“Troops assembled villagers and townspeople, loaded them onto trucks – many deportees remembered that they were Studebakers, fresh from Lend-Lease deliveries over the Iranian border – and delivered them at previously designated railheads. ...Those who could not be moved were shot. ...[A] few fighters aside, the entire Chechen and Ingush nations, 496,460 people, were deported from their homeland.” – Norman Naimark
Today, Chechnya is a republic with some degree of autonomy in the contemporary Russian Federation. Its population is just over a million people, and it stretches over an area of 17,000 square kilometers. The majority of Chechnya’s population is comprised of Sunni Muslims, meaning religion has played a key role in the territory’s development. In southwestern Russia, landlocked within 100 kilometers of the Caspian Sea, Chechnya is north of the Caucasian mountains, bordering other North Caucasus provinces such as North Ossetia, and Dagestan, and Georgia.
Russia itself is a well-established Slavic, Orthodox Christian country, though its majority Muslim provinces were not obvious to outsiders until the post-Soviet conflicts of the 1990s. The history of the Chechen people in the region is, nevertheless, long-established, and Chechnya has become synonymous with conflict, civil war, and discontent. While many people are aware of that, few understand how things reached that point. The area is complex and fascinating, representing one of the world’s true fault lines in terms of religion, empire, and geography.
To understand Chechen history, it is necessary to understand the region’s development, including invasion, settlement, emigration, and the various confrontations and conflicts that have transpired there. Chechnya: The History of the Chechen Republic and the Ongoing Conflict with Russia examines the history of one of the most controversial regions in the world.