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Anti-Chechen sentiment,[1] Chechenophobia,[2] anti-Chechenism,[3] or Nokhchophobia, refers to fear, dislike, hostility, hatred, discrimination, and racism towards ethnic Chechens, the Chechen language, or the Chechen culture in general. Anti-Chechen sentiment has been historically strong in Russia, and to some degree has spread to other countries in the former Soviet Union, such as Azerbaijan, to Europe (Poland, France), the Middle East (Syria, Israel), and to the United States. For decades, the main causes of hatred against Chechens have been largely due to the created narrative which depicts a violent mentality of Chechens, the association of Chechens with Islamic extremism, and Russian imperialist propaganda targeted at Chechens.

Examples of anti-Chechen hostility


See also: Caucasian War and Chechen–Russian conflict

A mass grave in Chechnya during the Second Chechen War. Chechen exiles accused the Russian military of committing genocide.

Fear and negative stereotypes of Chechens stem largely from the history of the Russian conquest of Chechnya and Dagestan, when Russia conquered the Chechen territory in 1859 and merged it with the Russian Empire. Russian general Aleksey Yermolov openly disliked Chechens, who considered them bold and dangerous, and called for mass genocide of the Chechens due to their resistance against Russia.[4] Eventually, when Russia absorbed Chechnya into its territory, mass ethnic cleansing of Chechens occurred in the 1860s.[5]

Due to the Chechens' refusal to accept Russian rule, a number of violent conflicts erupted in Chechnya in an attempt to free Chechnya from Russia. This was often met with brutal reprisals by the Russian authorities, such as the bloody repression of Chechens in 1932 by the Soviet military.[6][7] During World War II, the Soviet authorities blamed Chechens for supporting Nazi Germany, resulting with the tragic Aardakh in which many Chechens were deported to Siberia and Central Asia, with many dying on the journey.[8] These tensions were superseded by ethnic conflict in the 1950s and 1960s where Russians and Chechens clashed in Grozny. Soviet authorities generally sided with Russians against Chechens.[9]

The conflict between Chechens and Russians reached its peak when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and Chechen nationalists, led by Dzhokhar Dudayev, proclaimed the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and sought to separate from Russia, causing the First and Second Chechen Wars.[10] The Russian military responded harshly against ethnic Chechens, especially in the second war where an estimated thousand or more Chechen civilians were killed by the Russian military.[11]

Ethnic violence between Russians and Chechens was common in 2000s, due to alleged Chechen links with Islamic terrorism,[citation needed] leading to an increased number of racist killings against Chechens.[12] In 2007, 18-year-old Artur Ryno claimed responsibility for 37 racially motivated murders in one year, saying that "since school [he] hated people from the Caucasus."[13] On 5 June 2007, an anti-Chechen riot involving hundreds of people took place in the town of Stavropol in southern Russia. Rioters demanded the eviction of ethnic Chechens following the murder of two young Russians who locals believed were killed by Chechens. The event revived memories of a recent clash between Chechens and local Russians in Kondopoga which started when two Russians were killed over an unpaid bill.[14] Chechens in the Russian Armed Forces have also faced frequent violent activities against them by Russian military instructors.[15]

North Ossetia

In North Ossetia–Alania, during the East Prigorodny Conflict of the 1990s, ethnic Ossetian militia groups, many supported by the Russian government, committed ethnic cleansing of Ingush; a close relative of the Chechens, as well as the Chechens themselves, due to Chechen support for Ingush against Ossetians.[16][17]


Pankisi Gorge

Pankisi Gorge is home to a large Chechen population in Georgia, and the region has suffered from poverty and xenophobia due to increasing radical Islamism within the gorge. In addition, the Pankisi Gorge crisis in the early 2000s led to a stereotype of Chechens as terrorists and jihadists.[18][19][20]


Poland welcomed Chechen refugees during the 1990s in support of the Chechen quest to regain freedom from Russia.[21] However, since the 2010s, especially with the rise of the far-right wing party Law and Justice and increasing Islamic terrorism in Europe, the Polish attitude toward Chechens had become increasingly negative. Some have blamed Chechens for inflaming terrorist attacks due to their Islamic belief, notably the Polish interior minister Mariusz Błaszczak in 2016, who accused the Chechens of being terrorists.[22] This was followed by the increasing denial of Chechen asylum seekers, with thousands of Chechens fleeing Russia forcibly sent back by Polish authorities in 2015 and 2016.[23][24] The anti-Chechen policy by the Polish government has been criticized by the European Union, of which Poland is a member, and the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled in 2020 against Poland for perceived Chechenophobia by the Polish authorities.[25]

