Svetlana Alieva (born 1936), a philologist by training, experienced mass ethnic deportation staged by the Communist regime in the USSR (1948). In 1991, she published the book ‘The way it was’–uncovering the truth about the nationality-motivated repression in the USSR. Since 1992, she has been engaged in the anti-war movement, cooperating with a range of NGOs in the Caucasus region. Her activities have been aimed at putting an end to the ethnic conflict in North Ossetia (1992) and to the Russian-Chechen wars (1994-1996/1999-2001).
Svetlana Alieva was only 12, in 1948, when she was brought to the special headquarters of the Nkvd (later to become the KGB), where she was charged with treason against the motherland and forced to write a ‘confession.’ She was being repressed simply because her father was an ethnic Karachaev. At that time, the Soviet regime was staging mass repression against this Caucasian nation. The personal tragedy intertwined with the tragedy of the whole people affected her for many years. Because of the stress, experienced during the interrogation sessions, she afterwards suffered from speech neurosis and trembling hands. After Gorbatchev announced Glasnost in the middle of the 1980s, Svetlana initiated independent research on the nationality-motivated repression in the USSR. This resulted in the book ‘The way it was’–this book, published in 1991, is dedicated to the repression conducted against the Caucasian peoples. Her bitter personal memories, as well as many documents of the epoch disclosing the truth about the deportation of entire ethnic groups from their native territories in the USSR, are revealed therein. Probably these biographical elements have shaped her character and her yearning for truth and justice. When the mass murders and ethnic cleansing of the Ingush population were committed in October and November 1992 in North Ossetia (a Caucasian republic in the Russian Federation), it was only natural for Svetlana to fight to protect the rights of the victims of this conflict. The Russian-Chechen war, which soon followed the events in North Ossetia, led to her founding the NGO Soyuz zhenshchin repressirovanykh narodov Severnogo Kavkaza (The Union of Women of Repressed Peoples of the North Caucasus) and becoming actively engaged in the antiwar movement.
Soyuz zhenshchin repressirovanykh narodov Severnogo Kavkaza (The Union of Women of Repressed Peoples of the North Caucasus) Miezhdunarodnaya pravozashchitnaya assambleya (The International Assembly for Human Rights)