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Printable Page Breaking Up Is Hard To Do by Melvin Maskin
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TIME ALLOTMENT: Two to three 45 - minute class periods (excluding homework time for Culminating Activity)

The collapse of the Soviet State in 1991 was followed by Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev's declaration of the Chechen Republic's independence from Moscow. Concerned over the loss of its territorial integrity, Russian troops invaded the breakaway republic and a civil war ensued. In l996, Chechen rebels regained control of the capital, Grozny, from Russian forces, almost destroying the city in the process. Fighting in Chechnya continues to this day, although on a relatively smaller scale.

The WIDE ANGLE video "Greetings From Grozny" (2002) examines the conflict from the perspectives of Russian soldiers, Chechen separatist militants, radical Chechen Islamists, and civilians living in Grozny.

In this lesson, students will explore the multiple perspectives surrounding the conflict, examine the conflict's regional and international implications, and understand the mindsets of Chechens who have managed to maintain their identity and self-esteem in the face of untold human suffering.

This lesson can be used during or after a lesson on the breakup of the Soviet Union and the formation of the Russian Federation (1991- present). A basic knowledge of post- Soviet history and basic geographical facts of Eurasia are required for the successful completion of the lesson.

SUBJECT MATTER: Global History and Geography/ World History


Students will be able to:
  • Locate key geographical entities related to the conflict in the Caucasus;

  • Identify and discuss key issues related to the conflict;

  • Analyze the perspectives of both combatants and civilians;

  • Explore regional and international implications associated with the conflict;

  • Appreciate the efforts of civilians to overcome the fear and hopelessness that pervade their daily lives;

  • Propose a peaceful way of resolving the conflict by suggesting a concession that all sides could accept.

New York State Learning Standards for Social Studies
Standards available online at http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/ciai/socst/pub/sslearn.pdf.

    Standard 2. World History (commencement)
    Performance Indicators:

      1. Students:

      • Understand the connectedness and development of Western civilization and other civilizations and cultures in many areas of the world and over time.

      • Analyze historic events from around the world by examining accounts written from different perspectives.

      3. Students:

      • Analyze the roles and contributions of individuals and groups to social, political, economic, cultural, and religious practices and activities.

      • Explain the dynamics of cultural change and how interactions between and among cultures have affected various cultural groups throughout the world.

    Standard 3. Geography (commencement)
    Performance Indicators:

      1. Students:

      • Understand how to develop and use maps and other geographic representations to display geographic issues, problems, and questions.

      • Understand the development and interactions of social, cultural, economic, and religious systems in different regions of the world.

      • Analyze how the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of the Earth's surface.

New York State Regents Global History and Geography Curriculum Tie-Ins
Curriculum available online at http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/ciai/socst/pub/sscore2.pdf

    Unit Six: A Half Century of Crisis and Achievement (l900-l945)

      B. Revolution and Change in Russia

        7. Russification of ethnic republics

      C. World War II- causes and impact

        1. Human and physical geography

        2. Key individual- Stalin

    Unit Seven: The 20th Century since l945

      A. Cold War Balance of Power

      G. Collapse of Communism and the Breakup of the Soviet Union

        1. Human and physical geography

        6. Ethnic conflict in former satellite states

        7. Changing political boundaries

        8. Challenges faced by post-Communist Russia

    Unit Eight: Global Connections and Interactions

      A. Social and Political Patterns and Change

        1. Human and physical geography

        8. Ethnic and religious tensions: an analysis of multiple perspectives

Advanced Placement World History Curriculum Tie-Ins
Course Description available online at:
(Requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader)

    Major Developments:

      2. The Cold War, international organizations, and the impact on the Global framework

      3. New patterns of nationalism (the breakup of the Soviet Union)

      4. New forces of revolution and other sources of political innovation (Chechens separatist movements)

      6. Religious fundamentalism (Wahhabism)

    Major Comparisons and Snapshots:

    • Compare contrasting nationalist ideologies and movements

    • Compare different types of independent struggles

    • Compare high-tech warfare with guerilla warfare

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WIDE ANGLE, "Greetings From Grozny" (2002) (selected clips)

Guerilla War
Photo of Chechen holding bulets.
Pankisi Valley
Photo of the Pankisi Valley.
Pifer Interview
Photo of former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Steven Pifer.
Grozny University
Photo of Dr. Dadashev teaching.
Refugee Camp
Photo of a Chechen refugee camp.

Web Sites:

  • U.S. Anthem
    Lyrics for the U.S. anthem are presented.