In 2017, Azamat Baiduyev, son of a former bodyguard to Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev in the 1990s, was forcibly deported from Belgium to Poland due to an uncertain connection to terrorist activities. He was later deported back to Russia by Poland, despite outcries in 2018.[26] Chechen refugee Nurmagomed Nurmagomedov was granted asylum in Poland in 2019, but had his asylum right revoked. He faced charges of terrorism and was about to be deported back to Russia before a Polish lawyer from the border organization intervened.[27]


German far-right radicals and skinheads often attacked Chechen immigrants because of their origin. After the mass brawl between Germans and Chechens in Reinsberg in 2020, the mayor of Reinsberg Frank Shwokhov admitted that the German integration policy had failed.[28]

United States

Following the Boston Marathon bombing by two Chechen immigrants, anti-Chechen sentiment intermingled with Islamophobia grew in the United States.[29][30] Many Chechen-Americans had expressed fear of reprisals and racism by American nationalists.[31]

In May 2013 the United States Senate amended laws to tighten visa requirements. The new requirements were thought to be deliberately anti-Chechen.[32]

After Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 election and the subsequent "Muslim ban", the new US government helped Moscow assist a Chechen refugee in Europe.[33]


Historically, Azerbaijan has been seen as welcoming to Chechens, and during the 1990s there was strong mutual respect between Chechens and Azerbaijanis. The Chechens volunteered to fight for Azerbaijan against Armenia in Karabakh, while Azerbaijan welcomed Chechen refugees fleeing war in their homeland.[34] However, increasing adherence to the Salafi movement by Chechens, Chechen involvement in kidnapping and mass murder, as well as its terrorist tendencies, led to a sharp rise of Chechen Islamic radicalism, which caused the public perception of Chechens to deteriorate in Azerbaijan, which is Shia-majority and has a secular environment.[35]


Chechens have been largely able to integrate within Syrian society.[36] However, due to the alliance between the al-Assad family and Russia, antagonism against Chechens started to increase in 2011 following Chechen participation with the Syrian opposition against the al-Assad government.[37] Chechens, like most other non-Arab ethnicities in Syria, also endured repression by the Ba'athist regime due to cultural differences, making it harder to preserve their cultural heritage.[36]


As many Chechens sympathize with Palestinians, there is a significant hostility against Chechens in Israel. In 2010, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly compared Hamas with the Chechens, stating that they are terrorists, in response to Russia and Turkey's quest to not exclude Hamas in the peace process between Israel and Palestine.[38]

In 2013, after Beitar Jerusalem signed two Chechen Muslim players, Zaur Sadayev and Dzhabrail Kadiyev, anti-Chechen protest erupted by Beitar Jerusalem's supporters due to their Islamic belief.[39] Beitar fans also showed anti-Chechen sentiment by leaving the stadium on 3 March when Sadayev scored the first goal for the club. In addition, many openly stated that it was not racist to hate Chechens and Muslims.[40][41]


In 2018, a Chechen-born terrorist carried out a knife attack in Paris.[42] In 2020, a Chechen teen beheaded a teacher over Prophet Muhammad's controversy.[43]

French right-wing politicians, many of whom have pro-Russian sentiments, expressed anti-Chechen statements, such as Eric Zemmour, who called Chechen children "terrorists, rapists, thieves".[44]

