CHECHNYA: TOWARDS PARTITION?
Source: Strategic International
Chechnya is situated in the Eastern part of the Northern Caucasus. Its area is 16,6 thousand km2. Chechnya borders Georgia in the South, Daghestan in the East (Russian Federation), Ingushetia (Russian Federation) and Northern Ossetia in the West (Russian Federation), and Stavropol Territory in the North (Russian Federation). In spite of the proclamation of the Chechnya's independence by General Jokhar Doudayev, elected Chechen President in october 1991, Chechnya was not officially recognized by any state. Only the taliban movement recognized this republic, but untill 2000 the talibans were recognized only by Pakistan.
Untill 1991 Chechnya had been part of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic, member of the Russian Federation. In 1989, Chechnya-Ingushetia's total population was 1 270 000 persons. Chechen were the majority group - 735 000 persons, or 57,8% of the total population. Russians were concentrated mostly in the administrative capital of Chechnya-Ingushetia, Grozny, and in the North of the Republic. They constituted 23,1% of the population (294 000 persons). Ingushs were 12,9% of the population (164 000 persons) and occupied the Western part of Chechnya-Ingushetia ; in 1992 they split off from Chechnya-Ingushetia, creating an Ingush Republic. Unlike the Chechen, Ingushs did not take part in the Caucasian War in the 19th century, and at present they don't want to split off from the Russian Federation. If they make an effort, Chechen and Ingushs can understand each other, because both belong to the same group of North-Western Caucasus languages. On the other hand, their language is not intelligible for Daghestanis, some of whose languages belong to this group too. The Chechen are the most numerous ethnic group of the Northern Caucasus. They outnumber Avars of Daghestan (496 000), Kabards (364 000) and the Northern Ossetes (335 000).
The Chechen were converted into Islam in the 18th century by Daghestanis. Like other Moslem ethnic groups of the Northern Caucasus, such as Adyges, Shapsugues, Cherkesss, Kabardins, Abazas, Karachais, Balkars, Nogays, Ossetes Digors and Daghestani ethnic groups, they are Sunni. If only ten mosques were active in Chechnya-Ingushetia before 1985, their number was 175 in 1991, and several hundred in the mid-1990s. Their construction was financed by the Gulf "oil monarchies", essentially by Saudi Arabia.
It's important to distinguish two meanings of the term "Chechnya", that have changed over the centuries. Untill 1917, it means "the country of Chechen", the territory where the Chechen live. There were even subdivisons: "Little Chechnya" and "Greater Chechnya"; "Plain's Chechnya" and "Mountain's Chechnya". However, this term becomes purely administrative after the formation, on 20 january 1921, of an Chechen Autonomous District inside of the Mountain ASSR, (ASSR's constituent ethnic groups were Kabardins, Balkars, Karachais, Northern Ossetes, Ingushs, Chechen, Cossacks and Russians). On 30 november 1922, the Chechen Autonomous Region is organised. It was larger than Chechen Autonomous District. The AR included the lands of four Cossack communities, that had belonged to the Sunzha Cossack District, member of the Mountain ASSR. In 1928, the Sunzha Cossack District is shared among the Chechen and Ingush ARs, while the Chechen AR received the mainly Russian Autonomous City of Grozny, that became the administrative capital of the Chechen AR. From then the Chechen AR became a pluriethnic administrative unit.
In 1937, the Chechen-Ingush ASSR (Chechen and Ingush units united in 1934) numbered 189 000 Russians, 34.6% of the Republic's population. In 1957, two districts in the North of the Terek, Shelkovski and Naurski, mainly with Russian population, were included in the Chechen-Ingush ASSR, restored after the Chechen and Ingush return from exile. Thereafter, the Russian population reduced gradually: 367 000 in 1970 (34.5% of the total population), 336 000 in 1979 (29.1% of the total population), 294 000 in 1989 (23.1% of the total population). In 1989, other ethnic minorities were living in Chechnya-Ingushetia : Armenians (14 800 persons), Ukrainians (12 600 persons), Kumyks (9 800 persons), Nogais (6 800), Avars (6 200), Tatars (5 100), Jews (2 600).
During the Soviet period, the term "Chechnya" is first applied to an Autonomous District, then to an Autonomous Region, later to an Autonomous Republic, and finally from 1991, to a self-proclaimed "independent" Republic, where Chechen were only one of the ethnic groups, though majority group (in 1989, 57,8% of the total population of Chechnya-Ingushetia.
In the first case ("Chechnya" - "country of Chechen"), was an ethnopolitical or ethnoterritorial term. In the second case ("Chechnya" - "administrative unit of the RSFSR or of the Russian Federation", a "self-proclaimed independent Republic"), was an administrative term. In the first case, "Chechnya" was an ethnic territory, that corresponded exactly to geographical space, occupied by the Chechen. In the second case, "Chechnya" was an administrative unit with the more or less artificial limits, created by the Soviet regime. Its increasing doesn't correspond necessarily to the widening of the "living zone" of Chechen.
If Chechen clans were united by the same language, the same history, the same traditions and the same way of life, other inhabitants of the Chechen administrative unit share with the Chechen only a part of the territory of this Republic (for example, Russians, Kumyks, Armenians, Nogais, Mountain Jews). What is more characteristic of Chechen history, the Russians and the Cossacks of Chechnya-Ingushetia are considered as eternal ennemis, invaders, expropriators and organizers of Stalin's deportations in 1957. The Chechen political project can be based only on conflictual opposition to Russia and on expulsion of a large Russian community from the political life, which just led to the exodus in 1991-1994. The populist anti-Moscow anti-Russian rhetoric of Chechen leaders after 1991 was proof of this nationalist "drifting". This rhetoric could become progressist or anticolonial at the Russian Federation level (an ethnic minority claiming self-determination), but at the Republic level it was chauvinistic towards the Russian minority (slogans of 1991 in Grozny: "Russians, don't leave, we need slaves!"). Following the general election of october 1991, there was only one Russian deputy in the Chechen parliament while the Russians were absent in government, Presidential and Republican administration, in leadership of the police and of the armed forces.
This expulsion according to ethnic criteria was applied not only to the Russian community but as well to the other ethnic minorities. More than 30 000 Ingushs of Grozny left this city, like Russians, Ukrainians, Armenians and Jews. Between January and August 1993, for example, 25 000 persons, mainly Russians, left the Chechen Republic. Only four Jewish families remained in Grozny in August 1993, while the Jewish community still numbers more than 2 000 persons in 1989. In the past a mainly Russian city, Grozny numbers at present only several hundred persons of Russian origin.
