Chechen Republic: Modernization In Post-Industrial Period


Modernization in its present form is viewed as continuation of the modernization process initiated in the 18th-20th centuries. Demands of modernization aim primarily at intellectual progress and associated economic, political and social processes and innovations. The study is devoted to finding out how modern transformations have affected the regional level, inspired by the Chechen model. The period of perestroika and attendant democratization happened at the time of the Chechen-Ingush Republic, now the Chechen Republic at the very peak of the economic and social crisis. In the 80s-90s, chaotic aspirations are observed in an attempt to find their place in the new world, leading to tragic events and war. Until 2000, Chechnya fought, and after 20 years the Chechen people together with the head of the republic, R. Kadyrov, expressed their needs. The period of peace for the Chechen people was at the beginning of the 21st century. Consequently, all new emerging phenomena including the period of informatization, democratization of society, development of civil foundations, structuring of parochial interests and many others in the Chechen society were delayed. Surprisingly, the most interesting thing in this situation turned out to be that “the wider the gap, the sooner people will develop streamlined and limited stereotypical reactions to the world around to cope with the difficulties and uncertainties caused by the gap …” ( Heiner, 1983 ). The novelty and relevance of study is that it delineates the impact of historical outcomes on the state of modern society.

Keywords: Chechensocietycapitalizationindustrializationdemocratizationmodernization


The process of transformation referred to as modernization is not a new phenomenon in the historical development of peoples and ethnic groups, but a naturally-determined and consistent follow up. Starting from the 18th – 20th centuries, the transformation “modernization” introduced ideas into the sociopolitical, economic and cultural life of peoples and ethnic groups that marked the progress in various spheres of life. The study aims to analyze the process of modernization in the post-industrial period in the Chechen Republic. The historical development of the Chechen people in the 18th-19th centuries is greatly different from that of the 20th century. The legacy of that historical past had an extremely negative impact. This is due to a number of reasons both objective and subjective. The historical development of the Chechen society throughout its development trajectory is subject to the forced transformation process.

Problem Statement

The object of study is to identify the negative impact on the processes related to modernization in the Chechen society. It is quite natural that society is highly sensitive to modernization but is not always as positive about it as regional policy-makers and the federal center would hope. The aim of study is to expand the possibilities of modernization process in the Chechen Republic.

Research Questions

The process of modernization in the postindustrial period since the very beginning of 1994 fell on some crisis events going on in the republic. On the very eve of perestroika movements, the Chechen society was expecting the war with Russia. The interrupted modernization stalled for long war years from 1994 to 2000 and started to recover only after 2000 when the Chechen Republic embarked on the course of modernization.

Purpose of the Study

The paper aims to analyze the modernization process in the modern period in the Chechen Republic in the event of post-industrial development.

Research Methods

As per scientific classification methodology, a comprehensive study can be conducted based on several methods and approaches. In this case, the team of co-authors adopted the system method that most closely resembles the complex process supported by a comparative analysis of the distant past, the recent past, and the evolving contemporary realities. The study is based on the principle of historicism, the credibility of historical process and its variation. The references and historiographical overview of literature and sources cited in the article indicated the principal focus of research into the problem of modernization in the post-industrial period in the Chechen Republic. Along with this, new approaches emerged that are associated both with the process of globalization and the advent of new technologies (electronic innovations), which enable individual development and expansion of the outlook to be unlocked in profession and society.


In scientific literature, it is generally accepted that the concept of “modernization” dates back to the late 19th century and is associated with the First and Second World Wars. However, a more thorough review reveals that the process of “modernization” in historical development took place as early as the 17th and 18th centuries, as a European-like phenomenon that was compulsively imposed on ethnic groups in the form of capitalization. This phenomenon is not new to Caucasian ethnic groups, as is the phenomenon of globalization. In their past, modern peoples of the Caucasus already went through these processes.

The study shows that modern reforms tend to be aimed at hammering out the situation, rather than applying streamlined approaches and initial reviews of the subject of reformation as a whole. What is suitable for a cosmopolitan city is often rejected by the regions. Even if it is accepted at the administrative level, it leads either to decline in various areas of development or to stagnation, which questions the effectiveness of reforms as such, the progressive nature of the initiated restructuring and the waste of time. It is timely reconstruction of processes that can give a new impetus to the development of reformation.

