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1.an autonomous republic in southwestern Russia in the northern Caucasus Mountains bordering on Georgia; declared independence from the USSR in 1991 but Russian troops invaded and continue to prosecute a relentless military campaign in the largely Musl...
1940-1944 insurgency in Chechnya • 1940–1944 insurgency in Chechnya • 1998 abduction of foreign engineers in Chechnya • 1999 Russian bombing of Chechnya • 2008 Chechnya earthquake • Administrative divisions of Chechnya • American Committee for Peace in Chechnya • Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya • Chechnya Advocacy Network • Chechnya Film Festival • Chechnya Spetsnaz base explosion • Chechnya Veterans' Association • Chechnya veterans association • Flag of Chechnya • History of Chechnya • Ichkeria (Chechnya) • July 2000 Chechnya suicide bombings • June 2000 Chechnya suicide bombings • LGBT rights in Chechnya • Land mine situation in Chechnya • Law enforcement in Chechnya • Mass graves in Chechnya • Music of Chechnya • Norwegian Support Committee for Chechnya • Politics of Chechnya • Russian government censorship of Chechnya coverage
|Чеченская Республика (Russian)
Нохчийн Республика/Noxc̈iyn Respublika (Chechen)
|— Republic —|
|Anthem: Shtalak's Song (Шатлакхан Илли)|
|Federal district||North Caucasian|
|Economic region||North Caucasus|
|Established||January 11, 1991|
|Government (as of March 2010)|
|- Head||Ramzan Kadyrov|
|Area (as of the 2002 Census)|
|- Total||17,300 km2 (6,679.6 sq mi)|
|Population (2010 Census)|
|- Density||73.35 /km2 (190.0 /sq mi)|
|Time zone(s)||MSK (UTC+04:00)|
|Official languages||Russian; Chechen|
The Chechen Republic ( //; Russian: Чече́нская Респу́блика, Chechenskaya Respublika; Chechen: Нохчийн Республика, Noxc̈iyn Respublika), commonly referred to as Chechnya (//; Russian: Чечня́, Chechnya; Chechen: Нохчийчоь, Noxc̈iyc̈ó), also spelled Chechnia or Chechenia, sometimes referred to as Ichkeria (English: Land of Minerals), is a federal subject of Russia (a republic). It is located in the southeastern part of Europe in the Northern Caucasus mountains. The capital of the republic is the city of Grozny. Population: 1,268,989 (2010 Census).
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Chechen-Ingush ASSR was split into two: the Republic of Ingushetia and the Chechen Republic. The latter proclaimed the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, which sought independence. Following the First Chechen War with Russia, Chechnya gained de facto independence as the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Russian federal control was restored during the Second Chechen War. Since then there has been a systematic reconstruction and rebuilding process, though sporadic fighting continues in the mountains and southern regions of the republic.
The republic is on the European side of Russia.
The oldest settlement found in the region goes back to 125,000 BCE. In these mountain cave settlements, people lived who used tools, mastered fire, and used animal skin for warmth and other purposes. Traces of human settlement that date back to 40,000 BCE were found near Lake Kezanoi. Cave paintings, artifacts and other archaeological evidence indicate that there has been continuous habitation for some 8,000 years.
In classical times, the northern slopes of the Caucasus mountains were inhabited by the Circassians on the west and the Avars on the east. In between them, the Zygians occupied Zyx, the areas of north Ossetia, the Balkar, the Ingush and the Chechen republics today. Chechnya was a country in the Northern Caucasus which has been in almost constant battle against foreign rule since the 15th century. Eventually the Chechens converted to Sunni Islam, largely encouraged by the motive of receiving help from the Ottoman Empire against Russian encroachment. The Russian Terek Cossack Host was secretly established in Chechnya in 1577 by free Cossacks resettled from the Volga to the Terek River. Later Ermolow declared Chechnya as a part of Russian Empire.
