Battle of Grozny (1999–2000)
The 1999–2000 battle of Grozny was the siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

 and assault of the Chechen
The Chechen Republic , commonly referred to as Chechnya , also spelled Chechnia or Chechenia, sometimes referred to as Ichkeria , is a federal subject of Russia . It is located in the southeastern part of Europe in the Northern Caucasus mountains. The capital of the republic is the city of Grozny...

 capital Grozny
Grozny is the capital city of the Chechen Republic, Russia. The city lies on the Sunzha River. According to the preliminary results of the 2010 Census, the city had a population of 271,596; up from 210,720 recorded in the 2002 Census. but still only about two-thirds of 399,688 recorded in the 1989...

 by Russian forces, lasting from late 1999 to early 2000. The siege and fighting left the capital devastated. In 2003 the United Nations called Grozny the most destroyed city on Earth.


On October 15, 1999, after mounting an intense tank and artillery barrage
Barrage (artillery)
A barrage is a line or barrier of exploding artillery shells, created by the co-ordinated aiming of a large number of guns firing continuously. Its purpose is to deny or hamper enemy passage through the line of the barrage, to attack a linear position such as a line of trenches or to neutralize...

 against Chechen separatists, Russian forces took control of a strategic ridge within artillery range of Grozny. They then made several abortive attempts to seize positions on the outskirts of the city. On December 4, the commander of Russian forces in the North Caucasus, Gen. Viktor Kazantsev
Viktor Kazantsev
Viktor Germanovich Kazantsev , born 1946, was an envoy of the Russian president to the Southern Federal District from 2000 to 2004. He performed primary negotiations between the Russian government and the Chechen opposition...

, claimed that Grozny was fully blockade
A blockade is an effort to cut off food, supplies, war material or communications from a particular area by force, either in part or totally. A blockade should not be confused with an embargo or sanctions, which are legal barriers to trade, and is distinct from a siege in that a blockade is usually...

d by Russian troops. Gen. Anatoly Kvashnin
Anatoly Kvashnin
General of the Army Anatoly Vasiliyevich Kvashnin was the Chief of the Russian General Staff from 1997 to 2004, when he was dismissed by President Vladimir Putin. Kvashnin graduated from the Kurgan Machine-building Institute in 1969 and served in the armed forces from this time...

, chief of the army's general staff
General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is the military staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. It is the central organ of the Armed Forces Administration and oversees operational management of the armed forces under the Russian Ministry of Defence.The staff is...

, even predicted the rebels would abandon the Chechen capital on their own, urged to withdraw by the civilians, fearing widespread destruction. Supported by a powerful air force
Russian Air Force
The Russian Air Force is the air force of Russian Military. It is currently under the command of Colonel General Aleksandr Zelin. The Russian Navy has its own air arm, the Russian Naval Aviation, which is the former Soviet Aviatsiya Voyenno Morskogo Flota , or AV-MF).The Air Force was formed from...

, the Russian force vastly outnumbered and out-gunned the Chechen irregulars
Irregular military
Irregular military refers to any non-standard military. Being defined by exclusion, there is significant variance in what comes under the term. It can refer to the type of military organization, or to the type of tactics used....

, who numbered around 3,000 to 6,000 fighters, and was considerably larger and much better prepared than the Russian force sent to take the Chechen capital in the First Chechen War
First Chechen War
The First Chechen War, also known as the War in Chechnya, was a conflict between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, fought from December 1994 to August 1996...

. In addition, the tactics of both sides in this second campaign were drastically different.


The Russian strategy in 1999 was to hold back tanks and armored personnel carriers and subject the entrenched Chechens to an intensive heavy artillery barrage and aerial bombardment
Strategic bombing
Strategic bombing is a military strategy used in a total war with the goal of defeating an enemy nation-state by destroying its economic ability and public will to wage war rather than destroying its land or naval forces...

 before engaging them with relatively small groups of infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

, many with prior training in urban warfare
Urban warfare
Urban warfare is combat conducted in urban areas such as towns and cities. Urban combat is very different from combat in the open at both the operational and tactical level...