See also


  1. ^ "Out of control: Anti-Chechen sentiment in Moscow post-metro blast" (PDF). Amnesty International.
  2. ^ Shnirelman, Victor A. (2011-07-01). "From social classes to ethnicities: Ethnocentric views in history textbooks in post-Soviet Russia". Journal of Eurasian Studies. 2 (2): 125–133. doi:10.1016/j.euras.2011.03.003. ISSN 1879-3665.
  3. ^ Williams, Brian Glyn (2016-11-24). "Grozny and Aleppo: a look at the historical parallels". The National. Retrieved 2023-11-05.
  4. ^ "'Proconsul of the Caucasus': a Re-examination of Yermolov".
  5. ^ "Sources in Translation: A Chechen Immigrant's Petition to the Ottoman State (1870)". 25 July 2020.
  6. ^ Мухтар Ибрагимов, Гунки Хукиев (2014-04-30). "По следам далёкой трагедии". Retrieved 2018-03-27.
  7. ^ Гудаев Л. (2013-09-23). "Чеченские хроники. 1932 г. Моца Шуанинский – последний имам Чечни". Retrieved 2018-03-27.
  8. ^ "The Massive Deportation of the Chechen People: How and why Chechens were Deported | Sciences Po Violence de masse et Résistance – Réseau de recherche". massive-deportation-chechen-people-how-and-why-chechens-were-deported.html. April 29, 2019. Archived from the original on February 20, 2017. Retrieved July 1, 2022.
  10. ^ "An analysis of causes of the Chechen wars of the 1990s" (PDF). 2007. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  11. ^ Perlez, Jane (March 2, 2000). "3 Massacres In Chechnya Are Described (Published 2000)". The New York Times.
  12. ^ The warlord and the spook Archived 26 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine The Economist, 31 March 2007
  13. ^ Teenager Admits to Over 30 Murders Archived 22 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine The Moscow Times, 29 May 2007
  14. ^ Nationalists rally in Russian town near Chechnya Archived 3 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine Reuters, 5 June 2007
  15. ^ Racist Violence Plagues Russian Army Archived 5 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine IWPR, 15-Sep-00
  16. ^ "East Prigorodny conflict – Ingushetia North Ossetia". June 15, 2014.
  17. ^ "Five bloody days in North Ossetia". openDemocracy.
  18. ^ "Chechen refugees in Georgia – Pankisi Gorge and Akhmeta – Georgia". ReliefWeb. 28 January 2003.
  19. ^ Gould, Rebecca (2011). "Secularism and Belief in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge". Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  20. ^ "Georgia's Pankisi Gorge fights "terrorism" stereotypes | Eurasianet".
  21. ^ Izdebska, Karolina (11 July 2019). "Chechen Refugees in Poland on 'Tolerated Stay': Different Perspectives of Hospitality in the Context of Theatrical Action in a Private Apartment". Journal of Refugee Studies. 34: 741–759. doi:10.1093/jrs/fez052. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  22. ^ "Poland slams door on Chechnyan refugees | DW | 31.08.2016". DW.COM.
  23. ^ "Chechens waiting at Europe's door | DW | 14.12.2016". DW.COM.
  24. ^ "How and why Chechen refugees are storming the Polish border with Belarus". July 4, 2019.
  25. ^ S.A, Telewizja Polska (2020-03-03). "Strasbourg rules against Poland over Chechen migrants". Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  26. ^ "Chechen Refugee Forcibly Disappeared Hours After 'Unlawful' Deportation From Poland". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 4 September 2018.
  27. ^ "A Chechen refugee Poland wants to give up to Russia".
  28. ^ "После драки немцев и чеченцев мэр признал провал интеграционной политики". (in Russian). 31 July 2020. Retrieved 2022-02-02.
  29. ^ Gottschalk, Peter (January 1, 2015). Smith, Jane I; Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck (eds.). "Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Sentiment in the United States". The Oxford Handbook of American Islam. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199862634.013.004. ISBN 978-0-19-986263-4.
  30. ^ "Muslim Bashing in the Wake of Boston Bombing". National Geographic News. April 26, 2013. Archived from the original on November 2, 2019.
  31. ^ Schwirtz, Michael (April 21, 2013). "Struggle at Home Intrudes on Chechen Haven in America (Published 2013)". The New York Times.
  32. ^ "Senators tighten student visa rules in immigration bill". Los Angeles Times. May 14, 2013.
  33. ^ "Россия использовала разведданные США для убийства чеченцев". Retrieved 2022-02-02.
  35. ^ "Growing Anti-Chechen Sentiment in Azerbaijan". Jamestown.
  36. ^ a b Jaimoukha, Amjad M. (2008), "Syria", The Chechens: A Handbook, Routledge, p. 232, ISBN 978-0415323284
  37. ^ "Chechens drawn south to fight against Syria's Assad". BBC News. November 20, 2013.
  38. ^ "Israel to Russia: Hamas is like the Chechen terrorists". Haaretz.
  39. ^ Boker, Moshe (30 March 2018). "Beitar Jerusalem to Sign Two Muslim Players Despite Fans Protests". Haaretz. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  40. ^ Dawber, Alistair; Walker, Shaun (4 March 2013). "'It's not racism. The Muslim players just shouldn't be here': Beitar Jerusalem fans walk out over signing of two Muslim Chechen players". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2022-05-07. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
  41. ^ Zinshtein, Maya (2017-05-30), Forever Pure, Eli Cohen, Arcadi Gaydamak, Ariel Harush, retrieved 2018-05-18
  42. ^ "Paris knife attack: Suspect 'French citizen born in Russia's Chechnya'". BBC News. May 13, 2018.
  43. ^ "Chechen Teen Identified in France Beheading". Time. Archived from the original on October 17, 2020.
  44. ^ Samuel, Henry (January 17, 2022). "Eric Zemmour says child migrants tend to become criminals as he hits back at hate speech verdict". The Telegraph – via