Why wasn’t Chechnya allowed to secede?

I was reading about the 1st Chechnya War and am confused as why Russia went through all the trouble of keeping that region within the Federation. Other parts of the Caucasus, like Georgia, were allowed to secede from the USSR, so why not Chechnya?

According to Wikipedia:
“… [The Chechen independence] movement was ultimately opposed by Boris Yeltsin’s Russian Federation, which first argued that Chechnya had not been an independent entity within the Soviet Union—as the Baltic, Central Asian, and other Caucasian States had—but was part of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and hence did not have a right under the Soviet constitution to secede…”

The real reason is probably resources. The current Russian overlords also seem to have a fetish for controlling surrounding countries.

It’s worth pointing out that Chechnya was a de facto independent Islamic republic (the Republic of Ichkeria) between the First and Second Chechen Wars. I’ve never researched it properly, but the Second Chechen War began when Chechnya invaded Dagestan (Russia). Russia allegedly used a fake terrorist act as an excuse to respond with an all-out invasion. I think the proper answer is, Chechnya was allowed to secede, more or less, but then blew it. The atrocities following the war were largely (mostly?) perpetrated by the defectors from the Republic of Ichkeria who were put in power and started fighting to ward off would-be usurpers.

Do I have the facts wrong?

I remember asking a similar question in a thread a long time ago and got a great answer from MEBuckner… maybe that’s of interest to you?

A fetish shared by all Russian overlords since Ivan the Terrible. Happiness, to a Russian, is a big buffer zone.

Thanks. I swear I did a search before hand, but I didn’t find anything.

Because in Russia you don’t secede, secession happens to you!

Seriously, a breakaway republic that was allowed to secede will have an “enocuraging” feeling for many others.

Seems to me like Chechnya is de facto if not in name independent.

Georgia was an independent state before becoming absorbed by the Soviet Union, as were Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the Baltic states, etc. So Georgia’s secession is more akin to the Philippines becoming independent from the U.S.A., as opposed to, well, Georgia. :wink:

The official Soviet claim was always that the Union Republics (the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the other SSRs) were sovereign and were explicitly guaranteed the right to secede from the USSR; this was stated in the 1924 Constitution, in the Stalin Constitution of 1936, and in the USSR’s final constitution, adopted in 1977. Of course de facto this was bullshit, but it was the official Soviet position. Stalin even managed to talk the rest of the world into giving the Ukrainian and Byelorussian SSRs separate UN memberships (thus, Belarus and Ukraine have both been members of the UN since 1945) and I believe he actually wanted all of the Union Republics to be given separate memberships, since it would have given him that many more votes.

By contrast, I don’t believe any of the lesser sub-divisions of the USSR, from the “Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics” on down, were ever even officially regarded as being sovereign in that way.

When Chechnya first began seeking to break away from Russia after the collapse of the USSR, large areas of the Russian Federation itself were challenging central authority to various degrees. Most of the ethnically-based republics and autonomous regions asserted their self-determination to one extent or another; and even the Russian (non-ethnic-minority-based) regions were presenting challenges to the central government. The loss of the SSRs (regardless of the official Soviet position that they had always been free to leave) was traumatic enough as it was. I suspect that allowing Chechnya to have seceded was seen (rightly or not) by many Russian leaders (and Russians generally) as posing the risk of a “domino effect” and the total collapse of Russia into dozens of squabbling, Balkanized states.

Not all of the SSRs had a history of prior independence before being absorbed into the Soviet Union, but all of them were officially sovereign. There had never been a state called “Kazakhstan” before the creation of the Kazakh SSR as a constituent republic of the Soviet Union. The various Central Asian “-stans” were originally included in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and continued as such for several years after the RSFSR joined with Ukraine, Belarus, and the Transcaucasian SFSR to form the Soviet Union, before being carved out and elevated to full SSR status. Although Georgia acted as an independent state between the collapse of the Russian Empire and the incorporation of the Transcaucausus into the USSR, I don’t know if Soviet Russia ever formally recognized it as an independent state. I presume the USSR did have diplomatic relations with and officially recognized the independence of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania between the World Wars, but the prior existence of those republics as sovereign states before being annexed to the USSR had, in the Soviet view, no bearing on their constitutional status within the USSR. All SSRs, from Russia to Moldavia, were theoretically sovereign and retained the right to secede from the Union, regardless of whether they had acted as independent states in the past or not.