Working Paper #95-5(1)

By Mariya Yevsyukova

Department of Sociology

University of Colorado, Boulder

This paper was written with a small grant from the Conflict Resolution Consortium, University of Colorado. Funding for the Consortium and its Small Grants Program was provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The statements and ideas presented in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Conflict Resolution Consortium, the University of Colorado, or the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. For more information, contact the Conflict Resolution Consortium, Campus Box 327, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0327. Phone: (303) 492-1635, e-mail:

Copyright (C) 1995. Mariya Yevsyokova. Do not reprint without permission.

"Checheno-Ingushetia at a glance.

Geography: 7,350 square miles,

about the size of New Jersey.

Population: Chechen and Ingush

are ethnically related Turkic

peoples, mainly Sunni Muslim,

who speak Caucasian languages.

About 52% of its 1.27 million

people are Chechen, 12% Ingush

and 29% Russian.

Economy: It contains a major

Soviet oil field as well as

chemical factories, food

canneries, timber and

furniture industry."

Los Angeles Times, Nov. 10,1991.

[I feel that it is necessary to know the history of Russian-Chechen relations in order to understand the current situation in this region. The contemporary conflict in this area can be understood as the consequence of the ongoing struggle of Chechen people for independence against oppressive czarist and Soviet national policy. Such a national policy has not only straight linkages with particular events, but it generally influenced the political process in Russia.]


The Chechno-Ingushes are natives of the Caucasus. Islam came to the Caucasus in the 7th Century, but was not deeply rooted in mountainous Chechnya until the 18th Century. I agree that the dominant ideology of Chechnya is not Islam but nationalism (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 16). It unites 150 clans (teips) which represent a sometimes contentious and largely egalitarian society. From the 13th Century until the end of the 19th Century, the Chechen people have always had to defend their land against foreign invaders. These centuries have molded their character. Their bellicosity, independence, and courage were noted in Russian literature at the time of the Caucasian War in the 19th Century (Lermontov) and in "The Gulag Archipelago" (Solzhenitsyn). In 1722, during the Persian Campaign, Peter the Great visited Chechnya. The process of colonization of Chechnya by Russia dates from that time.

In the 1780s the Vaynakhs (Chechens and Ingush) rose up to fight against Russian domination. The movement which began in Chechnya under Sheik Mansur engulfed virtually all the Northern Caucasus. The movement was suppressed by the Russian army in 1789.

The Caucasian War (1817-1864).

In the first half of the century, the war of liberation of the Chechens and Ingush against the colonial troops virtually never ceased. It became especially intense after General Ye. P. Yermolov was appointed Governor General of the Caucasus in 1816. Russia had decided to speed up the process of colonization of the Northern Caucasus because its link with Transcaucasia was extremely tenuous (Georgia and Azerbaijan has already been annexed to the empire in the early 19th century). General Yermolov's tactic was a planned incursion deep into Chechnya and Mountainous Dagestan followed by surrounding the mountain rayons (districts) by a tight circle of fortifications, clearing lines through nearly impenetrable woods, laying roads, and destroying villages which resisted. The result of Yermolov's activity in the Caucasus was the relatively stable subordination of Dagestan, Chechnya, and the Transkuban.

After Yermolov, I.F. Paskevich headed the Russian troops in the Caucasus. He decided to abandon the tactics of planned incursion and seizure of territory and returned to the practice of conducting punitive expeditions. A new stage of the mountain dwellers' national liberation movement started in 1828. A Muslim movement to strictly observe the rules of the Shariat (the Muslim religious rules) in the life of the mountain peoples began in Dagestan. Gradually Vaynakhs, who observed the rules of the Adat (the traditional civil law), joined the movement of Kazi Magomed, who was declared Imam in December 1828; he promoted the idea of uniting the peoples of Chechnya and Dagestan. Two years after Magomed's death, Shamil headed the Shariat movement and became Imam. Shamil's struggle under the slogan of a holy war lasted 20 years; however, the strength of his state was severely undermined. During the war, Chechnya's entire territory was the site of constant battles. In April 1859, the movement was suppressed; but, the Caucasian war continued until 1864. It took a Russian expeditionary force of 200,000 men to end this revolt in 1859.

In order to strengthen Russian influence in the Caucasus, the czarist government expelled the Chechens and Ingush from the 'flat' territories and moved Cossacks to their lands. As a form of protest against such a policy, abreks [Caucasian mountain bands who fought the Russians in the 19th century] appeared. The abreks attacked the representatives of the local administration, military officers, and Cossacks; they robbed the farms established on their lands which had been confiscated. Overall, unrest in Chechnya did not cease until 1917.

Checheno-Ingushetia From 1917 through 1985.

During the years of the Civil War (1918-1920), most Chechens and Ingushs supported the Bolsheviks. After the occupation of the Northern Caucasus by the Red Army in 1921, the Gorskaya ASSR was formed in the Northern Caucasus. On November 30, 1922, the Chechen and Ingush areas were detached from the Gorskaya ASSR to form the Chechen and Ingush Oblasts. Several small oblasts were created to prevent the Caucasians from consolidation. On January 15, 1934, the two oblasts were merged to form the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Oblast; on December 5, 1936, this became the Chechen-Ingush ASSR.

