History Behind the Headlines (HBH), a new, ongoing series from the Gale Group strives to answer
these and many other questions in a way that television broadcasts and newspapers cannot.
In 1991 the world witnessed a political change of great magnitude. The Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics (USSR) crumbled, ushering in a new era of democracy and the official end of the Cold War.
East and West Germany had reunited just two years earlier; for many people formerly behind the
Iron Curtain, now seemed to be a time of unbound freedom and autonomy. Yet ten years later, newscasts and newspapers report of a six year war between Russia and Chechnya, a former state within the USSR. After so much optimism about the future, what caused this instability and unrest? Was
the cause based in a fundamental flaw of the initial break-up of the USSR or perhaps from something
much further back in the regions’ histories? How did the international community react to the
USSR’s collapse and the strife that was to follow?