Chechen are an mountain ethnic group, and they call themselves "mountain dwellers". Mountain collective identity (common history, tradition and culture) subsists today, and mountain ethnic groups are different, for example, from steppe ethnic groups of the Northern Caucasus. This designation means the Chechen are natives of mountains, or at least mountains are their historical lands. Until now, they possess in the mountains their cemeteries, reserved for members of the same teype (clan). But now, only 20% of the Chechnya's territory is mountain, which was during centuries the Chechen ethnic "cradle". The rest of the territory is composed by piemont, probably 20%, while 60% of the territory is composed of steppe, desert and valleys, that were in the past occupied by Kabardins, then by Cossacks and Russians.
This is the main reason of the Chechen conflict, which indeed is first of all an ethno-territorial conflict. An ethnic group (Chechen), based on its demographic weight and on its economic rights (confusion between "Chechnya - Chechen Republic" and "Chechnya - country of Chechen"), decided to split off from the large and complex geopolitical bloc, that is the Russian Federation (composed by more than 100 ethnic groups). Nevertheless, the Chechen ethnic limits don't correspond to the administrative borders of Chechnya (administrative unit). An amicable divorce is not in fact possible, because both actors of this conflict claim the same territory. Moscow fights Chechen for two zones: the Sunzha valley (oil deposits and industry) and the Terek valley (historical Cossack community and important road axis). It is evident that without industry, deposits and road axis, that are the Chechen Republic's only wealth, the Chechen has no chance of acceding to real independence from Russia. Moscow believes that oil industry, roads and deposits have been developped thanks to the common efforts of all the Soviet people, therefore the rightful heir is the Russian people (all the inhabitants of the Russian Federation). The ethnic and administrative borders' question (and its numerous changes) is at the centre of the Chechen conflict. If we want to study this conflict, it's necessary to analyse the geographical position of the conflict's actors and to situate geographically ethnic groups, clans and rivalry. Then, it's necessary to study the events that can shed light on relations between actors, fighting for the territory (Suja and Terek valleys). Finally, it's necessary to find explanations of this rivalry and to forsee future development of the situation.
Every conflict is moved by "representations", sort of images that are often false. But these representations mobilize masses to realize a political project. These representations can be based on history (transformed into legend but majestic), on tragedy (disproportionate but common for all the people, and therefore unifying), and on an enemy's vision ("more the enemy is dangerous, more we must be strong"). In some cases, we have to study the conflict in historical retrospect, but this retrospect has to be always linked to the current events. For example, Chechen separatists refer constantly to the Caucasian War, to the Shamil's Imamate and to Stalin's deportations, in aiming to rub out clan opposition and to unite the forces in order to resist against Russian aggression. For its part, Moscow exalts the Cossack past of the Chechnya's Russians, in quoting abundantly from General Yermolov, who had massacred and pacified Caucasian montaineers during the Caucasian War in the 19th century. He stated : "Gentleness is a sign of weakness in the eyes of Asians [...] and I'm inexorably severe. The execution of a mountaineer saves the lives of hundreds of Russians and prevents thousands of Moslems from betrayal." In the quality of "ghost commander", the General is still present in the Russian-Chechen confrontation, sustaining the hatred of one and encouraging the other. Having an ordinary ruler in hand and almost alone, Yermolov concieved the well-known Cossack lines, kind of "dams", isolating the mountaineers from their mountains, that are difficult to get into, and cutting them off from every contact with Russian farmers-settlers. For their part, the mountaineers were not less categorical. Imam Shamil rote for example to the ottoman sultan : "...But the expressions of Russians are false, and their words are lies. We must destroy what they build and kill them wherever they were: at home or in fields, using force or cunning, in order that their swarms dissappear from the face of the earth. Because they multiply as lice, and they are poisonous as the snakes that crawl in the Muhan desert."
The heritage of that war and of the defeat inflicted to Chechen by Russians and Cossacks, is still present. Although it is more than three hundred years old, the Chechen-Cossack warlike relationship is not unfortunately part of the past composed of just folklore and legends, and the deportation of the Chechen in 1944 made more decisive the break-up between Chechen and Russians. The Chechnya Cossacks (known as "Terek Cossack Host"), lived from the late 18th century on the banks of the Terek-river, considered a part of present Chechnya territory and as their historical lands, disputed also by Chechen.
As we have already said, the territory of the present Chechen Republic is composed of three distinct parts: mountains, piedmont and plain.
MontainsThe economy of the mountains is based on breeding. The life in this zone is developped in high valleys, where the population is largely concentrated. Mountain communities are isolated from each other. Great expert on the Caucasus, General Komarov wrote in the 19th century: "Almost every depression, every separate valley is inhabited by a distinct tribe, that often has nothing in common with the neighbouring tribes. Where the mountains become more accessible, the tribal diversity reduces, while the number of inhabitants and the space they occupy become more important". The breeding in the mountains is done in the framework of bi-annual migration and the pastures are divided into winter and summer pastures. As the winter pastures were situated in the plain, controlled by Kabardins, the Chechen and other mountaineers (Ossetes and Balkars in particular) became vassals of the Kabardin princes.
In a very picturesque way, George Dumezil described the life of mountain societies : "The raids practised, the boisterous activity of young men constantly on horseback, the mortal risks of daily life in the auls (mountain villages) or villages, the moral based on rich archaic legends and maintained by songs of praise and on mockery have exalted everywhere the liking for excentric and paradoxical behaviours. All that, added to the economic conditions, doesn't favour mountaineers seeking prestige in paraded and stabilized wealth, or in the luxury of dwellings: they offer enormous feasts, perpetual hospitality, a generous munificence indeed without limit, they are brave in fighting and speak skillfully about the quality of arms and about the beauty of horses (and wives) to satisfy all the appearance-consciousness of the great men. While the Caucasus remained isolated, this ideal, exactly realized, could maintain. The anarchy got on well with the independence".
