Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type



Political Science & International Relations


Vladimir Putin came to power in 1999 with the resignation of Boris Yeltsin. He inherited a Russia rampant with crime and on the brink of economic collapse, where rich oligarchs controlled the vote in many regions. Putin needed to gain control of his country quickly. The former KGB officer had one tool that he knew how to use well: violence. Putin began to eliminate private media, he killed or imprisoned all the oligarchs, and he nationalized the country's oil. Yet there was one issue that Putin would use to grow his country's military power, which was a laughing stock since the fall of the iron curtain: Chechnya. Invading it was one of the first things Putin did when taking office. When 9/11 made extremist Muslims world enemies, Putin gained free reign to increase the military and not many people asked questions when Russian troops went into Chechnya. 9/11 didn't just change our military operations in the United States; other countries' leaders like Putin used it to their advantage. In Putin's case he used it to tie Chechen fighters to groups like Al-Qaeda and Hamas. As long as he describes them as terrorists, it seems Putin's extreme violence against the Chechen people is beyond reproach. With private media all but destroyed in Russia, and no other powerful political activists to question him, it seems Putin will reign over Russia so long as there is a breath in his body.