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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 September, 2004, 20:21 GMT 21:21 UK
Timetable: Chechnya and Russia
Panorama looks at the story of the school siege in Beslan and speaks to survivors of the tragedy at School #1.

However the conflict between the Russians and Chechens stretches back hundreds of years. Below is a short history of the conflict.

18th Century: Russians repelled

The North Caucasus area
The North Caucasus area

1722: Peter the Great's Russian army takes control of part of neighbouring Dagestan - they are later pushed back by mountain tribes.

1732: The first incursion into Chechnya takes place but Peter the Great's forces are beaten away from the village of Chechan-aul.

1783: Russia launches a campaign to annex the North Caucasus but this leads to the first real resistance campaign, with Shaykh Mansur leading the Chechens to a comprehensive victory over the Russians at the Sunzha River.

1791: Shaykh Mansur is captured and spends his remaining days in a prison in St Petersburg. His followers continued with his policy of resistance against the Russians.

19th Century: Chechnya succumbs

1813: The pace of the campaign in the region is stepped up when Russia annexes Dagestan.

1816: The infamous general Alexander Yermolov is appointed as commander in chief of the Caucasus. He constructed the city of Grozny on the site of six Chechen villages that he razed to the ground and was thought to be responsible for widespread slaughter.

1824: The Chechens fight back with an armed revolt, culminating in Shaykh imam Shamil establishing an Islamic state in Chechnya and Dagestan.

1859: Shamil finally surrenders and Chechnya becomes part of the Russian empire.

20th Century: The darkest hour

Joseph Stalin
Stalin ordered the deportation of 400,000 Chechen and Ingush people

1918: The Chechens briefly escape Russian rule in the chaos following the Russian revolution.

1922: The republic is back in the Russian fold, this time as an autonomous administrative division of the USSR.

1937: Stalin rounds up 14,000 Chechens and Ingush people and has them shot.

1940: The Chechens mount another unsuccessful rebellion during World War II.

1944: Stalin seeks vengeance and on February 22 and 23, more than 400,000 Chechen and Ingush people are rounded up and forcibly deported to Kazakhstan and Siberia.

Russians and Dagestanis are moved into the Chechen homes and books in Chechen are destroyed. Elderly and infirm Chechens who are unable to travel are slaughtered.

1957: President Nikita Kruschev allows the Chechens to return home. The Chechen-Ingush autonomous republic is also re-instated. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, new unrest stirs up in the region

1991: Chechnya declares independence from Russia in November and effectively operates as an intendment state for three years.

1994: Russian President Boris Yeltsin sends the troops in to restore Moscow's authority, triggering the first Chechen war which claimed an estimated 80,000 lives.

1996: A ceasefire is agreed in May and a peace agreement was signed in August 1996. It provided for the withdrawal of Russian troops and the postponement of the consideration of Chechnya's status until 2001.

1997: Rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov is elected president of Chechnya and Russia recognises his government. But the issue of Chechnya's independence is not resolved.

A Russian soldier on the outskirts of Grozny in 1999
A Russian soldier on the outskirts of Grozny in 1999

1999: Russian Prime Minister (later President) Vladimir Putin sends troops back in after Chechen militants cross into the neighbouring Muslim region of Dagestan in an unsuccessful attempt to start an armed uprising.

The Russian forces extended the military intervention to Chechnya, following a series of bombings in residential areas of Moscow and other parts of Russia which killed almost 300 and for which the Russian Government accused the Chechen separatists.

21st Century: The conflict continues

2000: Then acting President Vladimir Putin declared victory in the battle for Grozny. This bolstered the morale of Russian soldiers, but the fighting between two sides continued, especially in the south of the region.

Russia is internationally condemned for its human rights record in Chechnya, both for indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets.

2003: A referendum approves a new constitution giving Chechnya more autonomy but stipulating that it remained firmly a part of Russia. The head of the pro-Moscow administration, Akhmad Kadyrov, is elected president.

2004: Mr Kadyrov is killed in Grozny stadium in a massive bomb blast in May. Five months later Alu Alkhanov is elected the new president of Chechnya. He is the preferred choice of Moscow.

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