikolai Zagnoiko & Sergei Trofimov. Grozny Talks to Continue, Chechens to Scrap Some Weapons Itar-Tass, July 2, 1995. 45 Sharip Asuev, Nikolai Zagnoiko & Sergei Trofimov. Demand for Independence Stumbling Block at Grozny Talks Itar-Tass, July 3, 1995. 46 Negotiators Speak Highly of Russian-Chechen Accord Xinhua News Agency July 30, 1995. 47 Russians Mull New Plan of Action after Chechen Official Rejects Deal Deutsche Presse-Agentur, July 31, 1995. 48 Ibid. 49 Carlotta Gall. Moscows Chechnya Appointee Quits Post. The Moscow Times Oct. 24, 1995. 50 German, Russias Chechen War, 142. 51 Special Status Given to Chechen Republic Itar-Tass, Dec. 8, 1995. 52 Ilia Maksakov. Before Elections, Moscow has Promised a Constitution for Chechnya. Nezavisimaia gazeta, Dec. 9, 1995. 1. 53 Ibid. 54 German, Russias Chechen War, 142. 55 Sergei Trofimov. Election Turnout in Chechnya is 50.42 Percent Itar-Tass, Dec. 17, 1995.




Ruslan Khasbulatov had initially entered the race to oppose Zavgaev, but quickly withdrew his candidacy, calling the elections a farce. 57 Maxim Korzhov. Moscow-Backed Candidate Elected Leader in Chechnya The Associated Press, Dec. 18, 1995. 58 Ibid. 59 Gall & de Waal, Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus, 287. 60 Konstantin Kolesov. Experts Report No Violations During Chechnya Elections Itar-Tass, Dec. 22, 1995. 61 German, Russias Chechen War, 143. 62 Shevtsova, Yeltsins Russia, 180. 63 Ukaz Prezidenta Rossiskoi Federatsii O Programme uregulirovaniia krizisa v Chechenskoi Respublike No. 435 March 31, 1996 in Eremenko & Novikov, 141-143. 64 Shevtsova, Yeltsins Russia, 180. 65 Muzaev, Chechenskaia Respublika, 93. 66 Dunlop, Russia Confronts Chechnya, 150. 67 German, Russias Chechen War, 145. 68 Evangelista, The Chechen Wars, 42. 69 Dogovorennost O prekrashchenii ognia, boevykh deistvii i merakh po uregulirovaniiu vooruzhennogo konflikta na territorii Chechenskoi Respubliki May 27, 1996 in Eremenko & Novikov, 151. 70 German, Russias Chechen War, 147. CONCLUSION

Although the West did correctly criticize Russia for abuses committed by its military against Chechen fighters and civilians, it ignored similar abuses committed by the Chechens against Russians. In addition, the West appeared to not have criticized the wave of kidnappings committed by Chechens throughout the Caucasus in the interwar period, which will be discussed below. 2 Throughout this thesis, I have attempted to refrain from the use of the term nationalism. This is because I am not certain whether Chechen nationalism actually exists. It will be remembered that no Chechen state has ever existed; before the Russians entered what is now Chechnya, the region consisted of a collection of autonomous villages each with its own administration. Moreover, the Chechens themselves have always been divided based on the various teipy. As will be discussed below, after the first conflict ended in August 1996, the republic soon became divided again, as it was under Dudaevs rule before December 1994. With such division and the absence of a Chechen intelligentsia bent on promoting Chechen nationalism, I find it difficult to speak of a Chechen nationalism. Much more research is needed in this area and a discussion of the existence or nonexistence of Chechen nationalism is beyond the scope of this study. 3 Obviously the Chechen authorities were not serious about helping the Russians to bring Basaev to justice as they had agreed to do after the Budennovsk raid. 4 German, Russias Chechen War, 147. 5 Evangelista, The Chechen Wars, 48. 6 Evangelista, The Chechen Wars, 48. 7 Evangelista, The Chechen Wars, 49. After the signing of the Khasavyurt Agreement, Moscow dismissed Zavgaevs government and installed Zavgaev as Russias ambassador to Tanzania. 8 Dogovor o Mire i Printsipakh Vzaimootnoshenii mezhdu Rossiiskoi Federatsiei i Chechenskoi Respublikoi Ichkeriia in Eremenko & Novikov, 5. 9 Ibid. 10 Evangelista, The Chechen Wars, 51. 11 Evangelista, The Chechen Wars, 51. 12 German, Russias Chechen War, 151. 13 German, Russias Chechen War, 151. 14 German, Russias Chechen War, 150. 15 German, Russias Chechen War, 150. 16 Evangelista, The Chechen Wars, 65. 17 Evangelista, The Chechen Wars, 56. 18 Evangelista, The Chechen Wars, 64.



All Russian-language sources cited herein are my translations. All newspaper articles cited are from the Lexis-Nexis online database.