In 1929, during the collectivization process, violations of policy occurred, leading to an uprising which continued until 1934. In August 1936, as the result of operations to eliminate 'anti-Soviet elements', 10,000 people were arrested in Chechnya and Ingushetia, and numerous trails were held. Virtually all the leaders -- from the rayon authorities to the employees of the republic organs of Checheno- Ingushetia -- were arrested. At the same time, there were uprisings and the break-up of the kolhozes began in the territory of Chechno- Ingushetia; the Provisional People's Revolutionary Government of Checheno-Ingushetia was proclaimed. The war of 1941-1945 revived the rebel movement in the mountains of Checheno-Ingushetia. In June 1942, the rebel government issued an appeal to the Chechen-Ingush people; it stated that the Caucasian peoples were awaiting the Germans as guests and would be hospitable to them only if they granted complete recognition of the independence of the Caucasus. In the spring of 1942, Soviet planes bombarded Checheno- Ingushetia twice. The Germans were unable to capture the territory of Checheno-Ingushetia; nonetheless, Stalin's government accused the Chechen and Ingush peoples of treachery and organized their mass expulsion to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in February 1944. In February 1944, the Chechen-Ingush ASSR was liquidated. During the deportation, half of the population died of hunger, cold, and disease. Consequently, the rebel movement erupted in the mountains of Checheno-Ingushetia with new force in 1944. Representatives of this movement used the prerevolutionary tactics of the abreks: they attacked the administration and the military from the mountains. Several NKVD (internal security) divisions were sent to Checheno- Ingushetia to eliminate this movement; by the end of the mid- 1950s, the rebel uprising in Checheno-Ingushetia had been virtually eliminated. But, even into the 1960s, there were partisans hiding in the mountains who had suspended terrorist activity after the restoration (1957) of the republic; they hid from the authorities and continued to seek vengeance on representatives of the KGB (successor organization to the NKVD).

Checheno-Ingushetia in 1985-1991.

At first, the perestroyka which had begun in March 1985 had no fundamental impact on the political life of Checheno- Ingushetiya. The first sign of changes was the criticism of the historical writings of professor Vinogradov (the author of the concept of the 'voluntary inclusion of Checheno-Ingushetiya in Russia) theory by historians of Dagestan in 1987. During 1987, tension in the society steadily increased; and, by the end of the year, only a pretext was needed to spur the spontaneously forming opposition into action. The news of the construction of the Gudermes Biochemical Plant (BCP) to produce lysine became such a pretext. By the summer of 1988, organizers of the movement to stop the construction in Grozny had united into the 'Union To Promote Perestroyka'; they soon reorganized into the Popular Front of the ChI ASSR. Until the fall of 1990, the Popular Front was the main opposition to the party-Soviet leadership of Checheno- Ingushetiya. The slogan of restoring historical truth about the past of the Vaynakh (Chechen-Ingush) people and exposure of the semiofficial concept of the 'voluntary inclusion of Chechen-Ingush in Russia' became some of the main policies of the Popular Front.

In June 1989, the organization bureau of the Chechen-Ingush Obkom of the CPSU (Communist Party) elected Doku Zavgayev as first secretary; he became the first Chechen to hold the post of head of Checheno-Ingushetia in all the years of Soviet power. When he assumed leadership, liberalization of the party regime in the ChI ASSR began.

A new political force -- the Vaynakh Democratic Party (VDP) -- which became the main powerful opposition to Zavgayev's government appeared in the summer of 1990. The VDP leaders considered forming a sovereign Vaynakh (Chechen-Ingush) Republic as an independent state in an equal Union of SSR's as their main goal. On November 1990, the Chechen National Congress was held in Groznyy. The idea of sovereignty became the main slogan of the Congress. On 27 November 1990, the session of the republic Supreme Soviet adopted the 'Declaration on State Sovereignty of the Checheno-Ingush Republic'. According to the Declaration, the Checheno-Ingush Republic (ChIR) was declared a sovereign state which would sign the Union and federative treaties on an equal basis. In actual fact, the Declaration did not change the state of affairs in the republic and made almost no change in the character of Checheno-Ingushetiya's ties with the Union and the Russian center.

In December 1990, the VDP and organizations close to it created an opposition bloc, the 'National Movement of the Chechen People', whose main goals were the struggle to realize the idea of 'national sovereignty' of the Chechen Republic and the desire to unite the peoples of the Northern Caucasus into a confederative state outside the RSFSR. Major General Dzhokhar Dudayev was elected chairman of the executive committee of the Chechen National Congress. He began to support the radical nationalists in the committee who openly announced their goal: to overthrow the ChIR Supreme Soviet and seize power. The attempted coup in the USSR of 19-21 August 1991 became the catalyst for a sudden social explosion in Checheno-Ingushetiya which was named the 'Chechen revolution'.


1. The 'Chechen Revolution'.

On 22 August 1991, the leadership of the NCChP executive committee and the leaders of the opposition parties demanded the resignation of the ChIR Supreme Soviet, which had been unable to take a principled position during the days of the coup. In the evening of that same day, the demonstrators surrounded the republic television building and seized it after a minor scuffle with the militia. Members of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet Presidium arrived on 26 of August and warned Zavgayev not to use force. On 1-2 September, the third session of the National Congress of the Chechen People met and declared the ChIR Supreme Soviet overthrown and handed power over the territory of Chechnya over to the NCChP executive committee. Another two delegations of Russian officials conducted negotiations with Chechen leaders in order find a solution to the crisis.

On 14 September, the acting chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, R. Khasbulatov, flew to the republic and firmly demanded the resignation of the ChIR deputy corps; the deputies passed a decision on the resignation. New parliamentary elections were set for 17 November; during the transition period, power was handed over to the Provisional High Council of the ChIR (PHC ChIR).