In 1785, Russia and the eastern Georgian kingdom of Kartl-Kakheti (which was devastated by Turkish and Persian invasions) signed the Treaty of Georgievsk, according to which Kartl-Kakheti received protection from Russia. In order to secure communications with Georgia and other regions of the Transcaucasia, the Russian Empire began spreading its influence into the Caucasus mountains. The current resistance to Russian rule has its roots in the late 18th century (1785–1791), a period when Russia expanded into territories formerly under the dominion of Turkey and Persia (see also the Russo-Turkish Wars and Russo-Persian War (1804–1813)), under Mansur Ushurma—a Chechen Naqshbandi (Sufi) Sheikh—with wavering support from other North Caucasian tribes. Mansur hoped to establish a Transcaucasus Islamic state under shari'a law, but was unable to fully achieve this because in the course of the war he was wounded and captured, and for unknown reasons, died. Its banner was again picked up by the Avar Imam Shamil, who fought against the Russians from 1834 until 1859.
Chechen rebellion would characteristically flare up whenever the Russian state faced a period of internal uncertainty. Rebellions occurred during the Russo-Turkish War, the Russian Revolution of 1905, the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Russian Civil War (see Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus), and Collectivization. Under Soviet rule, Chechnya was combined with Ingushetia to form the autonomous republic of Chechen-Ingushetia in the late 1930s.
The Chechens again rose up against Soviet rule during the 1940s, resulting in the deportation of the entire ethnic Chechen and Ingush populations to the Kazakh SSR (later Kazakhstan) and Siberia in 1944 near the end of World War II. Joseph Stalin and others argued this was punishment to the Chechens for providing assistance to the German forces. Although the German front never made it to the border of Chechnya, an active guerrilla movement threatened to undermine the Soviet defenses of the Caucasus (noted writer Valentin Pikul claims that while the city of Grozny was preparing for a siege in 1942, all of the air bombers stationed on the Caucasian front had to be re-directed towards quelling the Chechen insurrection instead of fighting Germans at the siege of Stalingrad). The Chechens were allowed to return to their "own ethnic land" after 1956 during de-Stalinization under Nikita Khrushchev.
On November 26, 1990 the Supreme Council of Chechen-Ingush ASSR adopted the "Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Chechen-Ingush Republic". This declaration was part of the reorganization of the Soviet Union. This new treaty would have been signed August 22, 1991 which would have transformed 15 republic states into more than 80. The August Coup (August 19–21, 1991) led to the abandonment of this reorganization. With the impending dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, an independence movement, initially known as the Chechen National Congress, was formed and led by ex-Soviet Air Force general and new Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev that rallied for the recognition of Chechnya as a separate nation. This movement was ultimately opposed by Boris Yeltsin's Russian Federation, which first argued that Chechnya had not been an independent entity within the Soviet Union—as the Baltic, Central Asian, and other Caucasian States had—but was part of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and hence did not have a right under the Soviet constitution to secede; second, that other republics of Russia, such as Tatarstan, would consider seceding from the Russian Federation if Chechnya were granted that right; and third, that Chechnya was a major hub in the oil infrastructure of the Federation and hence its secession would hurt the country's economy and energy access.
In the ensuing decade, the territory was locked in an ongoing struggle between various factions, usually fighting unconventionally and forgoing the position held by the several successive Russian governments through the current administration. Various demographic factors including religious ones have continued to keep the area in a near constant state of war.
The First Chechen War occurred in a two year period lasting from 1994 to 1996, when Russian forces attempted to regain control over Chechnya, which had already established independence since November 1991 (generally falling in line with other entities seceding from the USSR, except that Checheno-Ingushetia had previously been a division within Russia). Despite overwhelming manpower, weaponry and air support, the Russian forces were unable to establish effective permanent control over the mountainous area due to many successful Chechen guerrilla raids. The Budyonnovsk hospital hostage crisis in 1995 shocked the Russian public and discredited Chechen guerrillas. Widespread demoralization of the Russian forces in the area and a successful offensive on Grozny by Chechen resistance forces led by Aslan Maskhadov prompted Russian President Boris Yeltsin to declare a ceasefire in 1996 and sign a peace treaty a year later.
