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Assessing Unholy Alliances in Chechnya: From Communism and Nationalism to Islamism and Salafism


Journal of Communist Studies and Transition PoliticsJournal abstract

The end of the Cold War ushered in a new period of instability in the Caucasus, as groups formerly associated with the Communist Party sought to wrest power from newly formed political movements, which themselves sought independence from the successor to the Soviet Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States. In the immediate post-Cold War period a number of alliances, formed by groups with radically different agendas, shaped the ensuing political uncertainty across the region. In Chechnya, a number of historical relationships influenced the formation of nationalist and communist coalitions, particularly in the early and latter part of the twentieth century. Moreover, in the post-Soviet period, a series of coalitions and alliances – such as the Abkhaz Battalion – melded together national and regional groups, which
themselves had an impact on the first Russo-Chechen War of the 1990s. Following the end of the first war in 1996, a series of other alliances, partially influenced by religion, linked members of the Chechen diaspora community with indigenous radical figures and foreign jihadis who espoused Salafism. This, in turn, expanded what had ostensibly been a nationalist movement into a regional conflict beyond the borders of Chechnya, a development that sheds light on the second Russo-Chechen War.

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