Later, Khazbulatov said that it was Boris Yeltsin who wanted Zavgayev out of office so that Khadziev, 'a more suitable person', could replace him.

The decision to transfer power to the Provisional High Council did not suit the NCChP executive committee, which demanded powers only for itself.

During the night of 7-8 October, soldiers from the national guard seized the PHC residence; the members of the council, in fact, found that their status had been changed to illegal.

On 9 October, the RSFSR Supreme Soviet Presidium issued a decree: 'On the Political Situation in the ChIR'; the Russian leadership demanded that the unlawful paramilitary formations disarm and declared that the Provisional High Council was the only lawful organ of power on the territory of the ChIR. However, the leaders of the NCChP executive committee continued to make preparations for the election of the president and parliament of the Chechen Republic (ChR); the elections were held on 27 October 1991. As observers and the press emphasized, the elections campaign took place in conditions of an aggravated standoff among various political forces; television and radio were blockaded by General Dudayev's guardsmen. Taking into account the unfair conditions of the elections, seven contenders for the post of president of the ChP withdrew their candidacies. The chairman of the NCChP executive committee, (Ret) General D. Dudayev, was elected the president of the ChR. Later, the make-up of the ChR parliament was announced.

The RSFSR Supreme Soviet, the ChIR Council of Ministers, and a number of influential sociopolitical movements of Checheno- Ingushetia did not recognize the election results.

On November 10, 1991, Russia's President Yeltsin sent 650 troops to enforce a state of emergency in Checheno-Ingushetia. "Dudayev ... defied Yeltsin's decree and mobilized thousands of armed supporters to challenge the troops. The troops withdrew when Russian lawmakers and the Kremlin made it clear that they did not support military action in the region" (The Washington Post, Nov. 13, 1991, p. 6). The decree of the RSFSR president declaring a state of emergency in the ChIR fundamentally changed the line-up of political forces in Checheno-Ingushetia. D. Dudayev held a press conference where the president of Chechnya announced the firm intention of the ChR to create an independent state.

The Provisional High Council of the ChIR and its militia dissolved without notice on the very first day of the crisis.

Thus, the attempt to introduce a state of emergency in Checheno-Ingushetia led to the legitimization of the president and parliament of the ChR and to the disappearance of the opposition. The 'Chechen revolution' was victorious.

The first attempt to solve conflict by force failed.

A year after these events, a state of emergency was declared in the Chechen-Ingush republic as a result of ethnic fighting between Ingushs and Ossetins; after the deportation of the Ingush in 1944, some of their lands ended up in the hands of Ossetians. Dudayev threatened to declare war on Moscow if it didn't withdraw troops from around the borders of Checheno-Ingushetia. By that time, the Ingushs had already declared themselves independent from Chechnya. Russia agreed to pull troops back from the disputed border.

2. A Three Year Interregnum.

The romantic period of the struggle for independence was over. Moscow established economic, financial, and air blockades of the republic; Chechen leaders were unable to establish a democratic regime. After a year of independence, there was an economic and political crisis in the republic. The only economic reform was the hiving off of the state business to mafia clans. The state farms were robbed and crime grew at a frightening rate. The Chechen parliament came out decisively in opposition to the president after Dudayev tried to prevent the referendum (that the Chechen parliament had declared) on the form of the government in the republic and on the need for sovereignty and independence. The president accused parliament -- which had tried to negotiate with Russia about the status of the Chechen Republic -- of betraying the cause of independence. Parliament was liquidated by an edict of the president in April and direct presidential rule was introduced. A new 'parliament' was created on the base of a national radical faction which had unconditionally supported Dudayev; very similar events were taking part in Russia at that time.

Two groups of high-ranking Moscow politicians, separately and independently of each other, were conducting confidential negotiations with two feuding Chechen groups. The aim of negotiations was to return Chechnya to the bosom of the Federation. The Ministry of the Russian Federation on Nationality Affairs, headed by Sergey Shakhray, was building bridges with the irreconcilable Chechen opposition, which promised Moscow numerous concessions (Leaders of the opposition were asking to be helped materially and to be recognized as the legal authority in Chechnya. On their part, they pledged themselves to overthrow the present regime, to organize parliamentary elections, and to transform their republic into a valuable component of the Russian Federation.) At the same time, the administration of the president of Russia, headed by Sergey Filatov, was trying to fix relations with Dudayev. Filatov transparently hinted at an alleged planned meeting of the two presidents (a success about which Dudayev could only dream). He intended to sign a treaty with Grozny on the division of powers and subjects of jurisdiction similar to the Russian-Tatar treaty. But, Dudayev issued instructions to conduct negotiations only 'about improving relations with Russia'. Shakhray insisted that it was impossible to come to an agreement with Dudayev and that it was necessary to rely on 'other sociopolitical forces in the republic'.

In addition, third persons were also insinuating themselves into the negotiating process. Viktor Chernomyrdin received Deputy Prime Minister Mugodayev of the Dudayev government and settled certain problems about the Grozny oil refinery plant and a number of other local enterprises.

Russian leaders chose to support the opposition. Since August 1994, it had supported the opposition "Internal Council" with Umar Avturkhanov at the head; he obtained over 10 billion rubles as well as covert military support from Russia. (The Economist, Sept. 24, 1994; The New York Times, Dec. 13; Literaturnaya Gazeta, Nov. 30, 1994).)

