21 January 2004, 00:47

"The Chechen Revolution"

On the background of "Perestroika" (reform) and weakened total Soviet system in the second half of the 1980 in Chechen-Ingush region started a movement against the existing policy. At the beginning the intelligent people came out against the distortion of the history and for environment protection. But soon the demonstrations of protest turned into demonstrations of masses with political demands first of all.

At the first Chechen National Meeting held in November 1990 in Grozny was declared the sovereignty of the Chechen Republic (at the same time the Ingushes were demanding the reconstitution of the separate Ingush national-territory autonomy). The participants in the meeting elected a leading body - Executive Committee. Later it was named the Executive Committee of All-National Congress of Chechen People (ANCCP), the leader of which became Johar Dudaev(1).

Soon rose a conflict between the Executive Committee of the ANCCP and the official Government of the Chechen-Ingush Region headed by Zavgaev, who did not consider the leaders of the public movement as the partners having the equal rights. The main subject of their political disagreement was the different point of view about the future status of the country: Zavgaev was voting for deepening of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomy within the limits of the Russian Federation, while the leaders of the ANCCP were for its complete independence from Russia.

The Russian speaking population of the republic was frightened of the Vainakhs's activity. Among the Cossacks started the movement for creation of the Cossack Organizations headed by Atamans and for drawing the "Cossack" regions from the Chechen-Ingush Republic. This, naturally, complicated the relations with the Vainakhs, as the population of the mentioned region was rather mixed from the ethnic point of view. The situation in the Sunzhen Region was mostly acute. On April 7, 1991 was killed the Cossack Ataman A. Podkolzin and on April 28 an armed conflict between the Ingushes and Cossacks took place. 5 Cossacks and 3 Ingushes were killed in the battle. After that was intensified the withdrawal of the Russian speaking population from the Chechen-Ingush Region (especially from the Sunzhen Region).

The attempt of the coup d'etat in the USSR on August 19-21, 1991 became the catalyst of the political outburst. The official Grozny was hesitating to make choice concerning Moscow, meanwhile the Opposition was calling up the conspirators to insubordination and was strongly criticizing the authorities of the Republic unable to take the principle position in such a critical moment. On August 22 the supporters of the ANCCP after a small skirmish with militia seized the TV center. General Dudaev explained the demands of the Opposition in his speech on television. It was the breach of the information blockade the Government of Zavgaev was trying to keep the Opposition in. Early on September the divisions of the National Guard, formed by the Executive Committee of the ANCCP after the Moscow putsch, were controlling the most part of Grozny. Having got no support from the Center the Soviet-Party leadership of the Chechen-Ingush Republic was completely demoralized. The leaders of the Opposition caught Zavgaev in September 6, 1991 and made him to sign the Act of his retire that was followed by dissolution of the Supreme Soviet of the Chechen-Ingush Republic on September 15. The leaders of the ANCCP declared about taking in hand the supreme power and started preparing for Presidential and Parliamentary elections of the Chechen Republic. They have also abolished the legislation of the Russian Federation on the territory of the Chechen Republic (October 9,1991).

The elections in Chechen Republic took place on October 27, 1991. The Chairman of the Executive Committee of the ANCCP - Johar Dudaev became the president. Soon were declared the members of the Parliament.

President of the RSFSR Boris Yeltsin considered the centrifuge processes very serious in Chechnya and issued a Decree on establishing the state of emergency on the territory of the Chechen Republic (November 8, 1991). An immediate declaration of martial law and the order on forming the divisions of self-defense was the reply of J. Dudaev on the mentioned decision of the Government.

The Russian military aircrafts with soldiers landed at the Khankala Airport near Grozny on the night of November 9, but the National Guard and the Chechen militia had blocked the airport. The Chechen people guarded all the approaches to the capital and all junction railway stations. At the same time thousands of people, ready to defense the sovereign Chechen Republic, gathered in the center of Grozny. In the afternoon of November 9, President Dudaev swore in the Parliament. At the same time the Confederation of the Mountain Peoples which had been founded little earlier before the above-said affairs and had united the most of public movements in the Region, declared about the desire to support the Chechens in case of aggression from the Federal Center.

Thus the attempt of Yeltsin to control the situation in the rebellious republic drove to the opposite results. Dudaev's Opposition in Chechen Republic was demoralized and, in order to prevent the accusation of "national betrayal" during the foreign threat, declared about its loyalty towards the new elected president.

The Kremlin had to step back. In the same evening was known about the agreement with the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Russia, General Komissarov, who specially arrived in Chechen Republic, about the withdrawal of the divisions blocked in Khankala from the Chechen Republic.

