Map of Chechnya

Logo of the Soldiers' Mothers of St. Petersburg

Nana Magazine

Russia and Chechnya


According to "Russians abroad, a web portal designed to help Russian emigrants and Russophiles communicate with each other across the globe":

''In the post-Soviet era, the position of women in Russian society remains at least as problematic as it was in previous decades. In both cases, a number of nominal legal protections for women either have failed to address the existing conditions or have failed to supply adequate support..."

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Globalization - a Remedy or a Quest? The Russian Experience
is the title of an article by Olga Lipovskaya, journalist, translator, interpreter and chairperson of Petersburg Center for Gender Issues. It is on-line at Lola Press: "The international feminist magazine edited by an editorial group, living in three continents. And with lots of authors from all over the world."

''Globalization as a process and phenomenon is a new and widely unknown term in Russia. The question of accountability, though, is not only about how the State performs its responsibility towards people; it also means how the people pursue the State in order to make it responsible. Unfortunately, in this domain the Russian people appear to be totally unprepared. In existing reality we have to admit that the relationship between the State and the people in Russia is not a happy one. This problem concerns all the society in general and women in particular..."

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Soldiers’ Mothers of St. Petersburg
An example of one of the most active mothers organizations: Soldiers' Mothers of St. Petersberg. Daily violations of human rights in the Russian army led to an out-cry - and movement - among soldiers' mothers across the country. "Soldiers' Mothers of St.Petersburg" is a non-governmental organization that has steadily worked for more protection and justice and has become one of the most recognized Soldiers' Mothers organizations in Russia. the Mothers have a website in English and German to introduce themselves and their work to a world audience.
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Women's anti-war activities in Russia
Women in the Russian Federation are limited in influencing policy, especially in the field of national security. The main barriers are institutional and cultural: the low representation of women in politics, the absence of women in power institutions such as the Security Council and Presidential Committee on security, and the gendered power discourse. The State Duma (Russia's Parliament) could provide an open tribune for women politicians against the war in Chechnya. The separate women's party, or alliance, called "Women of Russia" had achieved a staggering and unexpected success in December, 1993. "Women of Russia" established their position as defenders of social protection and security during a year of hard work in the State Duma. Many people expected them to lead an anti-war coalition as "mothers" or at least to put social issues and a demand to provide for the security of the civilian population on the Chechnya agenda. That did not happen. "Women of Russia" followed the policy of President Eltsin and did not speak out against the war. Due to increasing civic indignation against the war, "Women of Russia" later shifted their position, but it was too late. The perception that "Women of Russia" "voted for Chechnya" had been formed before the elections in 1995.
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Education seminars in Russia
"Gender and civil societal action in conflict regions"

The East-West-European Women's Network (OWEN) aim to empower women in Central and Eastern Europe and in Germany as actors in: the democratic evolution and peaceful strengthening of ties in Europe, gender democracy and gender justice, civil conflict prevention and intervention, social justice and solidarity, mutual acceptance and understanding.

''OWEN and women's and human rights organisations in the post-Soviet states run a series of further education seminars for women working in these NGOs. The both complex and complicated process of democratisation in the transitional societies of the post-Soviet states creates an enormous challenge for the emerging civil societies in these states.The series of further education seminars that OWEN has run in Russia, the Ukraine and the Caucasus region since 1998 aims to empower women as actors in organisations dealing with women's issues, human rights and civil conflict prevention and conflict management. The seminars' topics and methodology follow on from each other. The seminar participants come from different organisations and various post-Soviet states, which furthers the exchange of ideas, working methods and experience.''

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Some historical facts:

"Recognized as a distinct people since the 17th cent., the Chechens were the most active opponents of Russia's conquest (1818–1917) of the Caucasus. They fought bitterly during an unsuccessful 1850s rebellion led by Imam Shamyl. The Bolsheviks seized the region in 1918 but were dislodged in 1919 by counterrevolutionary forces under Gen. A. I. Denikin.After Soviet rule was reestablished, the area was included in 1921 in the Mountain People's Republic. The Chechen Autonomous Region was created in 1922, and in 1934 it became part of the Chechen-Ingush Region, made a republic in 1936. After Chechen and Ingush units collaborated with the invading Germans during World War II, many residents were deported (1944) to Central Asia. Deportees were repatriated in 1956, and the republic was reestablished in 1957.In 1991, as the Soviet Union disintegrated, the Chechen-dominated parliament of the republic declared independence as the Republic of Ichkeria, soon better known as Chechnya. In June, 1992, Russia granted Ingush inhabitants their own republic (Ingushetia) in the western fifth of the territory..."

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Chechnya's first women's magazine:"Nana"
The first magazine to be targeted at women in Chechnya has been published, according to the Russian television channel NTV.The magazine will focus on the impact of the fighting on women.It is called Nana, the Chechen word for mother. There is no gossip about celebrities or hot fashion tips; instead it focuses on the everyday hardship faced by Chechen women as a result of the fighting in the troubled republic. Its first edition had little trouble attracting readers, with demand outstripping its print run of 3,000 copies, according to the report.

BBC informs on: July 2004

Women and the war in Chechnya
By Marina Liborakina
At the time of publication in 1996, she was head of the the Feminist Orientation Center, a department at the Russian Institute for Cultural Research.

Introduction: "The War in Chechnya has become a complex challenge to the international community, which argues either that it is "an internal matter" of the Russian Federation, or that it represents a danger of totalitarism and human rights violations. Very little attention has been paid to gender aspect of the war and the role of women who have become prominent peace-makers in this country. This paper analyzes the gender dimension of the war and the drastic decline of the status of women in Chechnya. This paper presents the efforts of women, who value life more than statehood or national self-determination, to stop the war in Chechnya. The paper highlights the background of and national debates on this conflict. I believe that citizens should learn from each other about conflicts in their countries in order to avoid prejudices, based on myths of 'geopolitical interests' and 'national security'"...  Contents: The war and the status of women in Chechnya

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Chechnya's female bombers

"Specialists say nearly all Chechen women in the conflict areas are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders"
One of the most shocking aspects of recent Chechen rebel suicide attacks has been that many of the perpetrators were women.Women are the forgotten part of the Chechen war. Since the mid 1990s, when the conflict began, they have featured mainly as refugees.The research that has been done shows a high degree of support for taking up arms. It also reveals the absolute desperation of many Chechen women's lives. Hundreds of thousands of Chechen women have fled their homeland and sought shelter in often dismal conditions in neighbouring regions. Three-quarters have lost relatives, 60% have had their homes destroyed and at least half are unemployed. But now, there is the new reality of female Chechen suicide bombers. First seen during last year's Moscow theatre siege, they have conducted a number of bloody attacks in the subsequent months.

BBC informs on: (July 2003)

Design and selection: Desislava Manova/WLOE