Chechnya has never known
independent statehood, and a Chechen republic has never existed as a
state or an administrative unit. In 1922 the Bolsheviks created the
Chechen autonomous province within Russia, and in 1934 they merged
it with the Ingush autonomous oblast to form the Chechen-Ingush
autonomous oblast. Two years later it was designated a republic.
Soviet leader Joseph Stalin accused the Chechen and Ingush of
collaboration with the Germans during the Second World War, they
were deported to exile in central Asia, and the republic of
Checheno-Ingushetia was dissolved. The exiles were allowed to return
to their homeland, and the republic was reestablished under Nikita
Khrushchev in 1957.
of a life in exile had strengthened the habits of mutual support
among the Chechens and the tenacity with which they clung to their
ethnic traditions. Not all the Chechens, however, chose to return
home. A big Chechen diaspora remained scattered across the Soviet
Union, and some of its members used their entrepreneurial skills in
the shadow economy or joined the criminal underworld as far back as
the time of Khrushchev.