Every August, Russians wait for history, and they are rarely disappointed. On August 31, 1996, Russia wrapped up its disastrous first war against the breakaway Chechen Republic. The ceasefire wouldn't last long, because exactly three years later, on August 31, 1999, a bomb ripped through a Moscow shopping mall, killing one and injuring forty. It would be the first of five bombings--and hundreds of casualties--and it would trigger the second, still somewhat unfinished war in the region. On August 17, 1998, the Russian government devalued the ruble and defaulted on its debt, ushering in a long and painful economic crisis. On August 12, 2000, the Kursk nuclear submarine sank in the Barents Sea.
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