[wpspoiler name=”Chechen accordionist Deni Satabaev” open=”true” style=”aatw-video”][/wpspoiler]
On February 23, 1944, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin initiated a mass deportation of the Chechen and Ingush people from their homeland in the Caucasus Mountains to Central Asia, accusing them of collaborating with the Germans during the war. They were allowed to return in 1956, but the deportation and subsequent loss of life, land and economic power was devastating. Since the mid-’50s the Chechen people, who are primarily Sunni Muslim, have fought on and off with the dominant Russians for political autonomy. After the fall of the USSR Chechnya attempted to become entirely independent from Russia but the Russians, starting in 1994 and led by the strong hand of then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, sent in the military to crush its rebellion. In 2009 declared the war won and installed a Russian-dominated government. Despite this pause in active fighting, few believe the conflict has come to its final end.

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