After the war, parliamentary and presidential elections took place in January 1997 in Chechnya and brought to power new President Aslan Maskhadov, chief of staff and prime minister in the Chechen coalition government, for a five-year term. Maskhadov sought to maintain Chechen sovereignty while pressing Moscow to help rebuild the republic, whose formal economy and infrastructure were virtually destroyed. Russia continued to send money for the rehabilitation of the republic; it also provided pensions and funds for schools and hospitals. Most of these funds were taken by Chechen authorities and divided between favoured warlords. Nearly half a million people (40% of Chechnya's prewar population) had been internally displaced and lived in refugee camps or overcrowded villages. There was an economic downturn. Two Russian brigades were permanently stationed in Chechnya.
In lieu of the devastated economic structure, kidnapping emerged as the principal source of income countrywide, procuring over $200 million during the three year independence of the chaotic fledgling state, although victims were rarely killed. In 1998, 176 people were kidnapped, 90 of whom were released, according to official accounts. President Maskhadov started a major campaign against hostage-takers, and on October 25, 1998, Shadid Bargishev, Chechnya's top anti-kidnapping official, was killed in a remote-controlled car bombing. Bargishev's colleagues then insisted they would not be intimidated by the attack and would go ahead with their offensive. Political violence and religious extremism, blamed on "Wahhabism", was rife. In 1998, Grozny authorities declared a state of emergency. Tensions led to open clashes between the Chechen National Guard and Islamist militants, such as the July 1998 confrontation in Gudermes.
In August 1999, the Islamic International Brigade (IIPB) began an unsuccessful incursion into the neighbouring Russian republic of Dagestan in favor of the Shura of Dagestan who sought independence from Russia. (see Dagestan War). In September, a series of apartment bombings that killed three hundred Russian civilians took place in several Russian cities, including Moscow, which were blamed on the Chechen separatists. However, many journalists as well as a famous Russian dissident Litvinenko, later poisoned through the use of a highly radioactive material in London, contest the official explanation, instead blaming the Russian Secret Service for blowing up the houses to initiate a new military campaign against Chechnya. A famous Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya and Head of the Defense Council of Russian Duma (Parliament) were also killed after making similar claims. In response, after a prolonged air campaign of retaliatory strikes against the Ichkerian regime, a ground offensive began in October 1999 which marked the beginning of the Second Chechen War. Much better organized and planned than the first Chechen War, the military actions by the Russian Federal forces enabled them to re-establish control over most regions. The Russian forces used brutal force, killing sixty Chechen civilians during a mop-up operation in Aldy, Chechnya on February 5, 2000. After the re-capture of Grozny in February 2000, the Ichkerian regime fell apart. However, Chechen rebel forces continued to conduct terrorist attacks, seizing a theater in Moscow in October 2002. Russian forces refused to negotiate and gassed the entire building, killing one hundred thirty of the nine hundred Russian hostages as well as all of the terrorists. Russia has severely disabled the Chechen rebel movement, although violence still occurs throughout the North Caucasus. Russia was also successful in installing a pro-Moscow Chechen regime, and the most prominent separatist leaders were killed, including former president Aslan Maskhadov and Shamil Basayev. In April 2009, Russia ended its counter-terrorism operation and pulled out the bulk of its army. Three months later, leader of the separatist government, Akhmed Zakayev, called for a halt to armed resistance against the Chechen police force starting on August 1, 2009.
Situated in the eastern part of the North Caucasus, partially in Eastern Europe, Chechnya is surrounded on nearly all sides by Russian Federal territory. In the west, it borders North Ossetia and Ingushetia, in the north, Stavropol Krai, in the east, Dagestan, and to the south, Georgia. Its capital is Grozny.