. In a destructive move which was very dangerous to civilians (officially they were Russian citizens), the Russian forces relied heavily on ballistic missile
Ballistic missile
A ballistic missile is a missile that follows a sub-orbital ballistic flightpath with the objective of delivering one or more warheads to a predetermined target. The missile is only guided during the relatively brief initial powered phase of flight and its course is subsequently governed by the...

Scud is a series of tactical ballistic missiles developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and exported widely to other countries. The term comes from the NATO reporting name SS-1 Scud which was attached to the missile by Western intelligence agencies...

, OTR-21 Tochka) and fuel air explosives. (The TOS-1
TOS-1 is a Soviet 30-barrel or 24-barrel multiple rocket launcher and thermobaric weapon mounted on a T-72 tank chassis. TOS-1 was designed for defeating enemy personnel in fortifications, in open country, and in lightly armoured vehicles and transport...

, a multiple rocket launcher
Multiple rocket launcher
A multiple rocket launcher is a type of unguided rocket artillery system. Like other rocket artillery, multiple rocket launchers are less accurate and have a much lower rate of fire than batteries of traditional artillery guns...

 with thermobaric weapon
Thermobaric weapon
A thermobaric weapon, which includes the type known as a "fuel-air bomb", is an explosive weapon that produces a blast wave of a significantly longer duration than those produced by condensed explosives. This is useful in military applications where its longer duration increases the numbers of...

The term warhead refers to the explosive material and detonator that is delivered by a missile, rocket, or torpedo.- Etymology :During the early development of naval torpedoes, they could be equipped with an inert payload that was intended for use during training, test firing and exercises. This...

s, played a particularly prominent role in the assault). These weapons wore down the Chechens, both physically and psychologically, and air strikes were also used to attack fighters hiding in basements; such attacks were designed for maximum psychological pressure. They would also demonstrate the hopelessness of further resistance against a foe that could strike with impunity and that was invulnerable to countermeasures. In November, the Kremlin appointed Beslan Gantamirov, former mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

 of Grozny, as head of the pro-Moscow Chechen State Council. Gantamirov had just been pardon
Clemency means the forgiveness of a crime or the cancellation of the penalty associated with it. It is a general concept that encompasses several related procedures: pardoning, commutation, remission and reprieves...

ed by Russian President Boris Yeltsin
Boris Yeltsin
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was the first President of the Russian Federation, serving from 1991 to 1999.Originally a supporter of Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin emerged under the perestroika reforms as one of Gorbachev's most powerful political opponents. On 29 May 1990 he was elected the chairman of...

 and released from a 6-year prison sentence which he had been serving for embezzling federal funds which had been earmarked for the rebuilding of Chechnya in 1995 and 1996. He was chosen to lead a pro-Russian Chechen militia force in the upcoming battle. Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo
Vladimir Rushailo
Vladimir Borisovich Rushailo is a Russian politician.From 1999 to 2001, he was the Interior Minister of Russia, and Secretary of Security Council from 2001 to 2004. As the Minister of the Interior, he was charged with overseeing the security of sensitive internal sites and materials such as...

 however refused to supply the militia with heavy weapons, limiting their combat arsenal to "obsolete AK-47
The AK-47 is a selective-fire, gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifle, first developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is officially known as Avtomat Kalashnikova . It is also known as a Kalashnikov, an "AK", or in Russian slang, Kalash.Design work on the AK-47 began in the last year...

s" and accused Gantamirov of accepting anyone who would volunteer, including rebel fighters. The militia, often used to spearhead the federal forces, suffered heavy casualties, losing more than 700 men in the battle.

The Russians met fierce resistance from Chechen rebel fighters intimately familiar with their capital city. The defenders had chosen to withstand the heavy Russian bombardment for the chance to come to grips with their enemy in an environment of their choosing, using interconnected firing positions and maneuver warfare
Maneuver warfare
Maneuver warfare, or manoeuvre warfare , is the term used by military theorists for a concept of warfare that advocates attempting to defeat an adversary by incapacitating their decision-making through shock and disruption brought about by movement...

