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  • 1.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Consolidating the Democratic Process: Parliamentary Elections in Kyrgyzstan2010In: Baltic Worlds, ISSN 2000-2955, no oktoberArticle in journal (Other academic)
  • 2.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    "Everybody knows who will win": Presidential Election in Azerbaijan2013In: Baltic Worlds, ISSN 2000-2955Article in journal (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    On October 9 presidential elections were held in Azerbaijan. As a result of the criticized 2009 amendment to the constitution the two-term limit for the presidency was removedand the incumbent, President Ilham Aliyev, could stand as candidate fora third time. Nobody was surprised when he won again. To the contrary it seemed the well-documented ‘political apathy’ of the Azerbaijani people had spread outside the country as well as.All through the election period foreign and national analysts alike were very careful to point out that everybody already knew who would win. This caution is of course a natural reactiontothe electoral authoritarianism that characterizes the Azerbaijani regime. Under electoral authoritarianism the state provides an ”illusion of multi-party democracy at the local and national levels while effectively stripping elections of efficacy. The result known in advance, elections can be held frequently”. Nevertheless,such an approach to the election is not only depressing; it also tends to relegate the efforts of the often very harshly critiqued democratic opposition in Azerbaijan. This time a coalition, the National Council for Democratic Forces (Milli Şura), managed to nominate one mutual candidate to represent the ‘oppositionists’, something that is basically unprecedented in this context. Sure, their efforts could be seen as too little too late and IlhamAliyev still won a landslide victory getting 85% of the votes. Nevertheless, short of a color revolution, the determination of the opposition forces did contribute to making this election as exciting as it getsunder electoral authoritarianism.

  • 3.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    From Political Apathy to an Azerbaijani Spring2013Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 4.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Introduction to the Special Section: Political Mobilization in Azerbaijan — The January 2013 Protests and Beyond2014In: Demokratizatsiya: Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, ISSN 1074-6846, Vol. 22, no 1, p. 2-14Article in journal (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    A wave of public protests rocked Azerbaijan at the beginning of 2013. The first protest event of the year was inspired by the disputed death of a young conscript in the Azerbaijani army. While the official cause of death was heart attack, the family insisted he was beaten to death. The result was a fierce debate about the difficulties facing newly recruited soldiers and the conditions under which they serve. Some activists initiated a Facebook group and called for a demonstration in Baku on January 12. Twenty thousand people joined the group, an impressive number by Azerbaijani standards, given that support for anti-establishment manifestations can be dangerous. Later as many as 1,000 protesters, also a large number for Azerbaijan, joined the actual event in support of the dead soldiers’ family, demanding the defense minister's resignation. Just a week later shopkeepers at Baku's largest shopping mall, Bina, protested against increased rents. The demonstrators blocked a major highway and 5,000 shopkeepers kept their businesses closed in support of the protest. This was shortly followed by another spontaneous outbreak of dissent in Ismayili, 150 km northwest of Baku, where community members set fire to cars and buildings and called for the governor's resignation after a controversial car accident. Riot police finally managed to disperse the protesters, many of whom were injured and/or imprisoned. The harsh treatment brought about another rally in the capital in support of the Ismayili protesters. The outbreak of civic unrest in Ismayili can be seen as particularly important since it indicates discontent with the government, not only in Baku, but outside the capital as well.

  • 5.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Stockholms universitet, Statsvetenskapliga institutionen.
    Islamic Activism in Azerbaijan: Repression and Mobilization in a Post-Soviet Context2009Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Post-Soviet Azerbaijan is often portrayed as a very secular country. Thus the mobilization of mosque communities in the late 1990s and their conflictual relationship with the authorities came as a surprise. The main aim of the dissertation is to shed light on this mobilization, focusing on the Sunni Abu Bakr and the Shi’ite Juma mosque communities in Baku. On the premise that Islamic mobilization may be interpreted as a “social movement”, internal, contextual and interactional aspects of mobilization have been studied. The analysis is chiefly based on interviews conducted in Baku in 2004/2005 with Imams, worshippers, religious and secular authorities. The study finds that young people looking for new approaches to religion have been drawn to these communities, where they encounter an independent, educated, conscientious clergy and, indeed, a “new” religion. This “sovereign” Islam does not go down well with authorities who fear politicization of religion. The Soviet heritage has provided them with a view of religion as something that should not be publicly displayed and with the institutions to control religion. Another key feature whose impact on state policy towards religious organizations cannot be underestimated is the fear of imported radicalism. A look at Islamic mobilization in North Caucasus, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan reveals many similarities, yet one momentous difference is the harsher repression in these contexts, which decreases the chances of a non-radical mobilization. The thesis concludes that the role of the state in mobilization processes in non-democratic contexts is crucial but counterintuitive, as the regimes’ efforts to stop the mobilization of movements actually leads to its intensification. In Azerbaijan, official pressure brings community members closer together and strengthens their resolve, rather than putting an end to mobilization. It also puts a spotlight on these communities which lights up the way for others in search of something new.