I think that the Russians intended for Dudayev to lose control over a significant part of the territory and for the opposition to arm itself so that the Groznyy leader really would become a very tractable partner. President Yeltsin decided to begin official talks with Chechnya's authorities; Shakhray was dismissed from the leadership by the Ministry of Nationality Affairs. Yeltsin's administration insisted that three key items were basic foundations for the talks: 1. Chechnya would sign the Federation treaty as an RF entity; 2. It would hold elections for the Federal Assembly; 3. It would stop the anti-Russian propaganda campaign. In exchange for these conditions, the RF leadership, as was evident from V. Shumeyko's declaration, was ready to recognize Dudayev's presidential powers and, thus, the legitimacy of his regime. It is evident that Shumeyko's intention to recognize Dudayev's regime in exchange for Chechnya's sovereignty prevailed over Shakhray's, who stated that it was impossible to declare the elections in Chechnya invalid from a legal standpoint. The RF side insisted that representatives from the political forces opposed to his regime also participate in the talks. Dudayev declared that he would not negotiate if his opposition would participate in the talks and that he intended to conduct the talks at the highest level. In his letter to Chernomyrdin (Narod, No 3, March 1994) he still talked about a single independent state ready to become a CIS member. At that time, Sergey Filatov declared that Russia had two solutions to the problem: a mild one (talks and political means) and a harsh one (forceful means).

Unfortunately, because of a new power arrangement in the Russian government, the second alternative was chosen.

3. Russian Intervention.

In November 1994, the Russian Air Forces started bombing Grozny, the Chechen capital; Russia sent thousands of troops backed by tanks and aircraft to end Chechnya's independence bid on December 11; but, it has been unable to quell dogged resistance by the local fighters.

On December 12, talks between Russians and Chechens began in Vladikavkaz. December 15 was the deadline that President Yeltsin had given for the "secessionists" to lay down their weapons. "The Chechen leaders say they will never lay down their arms until Russians troops retreat from their land. Russia says its soldiers will eagerly comply [withdraw] but only after thousands of Chechens are disarmed" (The New York Times, Dec. 14, 1994). On December 14, the Chechen delegation walked out of truce negotiations in Vladikavkaz. On December 15, the Chechen government tried to get the United States involved by asking Vice President Al Gore to act as a mediator between the Russian and Chechen negotiators. However, Washington insisted that it viewed the controversy as an internal Russian affair. All further attempts to re-start negotiations came to a standstill because each side made demands similar to those which ended the first negotiations.

Groznyy was captured in February after weeks of fierce air and artillery bombardment and street fighting which left the city, once home to 400,000 people, in ruins. Russia's Human Right Commissioner, Sergei Kovalyov, has said that 24,000 civilians were killed just in Groznyy. Colonel-General Anatoly Kulikov, commander of the joint army and interior ministry troops in Chechnya, said 1,426 federal soldiers had died in Chechnya. The reconstruction work in Chechnya was expected to cost 5.3 trillion rubles (1 billion dollars) in 1995. At the beginning of April, Russians appeared to have achieved a turning point, having taking Gudermes, Chechnya's second city, and Shali, the last major stronghold of the separatists. This left Russian forces in control of all the east of Chechnya and about two thirds of the whole North Caucasus region. They also control a key railway leading from Russia proper to Azerbaijan and the Caspian sea. Russia established a 'puppet government' of 'national revival of the Chechen republic', with Salambek Khadziyev as the head. But, the conflict is not over: the rebels led by Dzokhar Dudayev have made no secret of their intention to launch a guerrilla campaign from the Caucasus mountains. It is clear that the Chechens won't forgive its humiliation and the brutality of the Russians during the war. Possibly as in Afghanistan, where Russia also installed a puppet leader, Russia will have to keep military forces in the republic in order to defend this new regime.

After information about the severe violation of human rights in Chechnya by Russian military actions appeared, the European Parliament and the whole world community tried to force Russia to stop the brutal war by political and economic means. The European Parliament renewed its calls for an immediate cease-fire, the creation of safety corridors to facilitate rescue operations, and re-opening of negotiations. It requested that an OSCE permanent mission be established. The tone of the European Parliament resolution was considered by Russia as not appropriate for a dialogue with a 'great power, which Russia undoubtedly is'(Interfax news agency, 17 Mar., 1995). Russia failed to take any notice of the European Union calls, it refused to cooperate with the OSCE, blocked humanitarian aid, and stepped up military operations in defiance of EU calls for a ceasefire.

[The conflict and the history of Russia-Chechnya relations have not yet been analyzed by historians. That is why I base my research on Russian, American and English magazine and newspaper articles, "Caucasian Review" [a magazine issued by emigrants from Caucasus in 1950s], and some Soviet books about the history of the Northern Caucasus. Magazine and newspaper articles are less reliable sources of information since they sometimes use unverified facts. In spite of government attempts to limit information, the conflict has been truthfully represented in the Russian media.]


1. This conflict took place in the context of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The Baltic Republics were the first. Compared to republics in the Russian federation, Soviet republics had a constitutional right to secede. There was a conflict between Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Mikhail Gorbachev criticized Yeltsin's handling of the crisis and blocked the use of Soviet Interior Ministry troops to enforce Yeltsin's emergency decree. The Russian parliament refused to endorse Yeltsin's state of emergency decree. This was a challenge of Yeltsin's authority which came at a time of deeping ethnic and economic crisis. Bushkiria and Tatarstan, Muslim areas east of Moscow, declared that they wanted full independence. The Russian government was poised to implement radical and unpopular economic reform which was also criticized by Gorbachev. This situation helped Dudayev to consolidate his power. Both the Georgian president and the Chechen people supported Dudayev's position.