Geographically, the Chechen tribes occupied the valleys upstream from the Sunzha and Aksay tributaries, situated towards the West of the boundary of the Avar and Kumyk water zones in the basin of the Sulak - Andiyskoye Koysu. From East to West, the valleys of the tributaries, occupied by Chechen are: Yaraksu, Yamansu, Benoyasi, Aksay, Michik, Gansol, Gums, Okholitlau, Kharachoy, Elistanji, Bass, Sharoargun, Argun, Martan, Gekhi, Valerik, Shalaja, Netkhoy. Fortanga is the frontier between Chechen and Ingush countries. It seems that the birthplace of the Chechen ethnic group is situated to the East of the Chechen mountain zone, bordering on Daghestan, from which the Chechen ancestors came. The raison for this migration was probably dissidence by some Daghestani families, that moved on during 10th-12th centuries. These dissident families settled in the place presently named "Ichkeria" (Dargo - Vedeno). The Chechen constituted a warrior society. In addition to the pastoralism, they found a large part of their income in raids, directed mostly against their Daghestani neighbours and against Georgian principalities in Transcaucasus as well. With the formation of Cossack villages in the Caucasian Piemont, the Chechen warriors began to pillage their new neighbours. If incursions were almost a part of the daily life of Cossacks, the capture of women, children and men, and their sale the Ottoman slave markets, provoked mobilization, upon the initiative of Terek and Kuban Cossack communities, of the Russian imperial troops, that from the 18th century began more and more to be sent into the Northern Caucasus.
According to accounts by Russian officers present in the region during this period, the Russian military presence could be explained by the multiplication of the mountaineers' incursions against Cossack villages, but also against Russian merchant convoys passing in transit toward Persia via the Derbent road. It is in this period (late 18th - early 19th centuries) that the Russian command began to develop the Georgian Military Road, which could provide a way of access to the Persian market through the Great Caucasus, but also to the Georgian principalities, that had asked to be placed under Russian protection.
It is necessary to add that the high mountain, populated once densely, is nearly empty today, especially in its Western part. After the return of the Chechen from their exile of Central Asia in 1957, the Russian authorities united them in the big villages of the Piedmont, in populations of 5 000 - 10 000 inhabitants, whereas the high mountain villages had 200-1000 persons. Today, 10-15% of the total number of Chechen live in the mountainous zone. A very large number of them is concentrated in Ichkeria. It is interesting to note that the Road of Argun, joining the Chechen separatists to their rear bases in Georgia, is quite poorly populated in its mountainous section.
In 1998-1999, the Chechen fundamentalist leaders (Bassayev, Udugov) multiplied their statements, saying that in the past Chechnya and Daghestan were the same politcal space. It's true that during the Caucasian War in the 19th century, Itchkeria was a part of the Imamate of Shamil that included also a part of the Daghestani high mountain zone. In that period, passes allowed to control all these high mountain's valleys without transiting via the plain. The 1999 incursion of Bassayev into Daghestan showed that the Chechen were continuing their project of reunification with Avars in order to obtain an access via the Sulak basin towards the Caspian Sea.
To the South of Sunzha, of Grozny and of Gudemes, many Chechen villages, extended in 1957, were situated in a rich land strip, limited in the South by forests. The descent into the plain began long before the arrival of Russians in the Northern Caucasus. Some historians affirm that there had been Chechen villages on Sunzha, whereas their lands extended to Terek in the North. Unlike their presence in the plain, the Piedmont was occupied by Chechen more systematically and continuously. There was more of a half of the Chechen population, mainly agrarian.
PlainThe plain can be divided in two parts: the Terek valley and the Sunzha valley. The left Terek bank contains a strip of rich lands about 10 kilometers wide. In the North, the steppe changes gradually into desert. Populations are concentrated in Cossack villages spread along the river. Beyond the Terek left bank, there are only hamlets. During the Soviet time, some attemps had been undertaken to irrigate better the Terek left bank. Thus, several channels have been constructed and linked to Terek, permitting in this way to extend the cultivated lands. For example, near Mekenskaya-Naurskaya, the inhabitable area was extended by 20 kilometers to the North of the river. In its plain, Terek is not very wide: in its Chechen section, its width is between 100 and 250 meters, with a depth of 2 to 3 meters. Many fords with a great number of small islands permit to cross the river. Cossack stanitsas have been placed in the easiest places to cross, which permitted, in the 19th century, to control more efficiently the highlanders' crossing of the river. Certainly, Terek could not have constituted an impenetrable barrier, as Russian generals wished, but nevertheless, the Cossack line on this river permitted to reduce the range of the mountaineers' raids that went down into the plain in search of loot and booty. Cossack populations settled for a very long time on the Terek left bank. They took part directly in fighting, being on the side of Russians during the Caucasian War; this is unlike the Cossack of Sunzha, that settled quite late in the region, in 1840-1860. Cossacks of the Terek valley (in this Chechen zone, known under the name of Grebentsy, Cossacks of the Crests) constituted the most ancient Cossack population of the region. Let's repeat it: they consider the Terek valley as their historic land, and ideologically it is the only proof of the ancient and continuous presence of Russians in Chechnya. What is more, the Grebentsy partly adopted the mountaineers' clothing and, during some periods, they lived together peacefully with the Chechen and often integrated them in their communities. During the last two wars, the Grebentsy preferred to not participate in the clashes, adopting a neutral attitude in the conflict. Cossacks, present on the side of the Russian military during the armed actions came generally from other parts of the Terek Cossack Host or from other regions of the Northern Caucasus. An exodus certainly weakened communities of Grebentsy in North Terek, but apart from some exceptions, they were not evicted or put under pressure by local Chechen. The reason for their departure can be explained by an especially catastrophic economic situtation. Two districts are to be found in the North Terek area: Shelkovski and Naurski. The Terek Cossack, native of other regions and Republics of the Northern Caucasus, ask to incoporate their lands into the Territory of Stavropol. These two districts are however invested with a strategic importance, because their territory is crossed by main railways Rostov-Bakou and Rostov-Astrakhan, whereas since 1997, the Bakou-Astrakhan railroad bypasses Karlan-Yurt toward Kizliar, (North of Daghestan) the territory of the Chechen Republic. The railway Rostov-Bakou crosses the Terek close to Chervlennaya to rejoin near Gudermes the southern doubling of this trajectory: Prokhladny (Kabardino-Balkaria) - Beslan (Northern Ossetia), - Nazran (Ingushetia) - Grozny (Chechnya) - Gudermes (Chechnya). Three main bridges link the Terek left bank to the rest of Chechnya: Ichsherski bridge (near to Ichsherskaya), Chervlenny bridge (near to Chervlennaya) and Grebesnkoy bridge (near to Grebenskaya). They alone are used by armored vehicles, which explains a lot of fighting for these bridges and their multiple reconstruction. Besides that, the Ichsherski bridge has been very important to link the stronghold of pro-Russian Chechen of the District Nadterechny to Russian-Cossack districts (Naurski and Shelkovski) "allied" with the pro-Russian Chechen, whereas the Grebenskoy bridge permitted the access to the North of Chechnya for the federal troops, situated in Daghestan.
