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Review Essay

Crisis in the Caucasus: A New Look at Russia's Chechen Impasse

In This Review

The Chechen Wars: Will Russia Go the Way of the Soviet Union?

The Chechen Wars: Will Russia Go the Way of the Soviet Union?
By Matthew Evangelista
Brookings Institution Press, 2003, 352 pp. $49.95 Purchase

It is hard to think of a more likely pair of candidates for historical enmity than the Russian government and the Chechens. In the nineteenth century, Russia's expansion into the Caucasus was slowed by the opposition of local mountain peoples, of whom the Chechens were among the most fierce. Vicious frontier wars raged for much of the century and ended with the death or forced migration of hundreds of thousands of highlanders. The Chechens were targeted again in 1944, when the Soviet government packed off the entire nation, as many as half a million people, to Central Asia for allegedly collaborating with the Nazis. They were "rehabilitated" only in 1957, when they were allowed to return in diminished numbers to their autonomous republic in the northeastern Caucasus.

It is no surprise, then, that the loosening of Soviet control allowed this history to come to the fore yet again, fueling two new rounds

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