Crime and Culture in Chechnya: From the Russian Empire to the Second Chechen War Thesis uri icon



  • Thesis (Ph.D., History)--University of Idaho, June 2015 | The dissertation will historically look at how and why the Chechens have become known worldwide for their criminal organizations and skills. It will also look at the evolution and melding of the two worlds of organized crime and terrorism in the context of the Northern Caucasus region and Russia as a whole. It will discuss how Chechen society is historically based on clans with very little centralized control making crime and punishment something that was done within the clans as opposed to traditional law enforcement. Chechens, and surrounding republics, also have a Robin-Hood type outlaw called abreks who are traditionally looked at as outcasts from society, but are also romanticized. This is especially true when the abreks began fighting the invading Russian Army in the mid-nineteenth century. It also looks at the role of Islam in the Republic, and how it remained strong even when it was outlawed during the Soviet Period. The religion, though practiced illegally during that time, was what kept the society together. The post-Soviet period is then looked at, specifically the rise of criminality not only within the republic, but their rise in Russia as well. Lastly, the rise of Islamism will be touched upon in the sense that by the end of the twentieth century into the twenty-first, criminality and terrorism went hand in hand in the republic thus affecting the whole world. It will be argued that social norms, the romanticizing of crime against the Russian intruders, and religion all create a perfect storm that has made the Chechen organized criminal syndicates some of the most feared and respected in the world.

publication date

  • August 15, 2015


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