Understanding Today's Violence in Chechnya

Causes and context to the attack on the Chechen parliament

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Terrorists attacked the Chechen parliament building today in the Russian province's capital of Grozny, raising fears about the Chechen separatist violence that has periodically plagued Russia for years. The three attackers, who are currently unidentified, killed two security guards and a parliamentary employee and wounded several others. The attack ended after one of the terrorists blew himself up in an apparent suicide blast. In March, a series of brutal suicide bombings on the Moscow subway system raised global fears about Chechnya-based terrorist groups. Here's what observers are saying about today's incident.

  • Chechen Violence in Context  The New York Times' Michael Schwirtz explains the regional dynamics. "Russian forces fought two wars in Chechnya against a fierce separatist movement that has evolved over the last decade into an Islamist insurgency responsible for almost daily attacks against law enforcement and government officials in the region. ... The assaults against such high-value targets are a direct challenge to [Moscow-approved regional leader Ramzan] Kadyrov, and an indication that insurgents were mounting a campaign to discredit him. Russia’s leaders have granted Mr. Kadyrov carte blanche to conduct counterinsurgency operations in the region, giving him tacit approval, human rights groups say, to wage a campaign of kidnapping, torture and murder against suspected insurgents and critics as long as the effort brings stability to Chechnya."
  • Militants Push Against Kremlin Rule  Bloomberg's Lucian Kim and Ilya Arkhipov say this is meant to "step up pressure against local authorities loyal to the Kremlin. ... Chechen rebels fought two wars against the federal government between 1994 and 2000. The separatist movement grew into an Islamist insurgency that took its fight to neighboring provinces in Russia’s mostly Muslim North Caucasus region. ... The federal government is redoubling efforts to calm the impoverished region with a program to stimulate investment in tourism, agriculture and infrastructure."
  • Kadyrov at Center of Chechen Struggle  Reuters explains, "Analysts say that Kadyrov's firm hand in running Chechnya is key to relative stability in the region, and any loss of power on his part could allow Chechnya to once again descend into chaos, making it easier for rebels to take over. Rebels have repeatedly declared their desire to eliminate Kadyrov, who they consider a traitor for his allegiance to Moscow. Kadyrov, like his father and predecessor Akhmad, fought against the Russians in the first Chechen war and then switched sides. Akhmad Kadyrov was assassinated by rebels in 2004. Tuesday's attack on parliament comes almost two months after rebels conducted a well-organized attack on Kadyrov's hometown Tsentoroi, in what they later said was an attempt on the leader's life."
  • Russia's Push for Stability Far From Over  The BBC's Steve Rosenberg writes, "The Russian authorities like to give the impression that Chechnya has become more peaceful, more secure. The attack on the highly fortified parliament building in Grozny shows that the insurgency continues. It is not just Chechnya. This year has seen a rise in violence across the entire North Caucasus region. In the last 24 hours alone, explosives have been discovered and defused near a bus station in the Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkariya. And the director of a children's rehabilitation centre in Dagestan has been shot dead." BBC's Tom Esselmont adds, "It shows the battle is far from over and Chechnya is far from being in the secure situation the Russian government would like to see."
  • Why the Violence Is Getting Worse  The Christian Science Monitor's Tom Peter writes, "Russia has struggled to bring an end to the continued uprisings in its southern territories, known as the North Caucasus. The Christian Science Monitor has reported that the insurgency is growing because it has taken on jihadist overtones. But Al Jazeera reports that the continued problems largely stem from 'desperate poverty, clan rivalries, rampant corruption, and heavy-handed tactics by law enforcement agencies.'"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.