Grozny, Russia History


Russian fort

The fortress of Groznaya (Гро́зная; lit. fearsome) was founded in 1818 as a Russian military outpost on the Sunzha River by general Aleksey Petrovich Yermolov. As the fort was being built the workers were fired upon by the Chechens. The Russians solved the problem by placing a cannon at a carefully chosen point outside the walls. When night fell and the Chechens came out of their hiding places to drag the gun away all the other guns opened up with grapeshot. When the Chechens recovered their senses and began to carry away the bodies the guns fired again. When it was over 200 dead were counted. Thus did the 'terrible' fort receive its baptism of fire.John F. Baddeley, Russian Conquest of the Caucasus, Ch Vii It was a prominent defense center during the Caucasian War. After the annexation of the region by the Russian Empire, the military use of the old fortress was obsolete and in December 1869 it was renamed Grozny and granted town status.Ваксман А. А., "Записки краеведа", Чечено-Ингушское книжное издательство, Грозный,1984 As most of the residents there were Terek Cossacks, the town grew slowly until the development of oil reserves in the early 20th century. This encouraged the rapid development of industry and petrochemical production. In addition to the oil drilled in the city itself, the city became a geographical center of Russia's network of oil fields, and in 1893 became part of the Transcaucasia — Russia Proper railway. The result was the population almost doubled from 15,600 in 1897 to 30,400 in 1913.

Soviet regional capital

Soviet-era postage stamp with a view of Grozny's Avgustovskaya Street

from Wikipedia by Post of USSR Public domain

One day after the October Revolution, on November 8, 1917, the Bolsheviks headed by N. Anisimov seized Grozny. As the Russian Civil War escalated, the Proletariat formed the 12th Red Army, and the garrison held out against numerous attacks by Terek Cossacks from August 11 to November 12, 1918. However, with the arrival of Denikin's armies, the Bolsheviks were forced to withdraw and Grozny was captured on February 4, 1919, by the White Army. Underground operations were carried out, but only the arrival of the Caucasus front of the Red Army in 1920 allowed the city to permanently end up with the Russian SFSR on March 17. Simultaneously it became part of the Soviet Mountain Republic, which was formed on January 20, 1921, and was the capital of the Chechen National Okrug inside it.
On November 30, 1922, the mountain republic was dissolved, and the national okrug became the Chechen Autonomous Oblast (Chechen AO) with Grozny as the administrative center. At this time most of the population was still Russian, but of Cossack descent. As Cossacks were viewed as a potential threat to the Soviet nation, Moscow actively encouraged the migration of Chechens into the city from the mountains. In 1934 the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Oblast was formed, becoming the Chechen-Ingush ASSR in 1936.
In 1944, the entire population of Chechens and Ingush was deported after rebelling against Soviet rule. Large numbers of people who were not deemed fit for transport were 'liquidated' on the spot,"The Soviet War against ‘Fifth Columnists’: The Case of Chechnya, 1942–1944" by Jeffrey Burds, p.39 and the adverse situation with transport and the stay in Siberia caused many deaths as well.Dunlop, John. Russia confronts Chechnya: The roots of a separatist conflict. Pages 67–69Bugai, Nikolai Fedorovich. The Truth about the Deportation of the Chechen and Ingush People. Printed in English in Soviet Studies in History, Fall 1991. Originally in Russian in Voprosy istorii, June 1990. According to internal NKVD data, a total of 144,704 were killed in 1944–1948 alone (death rate of 23.5% per all groups).Wood, Tony. Chechnya: the Case for Independence. page 37-38 Authors such as Alexander Nekrich, John Dunlop and Moshe Gammer, based on census data from the period estimate a death toll of about 170,000–200,000 among Chechens alone,Nekrich, Punished PeoplesDunlop.Russia Confronts Chechnya, pp 62–70Gammer.Lone Wolf and the Bear, pp166-171Soviet Transit, Camp, and Deportation Death Rates thus ranging from over a third of the total Chechen population that was deported to nearly half being killed in those 4 years (rates for other groups for those four years hover around 20%). All traces of them in the city, including books and graveyards, were destroyed by the NKVD troops. The act was recognized by the European Parliament as an act of genocide in 2004.Chechnya: European Parliament recognizes the genocide of the Chechen People in 1944, 27 February 2004
Grozny became the administrative center of Grozny Oblast of the Russian SFSR, and the city at the time was again wholly Russian. In 1957, the Chechen-Ingush ASSR was restored, and the Chechens were allowed to return. The return of the Chechens to Grozny, which had been lacking of Nakh for thirteen years, would cause massive disruptions to the social, economic and political systems of what had been a Russian city for the period until their return. This caused a self-feeding cycle of ethnic conflict between the two groups, both believing the other's presence in the city was illegitimate. Once again migration of non-Russians into Grozny continued whilst the ethnic Russian population, in turn, moved to other parts of the USSR, notably the Baltic states, after the inter-ethnic conflict broke briefly out in 1958.
According to sociologist Georgy Derluguyan, the Checheno-Ingush Republic's economy was divided into two spheres—much like French settler-ruled Algeria—and the Russian sphere had all the jobs with higher salaries, while non-Russians were systematically kept out of all government positions. Russians (as well as Ukrainians and Armenians) worked in education, health, oil, machinery, and social services. Non-Russians (excluding Ukrainians and Armenians) worked in agriculture, construction, a long host of undesirable jobs, as well as the so-called "informal sector" (i.e., illegal, due to the mass discrimination in the legal sector).
At the same time a great deal of development occurred in the city. Like many other Soviet cities, the Stalinist style of architecture was prevalent during this period, with apartments in the centre as well as administrative buildings including the massive Council of Ministers and the Grozny University buildings being constructed in Grozny. Later projects included the high-rise apartment blocks prominent in many Soviet cities, as well as a city airport. In 1989, the population of the city was almost 400,000 people.

