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The internal instability of the Soviet government during 1990-91 invited expressions of separatism in many of Russia's distinct ethnic enclaves, as well as in ethnically Russian districts in the Soviet Far East. The most volatile and troublesome area within the new Russian Federation was the North Caucasus, where the predominantly Muslim former Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic is located. A crisis had been building there for some time. In October 1991, a Chechen nationalist movement headed by former Soviet air force general Dzhokar Dudayev overthrew the existing government and installed Dudayev as president. Shortly thereafter, the Chechen Supreme Soviet declared Chechnya a sovereign republic.
Yeltsin responded by deploying Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) troops in the region, but the Russian Supreme Soviet declared the action invalid and ordered him to settle the conflict peaceably. The perceived indecision by the Russian government encouraged Chechen nationalists to pursue complete political independence and Russian recognition of that status. The Yeltsin administration was equally adamant in its refusal to negotiate until Chechnya redesignated itself part of the Russian Federation. Violence erupted in Chechnya on numerous occasions during 1993-94, and Russian security forces became fully involved in the conflict. In July 1994, a group of hostages taken by Chechen guerrillas near Pyatigorsk in Russian territory perished during an unsuccessful rescue operation by the MVD. The FSK armed Chechen opposition forces, which launched several unsuccessful attacks against the Dudayev government in the fall of 1994. When Russian conventional forces finally invaded Chechnya in December, they received substantial support from troops of the FSK, its successor the FSB, and the MVD. The FSB and MVD remained part of an uneasy occupation force through mid-1996.
Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.
Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Russia was first published in 1996. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.
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