Chapter

The Road to War

Valery Tishkov

in Chechnya

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2004 | ISBN: 9780520238879
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930209 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520238879.003.0005
The Road to War

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This chapter discusses the uprising of nonnegotiable secession in Chechnya. The idea of Chechen self-determination as a form of nonnegotiable secession first arose under Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of perestroika, when nationalism on the periphery overpowered the process of democratization pursued by both reformist communists and their radical-democratic opposition. Ethnic nationalism demonstrated a great mobilizing power, and granting every Soviet ethno-nation its own state was viewed as natural, desirable, and democratic. By the end of 1991, the Chechen revolution had assumed its own independent character. Local residents attacked various military installations, and looted arsenal using the civilian population as a shield. The possession of an enormous military arsenal radically changed the internal dynamics in the republic. Local military groupings emerged, headed by charismatic leaders, and an emotionally charged climate of insurgency and of the people's war took hold in Chechnya. The post-Soviet collective manifestation is an interesting anthropological phenomenon: it was not a political outpouring in the usual sense; rather, it was a demonstration of group solidarity, a liberated spirit, and a provocative militancy.

Keywords: nonnegotiable secession; nationalism; democratization; Chechen revolution; people's war

Chapter.  8110 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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