Amandine Regamey

The legend of women snipers who allegedly fought against Russian forces in Chechnya was first fueled by war stories among Russian troops before Russian authorities officially embraced and promoted the narrative. It was eventually disseminated in society through movies and literature. This legend offers insights into the war narratives of Russian troops about the war in Chechnya and its portrayal in Russian society more generally. It consists of different intertwined layers that vary in importance and significance, all of which contribute to its success. Drawing on the figure of the « Wight Tight », mythic women mercenaries from the Baltic States, the legend portrays Russia as a victim of an aggression thus legitimizing the war in Chechnya. Additionally, the legend recounts the experience of Russian soldiers, therefore providing grounds for Russian political and military leaders to stigmatise women and justify the violence committed against civilians. Finally, it allows men serving in Chechnya to construct a male identity based on the war experience, which is able to oppose the imaginary threats of these female enemies. The text addresses also the way war legend can help understand armed conflict, and the way scattered sources and questionable testimonies can be turned into an object of research.