Primary Sources

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Grozny Sunday Incidents: Chechnyas Presidents Version. Komsomolskaia pravda (February 11, 1992). Itar-Tass Domestic News Digest of January. Itar-Tass (January 2, 1995). Key Events Leading to Chechnya Showdown. Agence France Presse (November 26, 1994). Kharlamov, V. Running the Show from a Hiding Place? Pravda (September 13, 1991), p.6. Kolesov, Konstantin. Experts Report No Violations During Chechnya Elections. Itar-Tass (December 22, 1995). Korzhov, Maxim. Moscow Backed Candidate Elected Leader in Chechnya. The Associated Press (December 18, 1995). Kuznetsov, Pavel. State Duma Urges to Normalize Relations with Chechnya. Itar-Tass (March 25, 1994). Kuznetsova, Liliia. Peace Talks with Dudaev is Illusion Khadzhiev. Itar-Tass (February 20, 1995). Lloyd, John. Chechnya Talks Due Monday. The Financial Times (London) (December 10, 1994), p. 3. Lyudmila, Leontyeva. A Coup or a Provocation? Moscow News (April 19, 1992). Maksakov, Ilia. Before Elections, Moscow has Promised a Constitution for Chechnya. Nezavisimaia gazeta (December 9, 1995), p. 1. Moscow Makes Concession to Chechen Rebels. Xinhua News Agency (June 18, 1995). Muzaev, Timur. Grozny Expects Invasion of Russian Troops. Nezavisimaia gazeta (January 15, 1993), p. 3. Muzaev, Timur & Georgy Melikyants. Political Crisis in Chechnya. Nezavisimaia gazeta (April 20, 1993), p. 1. Nechaev, Aleksandr. Use of Force in Chechnya Justified, Shumeiko Says. Itar-Tass (December 22, 1994). Negotiators Speak Highly of Russian-Chechen Accord. Xinhua News Agency (July 30, 1995). Novikov, Ivan. Duma Turns Down Emotional Proposals on Chechnya. Itar-Tass (December 15, 1994).


Opposition Chechen Military Leader Ready to Lay Down Weapons. Agence France Presse (November 29, 1994). Pachegina, Natalya. Chechen Republic: Khasbulatov Deprived of his Historical Homeland Parliament was Attacked, but did not Yield. Nezavisimaia gazeta (June 4, 1993), pp. 1,3. Parliament and Chechnya; Yeltsin Statement to Parliament on Chechnya. BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Part 1 Former USSR; Russia; SU/2178/B (December 14, 1994). Peck, Colin. Russian-Chechen Conflict at Turning Point. United Press International (December 1, 1994). Press Conference with the Chairman of the Russian Federation Council Vladimir Shumeiko Regarding the Political Situation in Russia. Federal Information Systems Corporation Official Kremlin Internaitonal News Broadcast (December 5, 1994). Press Conference with the First Deputy Head of the Territorial Directorate of the Federal Executive Bodies of the Chechen Republic, Salambek Khadzhiev. Official Kremlin International News Broadcast (February 21, 1995). Prokhorov, Boris. Chechnya: 100 Days Before Decree. Rabochaia tribuna (February 19, 1992), p. 3. Rival Chechen Governments Disagree on Relations with Russia. BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Part 1 the USSR (June 3, 1993). Rosenthal, Bertrand. Moscow Faces Problems in Setting Up New Chechnya Government. Agence France Presse (January 20, 1995). Russia, Chechnya Get Ready for Talks. Itar-Tass (March 21, 1994). Russian-Chechen Meeting Puts Forward Agenda for Negotiations. BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Part 1: the USSR; Russias Regions (March 18, 1992). Russian Lawmakers Object to Use of Force in Chechnya. Xinhua News Agency (December 12, 1994). Russian Parliament Invites Rebel Chechen President. Agence France Presse (December 7, 1994). Russian Security Council to Discuss Chechen Solution. Xinhua News Agency (November 28, 1994). Russians Mull New Plan of Action after Chechen Official Rejects Deal. Deutsche PresseAgentur (July 31, 1995).

Sargin, A. Hello, Dudaev Speaking Argumenty i fakty No. 40, p. 4. Sergeev, Nikolai & Aleksandr Dymov. Where is the Lone Wolf Going? Krasnaia zvezda (May 27, 1993), p. 3. Sevrykov, Valeri & Andrei Shtorkh. Russia Cannot Guarantee Foreigners Safety in Chechnya. Itar-Tass (March 24, 1994). Shanaev, Valery. Working Interval Declared at Russo-Chechen Talks Official. Itar-Tass (December 14, 1994). Shapiro, Margaret. Yeltsin Sets Deadline to End Caucasus War; Intervention in Chechen Fighting Threatened. The Washington Post (November 30, 1994), p. A29. Shirokov, Viktor. What Does Chechnya Want? Pravda (February 6, 1993), p. 1. Snopov, Aleksandr. Highlanders Judgment: Yeltsin Whipping up Second Caucasus War. Kommersant (November 11, 1991), p. 23. Special Status Given to Chechen Republic. Itar-Tass (December 8, 1995). State Commission for Restoring Chechen Economy Hears Russian and Chechen Officials. BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Part 1 Former USSR; Russia; SU/2241/B (March 2, 1995). State Duma Speaker Comments on Situation in Chechnya. Itar-Tass (September 11, 1994). Tabachnikov, Aleksei. Experts Suggest Russia Negotiate Recognition of Chechnya. Itar-Tass (March 18, 1992). Talks in Chechnya Focus on Military Issues on Tuesday. Itar-Tass (June 20, 1995). Taranov, Vladimir. Moscow Plans No Negotiations with Chechnyas Dudaev. Itar-Tass (September 16, 1994). Tkachuk, V., L. Krutakov, & Ye. Dotsuk. Grozny: State of Emergency Lifted, Situation Critical. Komsomolskaia pravda (November 15, 1991), p. 1. Trofimov, Sergei. Election Turnout in Chechnya is 50.42 Percent. Itar-Tass (December 17, 1995). Troitskii, Nikolai. Communists Ambivalent Stance on Chechnya. Obshchaia gazeta (December 29, 1994), p. 8. Velichko, Oleg & Sharip Asuev. Political Problems Discussed at Negotiations in Grozny. Itar-Tass (June 22, 1995).

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