. In stark contrast to the ad-hoc defense of 1994, the separatists prepared well for the Russian assault. Grozny was transformed into a fortress city under the leadership of field commander Aslambek Ismailov. The Chechens dug hundreds of trenches and antitank ditches, built bunker
A military bunker is a hardened shelter, often buried partly or fully underground, designed to protect the inhabitants from falling bombs or other attacks...

s behind apartment buildings, laid land mine
Land mine
A land mine is usually a weight-triggered explosive device which is intended to damage a target—either human or inanimate—by means of a blast and/or fragment impact....

s throughout the city, placed sniper nests on high-rise buildings and prepared escape routes. In some instances whole buildings were booby-trapped; the first-story windows and doors were usually boarded-up or mined, making it impossible for the Russians to simply walk into a building. Relying on their high mobility (they usually did not use body armor because of lack of equipment), the Chechens would use the trenches to move between houses and sniper positions, engaging the Russians as they focused on the tops of buildings or on windows. Well-organized small groups of no more than 15 fighters moved freely about Grozny using the city's sewer
Sanitary sewer
A sanitary sewer is a separate underground carriage system specifically for transporting sewage from houses and commercial buildings to treatment or disposal. Sanitary sewers serving industrial areas also carry industrial wastewater...

 network, even sneaking behind Russian lines and attacking unsuspecting soldiers from the rear.


The Russian ground troops advanced slowly, Grozny was surrounded by late November 1999. More than two additional weeks of shelling and bombing were required before Russian troops were able to claim a foothold within any part of the heavily fortified
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

 city. Russian ground forces met stiff resistance from rebel fighters as they moved forward, using a slow, neighborhood-by-neighborhood advance with the fighting focused on a strategic hill overlooking the city. Both sides accused each other of launching chemical attacks
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

. Claims of chemical attacks may have originated from the observation of unburnt remnants of gaseous explosive from TOS-1 thermobaric missiles or the chemicals may have escaped from destroyed industrial plants. The rumours of gas attacks and the divisions among Chechens (the Islamic extremists were blamed for provoking the war), contributed to the abandoning of Grozny by many rebel fighters. In early December, Russia seized the town of Urus-Martan
Urus-Martan is a town and the administrative center of Urus-Martanovsky District of the Chechen Republic, Russia, located on the Martan River. The town is located in the central part of the republic, to the southwest of the capital Grozny. Population:...

, the separatist stronghold near Grozny, after it had been battered with heavy air and artillery bombardments for several weeks.

The majority of the city's civilian population fled following the missile attacks
Grozny ballistic missile attack
The Grozny ballistic missile attack was a wave of devastating Russian ballistic missile strikes on the Chechen capital Grozny on October 21, 1999, early in the Second Chechen War. The attack killed at least 118 people according to initial reports, mostly civilians, or at least 137 immediate dead...

 early in the war, leaving the streets mostly deserted. However, as many as 40,000 civilians, many of them ethnic Russians, often the elderly, poor, and infirm, remained trapped in basements during the siege, suffering from the bombing, cold and hunger. Some of them were killed while trying to flee. On December 3, about 40 people died when a refugee convoy attempting to leave besieged areas was fired on by a group of masked special forces troops. Around 250 to 300 people who were killed while trying to escape in October, 1999, between the villages of Goryachevodsk and Petropavlovskaya, were buried in a mass grave. The Russian forces besieging Grozny planned to attack the city with a heavy air and artillery bombardment, intending to level the city to the extent where it was impossible for the rebels to defend it. On December 5, Russian planes, which had been dropping bombs on Grozny, switched to leaflets with a warning from the general staff. The Russians set a deadline
Time limit
A time limit or deadline is a narrow field of time, or particular point in time, by which an objective or task must be accomplished.In project management, deadlines are most often associated with milestone goals....

