Background: Chechnya

A memorial for victims of armed conflict in Grozny, the Chechen capital. Photo: C.J. Chivers, 2008.

C.J. Chivers, New York Times reporter and author of THE GUN, a social history of the AK-47, co-wrote this "primer on the land from which the Tsarnaev family hailed."

As the NYT piece notes, current Chechen leader Ramzan A. Kadyrov wrote on Instagram (!) that any ties between the Boston bombing suspects and Chechnya were mistaken: “The roots of this evil are to be found in America.”


  1. The article lacks any but the most recent historical context.  Chechnya was originally pulled into the Russian Empire when one of the Tsars went a plundering and conquered the joint.  The “separatist” movement (or as the Chechnyans would call it the “kicking out the foreign invaders” movement) started right there.  As the Tsar noted ruefully the Chechnyans “make poor slaves”.  During the civil war they took advantage of the chaos and said “Screw you Ruskies!”: separating for a very short while but  Stalin put an end to that.

    He instituted a “no Chechnyans in Chechnya” policy and deported about a half million of them in penny-packets around the Empire for use as slave stoop labour.  Hundreds of thousands of them starved to death on the forced marches to their new hovels.  When the Soviet dynasty of the Russian Empire fell they took advantage of the chaos and said “Screw you Ruskies!”: separating for a slightly longer time this cycle.  The Russians then burned the country to the ground.  Various excuses were made for this including the hilarious pretext that an apartment in Moscow blew up – for all we know from negligence on the part of the gas company.

    Neither of the identical twins, Left and Right, have ever paid much attention to this whole litany of slavery, genocide and starvation as you can’t really use it in local parochial politics.  Twin Right occasionally uses it to Bear Bait by decrying its similarity to their own policies in Central America.

    1.  To this I’d add that the U.S. had actually made a few diplomatic waves about the most recent genocide in Chechnya… until 9/11, at which point they sold the Chechen cause, and the Chechen people, out for ambiguous Russian support in the ‘War on Terror’.  At which point, freed from even the most cursory of international attention, Russia ended the wars by quite literally leveling the entire country with rocket and artillery fire.

      Combine this with the U.S.’s War on Islam and you can quite easily see how we got to this sorry state of affairs.

  2. The Times does quote Kadyrov, but it also lists a few reasons to take his words with a large grain of salt.  I wouldn’t form any opinions without a lot more information, but it sounds like the Tsarnevs were a lot more interested in Chechen politics than American.

  3. And here I was hoping Americans would finally realise that very little of Russia is actually really “Russian”.

    1. Despite all the efforts of the Soviet state to export Russians to the ethnic hinterlands to form a technocrat/ administrative overclass.

  4. So what would be the hopeful results of Pro Chechnyan radicals causing mayhem in the USA? Is the idea that this would pressure us to get involved in their cause, on their side? You blow us up to force us to come to your aid in your struggle against Russia? Seems grandly ill conceived? Or am I missing some subtlety of the situation?

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