Timeline of Key Events in Chechnya, 1830–2014

Updated February 12, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
Russian soldier


Czar Nicholas I invades Caucasus, meets fierce resistance.


Russia conquers, incorporates Caucasus.


Russian Revolution, Dagestan (including Chechnya) declares its independence.


Bolshevik troops occupy Dagestan, divide region, creating Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.


Stalin deports thousands of Chechens to Siberia and Kazakhstan, on suspicion of collaborating with Germany.


Chechen-Ingush republic reestablished. Chechens return home.


Soviet Union collapses, 14 regions become independent nations. Dzhokhar Dudayev elected president of Chechnya. Dudayev declares Chechnya independent. Russian President Boris Yeltsin refuses to recognize Chechen independence, sends troops. Confronted by armed Chechens, troops withdraw.


Chechnya continues to assert its independence. Paramilitary bands accused of widespread kidnapping for ransom. Russia invades Chechnya; bloody war ensues.


10,000 Russian troops occupy Grozny. Dudayev killed by Russian rocket. Total Russian force numbers 45,000. Chechens takes hostages.


Chechens launch major counteroffensive, 5,000 troops invade Grozny. Unwilling to use maximum force and destroy Grozny to defeat rebels, Russians agree to ceasefire. Yeltsin orders troops withdrawn from Chechnya. Russian military humiliated. 70,000 casualties on all sides.


Chechnya won't accept Moscow's authority. Aslan Maskhadov elected Chechen president. Name of capital changed from the Russian Grozny, to the Chechen Djohar. Lawlessness in Chechnya continues.


Terrorist bombs explode in Moscow and other Russian cities. Russian authorities blame Chechen paramilitary commanders. Chechen insurgents enter neighboring Russian territory of Dagestan to help Islamic fundamentalists seeking to create separate nation.

Russian troops recapture breakaway areas of Dagestan. Yeltsin sends nearly 100,000 Russian troops into Chechnya. Russians occupy much of Chechnya, pulverize Grozny, driving rebels into hills. 250,000 refugees.


Despite Russian claims of imminent victory, war continues. Russians are unable to defeat rebels in mountainous areas. United Nations officials call for investigations of alleged human rights abuses by Russian troops and by Chechen rebels. New Russian President Vladimir Putin agrees to human rights investigation, continues war.


Russian president Putin appoints Stanislav Ilyasov as Chechen prime minister.


On Oct. 23, Chechen rebels seized a crowded Moscow theater and detained 763 people, including 3 Americans. Armed and wired with explosives, the rebels demanded that Russian government end the war in Chechnya. Government forces stormed the theater the next day, after releasing a gas into the theater, which killed not only all the rebels but more than 100 hostages.


In March Chechens voted in a referendum that approved a new regional constitution making Chechnya a separatist republic within Russia. Agreeing to the constitution meant abandoning claims for complete independence. While Moscow has presented the referendum as a way of bringing peace to the war-ravaged region, it is unclear how much power Russia would actually grant the separatist republic. A spate of Chechen suicide bombings followed throughout the year.

In September elections, Akhmad Kadyrov, the de facto Chechen president installed three years earlier by Russia, officially becomes president. Human rights groups as well as several nations questioned the fairness of the elections.

During 2003, there were 11 bomb attacks against Russia believed to have been orchestrated by Chechen rebels.


On May 9, Chechnya's Moscow-backed leader, Akhmad Kadyrov, is killed in a bombing. Six others are killed and another 60 wounded. The assassination undermines Russian claims that Chechnya has been growing more secure. A warlord, Shamil Basayev, claimed responsibility for the bombing.

On Aug. 24, days before the Chechen presidential election, two nearly simultaneous plane crashes in Russia kill 90 passengers; Chechen terrorists are suspected.

On Aug.29, another Russian-supported leader, Alu Alkhanov, is elected president of Chechnya with 73.5% of the vote.

On Aug 31, Chechen terrorist attack at a Moscow subway stop kills ten.

Between Sept. 1-3, 32 heavily armed guerrillas seize a school in Beslan, near Chechnya, and hold about 1,100 young schoolchildren, teachers, and parents hostage. The guerrillas are believed to be made up of Chechen, Ingush, and ethnic Russian Islamic militants. When a bomb inside the school is apparently accidentally detonated, the hostages attempt to flee. The militants set off more bombs and open fire on the fleeing children and adults. At least 335 hostages are dead, including about 156 children, and more than 550 are wounded. Russian prosecutors believe that Shamil Basayev, the most militant and ruthless of the Chechen rebel commanders, is behind the hostage-taking.


In March, the president of the separatist government of Chechnya, Aslan Maskhadov, is killed by Russian troops.

In July, suspected terrorists set off a bomb in Northern Chechnya that killed 14.


In July, Russia announces that it has killed infamous Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, responsible for the horrific Beslan terrorist attack.

In October, Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya is murdered in Moscow. Politkovskaya had been an outspoken critic of the Kremlin's treatment of Chechnya.


In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin reassigns Chechen President Alu Alkhanov to another post within the Russian government. Putin then selects Ramzan Kadyrov as Chechnya's new president.

In December, Putin's party, the United Russia party, wins Russian parliamentary elections with 99% of the vote in Chechnya. International election observers call the election unfair.


In February, Russian President Vladimir Putin's choice to succeed himself, Dmitry Medvedev, wins the election. The turnout in Chechnya is 91% and 89% vote in favor of Medvedev.


In March, Russian President Medvedev says that life in Chechnya has "normalized" under Kadyrov. However, international human rights groups speak out against Kadyrov's militias for abuses throughout Chechnya.

In April, Russia dissolves its nearly ten year counter-terrorism operation against separatist rebels in Chechnya.


In February, Chechen President Kadyrov sues multiple journalists and human rights activists for accusing him of murder.

In April, leader of the militant rebels Caucasus Emirate, Doku Umarov claims responsibility for the Metro suicide attacks that killed 39 people the previous month in Moscow.


In February, Doku Umarov posts a video online claiming responsibility for the bombing of Moscow's Domodedovo airport which killed at least 35 people the previous month. He says his attack was in response to Russia's "crimes in the Caucasus."


Vladimir Putin wins a third term as president. Thousands of protestors hold demonstrations over the election results in several cities. Hundreds are arrested. Putin appoints Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister.


In June, Doku Umarov urges his followers to disturb the Sochi Winter Olympics next year.


In February, Russia hosts the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Despite security concerns and threats by Doku Umarov, as the Olympics approached, the Sochi Games are a success.

In March, Islamist militants announce Doku Umarov's death via the Kavkaz Center website and name Ali Abu Mohammed as the new leader of Caucasus Emirate. No details are given on Umarov's death.

by David Johnson, Borgna Brunner, and Jennie Wood

Sources: CNN, BBC, Infoplease.com, Columbia Encyclopedia, Chechen Republic Online, Russia Today, Allnews.ru, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Boston University's Institute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology, and Policy

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