Collapse of Russian authority

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Grozny became the seat of a separatist government led by Dzhokhar Dudayev. According to some, many of the remaining Russian and other non-Chechen residents fled or were expelled by groups of militants, adding to a harassment and discrimination from the new authorities. These events are perceived by some as an act of an ethnic cleansing of non-Chechens, which has been reflected in the materials of General Prosecutor's office of the Russian Federation.
This view is disputed by authors, such as Russian economists Boris Lvin and Andrei Illarionov, who argue that Russian emigration from the area was no more intense than in other regions of Russia at the time. According to this view of the ethnic situation in Ichkeria, the primary cause of Russian emigration was the extensive bombing of Grozny (where 4 out of 5, or nearly 200,000 Russians in Chechnya lived before the war) by the Russian military during the First Chechen War.
The covert Russian attempts of overthrowing Dudayev by means of armed Chechen opposition forces resulted in repeated failed assaults on the city. Originally, Moscow had been backing the political opposition of Umar Avturkhanov "peacefully" (i.e. without supplying the opposition with weapons and encouraging them to try a coup). However, this changed in 1994, after the coups in neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan (both of which Moscow was involved with), and Russia encouraged armed opposition and occasionally assisted. In August 1994 Avturkhanov attacked Grozny, but was repelled first by Chechen citizens who were then joined by Grozny government troops and Russian helicopters covered his retreat. On September 28, one of these interfering helicopters was shot down and its Russian pilot was held as a prisoner-of-war by the Chechen government. The last one on 26 November 1994 ended with capture of 21 Russian Army tank crew members, secretly hired as mercenaries by the FSK (former KGB, soon renamed FSB); their capture was sometimes cited as one of the reasons of Boris Yeltsin's decision to launch the open intervention. In the meantime, Grozny airport and other targets were bombed by unmarked Russian aircraft.

