Chechenia

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Chechenia Republic of the Russian Federation, in the n Caucasus; the capital is Grozny. The region's chief rivers are the Terek and Sunzha, whose fertile valleys support farming. Grozny oil field is a major source of Russian oil. Chechens, who are mostly Sunni Muslims, constitute 50% of the population. The Chechens fiercely resisted tsarist Russia's conquest of the Caucasus, even after absorption in 1859. In the 1920s, separate autonomous regions were created by the Soviet Union for the Chechen and Ingush peoples, the Ingush living mainly in the lowlands. In 1936, the two were united to form the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic. The republic was dissolved in 1943–44 because of alleged collaboration with German occupying forces in World War 2. The region was reconstituted in 1957. In 1991 the Chechen-Ingush Republic split in two. General Dudayev was elected president of Chechenia, but a declaration of independence was not recognized by the Russian government. In December 1994, following a period of bloody internal strife, Russia invaded but met fierce resistance. In February 1995, Russian troops completed the capture of Grozny at the cost of c.25,000 civilian lives. A protracted guerrilla war ensued. In 1999, the Russians launched a second concerted attack, attempting to crush Chechen resistance. In 2003, the Kremlin approved a new constitution granting more autonomy to the region. Industries: oil refining and equipment, chemicals. Area: 19,301sq km (7452sq mi). Pop. (2000 est.) 573,900.