Chechnya, which became part of the Russian Empire in 1859, has a lengthy history of conflict and persecution, most notably under Stalin’s rule post-World War II. With the fall of the Soviet Union minority regions within Russia were offered varying degrees of autonomy; however, Chechnya rejected proposals and pursued full independence. It split with Ingushetia in 1992 and declared its full independence from Russia in 1993. Russia subsequently invaded on 22 December 1994 and two years of intense fighting ensued between Russian forces and Chechen rebels in the capital Grozny. Up to 100,000 civilians died before the signing of the Khazav-Yurt Accord on 31 August 1996. Islamism and criminal activity flourished in Chechnya in the following years and, after an Islamist attack on Dagestan, the Russians re-started military offensives. Separatist activity gradually receded after Russia secured control over the area from May 2000 and greater autonomy was granted in a new constitution on 23 March 2003.
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