2. Dudayev had three years of independence. The Soviet Union disintegrated during that time. Unfortunately, as in many other republics, the Chechen government was corrupt and was closely tied with the Mafia. However, if we look at crime, corruption, and Mafia activities in Russia, the situation is not much different from that in Chechnya. The Russian press created an image of Chechens as "gangsters": Muscovites were told that the strongest Mafia "group" in Moscow is Chechen. This propaganda influenced public opinion.

Relations between Moscow and other republics of the Russian Federation improved; the constitution adopted at the end of 1993 laid out a rudimentary division of powers between the federal government and the various parts of the Russian federation. Bashkortostan signed the federation treaty in 1992. In February 1994, Russia and Tatarstan signed a treaty after three years of negotiations. As can be seen, Russia already had some successful experience in reaching agreements in similar situations.

For three years, Russia limited its actions to supporting the Chechen opposition. Analysts suggest several reasons: first, Russia already had significant negative experience conquering Chechnya; second, Dudayev threatened to respond with terrorism in Moscow; third, it was reported that Russian policy was "intervening just enough to destabilise Chechnya but too little to guarantee the final result" (The Economist, Sept. 24, 1994, p.54). This raises the question as to what caused Russia to change its policy.

3. It is possible that the answer is the new power arrangement in Russian government. Because of the Constitution of December 1993, Boris Yeltsin wields more power than almost any democratically elected president in the world. He did not consult about Chechnya either with the presidential council or with the government. Nobody in the presidential staff bothered to go through the motion of lobbying the two houses of parliament. (The Economist, Jan. 7, 1995.) The decision about the 1994 invasion was made by a group known as "the party of war". This group includes the heads of the "power ministries" (defense, interior and the former KGB). The Russian parliament failed to pass a clear resolution about this decision. Legally, Chechnya doesn't have a right to secede from the Russian Federation; the Russian Constitution does not permit it. The Russian Parliament officially forbade high level negotiations with Chechen government because the later was not recognized as legitimate. The same resolution, adopted nine months ago, forbade the Russian government to negotiate until free elections were conducted in Chechnya. (Vechernaya Moskva, Dec. 15, 1994.)

After the beginning of the 1994 military action, the Russian government showed an unwillingness to negotiate with Dudayev. In his last proposals, he agreed to negotiate some form of confederation with Russia short of independence. But 'the party of war' talked about only one thing - the terms of Chechnya's capitulation. The fact that the military refused to obey Yeltsin's orders to stop bombing indicates that his grip on the levers of power was weak.


A. Primary. I would name Russia and Chechnya as primary parties. But it is important to take into account that there were different forces in Chechnya and that it was Dudayev's regime which came into strict opposition to Russian government. In Russia the decision to invade was made by a few ministers. 20% (from other sources 8%) of the Russian people didn't support the invasion.

B. Secondary. I would name the opposition to Dudayev as a secondary party. Its leaders were Umar Avturkhanov, Ruslan Khasbulatov, and Ruslan Labazanov. Now, there is another representative -- "Mr. Yeltsin named a 53-year-old former oil executive, Salambek Khadziev, who is in Moscow, to lead the "Chechen Government of National Rebirth" (The New York Times, Dec. 27, 1994, p. A6).

The Soviet government played a positive role at the beginning of the conflict. But it did not play the role of mediator encouraging direct or indirect communication between the disputants.

[During the second period of the conflict (The Three Year Interregnum) there was a conflict inside Chechnya (between the opposition and the president), in which Russia played a role of higher authority (not mediator, because it did not help 'the principles reach a voluntary agreement'; rather, it had it's own goals). It is possible to say that Russian authorities employed covert forms of problem solving strategy. At that time, they stepped back from contentious strategy and felt that compromise could be achieved. But, a stalemate did not occur. There were no four reasons for it: failure of contentious tactics, exhaustion of necessary resources, loss of social support, and unacceptable costs (Pruitt & Rubin, 1986).]

C. Interested third parties. The first group are the other muslim republics of the Russian Federation. The leaders of the Volga republics spoke in support of cessation of hostilities as soon as possible. They met on January 4th to criticize both the "fratricidal war" and Boris Yeltsin for failing to consult with them before starting it. With the help of Ingush president Ruslan Ayshev, the Chechen delegation met with the Russian prime-minister on January 17, 1995, and agreed to a cease fire to start on the 18th of January; unfortunately, it didn't occur.

The second group are various foreign countries and such organizations as the United Nations and Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The position of many foreign countries, e.g., the USA, is based on two

principles: understanding Russia's interest in not admitting the existence of internal dissidence and the necessity for Russia to apply traditional humanistic values in its actions, such as recognizing human rights. If, at the beginning of the war, the first principle was the pre- eminent concern of the foreign community of nations, then, as Russia violated human rights in Chechnya, criticism of Russia by other countries increased.


B. Values-based. The issue of Chechnya independence.

Not all of the Chechen people supported this idea. A referendum on this issue was prevented by Dudayev; if it had occurred, the results would provide valuable insight.

The Chechen people seem to want to use the natural resources of their country for its own benefit and have more autonomy and respect. [A hidden interest was the goal of Chechen leaders to engage in personal enrichment by plundering the resources of the country.]

