Ep. 18: Chechen Wars Part 4: Independence!

After the Russian Army finally wrests the capital of Grozny from the rebels, its momentum stalls and it resorts to indiscriminate carpet bombing and massacring civilians. In an ominous turn for the future, the desperate rebels engage in mass hostage-takings that stall the war further. With able guerrilla commanders exploiting low Russian morale and poor organization, the rebels shock the world by retaking Grozny in 1996. Russia withdraws and the democratic Chechen Republic of Ichkeria is born! Check out this episode!

For Further Awesome Reading…

The Lost American: Killing Chechnya by Fred Cuny This is an excellent article by an embedded American journalist—one who paid the ultimate price for his bravery in reporting. While he was with the rebels, Russian double agents passed along false information that he was a Russian spy, resulting in his execution. The opening paragraphs of this article, written in 1995, are eerily accurate for the future Cuny would never see.

The Sky Wept Fire by Mikhail Eldin

This is a personal account of a Chechen fighter and spy during the 1990s. While occasionally a little too purple in prose, it captures the desperate position of the guerrillas well.

One Soldier’s War by Arkady Babchenko

A personal account from the other side: a Russian conscript, but then, curiously, a volunteer. Babchenko recounts the hazing, poor training, and hopeless situation of the Russian draftee deployed to Chechnya, and the moral trouble and “gunpowder disease” (read: addiction to combat) of the redeployed volunteer. Grim book, worth reading for anyone.

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