What's up with Chechnya (Groznyy)?

OK. Bunch of questions (I hope my curiosity doesn’t mean the recent terrorist activity was somehow successful!).

What’s the relationship between Chechnya & Groznyy? Different name for the same republic?

What factors are motivating a desire for independence from Russia? I would think that 5 straight years of pretty good economic growth would provide some sort of incentive to remain Russian.

Has a disproportionately large part of this growth been due to the efforts of Chechnya? This could account for Russia’s reluctance to let them go–but are there perhaps cultural “face-saving” issues at work as well?

With respect expressing the desire for independence, what factors are making high risk terrorist/guerila ventures more attractive than more diplomatic overtures?

Groznyy is the capital of Chechnya.

Very crudely (and Burrido has answered your first)…

The fact that they’ve never been a content part of Russia; think of them more as a conquest than a discontented region. Also, Russian growth doesn’t necessarily translate to Chechen growth, nor does Chechen growth imply good Russian governance. This is, as I understand it, a far more ideological argument than it is pragmatic. Even if a conqueror can deliver economic growth, he is unlikely to be favourably viewed. Maybe Chechnya would be a viable independent state; maybe not. I think many people there would like a chance to find out.

Given the relative sizes of Chechnya and Russia, I would be rather doubtful that a significant part of Russia’s economic performance is accounted for by Chechnya. The latter factor is much more likely, and indeed Vladimir Putin’s hard line against the Chechens is credited for a substantial amount of his enduring popularity in Russia in general. Prior to his election the war in Chechnya had been a rather bumbling and ineffectual affair, draining political capital from the central government. Despite having made no major advances, Putin appears to have turned this around by cracking down on the Chechens in general. Arbitrary disappearances of suspected rebels are now relatively common, for example.

I’m purely guessing here, but I would say that Russia’s quite blatant willingness to rig any and all local elections/referenda within Chechnya make the prospect of democratic secession seem quite bleak indeed. The recent referendum on a (Russian-sponsored) constitution was blatantly rigged, as were the most recent votes for a local premier, invariably ending with the Kremlin’s candidate being installed as local ruler. Combine this with the ongoing war, and forming a peaceable opposition party seems a singularly unattractive option. This is not, of course, to condone the extremist actions seen recently, and indeed even relatively hard-line Chechen separatists have been disavowing these actions over the last couple of days. I believe the rebel cause is quite fragmented of late, and there are some groups who rightly recognise that shocking tactics such as the school siege are monumentally counter-productive. There are obviously those who disagree.

As I said, this is a pretty crude interpretation, and I am no Chechen expert so the above should be taken with a healthy pinch of salt, to be honest. There have been some recent threads on this very subject, and some more informed people than me have chimed in, so it might be worth a search or two.

Thanks Dead Badger, how ever basic, it is still insight. Ironically, despite being a Yank I just don’t get “violent revolution” simply for the sake of independence. And as far as anything goes in E. Yurp, I’m completely dim.

There’s a Grozny-based Islamic media site here, which gives a good idea of the pro-Chechen perspective.

I’m not sure what kind of “growth” you’re taking about. Chechnya is basically a field of ruins, its capital has been leveled and most of its infrastructure destroyed.
As for the motivations for independance : Chechens have been trying to retain or gain independance essentially since Chechnya was conquered.

There’s definitely a “face saving” issue at work. It’s no secret that Putin felt that Russia had been humiliated by the outcome of the first Chechnya war (during the 90’s) which resulted in a de facto independance of Chechnya (legally, the status of this republic was to be determined in the future), and the election of one of the rebel leaders, Maskhadov, as president.

When Putin suceeded to Eltsin, he jumped on the first chance to restore Russian authority in Chechnya. The pretext was provided, IIRC, by rebels in another nearby Caucasian republic who supposedly were Chechen or operating from Chechnya. He then launched the second Chechnya war, that, after causing again more destructions, deaths, refugees, etc…allowed Russia to take again control of Chechnya (at least partially, since the war is still going on, as a guerilla war) . Blatantly rigged elections and referendums were organized to put in power a puppet of Moscow (later assassinated, and recently replaced by another puppet). In the last election, for instance, an independant observer counted 33 voters in a polling station. These 33 voters casted 790 ballots according to the officials.
For the record, Maskhadov escaped and is still the “official face” of the Chechen rebellion, though he has lost most of his influence to fundamentalist islamists that he used to try to keep at bay when he was in charge.

Diplomatic overtures have been a total failure since the Russian administration and army (at least since Putin rose to power) have showed they had no interest in breaking any deal with the Chechens, nor in respecting its word, as proved by the second war.

As for the desire for independance, it was already overwhelmingly present. The republic secceded right after the fall of Soviet Union, which resulted in the first war, won by the Chechens. It of course didn’t dissapear when the russians invaded again and throw out the independantist elected government.

And the lack of support for the “russian order” is easily understood if you read, for instance, this short report by Amnesty International about the situation in Chechnya.

Basically, the russian occupation has been an undending litany of crimes, as much war crimes (large scale destruction of residential areas, summary executions, “dissapearances”, mass murders, torture,…) and individual crimes (ransoming of arbitrarily arrested people or even of their bodies, rapes, pillaging) that, with a couple exceptions (actually I can think only of one exception, a colonel who was sentenced for the abduction, rape, torture and murder of a teenager, but I assume there has been some others), were never punished or even prosecuted.

Both wars have ultimately resulted in a very large death toll in the population (I don’t remember the %age), wide scale destructions, a very large number of refugees (some of them have been forced to come back to Chechnya by the russian authorities since), and all the crimes I mentionned above.
Given this situation, the only reason I can imagine a Chechen could have to favor a russian rule would be hoping that eventually some kind of peace or order would be restored so he and his family could expect a somewhat normal life. Apart from this survival instinct, I couldn’t expect any other feeling towards Russia other than pure hatred in these circumstances.

Here’s a link to an “overview” page of a site dedicaced to the human right situation in Chechnya. The other parts of the site include many abstracts of articles statement by NGO or governemental organizations, etc…

By the way, you can see on this page a picture of Grozny after the siege and occupation by the Russian forces, that looks like those WWII pictures. It gives an idea of how Russia conducted the military operations.
This site also estimates the total death toll that I couldn’t remember at 15% of the population of Chechnya.

Kinda related question: Do we know of any countries that are funding the Chechnian (sp?) rebels?

I will have to admit that from what I heard, the Chechen rebels were pretty bad dudes long before Russia came down on them.

Here’s an excerpt from a Chechen history site that might give some idea as to why they might not be too pleased with Moscow (bolding mine)…