Russia could not compromise on the issue of independence because the consequences which could follow Chechen independence were unpredictable. Another issue is that Chechnya is rich with oil. Even more important is the prevention of oil-rich Azerbaijan from slipping into Turkey's or Iran's sphere of influence; this has led to Russia's control both of the eastern end of the Caucasus and of the most of the oil reserves under the Caspian. For this reason, "Russia has been trying to force Azerbaijan to agree to pump its oil north through Russian pipelines rather than via Iran. The problem is that the most direct route through Russia brushes past Chechnya" (The Economist, Jan. 7, p.39). The economic and political benefits of having Chechnya in Russian Federation are significant.

C. Interests-based.

Chechen leaders held a very rigid position. One of the interests of Dudayev's regime was: recognition by Russia. If, at the beginning, Russia opposed it, then it agreed in exchange for Chechnya's independence; Russia was ready to grant Chechnya more economic and political power by signing a treaty similar to Russia-Tatarstan one. But Chechen leaders did not want to compromise.

D. Nonrealistic. The notion of humiliation and respect played a significant role. Especially, it applies to the Chechen position. The national character of these people must be considered; they have fought for their independence for centuries. This may be one of the reasons why Dudayev wanted to negotiate only with high Russian officials (prime minister) and did not agree to negotiate with the opposition.


A. Polarization. A very deep polarization between the Russian government and Dudayev's regime existed from the beginning of the conflict; this increased to its highest level by the time Russia helped the Chechen opposition and began armed conflict.

Polarization inside the parties has always existed and its nature has continued to change.

  1. Russia: During the first stage of the conflict, there was strong opposition to Yeltsin's policy in the Soviet Government and in the Russian parliament. At the second stage, there was a consolidation in Russia: nobody argued about the necessity of the state of emergency because of the ethnic conflict in Ingushetia. The policy of waiting suited the different forces in Russia -- all except for the extreme right. Voices in support of some actions toward the solution of the conflict eventually started to appear. After the invasion, there was a very deep polarization in Russian society. The military actions were supported only by the extreme right forces.
  2. Chechnya: Polarization increased during the conflict. If, at first, Dudayev was supported by the parliament and people, after he established a corrupt regime some forces turned away from him: the opposition was formed. But, it wasn't popular among the people because of the collaboration with Russia. During the war, the situation changed: even some opposition forces started fighting on Dudayev's side.

B. Escalation. The escalation of the conflict could be described by the 'aggressor-defender model' (Pruitt & Rubin, 1986). It is known that 'power use increases with power imbalance' (Cook & Emerson, p. 107) The contentious

strategy is likely to be chosen under following conditions: '[A] Party is concerned about own outcomes but not [about the] other's outcomes; [one] party is antagonistic toward the other; [one] party's aspirations are higher and are resistant to lowering; little integrative potential is believed to exist ... . [One] party is likely to make use of contentious behavior in an effort to lower [the] other's aspirations, while keeping his or her own aspirations at their current high level.' (Pruitt & Rubin, p. 44). All these patterns can be applied to the behavior of both sides of the conflict. Using Kenneth Boulding's theory of power (Kenneth Boulding, 1989; Wehr, Burgess & Burgess, 1994), it is possible to say that Russia tried to implement power of 'violent' threats (forcing power) which were met with defiance and counterthreats; then, when it tried to use exchange (trading) power -- it did not work -- because Chechnya did not want to compromise on the issue of independence; then, Russia returned to forcing power. "Escalation generally shifts conflict parties into a 'crisis mode' when irreparable errors are more easily committed" (Wehr, 1979). "The aggressor ordinarily starts with mild contentious tactics because of the costs involved in escalation. But, if this does not work, he or she moves on to heavier tactics, continuing to escalate until the goals are attained or a point is reached at which the value of goal attainment is outweighed by the anticipated cost of continued escalation. The defender merely reacts, escalating his or her efforts in response to the aggressor's escalation. Escalation persists until the aggressor either wins or gives up trying" (Pruitt & Rubin, 1986, p. 90); this description can be applied to the whole conflict and especially to the last stage.

C. Stereotyping. Stereotyping played a big role in this conflict: neither of the parties could get rid of "stereotypes" about each other: Russia focused on the illegality of Dudayev's regime and its criminal nature [which though was partly true, but did not rise to the extent of announcing all chechens as criminals]. Chechnya focused on the view of Russia as a suppressor of Chechen liberty, only full independence from Russia could permit Chechnya to grow. Thus, the image of an enemy was created.


Chechen leaders held a rigid position on the main issue of the conflict, which determined the course of the conflict. Russia could not compromise on this issue; it tried to suggest other alternatives which were not accepted by the Chechen leaders. Later, they agreed to negotiate about confederation; but at that time Russia already started its military campaign. Military power was on its side and it did not want to go retrench. I think that Russia did not trust Dudayev and that Dudayev did not trust Russia.

