TatyanaLokshina1 (Dir.), Chechnya. Zhizn’ navoine
Tatyana Lokshina (Dir.), Chechnya. Zhizn’ na voine. Tsentr sodeistviia provedeniiu issledovanii grazhdanskogo obshchestva Demos, 2007, 248 pages
1Yet another book about the war in Chechnya? Today, the small North Caucasian Chechnya Republic is often seen as a post-conflict country, enjoying fast and blinking reconstruction and relative safety thanks to the authoritarian and paternalistic rule of its President Ramzan Kadyrov.
2Since 1994, despite censorship, propaganda and extremely difficult access, a considerable amount of material has been issued on the conflict. However, this material is available almost exclusively to Western readers, whereas those concerned most by the conflict, the Russian public, have very few alternatives to official information.
3This makes the publication of Chechnya. Zhizn’ na voine, a Russian publication, particularly relevant. Part of a non governmental project, it aims to sensitise especially Russian youth to develop empathy with the victims of the conflict.
4The book includes a thorough introduction to the conflict as well as testimonies from Chechens and the author himself, who extensively travelled Chechnya during the conflict. These direct accounts of the day to day life during the war will certainly attract the readers’ attention, and may even come as a shock to an audience that is used to official propaganda.
5However, the book does not only dwell on emotions. It also offers much reflection. The introduction includes contributions by prominent specialists, both from Chechnya and from Russia, such as T. Lokshina, Alexandre Cherkassov of the Human Rights Center of Memorial and Timur Aliev, a Chechen Journalist who founded the newspaper Chechen Society. Easy to understand, but without being simplistic, the analytical chapters trace the developments that led to the two Chechen Wars in 1994 and again in 1999 against the background of internal politics in Russia in the 1990s.
6The analysis establishes responsibility for the violence and human rights violations on both sides, while – highly unusal for books published in Russia - paying due attention to those of the Russian army. The contributions also touch on the so-called ‘normalization’ and post-conflict period of the second Chechen War, which were marked by Moscow’s attempts to promote a loyal Chechen administration that only fuelled the conflict and increased civil strife.
- 2 Such as saying the D. Dudaev government came to power in the mid-80s… At the time, D. Dudaev was a (...)
7Notwithstanding its worth, the book fails to address the international and geopolitical aspects of the war as the author willingly insists on the deep internal causes of the conflict. Also, the text includes some unfortunate factual mistakes that could have been easily avoided 2.
8Most importantly, however, one question remains: How will this book reach its target audience, and how many Russian youth have read or will ever read this book?
9(Free access to this book is available on www.demos-center.ru,, see publications)
Pipss.org is grateful to Suzanne Gentz who edited this book review.
1 A journalist and expert on Chechnya and the Caucasus, Tanya Lokshina is the former Head of the Moscow based human rights think tank Demos Center. She is presently a researcher for Human Rights Watch based in Moscow .
2 Such as saying the D. Dudaev government came to power in the mid-80s… At the time, D. Dudaev was a brilliant Soviet Army air force General, the first Chechen to have reached such a rank, combating in Afghanistan on the Soviet side.Top of page
Anne Le Huérou, « TatyanaLokshina (Dir.), Chechnya. Zhizn’ navoine », The Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Societies [Online], Issue 9 | 2009, Online since 04 March 2009, connection on 19 June 2013. URL : http://pipss.revues.org/2133Top of page
Creative Commons License
This text is under a Creative Commons license : Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 GenericTop of page