, urging residents of Grozny to leave "by any means possible by December 11, 1999:
The Russian commanders prepared a "safe corridor" for those wishing to escape from Grozny, but reports from the war zone suggested few people were using it when it opened on December 11. Desperate refugees who got away were telling stories of bombing, shelling and brutality. Russia put the number of people remaining in Grozny at 15,000, while a group of Chechen exile
Exile means to be away from one's home , while either being explicitly refused permission to return and/or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return...

s in Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

 confirmed other reports estimating the civilian population at 50,000. The Russian troops repeatedly fired on the refugees fleeing along a designated corridor. Russia eventually withdrew the ultimatum
An ultimatum is a demand whose fulfillment is requested in a specified period of time and which is backed up by a threat to be followed through in case of noncompliance. An ultimatum is generally the final demand in a series of requests...

 in the face of international outrage from the United States and the European Union. British foreign secretary Robin Cook
Robin Cook
Robert Finlayson Cook was a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament for Livingston from 1983 until his death, and notably served in the Cabinet as Foreign Secretary from 1997 to 2001....

 "wholeheartedly condemned" the Russian move: "We condemn vigorously what Milosevic
Slobodan Milošević
Slobodan Milošević was President of Serbia and Yugoslavia. He served as the President of Socialist Republic of Serbia and Republic of Serbia from 1989 until 1997 in three terms and as President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1997 to 2000...

 did in Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

 and we condemn vigorously what Russia is doing in Chechnya".) But the heavy bombardment of the city continued. According to Russia's ministry for emergency situations, civilians remaining in Grozny had been estimated at anywhere from 8,000 to 35,000.

The early fighting was concentrated in the eastern outskirts of Grozny, with reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 teams entering the city to identify rebel positions. The Russian strategy appeared to be to draw fire from the rebels, then pull back and pound the Chechen positions with artillery and rocket fire. By December 13 Russian troops had regained control of Chechnya's main airport
An airport is a location where aircraft such as fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and blimps take off and land. Aircraft may be stored or maintained at an airport...

. Located in the suburb of Khankala
Khankala is a settlement in Groznensky District of the Chechen Republic, Russia, located to the east of Grozny, the republic's capital. Population:...

, it was the main Russian military base
Military base
A military base is a facility directly owned and operated by or for the military or one of its branches that shelters military equipment and personnel, and facilitates training and operations. In general, a military base provides accommodations for one or more units, but it may also be used as a...

 during the first war and it was one of the first targets to be hit by warplanes at the start of the second. The next day, more than 100 Russian troops were reported killed when an armored column was ambushed in Minutka Square; reports by the Reuters
Reuters is a news agency headquartered in New York City. Until 2008 the Reuters news agency formed part of a British independent company, Reuters Group plc, which was also a provider of financial market data...

 and Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 correspondents were vehemently denied by the Russian government.

On January 2, Chechen fighters attacked and destroyed a Russian armoured column which had entered the village of Duba-Yurt the day before. The following day, Gen. Valentin Astaviyev said on state television that Russian forces had suffered only three dead in the previous 24 hours. Yet the commander of an Interior Ministry unit in Grozny told Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse is a French news agency, the oldest one in the world, and one of the three largest with Associated Press and Reuters. It is also the largest French news agency. Currently, its CEO is Emmanuel Hoog and its news director Philippe Massonnet...

 that 50 men had been killed in the previous 48 hours. On January 4, Chechen fighters in Grozny had launched a series of counter attacks and broken through Russian lines in at least two places, temporarily seizing the village of Alkhan-Kala. Public support for the war, which was previously overwhelming, appeared to fade as casualties mounted and the government came in for increasing criticism in the tightly controlled Russian media for understating casualty figures. However, Russia's heavy bombardments had finally begun to take their toll: using multiple rocket launchers and massed tank and artillery fire, the Russians flattened large parts of Grozny in preparation for an all-out assault.