In one of his papers, A. M. Bugaev, historian and politician, notes in (Bugaev, 2013) that “national statehood, like any social and political construction, is dynamic. It has its stages of formation and development. For example, in the Tsarist period, the Chechen people did not have the actual experience of developing state-craft. However, they were historically equipped with non-hierarchical (lineage, community-type, inter-type) self-organization with traits consistent with patriarchal democracy. Since the 18th-19th centuries the transformation of this public government scheme was externally driven under the influence of Tsarist authorities and government. In the 19th century, resulting from the aggressive and expansive rather than peaceful policy that could entail severe punishment, Tsarist Russia started a Caucasian war with a view to integrating into the social environment of hill peoples the system of administration and territorial subordination of the regions, particularly the North-Eastern Caucasus (Dagestan and Chechnya). There are more contemporary records that tend to prove forcible transformation under coercion, including long military actions. Traditions are being replaced by a modern age. Following European practices, the capitalist elements, being viewed as progressive, were adopted to replace the traditional mode of life. They provided “breakthrough industrial technologies and ... relevant political, cultural and social mechanisms that enable to support, use and manage these technologies” (Mironov, 2018).

Transformation in the Tsarist period took place in the context of territorial acquisitions that brought about the technology-related process. The main merit of the Westphalian modernization is that it roiled and contributed to the emancipation of consciousness amid the hill people. Fundamentally, it was not quite a unanimous phenomenon in the Tsarist period but the intellectual stratum of highland society quickly acknowledged the urgent need for reforms.

The situation changed dramatically since the fall of the Tsarist regime. On May 1, 1917, the united hill public (established the Alliance of United Highlanders of the North Caucasus and Dagestan in Vladikavkaz) began to openly express their disagreement and insist on the rights of the hill ethnic community to be complied. Moreover, the founders of the Alliance "recognized a democratic federal republic as the best system of government in Russia", as stated in the "Declaration of the United Government" (Bugayev, 2013).

The Soviet period came as a logical continuation of the Tsarist modernization and it was distinguished by the fact that the social environment experiencing the transition period to socialist relations (based on the industrialization of production) was actively involved in the transformation processes and even led the progress. This is the difference between the two transformation processes of "modernization" in the Tsarist and Soviet periods.

The collapse of the USSR was more likely connected to stagnation processes and the deadlock situation in the development of communism as a state system. 1980 - 1990 referred to the stages of restructuring and the search of a new development trajectory. A natural question came up then as to what changed in late 20th century.

Late 20th century was noteworthy for the beginning of a new stage of globalization, which shaped the direction towards the third stage of modernization generally known as the market economy in the conditions of democratization. Perestroika initiatives implied openness in joint actions with Western countries. They turned into a starting point opening up the prospects of a broad dialogue between Russia, the West and the East. This is the main difference of the modern process of transformation of "democratization" in the context of globalism and market relations from the transformation of "modernization" of the previous stages of historical development.

Considering the transformation process as a regional manifestation on the example of the Chechen Republic in the modern period, it should be noted that the legacy of the Tsarist and later the Soviet administration and personnel policy pursued in Chechnya had an extremely negative impact on development processes in different areas of Chechen life, which entailed difficulties in acquiring higher education, professional qualifications and a well-paid a job. This encroached on the rights of indigenous peoples even to be a part of the ruling elite, i.e., “the involvement of the Chechens and Ingush in privileged class of functionaries was extremely insignificant. In this respect the Chechen-Ingush Republic was significantly different from other national republics” (Baskhanova, 2004).

Since the end of the 80s - the beginning of the 90s, the situation in the Chechen-Ingush Republic was characterized by a severe aggravation of the economic crisis. The overwhelming majority of working-age population was unemployed due to both objective and subjective reasons. The historian Dzhabrail Gakayev indicates that the Chechen crisis had profound social background and was directly related to the specific character of the socio-economic and cultural modernization of the Chechen-Ingush Republic during the years of the Soviet regime. “The results of modernization in the Chechen-Ingush Republic are now well known,” he writes. The main thing is the significant lag of the Chechens from many other peoples of Russia that manifests itself in the following:

  • a high birth rate leading to the prevalence of unemployable age in the population;

  • a numerical predominance of rural residents over urban;

  • a relatively low level of education (in 1989, the share of people with higher education per a thousand Chechens was 5-7 times less than that per the same number of indigenous people in the North Caucasian republics);

  • a distorted social and professional framework including an increased share of agricultural and service workers with a lack of industrial, blue and white collar workers;

  • the lowest standard of living (among the republics of the former USSR) and the highest infant mortality and tuberculosis morbidity;

  • the highest unemployment rate (it reached almost 40% among able-bodied Chechens) and a record number (100 thousand per year) of itinerant workers” (Gakayev, 1997).