  • 6.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Islamic Activism in Azerbaijan: Repression and Mobilization in a Post-Soviet Context2009Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
  • 7.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Islamic opposition in Azerbaijan: Discursive conflicts and beyond2015In: Religion, Politics and Nation-Building in Post-Communist Countries / [ed] Greg Simons and David Westerlund, Farnham: Ashgate, 2015, p. 117-142Chapter in book (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In 2004 the Azerbaijani authorities decided to evict the Juma mosque community from the mosque in Baku’s old town where they had been conducting prayers since 1992; under the auspices they lacked the proper registration and the facilities were state property. As the community resisted eviction, police entered the mosque during prayertime, physically removed the worshippers and closed it down. Preceding this, the popular imam of the Juma Mosque had been arrested during a political demonstration and sentenced to a five year suspended sentence for violating Azerbaijani law by engaging politically despite being a religious leader. These episodes rendered a lot of attention at the time as they highlighted a conflict between a religious group and the state in Azerbaijan, a country generallydescribed as one of the more secular in the former Soviet Union. Almost 10 years after the Juma incidents the relationship between the Azerbaijani authorities and certain parts of the Islamic community is still tense and doesfrom time to time manifest itself in open controversies. In order to shed lighton how some Muslim groups in Azerbaijan became perceived as oppositional, this chapter focuses on colliding discourses that become societal and intensified as the authorities with all means try to control discursive as well as social practices.

  • 8.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Nagorno-Karabach med kriget runt hörnet?2013In: Utan röst och status: de facto-stater i världen / [ed] Lena Karlsson, Stockholm: Utrikespolitiska institutet , 2013, no 11-12, p. 31-39Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 9.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Baltic and East European Graduate School, Södertörns högskola.
    Nya rörelser, gamla tankesätt och nationella problem: Muslimsk aktivism i postsovjetiska Azerbajdzjan2007In: Nordisk Østforum, ISSN 0801-7220, E-ISSN 1891-1773, Vol. 21, no 3, p. 275-299Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Azerbaijan, like other former Soviet republics, experienced something of a religious “boom” during glasnost and the first post-independence years as religion re-emerged in public life. By the late 1990s, however, the state, feeling threatened by imported religious movements, introduced various laws that sharply decreased the autonomy that religious organizations had  been enjoying. Certain Islamic communities that did not accept this renewed state monopoly on religion then gained a reputation of being “controversial” and found themselves in conflict with the secular and religious authorities. This situation made religion an issue in the political arena – something previously unheard of in Azerbaijan. This article examines this development by studying two Islamic communities of this type. These are affiliated with two mosques in Baku – the Shiite Juma and the Sunni Abu Bakr mosques – which are distinguished both by their increasing popularity in society and by their wish to distance themselves from “other” traditional mosques. The article concludes that even though various external influences are present, the development of Islamic activism in Azerbaijan seems related primarily to disappointment at how the political elite has handled the political, economical, social and moral situation in the country since independence. As long as this situation does not improve, a rise in the influence of such movements is only to be expected.

  • 10.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Oppositional Islam in Azerbaijan2012In: Caucasus Analytical Digest, no 44, p. 9-11Article in journal (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The article explains how some mosque communities function as a political opposition in the authoritarian Azerbaijani context.