According to the 2010 Census, the population of the republic is 1,268,989, up from 1,103,686 recorded in the 2002 Census. As of the 2010 Census, Chechens at 1,206,551 make up 95.3% of the republic's population. Other groups include Russians (24,382, or 1.9%), Kumyks (12,221, or 1%), Ingush (1,296 or 0.1%) and a host of smaller groups, each accounting for less than 0.5% of the total population. The Armenian community, which used to number around 15,000 in Grozny alone, has dwindled to a few families.[dead link] Birth rate was 25.41 in 2004. (25.7 in Achkhoi Martan, 19.8 in Groznyy, 17.5 in Kurchaloi, 28.3 in Urus Martan and 11.1 in Vedeno). According to the Chechen State Statistical Committee, Chechnya's population had grown to 1.205 million in January 2006.
At the end of the Soviet era, ethnic Russians (including Cossacks) comprised about 23% of the population (269,000 in 1989).
According to some Russian sources, from 1991 to 1994 tens of thousands of people of non-Chechen ethnicity (mostly Russians, Ukrainians and Armenians) left the republic amidst reports of violence and discrimination against the non-Chechen population, as well as widespread lawlessness and ethnic cleansing under the government of Dzhokhar Dudayev, which is called by their source "ethnic cleansing".
However, regarding this exodus, there is an alternative view. According to the Russian economists Boris Lvin and Andrei Iliaronov,
The Chechen authorities are regularly accused of crimes against the population, especially the Russian-speaking people. However, before the current war the emigration of the Russian-speaking population from Chechnya was no more intense than that from Kalmykia, Tuva and Sakha-Yakutia. In Grozny itself there remained a 200,000 strong Russian-speaking population which did not hasten to leave it.
The languages used in the Republic are Chechen and Russian. Chechen belongs to the Vaynakh or North-central Caucasian language family, which also includes Ingush and Batsb. Some scholars place it in a wider Iberian-Caucasian super-family.
Chechnya has one of the youngest populations in the generally aging Russian Federation; in the early 1990s, it was among the few regions experiencing natural population growth. Since 2002, Chechnya has experienced a classic post-conflict baby-boom. Chechen demographers in 2008 termed highly implausible the reported overall population growth as infant mortality in Chechnya was said to be 60 percent higher than the Russian average in 2007 and to have risen by 3.9 percent compared with 2006. Many experts have expressed doubts about the increase from 1.1 million in the 1990 to an estimated nearly 1.3 million in 2010 following two devastating wars that displaced hundreds of thousands people and virtually eliminated the large ethnic Russian minority in the republic. According to Russian demographer Dmitry Bogoyavlensky, the 2002 census results were clearly manipulated in the North Caucasus: an estimated 800,000 to 1 million non-existent people were added to the actual population of the region. Another Russian demographer, Anatoly Vishnevsky, pointed out that according to the 2002 census, some age groups, like those born in 1950, appeared to be larger in 2002 than in 1989. With the 2002 census, Moscow wanted to show there were not too many casualties and that the refugees had returned to Chechnya, while the local authorities wanted to receive more funds and thus needed a higher population to justify their demands. Also, in the multiethnic republics of North Caucasus normally unlike in other parts of Russia, government positions are distributed among the ethnicities according to their ratio in the general population. So ethnicities are zealously guarding their numbers in order not to be outnumbered by others and thereby left with less representation in the government and the local economy. Some 40 percent of newborns had some kind of genetic defect.
|Average population (x 1000)||Live births||Deaths||Natural change||Crude birth rate (per 1000)||Crude death rate (per 1000)||Natural change (per 1000)|
(in the territory of modern Chechnya)
|1926 Census||1939 Census||1959 Census||1970 Census||1979 Census||1989 Census||2002 Census||2010 Census1|
|1 2,515 people were registered from administrative databases, and could not declare an ethnicity. It is estimated that the proportion of ethnicities in this group is the same as that of the declared group.|
Islam is the predominant religion in Chechnya. Chechens are overwhelmingly adherents to Sunni Islam,  the country having converted to Islam between the 16th and the 19th centuries. Due to historical importance, many Chechens are Sufis, of either the Qadiri or Naqshbandi orders. Most of the population follows either the Shafi'i, Hanafi, or Maliki schools of jurisprudence, fiqh. The Shafi'i school of jurisprudence has a long tradition among the Chechens, and thus it remains the most practiced.