The modernization of Chechnya provided insight into the factors of Soviet reality viewed as the policy of Russianization, the incompleteness of nation-building process, the absence of truly national spiritual and political elite. “The marginalization, the criminalization of the population, the rise in the smuggling of weapons, oil and drugs were the signs of those real processes that were in full swing in the early years of Chechen independence. These people brought to the Chechen society new pseudo-cultural elements previously unseen and unthinkable in the Vainakh environment. A new type of the Vainakh lumpen became their bearer” (Gakayev, 1997).

Nevertheless, progressive development with its cultural and intellectual values accumulated in the Chechen society reached a peak in the Soviet period. The experience of coexistence of Chechen society is based on some traditional philosophies that have been born in minds of several generations. This experience, laid down by the Tsarist regime, embraces the experience of career growth as well, namely: 1) military career of the highest ranks in imperial Russia; 2) career of governors in Chechnya in the Tsarist period; 3) career of local appointees by the royal power, etc.

A bad habit to make a career thriving on your people began to transfer from one stage of development to another with an enviable constancy.

The rapid process of differentiation in the postindustrial period of development caused significant damage to the typical traditional way of life. The younger generation of modern Chechen society got rid of traditionalism-related values far too quickly. In striving for new dimensions, they attempted to lose the most unique thing - the identity of people. Someone concerned with advancing and prefiguring the main directions should have given the correct guidelines for the development of society. Unfortunately, it was almost impossible to foresee the subsequent events at the end of the 20th century, specifically, the spontaneous relations of President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian Parliament, and afterwards the outbreak of war in Chechnya. One could not even imagine the real possibility of war in Chechnya on the eve of democratic changes. However, it happened. After long protest months, the government headed by D. Zavgaev was overthrown and D. Dudayev was brought to power.

During his reign, Dzhokhar Dudayev “saw his main priority in transferring into the hands of an emerging oligarchy (5–10% of the population) at least 60% of the country's total wealth. In the period from October 1991 to December 1994, an intensive collapse of the public sector of economy took place; public property was literally being taken away and plundered bit by bit. Meanwhile, the privatization of state property was banned in the republic” (Dudayev, 1993).

The election of A. Maskhadov as President of Chechnya did not contribute to stabilizing the situation in the republic and only led to frustration. There were more than enough motives for this, inter alia, high unemployment, poorly-managed economy, the conflict of “tribes”, the rise of Islamic extremism, the imposition of alien ideas of Wahhabism. All this resulted in the reflection among the Chechens on the negative experience of their independence, to the frustration and hopelessness, which became the main motivation for uniting with Russia. The referendum held in Chechnya determined that the majority of the republic’s population saw its future in Russia.

The period from the collapse of the USSR towards our times became for Chechens a period of missed opportunities for social growth of Chechen society. What is more, in wartime one could rely on the enhancement of civil rights (author’s note). At that time, the Chechen society was completely dependent on federal policy. It was little structured and did not take shape of a society with democratic values. As a result, “a tragic chain of events happened. The Chechens regressed even compared to totalitarian Soviet times ... Their movement into modern society was possible, but it turned out to be the opposite,” says a well-known demographer, historian A. Babenyshev (Maksudov, 2010).

Early 21st century was the period of informatization, societal democratization and the formation of civil foundations. Civil society tailored private interests. The more clearly it was tailored, the stronger the civil society was and the more powerfully it affected the formation of public policy. The weakness and lethargy of civil society in Russia was largely due to the fact that private interests were not shaped. Modern business organizations expressed the interests of oligarchic groups rather than the national interests of Russian capital as a whole. The employees’ interests were poorly structured both socially and organizationally. Hence, the basic framework of “civil society is very weak” (Krasin, 2009).

