"Thus the Tsar's muskets were met with the sabres of Paradise." -- Lesley BlanchThis page is in rebuttal to one posted by Lester Chow, whose work appears on the Unoffical Chechen Homepage. This work contains a grossly inaccurate account of Chechen history at History of Chechnya. I have corresponded with author about this, but he does not appear interested in discovering the truth of Chechen history. His theory of Semitic origin for the Chechens is based on an alleged Biblical descent from one of the sons of Noah after the Great Flood, so it is obvious his claims have no scholarly merit. The following is a copy of the initial letter I sent to this author:
Subject: History of Chechnya
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 1996 15:20:22 -0500
From: "Janet L. Poff" <email@example.com>
I have examined with great interest your pages on Chechnya. I myself have an MA in history, with an emphasis on Russia and the Middle East and I have travelled to the North Caucasus and Georgia, so I have a good familiarity with the region. I have great sympathy for the Chechen cause and the independence movements in the North Caucasus.
However, in reading your page "History of Chechnya," I noticed several inaccuracies which you may want to correct.
> The nation of Chechnya is a Semitic nation,
Ethnically, the Chechens are a Caucasian people.
Their language is part of the Northeast Caucasian branch of the Caucasic
Specifically, it is part of the Vaynakh group, which includes Ingush and Batsbi. The only Semitic people in the Caucasus are Jews.
> CHECHNYA is not European and should be free!
Geographically, Chechnya does lie within Europe,
but there is no reason this should have any bearing on its freedom, one
way or the
> During World War II, the Chechens and other peoples in neighboring territories collaborated with the invading German Army AGAINST the Russians. They did this not because they favored the Germans, so much as they hated the Russians and wanted to be free of Russian dominion.
Most Caucasians did NOT collaborate with the Germans. This was simply an excuse fabricated by Stalin to persecute certain Muslim peoples such as the Crimean Tatars, Chechens, Kalmyks, Karachai, Balkars, and the Ingush. This is an example of Stalin's paranoia and fear of the Islamic peoples in the Soviet Union and part of his general use of terror as a means of control. Only one group that was deported was not Muslim, and this was the Volga Germans, who also did not collaborate.
> Kabardin: Though allied with Russia, in the 16th century, they also collaborated with the invading German Army and suffered the same fate as their neighboring cousins.
The Kabardin did not collaborate, nor were they deported. However, the Balkars, a Turkic people with whom the Kabardin share an autonomous region (Kabardino-Balkaria), were deported.
> Karachai-Cherkess: A republic of Turkish-Muslim population. They too collaborated with the invading German Army and, again, suffered the same fate under Stalin.
Again there is no evidence of collaboration with
the Germans. The Karachai are Turkic, while the Cherkess are Caucasian
and speak a
variant of Circassian. Adygei is the term the Cherkess use to refer to themselves.
> Georgia (and Ossetian): Populated by people called Kartrelians, who are different in temperment and different ethnically from the Russian people (who are Slavs...very similar to Serbs). These Kartrelians are not indo-European nor Turkish and the population is mostly Muslim and Orthodox.
The Georgians, who call themselves Kartvelians (please note spelling), are Caucasians and speak a South Caucasian language. However, the Ossetians are Indo-Europeans, descended from the Alans and are most closely related to the Persians. The Ossetians practice Islam, Orthodox Christianity and Paganism and are currently involved in territorial disputes with the Georgians and the Ingush. The Ossetians are allied with the Russians, and the Georgians are not. The majority of Georgians are Orthodox Christians, though some ethnic minorities in Georgia, such as the Abkhazians, are Muslim.
I also do not think it is wise to vilify the Russians
by pointing out they are related to the Serbs. All ethnic groups are equally
of oppression and persecution--the Slavs do not have a monopoly on this! To imply that all Slavs are bad, oppressive people is just as
unjust as saying all Chechens are criminals. Indeed, the Bosnian Muslims are Slavs, therefore being Slavic does not automatically
indicate that a people is oppressive.
I hope that you will double check the corrections I have made to this article and let me know if you feel I have made any mistakes. I think we can best help the Chechen people by being extremely accurate about their history and relationship with Russia. By painting the Chechens and other Caucasians as German collaborators, the Russian actions against them appear more justified. If you would like a good reference describing the ethnic make up of the Caucasus, the Feb 1996 issue of National Geographic (pp. 130-131) contains an excellent map showing ethnoliguistic distribution and it shows the branches of the various Caucasian language families.
Thank you for your time and I hope we can all find a way to help Chechnya!
Janet L. Poff
For an account of Chechen history which is more accurate than Lester Chow's, please visit Who Are the Chechens.