On January 10, Chechen forces launched a major counteroffensive in support of the garrison in Grozny, briefly recapturing the major towns of Shali, Argun
Argun, Chechen Republic
Argun is a town in the Chechen Republic, Russia, located on the Argun River. Population: 22,000 ....

 and Gudermes, and opening a new supply corridor to the besieged capital. In a series of coordinated attacks, the Chechens also ambushed a supply column on the Argun-Gudermes road near the village of Dzhalka, killing at least 26 servicemen in the heaviest one-day official death toll since the war began in September. The commander for the North Caucasus, Gen. Kazantsev, blamed the heavy losses on mistakes by "soft-hearted" officials who had allowed the rebels to counter-attack and declared that from now on only boys under the age of 10, old men over the age of 60, and girls and women would be considered refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

s. On January 15, the Russians said 58 Chechen fighters were killed as they attempted to break through the Russian lines and flee Grozny.

By mid-January tens of thousands of Russian soldiers had begun an advance on central Grozny from three directions. During this fighting, possession of several suburbs and key buildings adjoining the city center changed hands several times. In several incidents, small bands of rebel fighters cut off exposed Russian units from the main forces. On January 19, in a major setback for the Russian forces, Chechen snipers killed one of the Russian commanders, Gen. Mikhail Malofeyev. Russian troops were unable to recover his body until five days later. Two days later, one Russian unit lost 20 men killed in north-west Grozny after the rebels had snuck through sewage
Sewage is water-carried waste, in solution or suspension, that is intended to be removed from a community. Also known as wastewater, it is more than 99% water and is characterized by volume or rate of flow, physical condition, chemical constituents and the bacteriological organisms that it contains...

 tunnels and attacked them from the rear. On January 26, the Russian government announced that 1,173 servicemen had been killed in Chechnya since the war began in October. This figure was more than twice the 544 dead reported 19 days earlier, on January 6, with just 300 dead reported on January 4, indicating heavy losses in the Grozny battles and elsewhere during this month (later, Russia claimed 368 servicemen were killed in the city).


With their supply routes interdicted by an increasingly effective Russian blockade, ammunition running low and their losses mounting, the Chechen rebel leadership decided that resistance was futile. At a meeting in a bunker in central Grozny the rebel commanders decided on a desperate gamble to break through three layers of Russian forces and into the mountains. Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov
Aslan Maskhadov
Aslan Aliyevich Maskhadov was a leader of the Chechen separatist movement and the third President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.He was credited by many with the Chechen victory in the First Chechen War, which allowed for the...

 had been evacuated earlier to a secret headquarters somewhere in the south of Chechnya. About 1,000-1,500 fighters under field commander Ruslan Gelayev withdrew without orders, leaving other rebel forces exposed.

The main Chechen forces began to escape on the last day of January and first day of February during a violent winter storm
Winter storm
A winter storm is an event in which the dominant varieties of precipitation are formed that only occur at low temperatures, such as snow or sleet, or a rainstorm where ground temperatures are low enough to allow ice to form...

, after an attempt to bribe their way out. A reconnaissance party they sent ahead failed to return, but the commanders decided to leave anyway. Some 4,000 rebel fighters and some civilians, moving in a southwesterly direction, were met with heavy artillery fire. The column of some 2,000 fighters, several hundred non-combatants and 50 Russian prisoners of war, hit a minefield between the city and the village of Alkhan-Kala. The Russian forces ambushed them as they were crossing a bridge over the Sunzha River. The Russian artillery barrage homed in on their position and the situation became desperate. The Chechens pushed on through the minefield, being not aware of it and lacking engineers. Scores of rebel fighters were killed by the combination of artillery fire and the crossing of the minefield, including several top Chechen commanders: Khunkarpasha Israpilov, the city's mayor Lecha Dudayev and Aslambek Ismailov, the mastermind behind the defense of Grozny. The rebels said they lost about 400 fighters in the minefield at Alkhan-Kala, including 170 killed. About 200 of the wounded were maimed, including Abdul-Malik Mezhidov and Shamil Basayev
Shamil Basayev
Shamil Salmanovich Basayev was a Chechen militant Islamist and a leader of the Chechen rebel movement.Starting as a field commander in the Transcaucasus, Basayev led guerrilla campaigns against the Russian troops for years, as well as launching mass-hostage takings of civilians, with his goal...