At the same time, the transformation process was sharply improved in the national societies of the former Soviet Union. The collapsed system of socialism facilitated the search of the most acceptable forms of transformation, both political regimes and further socio-cultural development. Qualitative advancement basically called for a modernization potential with the following dimensions: ​​the specific history of national societies; the level of their socio-economic development; mentality and religious identity. Two decades have passed since the start of the second Chechen campaign. During this time, diametrically opposed transformations have evolved in the mindset and world perception of Chechen society. The existing values ​​and stereotypes have been overestimated. Until 2000, Chechnya was at war, twenty years later, the Chechen society expresses its needs in a massive way. The President of the Republic R. Kadyrov and the federal government determine the vector of development of the republic. The Chechen Republic has been reborn from the ruins and is currently developing. The population has adapted to market conditions. With the development of public consciousness, public institutions and culture, there will be less and less prerequisites for the violation of any rights.

Slowly though it is, the current situation is changing. In 2013 the Minister of Finance of Russia A. Siluyanov amply defined the situation in the North Caucasus and Chechnya saying that “... the poverty rate in the republics of the North Caucasus reaches 30-35 times. In Chechnya there is a tremendous property gap, the poor and the rich live in two parallel worlds. Prosperous local officials and oligarchic clans drive Bentley and Rolls Royces, live in upmarket castles, palaces ... The federal center should think about what is happening in the North Caucasus”.

Indeed, market economy with its fierce competition intensified the rapid growth of social and property inequality of society. Along with rising gap between rich and poor, the transformation of traditional Chechen culture was triggered. In the era of socialism, Chechen society was under the harsh influence of communist ideology. In the wake of the collapse of the USSR, cultural preferences of Chechen society became absolutely different, ranging from radical Islamism with its intransigence to Western trends actively penetrating in all areas and spheres of Chechen society. Inside Chechnya, the positions of Islam kept understandably strong, as since ancient times Chechen culture had been formed on two important components – ethnic and Islamic. It should also be noted that “the peculiarity of modern Chechnya is that ... the significance of Islam is extremely high at the level of official ideology, at the level of elites” (Garayev, 2017). Muslim traces are visible in the national mentality of the Chechens, without which traditional Chechen society is unimaginable. However, the relations with the Islamic world do not prevent the Chechens from adopting the achievements of Western culture, elements of which in recent years have been penetrating the public, spiritual and cultural life in an avalanche-like manner. This is owing to the development of modern communication links, primarily the Internet, that make it possible to track and absorb all available high-tech achievements, which also advantages the modernization process in the country. On the other hand, equally important is the fact that dozens of thousands of Chechens moved to Western countries in view of military conflicts. An entire generation of Chechens has already been brought up in the West. In fact, they have absorbed their culture. The Chechens have become, in fact, Europeans, speaking Chechen, or even not speaking at all. A major role in the emancipation of consciousness and changes in behavioral norms was played by the process of globalization. The younger generation has developed a formidable response to these processes as it is particularly sensitive to new ideas.

In early 2000s, cellular communications and mobile phones became fundamental in everyday life of every person. After a relatively short period of time, the same mobile phones have changed so significantly that, compared to them, the former seem now anachronisms. When appeared, iPhones was a real revolution in human consciousness. The ever-changing adherent functions of modern smartphones have unlimited possibilities in virtual communication. The word "selfie" has become a peculiar sociocultural ideology – this is a phenomenon of modern culture and one cannot but agree with this. Another product of modern society is Instagram (Dmitrieva & Leonova, 2018).

Various groups in social networks only strengthen the transformation of traditional Chechen culture. A few years ago, it was unacceptable for a Chechen young man to participate in modeling and even the slightest hint of this possibility was considered insulting. Now the situation is completely different. The Chechen Dulatov brothers living in Germany and actively participating in fashion shows on the best Parisian runways can serve as a vivid example. However, if you take a deeper insight into history, you will find some interesting facts that will allow even the most diehard orthodox to somewhat weaken such a sharp look at the above things. Dara Chermoeva, the niece of the famous oilman Thapa Chermoev, won the beauty contest Miss Paris that was held in Paris in 1925. Young Chechen people of today participate with good grace in prestigious music competitions organized by leading Russian television channels. While there is nothing wrong with this practice: the Chechens are not only beautiful, but talented people as well. It must be admitted that the growing European-Russian cultural influence on Chechen society is connected with the overall involvement of Chechnya in the economic, political and cultural life of Russia and Europe.

