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Chechen fighters
The war in Chechnya is over, but rebels are still prepared to die for their beliefs.
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2010 17:06 GMT



Say the words Chechen rebels and most people think of the Beslan school massacre and the Moscow theatre siege, in which hundreds of civilians were killed.

Most people might also think that the war between the Chechens and Russians in the remote mountainous region of the Caucasus is over, but this is not the full truth.

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Russia has waged a brutal war against Chechen separatists since the 1990s. The violence began when a former Soviet air force officer seized power and declared independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia, though, was not prepared to give up the oil-rich prize without a fight.

What started as a nationalist independence movement soon became a rallying cry for Islamist militants around the world who wanted to establish an Islamic state in the North Caucasus.

The separatists defeated the Russian army, but four years later the Russians came back with a vengeance.

At the same time, some former rebels, like Ramzan Kadyrov, the republic's current president, changed sides, in opposition to a more militant Islam that the war had provoked amongst some of the separatists.

Russia now claims to have finally defeated the rebels, but resistance continues, and many who have survived the battles and fled their homeland, still live in fear of their lives. 

Chechen fighters aired from Tuesday, 9 February, 2010.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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