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About Chechen Revolt- They Have a Right to Be Independent
An incident that took place in Moscow scared us all. On Oct. 23, about 40 Chechen rebels stormed a Moscow theater at night and held  of about 700 people hostages. They demanded that Russia withdrew its troops from the breakaway republic of Chechen. Russian troops raided the theater at dawn on Oct. 26 and captured or killed the rebels. And then they rescued the hostages.
Their action in Moscow was different from the 9.11 terror in New York and Washington, D.C. and the recent bombing in Bali. They ultimately wanted to gain their independence from Russian rule. Why did they have to struggle against Russia in such a way?
Chechnya is a self-governing republic located in the North Caucasus Mountains between the Black and Caspian seas. The Chechens have lived a nomadic life there for 6,000 years. After Russia conquered the Caucasus region in the 16th century, Chechnya has been under the rule of Russia.
The Chechens have struggled against Russia since 1722. While the war between Chechnya and Russia continued for 142 years until 1864, the population of Chechnya decreased by 75 percent and most of its cities were completely destroyed.
Also, the Russian government implemented a policy of liquidating the Chechens in the early 20th century. Many Chechens were exiled to Islamic nations of the Middle East. In February 1944, the Chechens were exiled to remote Siberia and the desert of Kazakhstan by Stalin. However, Khrushchev allowed the exiles to return to their homeland in 1957. Unfortunately, the Russian government continued to suppress the Chechens.
After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, fourteen regions which were under its rule become independent. At that time, Chechnya implemented a presidential election in October. Then Dzhokhar Dudayev, who was the first President of Chechnya, unilaterally declared independence. Russian President Boris Yeltsin, however, still took a hardline policy to ward Chechnya. Russian troops bombarded Grozny, capital of Chechnya on, December 11, 1994. Now the Chechen revolt started in earnest.
After President Dudayev was assassinated in 1996, the Chechen revolt was thrown into confusion. Aslan Maskhadov, who was the chief of Chechen troops, became the second President of Chechnya in that year. The Chechen rebels have indiscriminately provoked  explosive incidents since then. Vladmir Putin, who was the Russian prime minister, avenged those explosive incidents by stirring up a war in 1999.
The reason why the Chechens wanted their independence is because their race and religion was originally different from the Russian's. The Russian government, however, hasn't recognized the independence of Chechnya. Because if Chechnya gains its independence, twenty-one self-governing republics, located in southwest of Russia, will also demand their independence. And an oil pipeline which supplies oil from the Caspian to Russia stretches over the Chechen region. Also, Russia covets the oil under the Chechen soil.
After Putin became President, the Chechen War has still been an important issue for his leadership. Putin proclaimed "the war against terrorism" after suppressing the hostage-taking at the Moscow theater. After 9.11 terror, US President Bush declared war on terrorism all over the world and specifically against the "axis of devil." Russia also is trying to make a new security policy that is stronger than before. When the EU-Russia summit was held in Belgium on Nov. 11, the issue about the Chechen rebellion was ignored because of each other's economical interests .
Many minority races like the Chechens are still suppressed by the superpowers. Is it fain that minorities are suppressed by the superpowers?

Jeong Jae-yun  dongguel@dongguk.edu

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