  1. During the days of Chechen revolution, M. Poltoranin, who was Russian Minister for the Press and Information, suggested to Yeltsin that Dudayev be made presidential representative in Checheno- Ingushetia on the ground that this would persuade his government to 'work for Russia'. In the event that Dudayev rejected the post, he could be arrested.
  2. Two well-known experts in ethical political science (Emil Pain and Arkadiy Popov) worked out the concept of 'peaceful competition between two systems'. Under this concept, overt socioeconomic (and not military) support should have been offered to the three northern regions of Chechnya, whose population had clearly recognized themselves to be part of the Russian Federation by early September 1994. This strategy was aimed at normalizing life in the Chechen regions loyal to Russia and thus raising Russia's popularity in the eyes of the population so that Chechen residents could make a well thought out choice in a year when elections to the republic's new power structures would be held. The concept provided for the possibility of open political talks with the Chechen opposition and confirming and strengthening the powers of the head of the Nadterechnyy district administration, Umar Avturkhanov. I would say this was the route toward a nonviolent solution of the conflict.
  3. The leader of Russia's Democratic Choice (Party), Yegor Gaydar, said in one of his speeches that all attempts made in the second half of the 20th century to resolve ethnic problems by force failed completely. In his opinion, the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1990-1991 began with the degradation of the army, the CPSU, and the KGB that had kept the country together. In 1991, he believes, the USSR actually fell into 16, not 15, parts because in autumn 1991 Chechnya became independent de facto. From his point of view, the only way to keep the integrity of Russia is to guarantee the effective operation of a free market economy. At the beginning of 1994, it became clear that the Russian market mechanism is working and producing results; at the same time the Chechen economy was falling apart. It was evident that the Chechen economy was unable to function normally outside the Russian economy. As a result, Chechnya became a scarecrow for regions thinking of breaking away from Russia. It was at this time that the crisis of the Dudayev regime began. Representatives of various opposition groups thronged to Moscow; it was evident, Gaydar believes, that the continuation of the policy of economic and political pressure combined with constructive talks would have been quite enough to peacefully, gradually, undramatically, but steadily, integrate Chechnya into Russia's constitutional space according to the pattern developed with Tatarstan.

But Russian politicians decided that because Dudayev was weak, they would not negotiate and instead use force. It is true that if anyone won from this, it was Dudayev; the integrity of the federation was damaged.

I believe that the Chechen people must decide what way to go and that Russia had to spare no effort to persuade them (by nonviolent means) on the necessity of being part of Federation.

4. At the end of December, after the military campaign had started, there were voices to start talks within the Russian leadership. Professor Emil Pain, a member of Presidential Council, said that Dudayev could not be ignored since a certain part of the population supported him. At that time, two ways of solving the conflict still existed: the continuation of the strong-arm approach and some hints of political approach. Pain believed that Russia could cede to a certain amount of Chechen independence by agreeing to establish confederative relations with Groznyy. He said that it was too late to stick to the framework of the Russian Federation at talks with Chechnya. (Ekho Moskvy, 26 Dec., 1994).

D. Volkogonov, an adviser to President Yeltsin and a member of the Presidential Council, had the same opinion. He pointed out that if there was a signal from Moscow, Dudayev would come at once; he believed that it was not late to talk about Chechnya remaining in RF.

5. In March 1995, Chernomyrdin presented a long-term government plan for the peaceful settlement of the crisis in Chechnya. He confirmed the Russian government's readiness for talks to include representatives of 'illegal armed formations' in Chechnya. He advocated negotiations to create zones of mutual non-use of force in Chechnya as the first step. He explained that the creation of these zones would entail an immediate cessation of hostilities in the designated areas followed by the disengagement of the opposing sides and the seizure of heavy weapons and their transfer for safekeeping. This solution also contains sections on: measures to protect vitally important installations, restoring law and order on the republic's territory; dialogue with the elderly and representatives of residential centers aimed at expanding peace zones; and, assisting Khadzhiev's government of national revival in bringing humanitarian aid, restoring the economy and preparing for free elections. Those armed groups which refuse to lay down arms would be forced to retreat to the mountains and other thinly populated areas of the Chechen republic.


Internal limiting factors. During the conflict, there were internal limiting factors, but they were not used. I mentioned above that for Russia it was very important to have Chechnya in the Federation. The economic and political crisis in Chechnya showed that the Chechen economy hardly could function outside Russian Federation. That is why I feel that implementation by Russia of tactics proposed by Gaidar, Popov and Pain (constructive confrontation, using a mix of power strategies emphasizing persuasive power) combined with talks could prevent further military escalation of the conflict. "Through the use of power and coercion, it is possible to achieve a predetermined outcome without going into the complexity of the problem concerned. With force, the complexities of any human dimension can be overridden, in the short term, and the situation can be reduced to the simple dimensions of institutional preservation. This is an attraction for those who have political responsibilities... Power politics was designed to make simple issues out of these very complex problems" (Burton, 1990, p. 86). Using tactics mentioned above, it was possible not 'to treat problems simplistically by repressive means, [but] by problem- solving, that is by analyzing the issues at stake within the framework of an adequate theory of behavior' (Burton, 1990, p.87). I agree that such a 'ripened' stage must be avoided, that 'negotiations in such circumstances is unlikely to result in a resolution of the problem, and that any settlement arrived at is likely to last only so long as the power relations make the absence of war possible' (Burton, 1990, p. 88). I feel that this conflict might have that fate.

External limiting factors. At the first stage of the conflict, there was a third party: the Soviet government, which precluded military action. However, it did not try to play role of mediator. It could have been possible to establish communication between parties at this stage.

C. Interested or neutral third parties. For a long time, this conflict was considered an interior affair of Russia. Only now does the world community grasp the gravity of the situation and endeavor to push Yeltsin to cease military actions. "The external threat or imposing of economic, social, and political sanctions may influence the balance of power between the opponents... Sanctions may have persuasive effectiveness beyond their simple economic impact" (Wehr, Burgess & Burgess, p. 12). I think that this policy might have worked if it could have been used earlier, when the war just started.

