When separatists become Islamists : the case of Chechnya
This report analyses the radicalisation and Islamisation of the Chechen separatist movement. Three developments have contributed to this radicalisation. Firstly, the 1994–96 war in Chechnya resulted in the personal radicalisation of several Chechen warlords and politicians. These actors formed a radical opposition to the moderate regime of President Aslan Maskhadov in the interwar period and pushed for the implementation of Islamist policies in Chechnya. Secondly, international Islamists have attempted to co-opt the Chechen separatist movement. They allied themselves to the radical Chechen warlords and acquired influence through supplying money and fighting skills. Thirdly, Russia’s handling of Chechnya during the interwar period and the second war has contributed to marginalise the moderate forces in Chechnya that might have withstood the influence of the more radical warlords. The combination of radical warlords aligned with international Islamists on the one hand, and hard Russian policies on the other, has trapped the conflict in a mode of interaction where a peaceful, negotiated solution now seems unlikely.