Chechnya and its People

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Chechnya and its People The ongoing civil war between the semi-autonomous republic of Chechnya and Russia has dramatically caught the attention of the world – a world that perceives the conflict primarily through the distorted lens of Russian propaganda, and the contradicting images of Chechen suffering on the independent media. If the West seems impartial or even indifferent to the Chechen conflict, it is because there is little understanding of this people, of their struggle, or of the vast complexities of the greater North Caucasian region in which the Chechens are a part. This lack of understanding extends to the hazy Western perception of the role of Islam in Chechen society. The broad generalizations that have been made by those in the media, by aid organizations, by the Russians, by Islamic groups, and by those in the American government are all politicized oversimplifications which seek to bring the core of the conflict to its lowest common denominator. Many of the claims revolve around Islam; yet, few bother to take into account the greater character of Chechen society, or of the broader historical scope of change that Islam has followed in Chechnya. Often, Islam has changed in response to a Russian stimulus, but many of the Russian actions and reasons in this conflict are well documented. This study aims to analyze the Chechen role in the civil war – and the role of Islam in Chechnya – as opposed to the Russian role, which has been analyzed many times over. The North Caucasus It is difficult for Englishmen to take an intelligent interest in the internal affairs of Russia, owing to the vast number of problems involved, all of which depend upon varying local circumstances, and because comparatively few of us, ev... ... middle of paper ... ...i International Magazine. 16 Oct. 2003 <http://www.azer.com/aiweb/categories/magazine/74_folder/74.articles/74_aliyev_collapse.html> 18. Menon, Rajan. “After Empire: Russia and the Southern ‘Near Abroad.’” The New Russian Foreign Policy. Ed. Micheal Mandelbaum. New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1998. 100-167 19. Chechnya : Tombstone of Russian Power 20. Islam in Chechnya. 13 March 1998 Univ. of California, Berkeley. 15 Oct. 2003 <http://ist-socrates.berkeley.edu/~bsp/caucasus/newsletter/1998-06_walker.pdf> 21. Kagarlitsky, Boris. Russia Under Yeltsin and Putin. London: Pluto Press, 2002. 22. Russia Under Yeltsin and Putin 23. Russia : Islamic Countries Unlikely to Help Chechnya. 19 Nov. 1999 Radio Free Europe, 19 Oct. 2003 <http://www.rferl.org/> 24. Kagarlitsky, Boris. Russia Under Yeltsin and Putin. London: Pluto Press, 2002.

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