, (the latter stepping on a mine while leading his men). In all, there were at least 600 casualties during the bloody escape. Russian generals initially refused to admit that the Chechens had escaped from the blockaded city, saying that fierce fighting continued within the city. President Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin served as the second President of the Russian Federation and is the current Prime Minister of Russia, as well as chairman of United Russia and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Russia and Belarus. He became acting President on 31 December 1999, when...

's aide and the Russian government's spokesman on Chechnya Sergei Yastrzhembsky, said that if the rebels abandoned Grozny, "we would have informed you". Gen. Viktor Kazantsev
Viktor Kazantsev
Viktor Germanovich Kazantsev , born 1946, was an envoy of the Russian president to the Southern Federal District from 2000 to 2004. He performed primary negotiations between the Russian government and the Chechen opposition...

 asserted that as many as 500 rebels were killed during the breakout.

After some fighting on the outskirts of the village, Alkhan-Kala itself was hit by OTR-21 Tochka tactical missiles tipped with cluster munition warheads, killing or wounding many civilians. The rebels moved on, but a number of wounded fighters, including Khadzhi-Murat Yandiyev
Khadzhi-Murat Yandiyev
Khadzhi-Murat Yandiyev was a 25-year-old Ingush insurgent fighter, who was forcibly disappeared in February 2000 after being filmed in the company of Russian Army general ordering him taken away and shot...

, were left in the local hospital and were captured by the Russians. On February 4, Russian forces, allegedly attempting to stop the Chechens from any further retreat, bombed the village of Katyr-Yurt
Bombing of Katyr-Yurt
The reported bombing of Katyr-Yurt occurred on February 4, 2000, when Russian forces bombed the village of Katyr-Yurt and a refugee convoy under white flags in an attempt to stop the breakout of the Chechen separatist forces from Grozny , killing or injuring hundreds of people...

. Up to 20,000 refugees desperately fled an intense bombardment that lasted for two days and killed hundreds of civilians, including the bombing of a civilian convoy which had been trying to leave the settlement during a lull in the fighting. A rebel post-operative war council
A committee is a type of small deliberative assembly that is usually intended to remain subordinate to another, larger deliberative assembly—which when organized so that action on committee requires a vote by all its entitled members, is called the "Committee of the Whole"...

 was held in the village of Alkhan-Yurt, where it was decided that the Chechen forces would withdraw into the inaccessible Vedeno
Vedeno is a rural locality in the Chechen Republic, Russia, located some southeast of Grozny. It is the administrative center of Vedensky District. Population: 11,512 ;...

 and Argun gorges in the southern mountains to carry on a guerrilla campaign against the Russians. The rebels then scattered into the mountains.


On February 3, the day after the breakout, the Russians began "mopping-up" in the ruined city. Many serious crimes were committed against civilians, most notoriously the Novye Aldi massacre
Novye Aldi massacre
The Novye Aldi massacre was a notorious crime in which Russian federal forces summarily executed dozens of people in the Novye Aldi suburb of Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, in the course of a "mopping-up" operation conducted there on February 5, 2000, soon after the end of the battle for the city...

 in which at least 50 civilians were killed when the neighbourhood was looted by the OMON
OMOH is a generic name for the system of special units of militsiya within the Russian and earlier the Soviet MVD...

 (special police troops) on February 5. Several hundred rebel fighters remained in the heavily booby-trapped ruins, lying low and harassing Russians with occasional sniper fire. Because of the dangers of snipers, mines and unexploded ordnance
Unexploded ordnance
Unexploded ordnance are explosive weapons that did not explode when they were employed and still pose a risk of detonation, potentially many decades after they were used or discarded.While "UXO" is widely and informally used, munitions and explosives of...

 it was not until February 6 that the Russians were able to raise the Russian flag
Flag of Russia
The flag of Russia is a tricolour flag of three equal horizontal fields, white on the top, blue in the middle and red on the bottom. The flag was first used as an ensign for Russian merchant and war ships and only became official in 1896...

 above the city center. President Putin announced Grozny was "liberated" and said that military operations had come to an end. Many heavily damaged or mined buildings were blown up, including all high-rise buildings around Minutka Square. On February 21, Russian forces held a military parade to mark the Defender of the Fatherland's Day (formerly Soviet Army Day) and to symbolize the supposed final defeat of the Chechen rebels. Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev
Igor Sergeyev
Igor Dmitriyevich Sergeyev was the Defense Minister of the Russian Federation from 22 May 1997 until 28 March 2001...

 said during the ceremony that "the final phase" of the operation to "destroy bandit formations and terrorist groups that were trying to tear down Russia" had been completed.