  • The Chechen National Anthem (traditional)
    Lyrics of the traditional Chechen National Anthem can be found on this site.

  • The Chechen National Anthem (radical Muslim version)
    The radical Muslim version of the Chechen National Anthem is presented on this site.

  • The Chechen National Anthem (approved by the Russian Federation)
    http://david.national-anthems.net/che.htm (Click on Lyrics - view)
    The lyrics to the Chechen National Anthem that is approved by the Russian Federation can be found here.

  • National anthem of the Russian Federation.
    This site contains the lyrics of the most recent iteration of the Russian Federation National Anthem

  • Map of the Russian Federation, available from the CIA's World Factbook:
    This site provides a map of the Russian Federation, as published by the CIA.

  • Map of the Caucasus:
    This site provides an updated map of the Caucasus region.

  • "Resistance Leader Says Chechnya is an Islamic State." February 13, 2006.
    This site, hosted by the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University, summarizes a statement made by Chechen President and Resistance forces commander, Abdul-Khalin, claiming that the Chechen Republic is a sovereign, independent Islamic state whose laws are based on the Koran.

  • "Separatism in Chechnya Has No Future." April 6, 2005.

    The site contains a statement by a Russian legislator, calling for the need to differentiate between radical forces and the rest of the population in the Chechen Republic. He suggests a conference be held in Austria, attended by representatives of all forces, with the exception of those who participate in terrorist activities.

  • "Pankisi Gorge in Crossfire" October 5, 2002.
    An article from THE WASHINGTON TIMES published on October 5 , 2005 that details efforts by the Georgian army to curb criminal and terrorist operations in the Pankisi Gorge, is home to an estimated 3,000 Chechen refugees. The Georgian government is concerned over the security of two oil pipelines that will be built close to the Gorge.

  • "Gallery of Portraits of the 'Disappeared' in Chechnya."
    This Human Rights Watch site contains photos of people who have disappeared during the Chechen wars. It contains a video interview with relatives of some of the missing people.

  • "Statement by the High Commissioner For Human Rights on Her Visit To Russia," February 24, 2006.

    This U.N. publication expresses the High Commissioner's deep concern over the situation in the northern Caucasus, and particularly in Chechnya. After a visit to the area, she finds credible evidence of the use of torture by Russian forces to extract confessions. In her words, "the Republic has still not been able to move from a society ruled by force, to one governed by the rule of law."

  • "The Photo Gallery: Chechnya's Bright Side"

    The site contains photos, with accompanying text, of a Chechen journalist's efforts to capture the ways in which Chechen men and women, young and old, go about their lives in war-ravaged Grozny. Evidence is provided of how social and cultural events, including a wedding, puppet show, a visit by the circus, and sports competitions are helping citizens to live relatively "normal" lives.

  • National emblem sacred to the Chechens
    The version of the national emblem that is favored by Chechen nationalists is on this site.

  • Officially approved current state symbol of Chechnya
    The Russian-approved, Chechen State Council's version of the state symbol of Chechnya is presented here.


For the class:

  • Computer monitor or computer connection to television/projector for clip viewing

  • Chalkboard, Whiteboard

  • Wall map of Eurasia (updated)

For each pair of students:

  • Computer with Internet access

  • Printed copy of United States anthem lyrics (see Media Components for online source)

  • Printed copies of 3 versions of Chechen anthem lyrics (see Media Components for online sources)

  • Printed copy of Russian Federation anthem lyrics (see Media Components for online source)

  • Anthem comparison student organizer

For each student:


Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:

Bookmark the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom, or upload all links to an online bookmarking utility such as www.portaportal.com.

Preview all of the video clips and Web sites used in the lesson to make certain that they are appropriate for your students, currently available, and accessible from your classroom.

Download the video clips used in this lesson onto your hard drive, or prepare to stream the clips from your classroom. RealPlayer is needed to view the video clips. If your classroom computer does not have it, download RealPlayer for free at www.real.com.

Procure an updated wall map of Eurasia.

Make copies for each student pair of the lyrics of the United States national anthem (available at http://www.robesus.com/usanthem.html); three versions of the Chechen anthem (available at http://www.amina.com/article/anthem.html, http://islamonline.net/English/artculture/2003/10/article05.shtml, and http://david.national-anthems.net/che.htm); and the anthem of the Russian Federation (available at http://www.russianlegacy.com/en/go_to/anthem.htm).

When using media, provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of video segments, Web sites, or other multimedia elements.

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