The once-strong Russian minority in Chechnya, mostly Terek Cossacks and estimated as numbering approximately 25,000 in 2012, are predominately Russian Orthodox, although presently only one church exists in Grozny.
Since 1990, the Chechen Republic has had many legal, military, and civil conflicts involving separatist movements and pro-Russian authorities. Today, Chechnya is a relatively stable federal republic, although there is still some separatist movement activity. Its regional constitution entered into effect on April 2, 2003 after an all-Chechen referendum was held on March 23, 2003. The independent observers alleged that the officially reported voter turnout seemed to be much higher than the reality. Some Chechens were controlled by regional teips, or clans, despite the existence of pro- and anti-Russian political structures.
The former separatist religious leader (mufti) Akhmad Kadyrov, looked upon as a traitor by many separatists, was elected president with 83% of the vote in an internationally monitored election on October 5, 2003. Incidents of ballot stuffing and voter intimidation by Russian soldiers and the exclusion of separatist parties from the polls were subsequently reported by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitors. On May 9, 2004, Kadyrov was assassinated in Grozny football stadium by a landmine explosion that was planted beneath a VIP stage and detonated during a parade, and Sergey Abramov was appointed to the position of acting prime minister after the incident. However, since 2005 Ramzan Kadyrov (son of Akhmad Kadyrov) has been caretaker prime minister, and in 2007 was appointed a new president. Many allege he is the wealthiest and most powerful man in the republic, with control over a large private militia referred to as the Kadyrovtsy. The militia, which began as his father's security force, has been accused of killings and kidnappings by human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch.
In 2009, the American organization Freedom House included Chechnya in the "Worst of the Worst" list of most repressive societies in the world, together with Burma, North Korea, China's Tibet and others.
In addition to the Russian regional government, there was a separatist Ichkeria government that was not recognized by any state (although members have been given political asylum in European and Arab countries, as well as the United States).
Ichkeria is/was a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. Former president of Georgia, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, deposed in a military coup of 1991 and a participant of the Georgian Civil War, recognised the independence of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria in 1993. This recognition is no longer in effect. Diplomatic relations with Ichkeria were also established by the partially recognized Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan under the Taliban government on January 16, 2000. This recognition ceased with the fall of the Taliban in 2001. However, despite Taliban recognition, there were no friendly relations between the Taliban and Ichkeria- Maskhadov rejected their recognition, stating that the Taliban were illegitimate. Ichkeria also received vocal support from the Baltic countries, a group of Ukrainian nationalists and Poland; Estonia once voted to recognize, but the act never was followed through due to pressure applied by both Russia and the EU.
The president of this government was Aslan Maskhadov, the Foreign Minister was Ilyas Akhmadov, who was the spokesman for Maskhadov. Aslan Maskhadov had been elected in an internationally monitored election in 1997 for 4 years, which took place after signing a peace agreement with Russia. In 2001 he issued a decree prolonging his office for one additional year; he was unable to participate in the 2003 presidential election, since separatist parties were barred by the Russian government, and Maskhadov faced accusations of terrorist offences in Russia. Maskhadov left Grozny and moved to the separatist-controlled areas of the south at the onset of the Second Chechen War. Maskhadov was unable to influence a number of warlords who retain effective control over Chechen territory, and his power was diminished as a result. Russian forces killed Maskhadov on March 8, 2005, and the assassination of Maskhadov was widely criticized since it left no legitimate Chechen separatist leader to conduct peace talks with. Akhmed Zakayev, Deputy Prime Minister and a Foreign Minister under Maskhadov, was appointed shortly after the 1997 election and is currently living under asylum in England. He and others chose Abdul Khalim Saidullayev, a relatively unknown Islamic judge who was previously the host of an Islamic program on Chechen television, to replace Maskhadov following his death. On June 17, 2006, it was reported that Russian special forces killed Abdul Khalim Saidullayev in a raid in a Chechen town Argun. The successor of Saidullayev became Doku Umarov. On October 31, 2007 Umarov abolished the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and its presidency and in its place proclaimed the Caucasian Emirate with himself as its Emir. This change of status has been rejected by many Chechen politicians and military leaders who continue to support the existence of the republic.