Another part of the plain is the Sunzha valley, that alone concentrates the totality of the Republic's industry and oil deposits. A strong Russian presence in this valley can explain the formation, according to the General Yermolov's plan, of a Cossack line on Sunzha, that had to link two main Russian fortresses in the region, Vladikavkaz and Grozny. Two relatively low mountain chains separate the Sunzha valley from the land "strip" occupied by Chechen on the Terek right bank. This Chechen community has been known during the different periods such as "Chechen of the plain", "peaceful Chechen" or "Nadterechny's Chechen" (Nadterechie means "Terek country"). These Chechen chose during the War of the Caucasus to not participate in the war and have been installed by the Russian military authorities in the immediate proximity of Cossack stanitsas, whereas the Sujna line had to not only block the Chechen mountaineers in their mountains but also to isolate two Chechen communities one from the other.
In the 19th century oil deposits were discovered near Grozny and in the low mountains situated between Terek and Sunzha. The development of oil production in the early 20th century and notably dduring the soviet period explains the arrival of Russian manpower in Chechnya. In 1917 the restrictions on free circulation for the Chechen, introduced by the Tsarist governement, were revoked. But the Chechen remained excluded from the oil extraction industry activities. They were mainly agricultural workers. Later, the Chechen elite would feel excluded from sharing in the oil income, considering therefore that the Republic was exploited by Moscow. The ethnic composition of the Sunzha valley was exclusively Russian before 1917, but it changed considerably in the soviet time. The population of several Cossack stanitsas was entirely deported. In some others stanitsas, the Chechen quickly constituted the majority. By 1989, Chechnya's Russian community was mainly urban and mostly concentrated in Grozny and Gudermes. In the countryside, Russian Cossacks were present in the North of Terek and in some villages of the Sunja Cossack enclave. This enclave disappears by the mid-1990s. Russians considered Grozny to be a Russian city, notably in virtue of the monument to General Yermolov erected on the central square. This city had not a lot of differences from Russia's European cities, with a theater and buildings in the soviet style. Grozny was surrounded by refineries and chemist factories, it was more linked to "Russian" regions than to Chechnya's rural zones, populated by Chechen. The city constitued a Russian enclave in the Sunzha valley, dominated by the Chechen.
The historic survey
In the history of the difficult relations between Chechen and Russians, two episodes are central: the War of the Caucasus (in the 19th century) and the deportation of Chechen by Stalin to Kazakhstan and to Kirguizstan (1944-1957), in fact these two episodes were exploited to create the very strong representations that mobilize the Chechen in their struggle for the independence.
The first contacts between Chechen and Russians date to the early 18th century. The name "Chechen" has been assigned by Russians in homage to their victory over the Chechen near one of their main villages (Greater Chechen or Bolshoy Chechen), on July 11, 1730: the Russian cavalry, commanded by Prince Volkonski and helped by Terek Cossacks, defeated Ottoman troops, helped by Chechen. Among them, the Chechen are called Nakhtcho. The Russian officers gave some very negative characteristics to the Chechen, that corresponded more to Russian representations and propaganda about Chechen, than to the reality. However, this perspective can help understand the deep grounds of the conflict. For example, in the 18th century, the commander in chief of Russian troops in the Caucasus, General Potemkin, wrote with a certain cynicism: "The Chechen are a people that, by reason of ferocious inclinations, can never remain quiet and on the contrary renew at the first opportunity insolent hostile actions. The only way to stop them from committing [these actions] is either to wipe them out entirely, in sacrificing a considerable part of Russian troops, or to seize the plain that they need for breeding or agriculture". Major-General Modom asked Empress Catherine the Great for forgiveness for the Chechen, and received the following answer: "Unlike other people who, even though they continue to pillage [our villages], at least attempt to hide that, the Chechen pillage openly and even boast of their robberies, that why they don't deserve that the Empress address herself directly to them" (which meant that the Empress had not wished to forgive them). However, such violent actions as abductions, plundering, robbery, that were criticized a lot by Russians, were an integral part of the daily life of Chechen society, that lives on in large part thanks to its warriors. The interdiction by Russia, of raids weakened the Chechen economy and was interpreted by Chechen as the restriction of theirs fundamental liberties. Another description of the Chechen was made by a Russian officer, in the 19th century: "The permanent struggle against neighboring ethnic groups, plundering and the very reduced liking for work, all that developped Chechen bravery, cruelty, skilfulness and ingenuity. To these qualities, the vigorous and wild Chechen added cunning, hypocrisy and treachery. It is difficult to trust a Chechen, it is impossible to believe in his promises and vows. He can always betray, he is always capable to be seduced by a doubtful adventure, by a profit of the opportunity or by a loot. However, it is necessary to recognize that the Chechen is hospitable, very moderate in his needs, and respects the elders. He is a skilfull rider and warrior, and in favorable conditions, he can become a good worker".
The Russian intervening in the Northern Caucasus began in 1783, after the signing of the Gueorguievsk's treaty, according to which Georgia was placed under the Russian protectorate. The first anti-russian rebellion was conducted by a certain Sheykh Mansur, that succeeds in resisting, from 1785 to 1791, against the Russian army. This rebellion spread through all Chechnya, Daghestan and the Cherkessia. In June 1791, Russian General Gudovich, during the Russian-Turkish war, occupied Anapa and captured Mansur. Condemned to life in prison, he died in the Schlisselbourg fortress on April 13, 1794.
The War of The Caucasus
In 1822, another Chechen rebellion began, conducted by Kadyr Abdul, who spread rumours that in four months the Ottomans would have to intervene in the Caucasus. In 1825, a new Chechen insurrection, conducted by Beybulat Tamazov took place.
In 1825, a certain Kazi-Mulla, naqshband sufi from Guimry (Daghestan), proclaimed himself imam. He fought Russians during seven years. At the same time, he preached among Moslems the instauration of the sharia. After some successes, Kazi-Mulla was surrounded October 17, 1832 in his native village and killed along with a large number of his supporters. A certain Shamil was among those who succeeded in escaping. In 1832, one of Kazi-Mulla's lieutenants, Gamzat-Bek, a native from Gotsatl, settled in the Avar Khanat, proclaimed himself the second imam and continued the jihad. However, he was killed by someone of his inner circle, probably because of a vendetta. In 1834, Shamil was proclaimed the third imam. During twenty-five years, he conducted the war against the Russian army. He succeeded in creating a semi-military state, known under the name of "Shamil imamate".
