Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 1 Issue: 7

In an interview with Izvestia on December 2, Tom Trier of the Danish Refugee Council, described by the newspaper as “the most influential international humanitarian organization currently active in Chechnya,” cited statistics concerning the population of Chechnya. Some of these figures have been mentioned previously (see Chechnya Weekly, October 30, November 6, December 4), but many of them are new. Those living permanently in Chechnya, Trier reported, number 733,889, a figure which does not take into account those residing in three highland districts (Nozhai-Yurt, Itum-Kale and Shatoi) and in approximately a third of another mountain district (Vedeno). Trier estimated that approximately 50,000-60,000 persons live in those four areas, which would yield a combined total of close to 800,000 for the entire population of the republic. If Chechens living as refugees in Ingushetia are added to that number, then one then arrives at a total of 918,00 ethnic Chechens residing in the two republics.

Approximately 80,000 persons, Trier continued, now live in the capital of Djohar (Grozny). Urus-Martan currently has a population of over 41,000; Gudermes, 33,500; and Argun, more than 23,000. These are the four largest population enters in the republic. “The percentage of the rural population [of Chechnya],” he noted, “has grown: Currently four out of five inhabitants of the republic are located in the villages. There they have a chance to survive on a subsistence economy…”

Chechnya, Trier went on, boasts an extremely high birth rate, analogous to that of Indonesia and Pakistan. There are 86,818 children under the age of five living in the republic. One interesting detail: More boys are presently being born than girls. “Such is the biological law which accompanies wars.” Currently men make up 45.5 percent of the republic’s populace. The average age of a resident is only 28.5.

Chechnya, Trier remarked, has now de facto become a mono-ethnic republic, with ethnic Chechens comprising 97.44 percent of the total population. Ethnic Russians, by contrast, make up only 1.3 percent of the total (9,372 persons). Given this striking ethnic imbalance-almost 800,000 Chechens versus 9,000 Russians-one wonders if the current effort by the Putin regime to reincorporate Chechnya into the Russian Federation by force can possibly succeed.