At the press conference held on November 10, 1991 President Dudaev announced about the Chechen people's desire to establish the independent Government; he also warned Russia that in case of aggression the empire forces will suffer a decisive repulse.

So the "Chechen Revolution" of 1991 gained victory. The attempt of the Federal Center to stop the evolution of "the Chechen Revolution" by armed interfere also failed. It resulted in legitimization of the new head of the Chechen Republic and consolidation of the most part of the Chechen people.

It is not accidental that the centrifuge processes going on in the Russian Federation were mostly intensified in the Chechen Republic. From a number of reasons that caused such development of the processes there should be pointed out two factors: social-economic and political-historical.

The researchers of the modern political processes in the North Caucasus O.Vasileva and T.Muzaev consider the social-economical factor the main reason of "the Chechen Revolution". They particularly distinguish the pauperization of the most part of the Chechen-Ingush village population, that was the result of disproportionate development of the Autonomous Republic's economic infrastructure during the Soviet period.

During the several ten years the agricultural regions of Chechnya and Ingushetia served as the agrarian appendage of the giant oil producing and petrochemical industry of Grozny. The manpower policy of the Soviet Administration encouraged the afflux of qualified workers from the central part of Russia into oil producing region of Grozny, thereby impeding the Chechen and Ingush people to work in this branch of economics. Thousands of people in rural regions of Chechnya and Ingushetia distinguished by natural increase of the population became unemployed due to these factors. This led to aggravation of the social situation in the Republic. In 1991 the number of "the excess rural population" in the Chechen-Ingush region was more than 100 thousand (but according to the unofficial data the unemployed numbered about 200 thousand) that made approximately 20% (according to the unofficial data about 30%) of the able-bodied citizens. Those people became the principle force of the public movement. It is out of doubt that besides the national feeling they were also encouraged by the hope of social renovation.

Though, we can hardly exclude the historical factor that had the most important role. In historical memory of 6-7 generations of the Chechen people the Russian Government is fixed firstly as the Tsarist Empire and then - as the Soviet Union. Both of them unceasingly fought against the native people, carried on mass deportations of the population and many other illegal actions which can be qualified today as genocide of the nation. The Chechen people resisted them as they could. This infinite and uncompomising struggle had a considerable influence on the formation of modern Chechen mentality. The above-said, of course, does not mean that between the certain representatives of the Chechen and Russian peoples there was no peaceful and friendly relationship. Owing to the century-old close mutual relations the Russian language has become the second native tongue of the Chechen people like many other peoples of the former Soviet Union and Russian culture in a certain sense contributed to the development of the national culture. But the negative experience of political relations with the Government on the background of dissolution of the USSR and "the parade of sovereignties" (2) engendered the aspiration for independence in the Chechen society in order to be protected from the further voluntary behavior of Russia.

Notes

(1)  J.Dudaev was born in 1944. His childhood he spent in Kazakhstan, where his family was deported, but in 1957 he came back to Chechen-Ingush Region. In 1966 he graduated from the Tambov High Aviation College by the speciality of "Pilot-Engineer". In 1974 he graduated from the Air-Force Academy named after I.U. Gagarin. He served in different parts of the USSR. Right before his retire he had commanded the strategy bombardiers division that was located in Baltic Republics. At this time J. Dudaev was Major-General. In the early 1991 he retired and very soon became the leader of the Chechen national movement. On October 27, 1991 Dudaev was elected the first President of Chechen Republic. At the same time he was the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and the Head of Government. After the open attacks delivered by the federal army on the Chechen Republic in December 1994 he became the leader of the armed opposition. He was killed on April 22, 1996 when the rocket launched from the Russian aircraft exploded.

(2)  During the period under review, the leadership of the RSFSR with B.Yeltsin at the head of the Government, by the confronting struggle with the All-Union Center (in the person of M. Gorbachov) in every possible ways, was shaking the foundations of the Soviet Union. At the end of the mentioned struggle, on December 8, 1991 the East-Slavonic leaders signed the Belovejhski Act, which denounced the agreement on forming the USSR. But before that B. Yeltsin had offered the subjects of the Russian Federation to determine the grade of the sovereignty by themselves. His words are notable: "Take the sovereignty as much as you will be able to swallow" (1991). At that time the legislative organs of the national-territorial autonomous units incorporated into the Russian Federation one by one were adopting the Acts of State Sovereignty but mostly they were only the declarative announcements. This process was called "the parade of sovereignties". Only the Chechen Republic ventured to enjoy the right of sovereignty and self-determination completely.

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