How Chechnya Suffered Under Russian Rule

04.19.13 3:37 PM ET

Picture taken in February 1996 shows Russian soldiers leaving the Chechen village of Shatoy. Russia on April 16, 2009 ended an anti-terror operation in Chechnya that has been in place for a decade, amid growing stability in the territory torn by two wars since the collapse of Communism. (ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

A short history of Chechnya, courtesy of the US Army's Foreign Military Studies Office. It's a pretty sad tale:

Joseph Stalin, the Bolshevik Commissar of Nationalities and a Georgian, adapted the class struggle to the traditional policy of divide and rule. Soviet federalism provided a national veneer to a centralized state, controlled by the Communist Party, where Russians staffed the key party posts within the various republics. The Chechens proved a difficult people to subdue. In 1929 they revolted against collectivization, leading to a decade-long struggle. Russians arrived to manage the oil industry with the development of Chechen oil fields.

During World War II, when the German Army advanced into the Caucasus, there were more signs of Chechen unrest and collaboration with the enemy. In late February 1944, Lavrenti Beria’s NKVD carried out Stalin’s “solution” to the Chechen Question—the mass deportation of Chechens to Central Asia. Over 70,000 Chechens of the 450,000 expelled died during transit or on arrival. Chechnya ceased to exist. The exile became the defining event for succeeding generations of Chechens. In 1957 Nikita Khrushchev decreed that the Chechens could return to their ancestral homelands. Chechnya and Ingushetia were joined administratively into the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic. This arrangement joined the rebellious Chechens with the traditionally loyal Ingush in a clear continuation of Moscow’s policy of divide and rule.