  • 11.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Södertörn U College/Stockholm University.
    Praying for change: Islamic opposition in Post-Soviet Azerbaijan2008In: EurOrient, no 28, p. 131-156Article in journal (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Having over the years failed to deliver any substantial results, the Azerbaijani political opposition is by many observers considered to have lost the support of the general public. Furthermore, the decay of the secular opposition after the last election (2005) has caused observers to speculate on the risk of radical political Islam becoming the preferred alternative in Azerbaijan. However, most of the religious mobilization it is already possible to witness in Azerbaijan has very little to do with what we understand as ‘political Islam’ in for example a Middle Eastern context. Rather, these groups have a lot in common with other, not necessarily religious, social movements aiming to change various aspects of societal life

  • 12.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Södertörns högskola.
    Stat och religion i Centralasien2005In: Centralasien: Västturkestan : nationsbyggande under sovjetekologi och islamideologi? / [ed] Thomas Lundén, Stockholm: Svenska Sällskapet för Antropologi och Geografi , 2005, p. 121-142Chapter in book (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 13.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    "The Election Game:” Authoritarian Consolidation Processes in Belarus2017In: Democratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, Vol. 25, no 4, p. 381-405Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

     Elections without content are characteristic of electoral authoritarianism. This article illustrates how the “election game” featuring “elections for the sake of elections” can contribute to the consolidation of an authoritarian regime. It analyzes how Belarusian authorities’ “menu of manipulation” shaped both the discourse and “practice” of “politics” in favor of the current system. Using selective repression – targeting mainly those openly wanting to change the status quo, while allowing some controlled openness for individuals, as long as they refrain from “doing politics” – discouraged political activism and contributed to a negative perception of the “opposition” as a noisy sub-group of the population. Such developments reinforced a perception of organized politics in general, and elections in particular, as abstract, unattractive and irrelevant to most.

  • 14.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    To Participate or Not To Participate—That is the Question. Electoral Strategies of the Azerbaijani Opposition2015Other (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
    Abstract [en]

    Elections pose a dilemma for the democratic opposition in electoral authoritarian states. On the one hand, the election campaign is often their only opportunity to get sanctioned access to the public, on the other, through their participation in an election where the outcome is known beforehand they appear to support a democratic charade. This article focuses on the ways in which oppositional actors in Azerbaijan choose to tackle this predicament in relation to the recent parliamentary elections. The analysis and comparison of respective electoral strategies (boycott, campaigning, statements and monitoring) tell us about the roles elections, despite their predictable outcome, play in this type of context. Even though no one in the opposition is ‘in it to win it’ the Republican Alternative (REAL) movement stands out. Fully aware of their marginalization in society, as representatives of an extremely unpopular ‘opposition’, their electoral work focused on selling themselves to the public as ‘something new,’ which is, of course, easier said than done. Nevertheless, their approach and campaign could be interpreted as an attempt to actually convert this into practice.

  • 15.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Turkey and Azerbaijan: One Religion-Two States?2016In: Turkish-Azerbaijani Relations. One Nation-Two States? / [ed] Murad Ismayilov and Norman Graham, London and New York: Routledge, 2016, p. 127-149Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This chapter is set to provide a more thorough understanding of what made ‘Turkish Islam’ the preferred choice for the political leaders of independent Azerbaijan as well as highlight and attempt to explain the fact that this amicable reception of Turkish religious representatives seems gradually to be coming to an end. It is argued that even though the religious aspect has never been the most significant in Turkish-Azerbaijani relations, the dynamics within the religious terrain underlying the interaction between the two states can be viewed as a function of the ‘politicization’ of the issue. Put differently, because the embrace of Turkish Islam on the elite level came as a political decision, transformation of and change in the political parameters underlying bilateral relations—both intra-state parameters within Turkey and Azerbaijan respectively and, to some extent, the nature of political dynamics between the latter two states—prompted change in the official status of Turkish Islam in Azerbaijan.

  • 16.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Val för att bevara status quo: elektoral autokrati och stabilitet i Azerbajdzjan2015In: Nordisk Østforum, ISSN 0801-7220, E-ISSN 1891-1773, Vol. 29, no 1, p. 5-31Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Electoral autocracies have become the world’s most common form of non-democratic rule. In hegemonic autocracies in particular, where the president, or his party, always wins by more than 70 percent of the vote, the electoral process comes across as mere window-dressing. Still, both the regime and the opposition take elections seriously. Why? What role do elections play? The article deals with this question while focusing on the Azerbaijani 2013 presidential election, and consists of three parts. The first is a theoretical introduction dedicated to electoral autocracies and authoritarian stability. The next summarizes the election, stressing its purpose for the opposition. The third part analyses whether and how the election contributed to strengthening the authoritarian regime. The study concludes that developments during and after the election year are an illustration of what in previous research is sometimes referred to as the politics of insecurity. Even though the opposition “lost”, the relative success of their campaign indicated that change might, after all, be possible. The regime, depending on regular multi-party elections for its democratic alibi, did not appreciate the uncertainty and tried to minimize it by using the “three pillars” on which authoritarian states’ stability can be said to rest: legitimacy, repression and cooptation.

