Chechnya's second war with Russia limps into its fourth year with
no sign of stopping, tens of thousands are dead and more than
a million homeless. Moscow no longer recognizes Chechen separatist
leader Aslan Maskhadov, and a pro-Russia leadership, headed by
Akhmad Kadyrov, is in place.
claims military control over the region, saying the military
phase of its operation to track down terrorists is complete. Violence
continues unabated, however, as Chechen separatists react to Russian
attempts to bring order to the province. In an effort to create
a law-abiding province, Russian troops who have faced international
criticism for human rights abuses throughout the conflict
routinely sweep Chechen villages for suspected rebels.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that, "the
brutality of these 'cleansing' operations has undermined Kadyrov's authority
and alienated many
Chechens from his pro-Moscow administration."
Maskhadov is still considered the Chechen separatists' leader, although
he is widely believed to be losing power. Since his election in 1997, he
has waged repeated power struggles with rival warlords who believe in more
violent tactics for winning Chechnya its independence. In a move seen as
diluting his power even further, Maskhadov appointed these rival commanders
to government positions in the summer of 2002.
escape continued fighting between Russian troops and Chechen rebels
in a war that has killed mostly civilians, mass numbers of Chechen
residents have sought refuge in camps outside Grozny, with large
numbers flocking to neighboring Ingushetia. Unemployment in the
region is estimated at 60 percent, and according to the Wall Street
Journal, one in ten Chechens lives in extreme poverty, on $21.79
or less per month. Experts have said these factors threaten to
keep the region locked in a cycle of violence.