The imamate occupied a large Chechen territory and the high Avar mountains. The imamate possessed its own politcal structure, legislation and armed forces. After many failures in direct clashes, the Russian soldiers changed tactics, concentrating their efforts on destruction of Chechen and Avar villages, on burning fields of wheat and on seizing livestock. Gradually, Shamil lost his base. On August 25, 1859, he was surrounded in Gunib and surrendered to Russians to avoid slaughter of inhabitants of the village. Shamil was received with pomp and ceremony by emperor Alexander II in person in Saint-Petersbourg. He was transferred later with his family to Kaluga. Towards the end of his life, Shamil got permission to make a hadj to the holy places of Islam - Mecca and Medina where he died in 1871. After the Russian victory over Shamil, in 1864-1865, 39 000 Chechen emigrated to the Ottoman empire.
It seems that the Chechen left their lands, under the Russian authorities' pressure, surrendering these arable lands to the Cossacks of the Sunzha's lineage. Another reason for this massive departure towards the Ottoman Empire (nearly 15% of the total number of Chechen), that coincided with the great transfers of Cherkesse tribes from the West of the Northern Caucasus to Anatolia, was the creation of the Sunzha Cossack Line as a result of Russian military progression on the Grozny-Vladikavkaz axis. The Chechen of Sunja valley were systematically evicted from their lands, that were a principal source of their incomes, so these 39 000 Chechen took temporary refuge in high mountains and left for the Ottoman empire at the first opportunity.
Second World War and deportation by Stalin
The first rebellion of the soviet time took place in Chechnya and Daghestan in September 1920. It was put down in May 1921, after the defeat of the main rebel forces and the interruption of aid from Georgia, where, in February 1921, soviet power was established. On January 20, 1921, a Chechen District appeared as an integral part the Mountain ASSR. November 30, 1922, a Chechen Autonomous Region was organized on the basis of the Chechen District, having been separated from the Mountain ASSR. It was united in 1934 with an Ingush Autonomous Region. December 5, 1936, the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Region was transformed into an Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic.
The rebellion was almost continous in the Chechen mountains. July 31, 1925, the Revolutionnary Council of the North-Caucasian Military District took the decision to disarm the population of the "mountainous Chechnya and of its most dangerous districts". The Council mobilized for this operation important forces : 7 000 soldiers, 24 guns, 240 machine guns and 7 airplanes. The result of the operation permitted the seizure of 23.044 rifles, 3902 revolvers and of a large amount of ammunition.
In 1932, during the collectivization campaign, the Soviet authorities displayed too much diligence. On March 23, 1932, a new mutiny began in Chechnya. On March 27, the 28th division was transferred to Grozny, and On March 28 it intervened in order to put down the rebellion. Toward April 5, 1932, the rebel forces were liquidated. The command of the division indicated in a report that rebels had resisted with a particular ferocity. The report noted that even women fought by the side of men, that attacked in close ranks, singing the zikr.
February 23, 1944, Day of the Red Army, all the Chechen and Ingushes were deported in wagons to Kazakhstan and Central Asia. This decision had been taken by the State Defense Committee and was confirmed later by the decree of the Praesidium of the USSR's Supreme Soviet on March 7, 1944. Three days before the deportation, on February 20 the minister of the interior Lavrenti Beria arrived by special train to Grozny to supervise in person the deportation. According to the telegram, sent by Beria personally to Stalin, 352 000 persons were boarded onto the 86 trains. March 1st, Beria reported to Stalin that the number of deported Ingushs and Chechen reached 478 000 people, sent to Kazakhstan in 177 trains. The NKVD committed a lot of atrocities during the deportation. Because of snowfall, the military trucks could not reach one high mountain village called Khaybakh, and it was impossible to deport its inhabitants. Soldiers locked the latter into stables and burned alive about seven hundred civilians, including women and children. The deportation was total and it touched practically all the Chechen. The Chechen-Akkintsy from Daghestan, the Kistins (Georgian Chechen), and Chechen officers and soldiers who were on the front were deported in addition to the Chechen of Chechnya. Only, June 25, 1946, the RSFSR's Supreme Soviet adopted a decree on the dissolution of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR, accusing the Chechen of collaboration with the Wehrmacht. Until now, in spite of a lot of studies on this question, the exact and complete grounds of this deportation are not known.
A Soviet dissident of Chechen origin, emigrated to the West, Abdurakhman Autorkhanov, considers that the motives of the North-Caucasian mountain deportations were : "1. The permanent struggle for the national independence of mounaineers and their rejection of the despotic system of the colonial soviet regime. 2. The will of Moscow to reinforce the Caucasus in future confrontations with the West. 3. The will of the Soviet government to control the Caucasian oil economy. 4. The will to make of the Caucasus a strategic basis, invulnerable from the inside, for future expansion against Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and India".
Some observers indicated that Stalin wished to offer to his compatriots new pastures. Indeed, Georgia hastened to annex high mountain pastures of the Great Caucasus, after the deportation of the Moslem populations of the Northern slopes of the chain, whereas the weight of the Georgians was traditionally considerable in the soviet direction (Stalin, Orjonikidze and Beria were native of Georgia).
With regard to the supposed collaboration of the Chechen with Germans during the Second World War, the opening of the KGB archives during the perestroyka, permitted the revelation of many documents on anti-Soviet activities in Chechnya during in 1941-1944. Two different activities were observed in Chechnya. On the one hand the intensification of brigandry and banditry; for example, an officer of the NKVD informed that in August 1943 54 armed bands were active in Chechnya-Ingushetia. They numbered 359 members, whereas 2045 deserters were searched for on the territory of the Republic. On the other, several reports and testimonies, that can be quite partial, from NKVD's archives mention a clandestine organization, run by the Chechen, that was named the OPKB, Special Party of the Caucasian Brothers. According to the same source, January 28, 1942, a constituent meeting of the OPKB was organized in Orjonikidze (today Vladikavkaz), in the Northern Ossetia. Participants elected members of the OPKB executif committee and of the OPKB "buro of organization". A document issued by the OPKB said that "all the anti-Soviet groupings and organizations, including a Chechen-Ingush anti-Soviet rebel organization of eleven Caucasian peoples of sister Republics (Azerbaijan, Adjaria, Abkhazia, Adygueya, Georgia, Daghestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, the Northern Ossetia, the Southern Ossetia, Cherkessia, Chechnya-Ingushetia, Nakhichevan), according to the will of representatives... of these peoples, are united in the Special Party of the Caucasian Brothers, newly organized". The same document exposed aims of the organization: "to unite all the anti-Soviet groupings and organizations", "to disorganize rears of the Soviet Army", "to accelerate the disappearance of bolshevism in the Caucasus and to encourage the defeat of Russia in the war against Germany", "to create in the Caucasus a free federal Republic - state of sister peoples of the Caucasus under the mandate of the German empire". The OPKB advanced the slogan of activity "the Caucasus - for Caucasians", proposing to "kill bolshevik spirit" and to "deport forever Russians and Jews" from the Caucasus. Among its actions, the OPKB foresaw "some systematic operations against remainders of bolshevism in order to assure German victory". At the same time, the Wehrmacht announced in a tract : "We advance and carry to you liberty and better life, worthy of you, Caucasians in love with the liberty!.. Long live the free Caucasus!" Already, a project of a coat of arms has been proposed: an eagle, holding in its claws a poisonous snake (symbol of bolshevism) and a pig (symbolizing the "defeated Russian barbarian"). Another testimony indicated that in the second half of 1943, the rebels considered organizing a congress of the OPKB in Orjonikidze (Vladikavkaz). Georgians, Ossetes, Azeris, Ingushes, Chechen, as well as representatives of Germany, Turkey and Iran were to participate in this congress.
