(1944–1996), leader of Chechen national movement, first president of Chechnya.
One of ten children in a Chechen family deported to Kazakhstan in 1944 and allowed to return home in 1957, Dzhokhar Dudayev graduated from the Air Force Academy, entered the CPSU in 1966, and eventually became major general of the air force, the only Chechen to climb that high within the Soviet military hierarchy. Reportedly, he won awards for his part in air raids during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. In November 1990, Dudayev, an outsider to the Chechen national movement, was unexpectedly elected by its main organization, the Chechen National Congress, as its leader and commander of the National Guard. Having called for local resistance to the August 1991 coup in Moscow, Dudayev seized the opportunity to overthrow the CPSU establishment of the Checheno-Ingush Autonomous Republic by storming the Supreme Soviet in Grozny, forcing the resignation of key officials, and winning the presidency in a chaotic and irregular vote. On November 1, he decreed the independence of the Chechen Republic, soon ratified by the newly elected Chechen parliament (Ingushetia separated itself from Chechnya via referendum to remain within Russia). Political divisions in Moscow and latent support from sections of its elite helped to thwart a military invasion, while Dudayev bought or obtained most of Moscow's munitions in Chechnya from the federal military. The peaceful half of his rule (1991–1994) was plagued by general post-Soviet anarchy and the looting of assets, collusion between federal and local criminals and officials, and lack of economic brainpower, exacerbated by the outflow of Russian
speaking industrial cadres as a result of his ethnocratic policies. In mid-1993, Dudayev disbanded the opposition-minded Constitutional Court and dispersed the parliament (an example that he then advised Yeltsin to follow). From then on, he was faced with armed rebels, aided by Moscow hardliners. Initially a secular ruler, by late 1994 he shifted to Islamist rhetoric. In December 1994, after failed negotiations and a botched attempt by pro-Moscow rebels to dislodge him, Chechnya was invaded by federal troops. Dudayev had to flee Grozny and thereafter led the armed resistance in the mountains, up until his death in a rocket attack by federal forces in April 1996.
See also: chechnya and chechens
Dunlop, John B. (1998). Russia Confronts Chechnya: Roots of a Separatist Conflict. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.