Grozny (Chech. Solsha-Ghala - named after the
Sunzha River (Chech. Solsha) + GӀala "city") is a city in the North
Caucasus, in southern Russia, the capital of the Chechen Republic,
the center of the Grozny district. A city of republican
significance, is not part of the district, forming the city district
of Grozny. The city is located on both banks of the River Sunzha.
City of military glory of Russia (from April 6, 2015).
Grozny is one of the major cities of the North Caucasus: second in
size and third in terms of population (297,137 people for 2018,
which is 20.68% of the republic’s population).
History of Grozny
Russian fort The fortress of Groznaya (Гро́зная; lit.
fearsome) was founded in 1818 as a Russian military outpost on the
Sunzha River by general Aleksey Petrovich Yermolov. As the fort was
being built the workers were fired upon by the Chechens. The
Russians solved the problem by placing a cannon at a carefully
chosen point outside the walls. When night fell and the Chechens
came out of their hiding places to drag the gun away all the other
guns opened up with grapeshot. When the Chechens recovered their
senses and began to carry away the bodies the guns fired again. When
it was over 200 dead were counted. Thus did the 'terrible' fort
receive its baptism of fire. It was a prominent defense center
during the Caucasian War. After the annexation of the region by the
Russian Empire, the military use of the old fortress was obsolete
and in December 1869 it was renamed Grozny and granted town status.
As most of the residents there were Terek Cossacks, the town grew
slowly until the development of oil reserves in the early 20th
century. This encouraged the rapid development of industry and
petrochemical production. In addition to the oil drilled in the city
itself, the city became a geographical center of Russia's network of
oil fields, and in 1893 became part of the Transcaucasia — Russia
Proper railway. The result was the population almost doubled from
15,600 in 1897 to 30,400 in 1913.
Soviet regional capital
One day after the October Revolution, on November 8, 1917, the
Bolsheviks headed by N. Anisimov seized Grozny. As the Russian Civil
War escalated, the Proletariat formed the 12th Red Army, and the
garrison held out against numerous attacks by Terek Cossacks from
August 11 to November 12, 1918. However, with the arrival of
Denikin's armies, the Bolsheviks were forced to withdraw and Grozny
was captured on February 4, 1919, by the White Army. Underground
operations were carried out, but only the arrival of the Caucasus
front of the Red Army in 1920 allowed the city to permanently end up
with the Russian SFSR on March 17. Simultaneously it became part of
the Soviet Mountain Republic, which was formed on January 20, 1921,
and was the capital of the Chechen National Okrug inside it.
On November 30, 1922, the mountain republic was dissolved, and the
national okrug became the Chechen Autonomous Oblast (Chechen AO)
with Grozny as the administrative center. At this time most of the
population was still Russian, but of Cossack descent. As Cossacks
were viewed as a potential threat to the Soviet nation, Moscow
actively encouraged the migration of Chechens into the city from the
mountains. In 1934 the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Oblast was formed,
becoming the Chechen-Ingush ASSR in 1936.
In 1944, the entire
population of Chechens and Ingush was deported after rebelling
against Soviet rule. Large numbers of people who were not deemed fit
for transport were 'liquidated' on the spot, and the adverse
situation with transport and the stay in Siberia caused many deaths
as well. According to internal NKVD data, a total of 144,704 were
killed in 1944–1948 alone (death rate of 23.5% per all groups).
Authors such as Alexander Nekrich, John Dunlop and Moshe Gammer,
based on census data from the period estimate a death toll of about
170,000–200,000 among Chechens alone, thus ranging from over a third
of the total Chechen population that was deported to nearly half
being killed in those 4 years (rates for other groups for those four
years hover around 20%). All traces of them in the city, including
books and graveyards, were destroyed by the NKVD troops. The act was
recognized by the European Parliament as an act of genocide in 2004.
Grozny became the administrative center of Grozny Oblast of the
Russian SFSR, and the city at the time was again wholly Russian. In
1957, the Chechen-Ingush ASSR was restored, and the Chechens were
allowed to return. The return of the Chechens to Grozny, which had
been lacking of Nakh for thirteen years, would cause massive
disruptions to the social, economic and political systems of what
had been a Russian city for the period until their return. This
caused a self-feeding cycle of ethnic conflict between the two
groups, both believing the other's presence in the city was
illegitimate. Once again migration of non-Russians into Grozny
continued whilst the ethnic Russian population, in turn, moved to
other parts of the USSR, notably the Baltic states, after the
inter-ethnic conflict broke briefly out in 1958.