Modernization of banking resembles the development of economic and social sector that implies moving not forwards but backwards. It is rather aimed at impoverishment of the majority of the population. For decades now, both Russian and Chechen society have been provided with options as to how to enrich new oligarchs — bankers representing Renaissance Bank, Alfa Bank and others who charge more than 32–34% per annum for granting loans for goods in large supermarkets. The situation is identical across Russia with a penny-ante salary of workers and merchants trading in the markets. There is only illusion of well-being. The population, immersed in loans and debts, begins to see clearly only when it suddenly gets aware of owing large sums of money to banks.

Democratization in market conditions began to be restrictive. The sharp reduction and alienation from production activities led to distortions and local crisis situations in the regions. Banking business did not facilitate the development of the republic’s economy; it was aimed at removing funds from the region, i.e. the money of the Chechen people did not end up in the republic and eventually did not give back. The region with a long economic history, “with a developed oil-producing and oil-refining industry” (Dimaeva, 2018), the leading donor and driving force in the USSR, in the modern period was transformed into a subsidized region. It should be noted that in 2018 the industry of the Chechen Republic got back ChechNefteprom, oil industry sector that had been subordinate to the federal center.

An American economist Douglas North, speaking of "the impact of institutional changes on the economic growth of transition processes in Russia” drew his attention to the situation “when you need to solve a threefold problem, each face of which is opposed to the other.” The idea of this task is, firstly, “to get a handle on changes and new mechanisms”, secondly, “to overcome negative consequences of changes and mistakes” and, finally, “to keep values of the past.” Douglas North’s view of heritage is that “regardless of your attitude to the past, people’s habits need to be considered. The strategy and tactics of reform cannot fail to address this. People’s sense does not merely rely on the isolated knowledge acquired during the life of one person or one generation, but their sum accumulated over a long period. In Russian reforms, market efficiency tends to be unconformable to socio-economic efficiency. A high price was paid for the transformation in the form of deep and ... unrecoverable damage to the production and technological potential, which is absolutely incompatible with the costs of any country with transitional economies. Now social security of the population becomes not a result but a prerequisite for reforms. Market self-organization is not capable of overcoming deep crises — financial, investment, and institutional — without the necessary regulation by the state. The desire to mechanically adopt ... state-market proportions that have been developed ... in the West is both harmful and dangerous, since running ahead in behavioral systems causes a movement backwards (North, 1997).

An American political scientist, a professor at Harvard University R. Putnam believes that “for political stability, for the effectiveness of governments and ... economic progress, social capital ... is even more important than physical or human capital. Many former communist countries had almost no civil traditions even before the advent of communism. Besides, totalitarian government killed off the insignificant rudiments that existed. With no reciprocity and civic engagement structures ... immoral nepotism, clientelism, disregard of the law, poor management and economic stagnation – seem to be ... a more likely outcome than successful democratization and economic progress. ... Transformations of institutions are capable of changing political practice. Reforms have quite tangible and mostly beneficial effects on regional political life. Regional reform refers to “learning by doing.” Formal changes spawned informal changes. ... Fractional struggles, inefficiency, mere incompetence still tend to undermine many regions” (Putnam, 1996).

The way the country is governed is a sorry lot of Russians and a double tragedy for Chechens living in repatriation and deportation. Both Chechnya and Russia are in desperate need of the manifestation of a civil initiative by the Russian society, the manifestation of cultural, creative, spiritual and religious dimensions. In the first half of the 21st century, when there was a split in the religious environment, it was noted that “a radical rearrangement of the future world is possible through the spiritual factor ... Religions will create in the 21st century, in disregard for technology (Korchinsky, 2004).


The process of modernization in the postindustrial period in the Chechen Republic, despite the difficult conditions for development, obtains the expected results that are put in place with the hope of rapid development in various areas other than business and trade. Making every effort the Chechen society believes in evolutionary processes and in its future being developed on the basis of democratic principles. It expands communication, diplomatic, cultural, trade, economic and many other borders of cooperation, commonwealth and peace.


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29 March 2019

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Tovsultanov, R. A., Gaziev, V. Z., Khizriev, K. A., Garsaev, L. M., & Dimaeva*, F. V. (2019). Chechen Republic: Modernization In Post-Industrial Period. In & D. K. Bataev (Ed.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 58. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 401-409). Future Academy.