D. Techniques of conflict management. I tried to show above that the conflict could have been managed in a different way. A lot of mistakes were made by both sides. Instead of using a nonviolent mix of power strategies, the parties chose threat and violence. Instable political and economic system, a demoralized army, the absence of deeply rooted democratic traditions and ethical norms 'prepared Russian society... 'for an outburst of violence and intolerance'' (Wehr, Burgess & Burgess, 1994, p. 3). I agree that neither Russia nor Chechnya are prepared for using a nonviolent approach to political and economic problems.

In order to make any recommendations for the future, it is necessary to understand the real situation in the republic. Accurate, detailed information is very difficult to obtain. Russian generals confidently state that there will not be a guerrilla war; Dudayev believes that with the beginning of spring, Chechen formations will step up activities and new volunteers from other countries and territories will come to Chechnya across opening mountain passes. If there is an exhausting guerrilla war in the republic, Russia will have to keep military forces there in order to defend the installed puppet leader. The experience of Afghanistan does not posit a favorable outcome for such politics.

Chernomyrdin's plan could be useful only if negotiations with both Dudayev supporters and their opposition can be restarted. Implementation of measures used by Esquipulas II in Nicaragua ('demilitarization of conflict through cease-fires; national reconciliation through negotiated settlement, amnesty for insurgents, and repatriation of refugees; democratization of political system through free and open elections, protection of human rights' (Wehr, Burgess & Burgess, 1994, p. 88)) could improve the situation. Participation of a third party might be necessary: it could be 'insider', trusted by both parties (for example, Ruslan Aushev the president of Ingushetia, who already tried to play this role); it could be an outsider, what may be even better, because such a mediator will not be dependent on any of the sides; representatives of other republics of Russia could be observers. "The new triadic system can serve to dissolve the stalemate, produce disputant cooperation with (or against) the intervenor, provide for facesaving [which I expect to be an important issue in case of negotiations: 'by implicitly or explicitly requesting concessions, the third party can deflect the responsibility for compromise from the shoulders of the disputants; the third party serves as a substitute target for the principals' display of irritation, thereby deflecting anger away from the advisory ...; the third party can work separately with the two principals ... to improve the two parties' images of each other' (Pruitt & Rubin, 1986, p. 170, 176, 177).] (Wehr, unpublished). "Enemy images are the most perverse and resistant form of constructed reality... . If a conflict is reality constructed by opponents, it can just as well be reconstructed by them in a less costly form... . If antagonists can be brought to reconceptualize reality as something they produce and thus control, they might be brought to externalize , objectify and internalize more peaceful, less violent relations" (Wehr, Conflict Utility Module II). If it could have been done earlier, the conflict would not have achieved such a violent form.

Negotiations could be successful only if the opponents 'conceive a preferred outcome that did not require the elimination of either side... . Each side's goals would be at least partially met regardless of electoral victory or defeat' (Wehr, Burgess & Burgess, 1994, p. 92). I think that the problem-solving strategy remains the only solution 'if we cannot push each other any harder than we already have, if we refuse to end the stalemate through yielding or withdrawing, and if doing nothing is simply too costly' (Pruitt & Rubin, 1986, p.131).

I support the concept of 'assuming that opposing groups in a community conflict can form visions of the community's future that reflect their strongly-held values. Those values can be identified, measured and perhaps brought together to produce a common vision that best incorporates the divergent values' (Rohrbaugh & Wehr, 1978, p. 523-532). This method can be used to map the values of different groups in Chechnya about the future development of their country. This process can clarify value preferences and positions and locate potential areas for moderation and cooperation. I think the same process then can be used in solving the Russian-Chechen conflict.

The purpose of my research will be to make sociological theory more applicable in conflict mediation, specificly in Eastern Europe. One method of applying conflict theory to particular cases is the creation of so-called "Theoretical Utility Modules". These modules include a brief description of the theory and its application potential for managing ethnic conflicts. Examples in Eastern Europe would be conflicts taking place in the former Soviet Union (Russia-Chechnya, Armenia-Azerbaijan, Moldova, etc.), and former Yugoslavia.

The idea of "Theoretical Utility Modules" was developed by Professor P. Wehr and used in his course "Dealing with intractable conflict". (The sample Utility Module written by him for the class is attached). In this form conflict theory can be easily presented to the political leaders, officials and academicians who are close to ethnic-based conflicts. The Theoretical Utility Modules will be translated into Russian, which is still widely used in the republics of the former Soviet Union. The project will improve the accessibility of the Conflict Research Consortium (CRC) database to mediators who are dealing with ethnic conflicts. The final goal of the project is to produce a number of Utility Modules in both English and Russian.

In my research I am going to use the CRC database and a number of books, an approximate list of which is attached.

Projected timetables and due dates, criteria of evaluation -- ?

Bibliography (theoretical literature on conflict management)

Boulding, K. 1989. Three Faces of Power.

Burton, J. 1990. Conflict: Resolution and Prevention.

Coleman, J. Community conflict.

Cook, K. & Emerson, R. Social Exchange Theory.

Pruitt, D. & Rubbin, J. 1986. Social Conflict: Escalation, Stalemate, and Settlement.

Rubin, J. 1991. Negotiation Theory and Practice.

Wehr, P., Burgess, H. & Burgess, G. 1994. Justice Without Violence.

Wehr, P. 1979. Conflict Regulation.

(1) Funding for this Project was provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the University of Colorado. All ideas presented are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Consortium, the University, or Hewlett Foundation. For more information, contact the Conflict Resolution Consortium, Campus Box 327, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0327. Phone: (303) 492-1635, e-mail:

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