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Allah’s Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya, New Edition by Sebastian Smith

By Sebastian Smith

A mix of travelogue, heritage and struggle journalism, Allah's Mountains tells the tale of the clash among this state of mountain tribes and the could of the Russian military. it's also a narrative of the historical past, humans and cultures of the Caucasus and of tiny ethnic teams suffering for either actual and cultural survival.

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Additional resources for Allah’s Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya, New Edition

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That was in 1907. He got back to the mountains and handed the money out to his people and some to the orphans. When he was still young, in his 40s, he became ill and had to see his relatives in Shali. It was there that one of his own relatives – on his mother’s side – sold him out and he was killed fighting. Zelimkhan was a classic: anti-Russian, bank-robber, good shot, apparently invincible, and finally brought down by treachery. But defining the abreg is not always easy and probably depends what side of the gun you’re on, an ambiguity repeated in general attitudes to banditry and stealing.

The peak of these contradictions is the system of autonomous republics built into the Soviet Union. Given the totalitarian nature of the Soviet government, Moscow might have been expected simply to declare the North Caucasus another part of the Russified superstate. Instead, the Communists allowed ethnic homelands with their own governments, symbols, borders and capitals. It is therefore tempting to think – and this is what the propagandists always said – that Soviet policy, and Russian rule in general, was benevolent, that the state had found a way of living alongside its minorities.

Yet I wanted to stay at the Nart, not only because the alternatives didn’t look any more cockroach-free, but on a simple impulse – I was looking for Narts, the mythological giants who once roamed the North Caucasus as rebels, heroes and outlaws. p65 12 6/12/2000, 11:04 am The Jigsaw 13 Even without Narts, the Caucasus is steeped in myth and legend. The Garden of Eden is said to have been in Abkhazia and Noah’s dove rested on Mount Elbrus. The ancient Greek hero Prometheus was chained to the Caucasus – either Elbrus or Kazbek, according to different versions – after he stole fire from the gods, and Jason landed on the coast of Georgia in search of the Golden Fleece.

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