In 2006 Human Rights Watch reported that pro-Moscow Chechen forces under the command, in effect, of President Ramzan Kadyrov, as well as federal police personnel, used torture to get information about separatist forces. "If you are detained in Chechnya, you face a real and immediate risk of torture. And there is little chance that your torturer will be held accountable," said Holly Cartner, Director Europe and Central Asia division of HRW.
Human rights groups criticized the conduct of the 2005 parliamentary elections as unfairly influenced by the central Russian government and military.
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre reports that after hundreds of thousands fled their homes following inter-ethnic and separatist conflicts in Chechnya in 1994 and 1999, more than 150,000 people still remain displaced in Russia today.
On September 1, 1997, Criminal Code reportedly being implemented in the Chechen Republic-Ichkeriya, Article 148 punishes "anal sexual intercourse between a man and a woman or a man and a man"). For first- and second-time offenders, the punishment is caning. A third conviction leads to the death penalty, which can be carried out in a number of ways including stoning or beheading.
On February 1, 2009, the New York Times released extensive evidence to support allegations of consistent torture and executions under the Kadyrov government. The accusations were sparked by the assassination in Austria of a former Chechen rebel who had gained access to Kadyrov's inner circle, 27-year old Umar Israilov.
On July 1, 2009, Amnesty International released a detailed report covering the human rights violations committed by the Russian Federation against Chechnyan citizens. Among the most prominent features was that those abused had no method of redress against assaults, ranging from kidnapping to torture, while those responsible were never held accountable. This led to the conclusion that Chechnya was being ruled without law, being run into further devastating destabilization.
On March 10, 2011, Human Rights Watch reported that since Chechenization, the government has pushed for enforced Islamic dress code and other traditions which violently repress women. The president Ramzan Kadyrov is quoted as saying "I have the right to criticize my wife. She doesn’t [have the right to criticize me]. With us [in Chechen society], a wife is a housewife. A woman should know her place. A woman should give her love to us [men]... She would be [man’s] property. And the man is the owner. Here, if a woman does not behave properly, her husband, father, and brother are responsible. According to our tradition, if a woman fools around, her family members kill her... That’s how it happens, a brother kills his sister or a husband kills his wife... As a president, I cannot allow for them to kill. So, let women not wear shorts...". He has also openly defended honour killings on several occasions. All this is occurring despite being illegal under Russian law and international laws.
During the war, the Chechen economy fell apart. Gross domestic product, if reliably calculable, would be only a fraction of the prewar level. Problems with the Chechen economy had an effect on the federal Russian economy—a number of financial crimes during the 1990s were committed using Chechen financial organizations. Chechnya has the highest ratio within Russian Federation of financial operations made in U.S. dollar to operations in Russian rubles. There are many counterfeit U.S. dollars printed there. In 1994, the separatists planned to introduce a new currency, but that did not happen due to Russian troops re-taking Chechnya in the Second Chechen War. As an effect of the war, approximately 80% of the economic potential of Chechnya was destroyed. Much of the money spent by the Russian federal government to rebuild Chechnya has been wasted. According to the Russian government, over $2 billion was spent on the reconstruction of the Chechen economy since 2000. However, according to the Russian central economic control agency (Schyotnaya Palata), not more than $350 million was spent as intended. The economic situation in Chechnya has improved considerably since 2000. According to the New York Times, major efforts to rebuild Grozny have been made, and improvements in the political situation have led some officials to consider setting up a tourism industry, though there are claims that construction workers are being irregularly paid and that poor people have been displaced. See the main article Grozny.
After the war, and until about 2007 tourism in the country was in decline, but today there is some work for its resuscitation. At present, people from North Ossetia, Ingushetia and Dagestan, often visit Chechnya for trade reasons, and rare groups from central Russia appear in the republic for the purposes of extreme tourism.
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