The United Nations workers who entered the city with the first convoy of international aid discovered "a devastated and still insecure wasteland littered with bodies". There were some 21,000 civilians still in Grozny. The city's losses were never counted. Most of the corpses were cleared in 2000 and 2001 but one large mass grave
Mass grave
A mass grave is a grave containing multiple number of human corpses, which may or may not be identified prior to burial. There is no strict definition of the minimum number of bodies required to constitute a mass grave, although the United Nations defines a mass grave as a burial site which...

 dating from the time of battle was discovered in 2006 in the former Kirov Park area of Grozny. In March, the Russian army began to allow refugees to return to the devastated city.

Guerrilla war in Grozny

About 500 (Russian estimate) to 1,000 (separatist claim) rebel fighters remained in the city and more returned later with the civilians, often hiding in communication tunnels and basements of damaged buildings by day, and usually emerging by night to fire at Russian positions or to plant improvised explosive device
Improvised explosive device
An improvised explosive device , also known as a roadside bomb, is a homemade bomb constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action...

s in the streets to attack patrols and vehicles the next day. In June 2000, Russian police and special forces units began a major counter insurgency
Counter insurgency
A counter-insurgency or counterinsurgency involves actions taken by the recognized government of a nation to contain or quell an insurgency taken up against it...

 operation against the rebel forces in Grozny, but the bombings and clashes in the city continued as the guerrillas hid among the partially returned civilian population. According to the city's mayor Bislan Gantamirov, the guerrillas were being helped by the Chechen police and that the federals were unlawfully killing up to 15 Chechens a day in Grozny. According to Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer
Pavel Felgenhauer
Pavel E. Felgenhauer is a Russian journalist. He is known for his publications critical of Russia's political and military elite.-Biography:...

, one could "be robbed, raped or shot at any any time - even if [...] loyal to Russia". In several incidents, helicopters were shot down by missiles over Grozny, killing a number of high-ranking military officials among others. In the deadliest attack more than 120 soldiers were killed in the worst helicopter disaster in history. There was also a series of bomb attacks against local government buildings (including suicide bombings). In 2002 Grozny was struck by a truck bomb
2002 Grozny truck bombing
The Grozny truck bombing occurred on December 27, 2002, when three Chechen suicide bombers ran vehicles into the heavily guarded republic's government headquarters in the regional capital Grozny.- Details :...

, which destroyed the seat of the pro-Moscow Chechen government, killing at least 83. Military installations and police stations were also attacked and there were many daylight sniper shootings and other incidents, all aiming to kill or capture Russian soldiers venturing into the streets alone or in small groups.

The hostilities, however, became more sporadic as the years passed and the conflict in Chechnya in general became less intensive. Eventually, attacks in the capital became a rare occurrence. Large-scale restoration efforts in the city took place from 2006, often accompanied by the discovery of human remains, including mass graves.

Other sources

Robert Young Pelton
Robert Young Pelton
Robert Young Pelton , is an author, journalist and documentary filmmaker. Pelton is considered an adventurer and a "witness" to conflict. Pelton is known for overcoming extraordinary obstacles in his search for the truth...

 "The Hunter, The Hammer and Heaven" "The Hammer is a first hand account of Pelton's journey into Grozny in December 1999 with an American jihadi, a young journalist and his cameraman. They were surrounded in Grozny, Shali and Dubya Yrt and came out. Pelton interviewed the captured Russian spy Aleksei Galkin and all of the top Chechen commanders including President Aslan Maskhadov.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.