  • 17.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Wahhabis, democrats and everything in between: The development of Islamic Activism in Post-Soviet Azerbaijan2008In: Ethno-Nationalism, Islam and the State in the Caucasus: Post-Soviet Disorder / [ed] Moshe Gammer, London: Routledge, 2008, 1, p. 194-211Chapter in book (Refereed)
  • 18.
    Bedford, Sofie
    et al.
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Souleimanov, Emil
    Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic .
    Islam im postsowjetischen Kaukasus Von Sunniten, Schiiten, Sufis und Salafisten2015In: Osteuropa: Zeitschrift für Gegenwartsfragen des Ostens, ISSN 0030-6428, Vol. 65, no 7-10, p. 71-92Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [de]

    Der Islam ist im Kaukasus in unterschiedlichen Formen verbreitet. Der Nordostkaukasus ist von sunnitischen Sufi-Bruderschaften geprägt. Dort betrachten Eliten und Laien die Religion als Quelle politischer Legitimität. Im Nordwestkaukasus ist der sunnitische Islam der hanafitischen Rechtsschule verbreitet. In Aserbaidschan dominiert die von der iranischen Safawiden-Dynastie verbreitete Zwölfer-Schia, und der Islam ist – wie auch im Nordwestkaukasus – weitgehend auf den Bereich der Spiritualität beschränkt. Doch auch dort stellen Salafisten die Autorität des offiziellen Islam in Frage.

  • 19.
    Bedford, Sofie
    et al.
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Souleimanov, Emil A.
    Karls Univ Prag, Prague, Czech Republic..
    Islam in the Post-Soviet Caucasus On Sunnis, Shiites, Sufis, and Salafis2015In: Osteuropa: Zeitschrift für Gegenwartsfragen des Ostens, ISSN 0030-6428, Vol. 65, no 7-10, p. 71-Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In the Caucasus, Islam is represented in various forms. The Northern Caucasus is marked by Sunni Sufi-brotherhoods. Elites and laymen there see religion as the source of political legitimacy. The Sunni Islam of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence is present in the Northwest Caucasus. In Azerbaijan, the Twelver Shia Islam spread by the Iranian Safavid dynasty predominates, and, as in the Northwest Caucasus, Islam is largely limited to the realm of spirituality. But there, too, Salafis are calling into question the authority of official Islam.

  • 20.
    Bedford, Sofie
    et al.
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Souleimanov, Emil Aslan
    Charles Univ Prague, Inst Int Studies, Fac Social Sci, Prague, Czech Republic.
    Under Construction and Highly Contested: Islam in the Post-Soviet Caucasus2016In: Third World Quarterly, ISSN 0143-6597, E-ISSN 1360-2241, Vol. 37, no 9, p. 1559-1580Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    While scholarship on Islam in the Caucasus has focused on the late Soviet religious revival – the rise of Salafi jihadism and religious radicalisation in the northern part of these strategic crossroads – no study to date has addressed the discursive struggle over the social functions of regional Islam. This article deconstructs these discourses in order to examine the very varying, and often conflicting, representations of Islam advocated by various actors across the region and within particular republics. The article highlights the contested functions of regional Islam against the background of a religious revival that is still a work in progress.

  • 21.
    Bedford, Sofie
    et al.
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies. Inst Human Sci IWM, Vienna, Austria.
    Vinatier, Laurent
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Resisting the Irresistible: ‘Failed Opposition’ in Azerbaijan and Belarus Revisited2019In: Government and Opposition, ISSN 0017-257X, E-ISSN 1477-7053, Vol. 54, no 4, p. 686-714Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In recent literature on post-Soviet electoral revolutions in places where attempts at regime change through popular protest did not succeed, opposition groups are often simply regarded as ‘failed’. And yet, opposition actors exist and participate in the political life of their country. Building on the Belarusian and Azerbaijani cases, we argue that opposition actors are maintained in a ‘ghetto’, often virtual, tightly managed by the ruling authorities who exert monopolistic control over civic activities. Opposition actors adapt to the restricted conditions – accepting a certain level of dependency. They thus develop various tactics to engage with the outside, striving to reduce the ghetto walls. To this end this article proposes a typology of what we call oppositional ‘resistance models’: electoral, in the media, lobbying and through education. The models highlight what makes ‘opposition’ in authoritarian states and are a step towards a more comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon in this context.

