Chechnya, or Chechen Republic, a republic in southeast Russia, in the Northern Caucasus Mountains. Grozny is the capital. Although some inhabitants are ethnic Russians, the majority of people in Chechnya are Chechens, an indigenous group that has lived in the North Caucasus for thousands of years. Russian troops first invaded the Chechens' land in the early 18th century. The Chechens fought for many years, but were eventually conquered in the mid 19th century. Stalin exiled most of the Chechen population in 1944 because of their continued resistance to Russian rule. Survivors of the exile were allowed to return in 1957.
Chechnya declared its independence from Russia in 1991. Russia did not recognize Chechnya's independence and invaded Chechnya in 1994. After suffering many casualties, Russia withdrew from Chechnya in 1996. Russian troops invaded Chechnya again in 1999, in response to several bombings in Russia, which the Russian government blamed on Chechen rebels. In 2003, inhabitants of Chechnya voted in favor of a Russian-backed constitution that would have Chechnya remain a part of Russia. Claiming fraud, Chechen rebels denounced the vote and fighting continued.