The NKVD also had got information about a general rebellion by Chechen that was planned for January 10, 1942, whereas the same source let know that the OPKB had in its ranks 24970 persons that were ready to fight. According to the NKVD, four diversive groups, conducted by an emigrant of Avar origin, Colonel Osman Gube, were recruited by the Abwehr and parachuted in Chechnya in order to organize a Chechen rebellion at the time of the German troop's arrival. Colonel Gube was captured in early 1943. According to his testimony, he succeeded in finding support among the Chechen. However, proofs do not exist of a direct collaboration between Chechen nationalists and simple brigands, on the one hand, and the command of the Wehrmacht, on the other. With regard to the existence of this organization, other sources indicate the existence in the late 1930s early 1940s, of a very active anticommunist resistance, conducted by Mayrbek Sheripov and Hasan Israylov, that sent emissaries to Germany in 1941 immediately after the beginning of the war between Germany and the USSR. The emissaries proposed support to the German troops in exchange for the creation of an independent Chechen state. This proposition was rejected by Berlin that could not accept the presence of any independent state on the Road to India.
November 9, 1941, the buro of the regional committee of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR discussed taking measures to put down a Chechen revolt in certain villages of Shatoy's, Itum-Kale and Galanchozh districts (Southern and South-Eastern mountains of Chechnya). It is interesting to note that this precise zone of the Chechen mountain was not repopulated after the return of the Chechen from their exile in 1957, whereas practically all the villages of the Galanchoj District, including Galanchoj, don't exist today. This information is confirmed by sources of the NKVD-KGB's archives. Thus, the commander of the 178th battalion of the interior troops of the NKVD, reported that "Nazi Germany secret agents had organized a rebellion in the territory of several districts of Chechnya-Ingushetia, during which most kolkhozs and rural soviets had been wrecked. He indicated from October 30 to November 5, 1941, his battalion, helped by units of the Red Army, had put down the revolt, killing "59 bandits". August 17, 1942, an information buletin indicated that Mayrbek Sheripov launched an attack against the village of Chatoy, center of the district of the same name. Sources of NKVD informed that in summer 1942, rebels took action in Itum-Kale and Sharoy Districts, situated in mountains of the Southern Chechnya. The same sources confirmed that rebels had succeeded in seizing villages of Khimoy, Itum-Kale and Shatoy. August 20, 1942, the 3rd battalion of the 141st regiment of the NKVD dislodged insurgents from Shatoy. In that moment, Wehrmacht troops approached Chechnya, but they couldn't enter its territory and were stopped near Mozdok (actually Northern Ossetia). The Chechen rebels stopped fighting only in the Summer/Fall 1943, after Stalingrad's defeat of Germans and the Wehrmacht's definitive withdrawal from the Northern Caucasus.
In 1996, the official Russian sources affirmed that in 1942, under the aegis of Germany and Turkey, a commitee of the Chechen-Mountaineer National-Socialist Party was formed. It was not said where its headquarters were situated. Other sources affirmed that there were some units of North-Caucasian mountaineers in the Wehrmacht.
In no way can the documents from the KGB-NKVD archives, describing the situation in Chechnya in 1941-1944, justify the absurdity of the decision, taken by Stalin, to deport the "punished peoples" in 1943-1934. Even though the OPKB really existed, this party could not have had so many members. This Chechen resistance that, unlike the brigands, advanced some ideological objectives, in hanging and executing Russian physicians, school masters and civil servants, numbered several tens of armed fighters at the most.
Until today, the belonging to a clan is very important in Chechen society, whose daily life is still managed by the adats, customary law. The adats are spread in the Northern Caucasus since the Middle Ages. It seems that during more than two centuries, the Chechen social development was restrained at first by the War of the Caucasus, then by its isolation in the "mountain districts", later by a forced sovietization and currently by clashes, economic chaos and guerrilla warfare. With some exceptions, the way of life of Chechen didn't change during centuries, and even 70 years of Soviet rule didn't blot out old clan quarrels, that were materialized inside the Autonomous Republic in the form of the control of the power, highlighting the old opposition between mountain and plain clans.
The Chechen clan "teype (taip, clan)" or "tayp" was composed of several big families, that, without exception, declared their common origin to be the same mythical ancestor. More than 135 teypes (clans) existed in the 19th century in Chechnya, before the beginning of the War of the Caucasus, after which a group of teypes (clans) has been deported in Ottoman empire. This is the list of "autochthonous" Chechen teypes (clans) : Aytkhaloy, Achaloy, Barchakhoy, Belkhoy, Belguiatoy, Benoy, Betsakhoy, Biltoy, Bigakhoy, Bouguiaroy, Varandoy, Vashandaroy, Va'ppiy, Galoy, Guiandoloy, Guiarchoy, Guiattoy, Guandarguenoy, Guiloy, Guioy, Guiordaloy, Dattakhoy, Diay, Dishniy, Do'rakhoy, Zh'evoy, Zandak'oy, Ziogoy, Zumsoy (Buguiaroy), Zurzak'khoy, Zurkhoy, Ishkhoy, Ikhiiroy, Italchkhoy, Kamalkhoy, Key, Keloy, Kuloy, Kurchaloy, Kushbukhoy (Yaliroy), Kkhartoy, Kiegankhoy, Lashkaroy, Makazhoy, Marshaloy, Merzhoy, Merloy, Mazarkhoy, Miaystoy, Mujakhoy, Mulk'oy, Nashkhoy, Nizhaloy, Nikiaroy, Nikhaloy, Nokkhoy, Peshkhoy, Pkhiamtoy, Pkhiarchoy, Rigakhoy, Sadoy, Sakhiandoy, Siarbaloy, Sa'ttoy, Sesankhoy, Sirkkhoy, O'shniy, Tumsoy, Tertakhoy, Tulkkhoy, Turkoy, Kharachoy, Khersanoy, Khildekhiarkhoy, Khoy, Khulandoy, Khurkhoy, Khiakkoy (Tsiogankhoy), Khiakmadoy, Khiacharoy, Khimoy, Khikhoy, Khiurkoy, Tsatsankhoy, Tsientaroy, Tsiechoy, Chartoy, Charkhoy, Chermoy, Chiarkhoy, Chiinkhoy, Chungaroy, Sharoy, Shik'aroy, Shirdoy, Shuonoy, Shpirdoy, Shu'ndiy, Eguiashbatoy, Elstanzhkhoy, Enakkhaloy, Enganoy, Ersanoy, Erkhoy, Yalkharoy, Yalkhoy, Yaliroy, Yamakhoy. It is necessary to add to this list about twenty "non-autochthonous" teypes (clans) formed by representatives of other peoples; for example, Gunoy, related to the Terek Cossacks, Dzumsoy, created by Georgians. Some teypes (clans) (Biltoy, Varandoy, Akhshpatoy and Gounoy) left Chechnya during its islamization. They opposed the sharia and settled in the Russian or Cossack villages at Terek. From that time, ties of friendship exist between certain teypes (clans) and Terek Cossacks, for example.
