Chechnya

Chechnya [chech′nē ə]
ethnic region in the N Caucasus, Russia: since 1991 its status as a political subdivision of the Russian Federation has been disputed by the Chechens

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Chech·nya (chĕchʹnē-ə, chĕch-nyäʹ)
A region of southwest Russia in the northern Caucasus bordering on Georgia. Conquered by Russia in the 19th century, it later formed part of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Chechnya declared its independence from the USSR in 1991. Russian troops invaded in late 1994, and fighting continued until 1996, when Russia and Chechnya signed an accord calling for an end to hostilities and the opening of negotiations on Chechnya's future political status.
  Chechʹnyan (-nē-ən, -nyänʹ) adj. & n.

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Republic, southwestern Russia.

Part of the Chechen-Ingush autonomous republic of the former U.S.S.R., it became a republic within Russia in 1992, as did Ingushetia. It is populated mainly by Chechens, a Muslim ethnolinguistic group. Chechnya's demand for independence from Russia in 1992 led to an invasion by Russian troops in 1994. Fighting led to severe devastation of the area, and a series of cease-fires were negotiated and violated. A provisional peace treaty was signed in May 1997, and Russian troops withdrew but returned in 1999; heavy fighting resumed. In 2003 a new constitution was approved that devolved greater powers to the Chechen government but kept the republic in the federation. The capital, Grozny (pop., 2002 est.: 223,000), a major oil centre with pipelines to the Caspian and Black seas, received heavy damage in the fighting.

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also spelled  Chechnia  or  Chechenia 

      republic in southwestern Russia, situated on the northern flank of the Greater Caucasus range. Chechnya is bordered by Russia proper on the north, Dagestan republic on the east and southeast, Georgia on the southwest, and Ingushetia republic on the west. Chechnya falls into three physical regions from south to north. In the south is the Greater Caucasus, the crest line of which forms the republic's southern boundary. The highest peak is Mount Tebulosmta (14,741 feet [4,493 metres]), and the area's chief river is the Argun (Argun River), a tributary of the Sunzha. The second region is the foreland, consisting of the broad valleys of the Terek (Terek River) and Sunzha rivers, which cross the republic from the west to the east, where they unite. Third, in the north, are the level, rolling plains of the Nogay Steppe.

      The great variety of relief is reflected in the soil and vegetation cover. The Nogay Steppe is largely semidesert, with sagebrush vegetation and wide areas of sand dunes. This gives way toward the south and southwest, near the Terek River, to feather-grass steppe on black earth and chestnut soils. Steppe also occupies the Terek and Sunzha valleys. Up to 6,500 feet (2,000 metres) the mountain slopes are densely covered by forests of beech, hornbeam, and oak, above which are coniferous forests, then alpine meadows, and finally bare rock, snow, and ice. The climate varies but is, in general, continental.

      Chechnya's main ethnic group is the Chechen, with minorities of Russians and Ingush. The Chechen and Ingush are both Muslim and are two of the many Caucasian mountain peoples whose language belongs to the Nakh (Nakh languages) group. Fiercely independent, the Chechen and other Caucasian tribes mounted a prolonged resistance to Russian conquest from the 1830s through the '50s under the Muslim leader Shāmil. They remained successful while the Russians were occupied with the Crimean War, but the Russians used larger forces in their later campaigns, and, when Shāmil was captured in 1859, many of his followers migrated to Armenia. The Terek River remained a defensive frontier until the 1860s. The constant skirmishes of Chechen and Russians along the Terek form the background to Leo Tolstoy's novel The Cossacks.

      The Chechen autonomous oblast (province) was created by the Bolsheviks in November 1920. In 1934 it was merged with the Ingush autonomous oblast to form a joint Chechen-Ingush autonomous region, which two years later was designated a republic. When the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin accused the Chechen and Ingush of collaboration with the Germans during World War II, they were exiled to Central Asia, and the republic of Checheno-Ingushetia was dissolved. The exiles were allowed to return to their homeland, and the republic was reestablished under the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1957.

      Secessionist sentiments emerged in 1991 as the Soviet Union's decline accelerated, and in August 1991 Dzhokhar Dudayev, a Chechen politician and former Soviet air force general, carried out a coup against the local communist government. Dudayev was elected Chechen president in October, and in November he unilaterally declared Chechnya's independence from the Russian Federation (subsequently Russia). In 1992 Checheno- Ingushetia divided into two separate republics: Chechnya and Ingushetia. Dudayev pursued aggressively nationalistic, anti-Russian policies, and during 1994 armed Chechen opposition groups with Russian military backing tried unsuccessfully to depose Dudayev.

      On December 11, 1994, Russian troops invaded Chechnya. Overcoming stiff resistance, the Russian forces took the capital city of Grozny (Dzhokhar) in March 1995. Chechen guerrilla resistance continued, however, and a series of cease-fires were negotiated and violated. In 1996 Dudayev was killed during Russian shelling, and the following year former guerrilla leader Aslan Maskhadov was elected president. Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Maskhadov signed a provisional peace treaty in May 1997 but left the question of Chechnya's eventual status undetermined. Russian troops soon withdrew from the territory but returned in late 1999; heavy fighting resumed. It was estimated that up to 100,000 people died and more than 400,000 people were forced to flee their homes during the 1990s. In 2003 Chechen voters approved a new constitution that devolved greater powers to the Chechen government but kept the republic in the federation. The following year the Russian-backed Chechen president was killed in a bomb blast allegedly carried out by Chechen guerrillas.

      More than a decade of bitter conflict has devastated the republic, forced the mass exodus of refugees, and brought the economy to a standstill. The backbone of the economy has been petroleum, and drilling was mainly undertaken in the Sunzha River valley between Grozny and Gudermes. petroleum refining was concentrated in Grozny, and pipelines ran to the Caspian Sea (east) at Makhachkala and to the Black Sea (west) at Tuapse. Natural gas is also found in the area. Agriculture is largely concentrated in the Terek and Sunzha valleys.

      Transportation is mainly by rail, following the Terek and Sunzha valleys and linking with Astrakhan and Baku on the Caspian Sea and with Tuapse and Rostov on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. Motor roads join Grozny to other centres within and outside the republic. Area 6,010 square miles (15,700 square km). Pop. (2002) 1,100,300.

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Universalium. 2010.

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