  • 22.
    Bedford, Sofie
    et al.
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Vinatier, Laurent
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Alieva, Leila
    Center for Strategic and International Studies, Baku, Azerbaijan.
    Gojayev, Vugar
    'Failed Opposition' Reconsidered: Dynamism and Changing Paradigms in Azerbaijan2016In: The Uppsala Yearbook of Eurasian Studies / [ed] Kaj Hobér, Anna Jonsson Cornell and Leonid Polishchuk, London: Wildy, Simmonds & Hill Publishing , 2016, 1, p. 104-122Chapter in book (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In this article we argue that repression and political manipulation do not eliminate opposition in authoritarian contexts but give it a dynamic and transformational character. However marginalized opposition parties are still, in some cases after twenty years or more, publicly requesting change, freedoms and liberties. Moreover, this pro-democracy work is continued by the next generation of activists. We will be using the case of Azerbaijan to highlight that even though the uncompromising attitude of the authoritarian institutions seem static, and unable to shake, the opposition against them is very dynamic. Despite being severely repressed ‘opposition’ is gradually becoming more diverse and sustainable, even though this is not at all visible on the political arena. The purpose of the article is to shed light on these new opposition dynamics in the context of the Azerbaijani 2013 presidential election. 

  • 23.
    Pikulik, Alexei
    et al.
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Aid Paradox: Strengthening Belarusian Non-democracy through Democracy Promotion2019In: East European Politics and Societies, ISSN 0888-3254, E-ISSN 1533-8371, Vol. 33, no 2, p. 378-399Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article focuses on paradoxes of democracy promotion aid and offers research on an understudied topic: the microlevel of incentives facing donors and receivers of aid and its overall effect on the stability of authoritarianism. It argues that in the Belarusian case traveling the democracy promotion road, donors and implementers faced a typical bureaucratic problem: It became easier and more rational to justify the continuation of the democracy promotion project at large rather than closing it down, even though it was becoming increasingly clear it was not providing the desired results, that is, bringing about democratization or even a step in that direction. This created negative stimuli for the local beneficiaries, who developed strong aid addiction. A co-dependency between the providers and receivers of foreign aid led to the continuous application of unfit and self-defeating strategies. In fact, all of the actors involved (Western donors, implementers, and the Belarusian opposition but also the regime) became rationally interested in the status quo. As a result we argue that the democracy promotion efforts strengthened autocratic rule in Belarus rather than bringing about democratization.

  • 24.
    Souleimanov, Emil Aslan
    et al.
    Charles University, Czech Republic.
    Schwampe, Jasper
    Aarhus University, Denmark.
    Bedford, Sofie
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
    Chechnya:: A Study of a Post-Soviet Conflict2018In: Crises in the Post‐Soviet Space: from the dissolution of the Soviet Union to the conflict in Ukraine / [ed] Felix Jaitner; Tina Olteanu; Tobias Spöri, Routledge, 2018, 1, p. 213-223Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Chechnya, a tiny republic of around 17,000 square kilometers located on thenorthern edges of the Greater Caucasus mountain range, has become a symbol of  post-Soviet turmoil and war. Civil unrest, religiously-inspired extremism andterrorism, economic decline and criminality, and incessant insurgency andcounterinsurgency has plagued this North Caucasian republic since the early1990s. Most of Chechnya’s destruction is caused by two subsequent invasions byRussian armies and the ruthless violence deployed by them since the mid-1990sto the mid-2000s. Yet the roots of the conflict date back to the gradual dissolutionof the Soviet Union at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s. Back then, what has cometo shape Chechnya’s political landscape – and its relations with Moscow – crystallised as Chechnya along with the rest of the Soviet successor territoriesslipped into deep economic and political crisis. Indeed, the dissolution of theSoviet Union paved the ground for separatism as newly established Chechenelites sought to fill the power gap left after the withdrawal of Soviet authorities.The crisis of political legitimacy was coupled with an unprecedented economiccrisis, an outcome of the decline of Soviet centralised economy and Chechnya’sefforts to secede from the rest of Russia. Against this background, as the followinglines show, the outbreak of hostilities between the Russian center and its Chechen periphery became inevitable, which ultimately resulted in what came to be knownas the First Russian-Chechen War (1994–1996).

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