Movements of populations have changed clan maps. However, 17 teypes (clans) possess today eponymous villages: Belgatoy, Benoy, Vashnidaroy, Dattakhoy, Zandak'oy, Ishkhoy, Kurshaloy, Makazhoy, Nikhaloy, Kharachoy, Tsentoroy, Sharoy, Elstanzhkhoy, Enganoy, Ersanoy, Yalkhoy, Yaliroy. Some big teypes (clans) even possess several eponymous villages, that are often distant from one another. For example, members of Benoy live in the villages Benoy and Benoy-Vedeno in mountains of the South-East, but also in Benoy-Yurt in the Nadterechny District. Another big teype (taip, clan), Tsentoroy, has got two eponymous villages, as well the Belgatoy teype (taip, clan). However, before the deportation, 25 teypes (clans) had got their eponymous villages.
In the mid-19th century, 75% of Chechen teypes (clans) were united in 9 military-economic unions, tukkhums: A'kkhiy, Malkhiy, Nokhchmakhkoy, Terloy, Chianti, Chebarloy, Sharoy, Shuotoy, and Ershtkhoy. Every tukkhum occupied a definite territory, teypes (clans) of every tukkhum spoke the same dialect.
The A'kkhiy tukkhum (now Chechen-Akkintsy in Daghestan) included the teypes (clans) Barchakhoy , Zh'evoy, Ziogoy, Pkhiarchoy, Pkhiarchakhoy and Va'ppiy, that occupied the territory in the East of Chechnya, bordering on Daghestan. The Malkhiy tukkhum united the teypes (clans) Bia'stiy, Bienastkhoy, Italchkhoy, Kamalkhoy, Kkhoratkhoy, Kiegankhoy, Meshiy, Sakankhoy, Teratkhoy, Chiarkhoy, Erkhoy and Yamkhoy, that occupied the South-West of Chechnya, bordering on Ingushetia and on Georgia. Members of the Nokhchmakhkoy tukkhum were Belguiatoy, Benoy, Biltoy, Guandarguenoy, Guiordaloy, Gunoy, Zandak'oy, Ikhiiroy, Ishkhoy, Kourshaloy, Sesankhoy, Chermoy, Tsientaroy, Chartoy, Eguiashbatoy, Enakkhaloy, Enganoy, Chuonoy, Yalkhoy, Yaliroy. Its zone was situated in the East, in the South-East and in part in the center of Chechnya. This tukkhum was the most strong, its territory was known as "Ichkeria". In the Chiebarloy (Chaberloy) tukkhum , there were the teypes (clans) Diay, Makazhoy, Sadoy, Sandakhoy, Sikkhoy and Sirkhoy. It was situated in the South-Eastern Chechnya, in the Northern part of the Sharo-Argun valley. The Sharoy (Sharo) tukkhum (teypes (clans) Kinkhoy, Rigakhoy, Khikhoy, Khoy, Kh'akmadoy and Shik'aroy) occupied the upstream of Sharo-Argun. The Shuotoy (Shato) tukkhum (teypes (clans) Varandoy, Vashandaroy, Guiattoy, Keloy, Marshoy, Nizhaloy, Nikhaloy, Pkh'amtoy, Sa'toy and Kh'akkoy) occupied the territory of the central Chechnya, in downstream of the Chanty-Argun river. The Ershtkhoy tukkhum, that occupied the valley of the Low Martan (Fortanga), included the teypes (clans) Galoy, Guiandaloy, Guiarchoy, Merzhoy, Mouzhakhoy and Tsiechoy. The Chiantiy (Chanty) tukkhum (teypes (clans) Borzoy, Buguiaroy, Khildekh'aroy, Do'rakhoy, Khuokkhadoy, Kh'acharoy Tumsoy) occupied the territory in upstream of the Chanty-Argun river. The Tierloy (Tarelo) toukkhum (teypes (clans) Nik'aroy, O'shniy, Sho'ndiy, Eltpkh'arkhoy) occupied the upstream of the Chanty-Argun river too. The teypes (clans) Zurzak'khoy, Miastoy, Peshkhoy and Sadoy weren't in any tukkhum.
The clan map has been changing since the mid-19th century till today. One tukkhum (Ershtkhoy) was mainly deported at the end of the War of the Caucasus, the members of Ershtkhoy that remained were assimilated by Chechen and the Ingushes. Another tukkhum (A'kkhiy) gave birth to a particular Chechen group, that would be situated outside of the Chechen political space in close contact with the Kumyks. Five other tukkhums (Tierloy, Chiantiy, Shouotoy, Chiebarloy, Sharoy), situated in valleys of the high mountain of the Sharo-Argun and Chanty-Argun rivers, lost their historic territory, since the return from the exile in 1957, at the end of the two years, in 1959, the basin of the Chanty-Argun and Sharo-Argun rivers has been practically emptied of their population (some villages disappeared completely, others, Charoy, Chatoys, Borzoy, lost a very big part of their population). Members of these five tukkhums have been settled in the big villages of the piedmont and of the plain, mixed with other Chechen and Russians. The Malkhiy tukkhum, that also occupied the high mountain, was transfered to the plain too. The result of this is that the only Nokhmatchkhkoy, that occupied the mountainous region Ichkeria preserved its historic lands, situated around the Shamil's Imamate's capital Vedeno. This tukkhum is the most ancient. It united probably the founder teypes (clans) of Chechnya and gave its name to the Chechen, that are called between them Nokhcho. In 1990, the National Congress of Chechen People proclaimed the Chechen Republic Nokhchi-Cho. Although Jokhar Doudayev didn't keep this name, in 1992, under his pressure, Chechnya received a new official name: Chechen Republic - Ichkeria (historic cradle of the Chechen, corresponded to the Nokhchmakhkoy's territory). Thus, Dudayev proclaimed the predominance of the intensely anti-Russian mountain teypes (clans) in the new independent Chechen Republic, unlike the Chechen Autonomous Republic, that was dominated by the hystorically pro-Russian plain teypes (clans). This is not a coincedence if Ichkeria, that had made anti-Russian block with the Avars in the 19th century in the Shamil's Imamate, became since 1995, a home of a permanent Chechen resistance, and rear bases of Shamil Bassayev and Khattab.