First Chechen War

A street in Grozny after the First Chechen War

from Wikipedia by PeterPredator

During the First Chechen War, Grozny was the site of an intense battle lasting from December 1994 to February 1995 and ultimately ending with the capture of the city by the Russian military. Intense fighting and carpet bombing carried out by the Russian Air Force destroyed much of the city. Thousands of combatants on both sides died in the fighting, alongside civilians, many of which were reportedly ethnic Russians; unclaimed bodies were later collected and buried in mass graves on the city outskirts. The main federal military base in Chechnya was located in the area of Grozny air base.
Chechen guerrilla units operating from nearby mountains managed to harass and demoralize the Russian Army by means of guerilla tactics and raids, such as the attack on Grozny in March 1996, which added to political and public pressure for a withdrawal of Russian troops. In August 1996, a raiding force of 1,500 to 3,000 militants recaptured the city in a surprise attack. They surrounded and routed its entire garrison of 10,000 MVD troops, while fighting off the Russian Army units from the Khankala base. The battle ended with a final ceasefire and Grozny was once again in the hands of Chechen separatists. The name was changed to Djohar in 1997 by the President of the separatist Ichkeria republic, Aslan Maskhadov. By this time most of the remaining Russian minority fled.

Second Chechen War

Damaged apartment buildings in 2006

from Wikipedia by Michal Vogt [1] from Warsaw, Poland CC BY-SA 2.0

Grozny was once again the epicenter of fighting after the outbreak of the Second Chechen War, which further caused thousands of fatalities. During the early phase of the Russian siege on Grozny on October 25, 1999, Russian forces launched five SS-21 ballistic missiles at the crowded central bazaar and a maternity ward, killing more than 140 people and injuring hundreds. During the massive shelling of the city that followed, most of the Russian artillery were directed toward the upper floors of the buildings; although this caused massive destruction of infrastructure, civilian casualties were much less than in the first battles.
The final seizure of the city was set in early February 2000, when the Russian military lured the besieged militants to a promised safe passage. Seeing no build-up of forces outside, the militants agreed. One day prior to the planned evacuation, the Russian Army mined the path between the city and the village of Alkhan-Kala and concentrated most firepower on that point. As a result, both the city mayor and military commander were killed; a number of other prominent separatist leaders were also killed or wounded, including Shamil Basayev and several hundred rank-and-file militants. Afterwards, the Russians slowly entered the empty city and on February 6 raised the Russian flag in the centre. Many buildings and even whole areas of the city were systematically dynamited. A month later, it was declared safe to allow the residents to return to their homes, although demolition continued for some time. In 2003 the United Nations called Grozny the most destroyed city on earth.

After the wars

Grozny-City Towers in 2012

from Wikipedia by ERBEN CONTROL SYSTEMS CC BY-SA 3.0

The federal government representatives of Chechnya are based in Grozny. Since 2003, the city has been rebuilt from scratch, and hardly any destroyed buildings now remain there. Out of several dozens of industrial enterprises, three have been partially rebuilt — the Grozny Machine-Building Factory, the Krasny Molot (Red Hammer) and Transmash factories.
Although most of the city's infrastructure was destroyed during the war, the city's sewage, water, electricity and heating systems have since been repaired, along with 250km of roads, 13 bridges and some 900 shops.The Glittering New Face Of The Once War-Torn Capital Of Chechnya Retrieved on April 23, 2012UN praises Grozny reconstruction Russia Today Retrieved on April 23, 2013 Before the war, Grozny had about 79,000 apartments, and the city authorities expected to be able to restore about 45,000 apartments; the rest were in the buildings that were completely destroyed.Under the Kremlin's iron hand, Chechnya is reborn
Railway connection was restored in 2005, and Grozny's Severny airport was reopened in 2007 with three weekly flights to Moscow. In 2009 the IAC gave Grozny's Severny airport the international certificate after checking and evaluating the airport's airworthiness. On November 16, 2009, the airport had its first international flight, taking pilgrims on Hajj to Saudi Arabia via a Boeing 747.International Certificate goes to Grozny Airport
After four years of construction, the Grozny Mosque was formally opened to the public on October 16, 2008, and is considered one of the largest mosques in Europe. In 2009, the city of Grozny was honored by the UN Human Settlements Program for transforming the war scarred city and providing new homes for thousands.The 2009 Scroll of Honour Award Winners