It's not possible to understand the role plyed by teypes (clans) played in the 1990s, without understanding adats that are rules, according to which their members act. This mountaineer customary law was in force until 1917 in all mountain societies. The adats included the 23 articles regulating the teype's life in all spheres of life: inside the family, among members and in relations with members of another teype (taip, clan). The vendetta is explained very well in the adats, according to which the councel of elders of the teype (taip, clan) met every time after the death of a member, to take the decision to avenge the victim. Generally, only close relatives and members of the family of the dead had the right to take part in the vendetta, whereas all the members of the teype (taip, clan) discredited the murderer. Often, neutral teypes (clans) acted as intermediaries to settle amicably this kind of conflict. The compensation had to be payed in cows and depended on the importance of the teype (taip, clan), to which the dead belonged. For example, the murder of a member of an important teype (taip, clan) could be compensated with 63 cows, whereas a wound, made by firearm, cost 20 cows to the malefactor, whereas the death of a member of a poor teype (taip, clan) cost only 21 cows to the murderer, the compensation was of 6 cows for a firearm wound.
The adats forbade absolutely marriage between members of the same teype (taip, clan), even though an important teype (taip, clan) can number as much as several thousand of people. According to many testimonies, this rule is observed until now in Chechnya. Women didn't have the right to participate in the life of the teype (taip, clan), they were deprived of the right to vote during the general meetings. However, in a certain way the adats protected women. For example, extraconjugal relations were punished severely by the community: If the offender had them with a girl or a widow, he owed in compensation 7 cows, whereas if he was in extraconjugal relations with a married woman, he had to pay 10 cows and was banished from the community. If the husband killed his wife and they hadn't had any children, he had to pay 85 cows to the wife's family, but if they had children, the husband paid only 12 cows. Norms of behaviour in daily life were set and enforced very well in detail. For example, from his younger age a Chechen knew how it was necessary to speak with his wife inside the family and in presence of other people, how to speak with children, how to behave at home and outside, what to do when he met an adult or a young man, how to help an elder to climb up and to alight from horseback, how to behave and what to speak about with a guest, for whom to give a place on the right hand during the meal, how to be seated at table and how to eat at home and elsewhere. All these rules were observed by all members of the teype (taip, clan) and supervised by elders or adults. Traditions of hospitality were well present in Chechen daily life. For example, the murderer of a guest had to pay 7 cows to the master of the house where the killed guest had been received, and 63 cows to the killed guest's family.
The teypes (clans) had civilian chiefs (kh'alkhancha or tkh'amada) and military chiefs (biacha). The civilian chief chaired the Counsel of the Elders of the teype (taip, clan) and managed daily life, whereas the military chief entered in his functions only during the military operations.
Every teype (taip, clan) had its name, received from its founder, occupied a territory, possessed an eponymous mountain, a tower, erected by the founder, its own divinity with a particular religious cult and a cemetery, reserved for members of the same teype (taip, clan).
There were two obligatory observations. The first is about the sacred character of the land for a Chechen teype (taip, clan) as well as for every mountain community, suffering because of the shortage of arable land. That's why there was the will to "consecrate" the inhabiting zone and to delimit it, in marking its historic lands by the teype's symbols : cemetery, tower and eponymous mountain. The second observation is about of the importance of traditions in Chechen life. Although supplanted officially by soviet laws since the 1920s, the adats, continued to play a very important role in the internal relations of the Chechen society. Even at the Soviet time an important part of daily behaviour's norms was systematically observed by the Chechen: the woman's exclusion from the social life, the respect for the elders, the leading role of the teype's chief and the attachment to the historic lands. For example, even in the 1980s, a Chechen woman didn't have the right to travel alone and had to be accompanied by her husband or by his family's men; the vendetta continued to be in force, the murderer was pursued on the territory of all the Soviet Union; the marriage with the non-Chechen was rigorously punished. In the early 1990s, during numerous congresses and meetings, teype's structures have been recreated, teype's treasuries have been organized to finance the lobbying of interests in the structures of power. Hiding stocks of weapons, intact since the Second World War, were opened to arm the private militias, formed by every teype (taip, clan). With some modifications with regard to the 19th century, teypes (clans) restarted to play an active role in Chechen politics.
It is difficult to recreate today the geographical location of Chechen teypes (clans), the clan map was considerably changed after a lot of forced displacements. What interests us, is the teype's belonging of politicians, that occupied sometimes a key position in the Chechen politics. General Dudayev, Chechen President in 1991-1996, the Chechen minister of oil products Sultan Albakov, and the Chechen state's security minister Sultan Gueliskhanov, belong to the Yalkhoroy teype (taip, clan). The former President of the Russian Supreme Soviet Ruslan Khasbulatov is from the Kharachoy teype (taip, clan), based in the village of Tolstoy-Yurt. The mayor of the Nadterechny District Umar Avturkhanov, and former President of the Chechen-Ingush Supreme Soviet Doku Zavgayev belong to the Nijaloy teype (taip, clan), based currently in the Nadterechny District. The former chief of the Dudayev's government Yaragui Mamodayev and the mayor of Grozny, Beslan Gantemirov who became Dudayev's and Maskhadov's most important adversary, are from the Chonkhoy (Chinkho) teype (taip, clan), that occupied the village of Urus-Martan.
Inside Chechen society, there exists an opposition, 200 years old, between mountain teypes (clans) (about 100 teypes (clans)) and plain teypes (clans) (about 70 teypes (clans)). The Dudayev-Maskhadov regime especially leaned on mountain teypes (clans), that were the poorest layer of Chechen society, whereas the anti-Dudayev opposition was based on plain teypes (clans). It seems also that the large teypes (clans) didn't support Jokhar Dudayev, except for the Benoy teype (taip, clan).