Women praying on the road facing Russian soldiers in order to stop their advance. They are holding the Chechen flag in the background. They met a column led by General Babichev who said he would not launch an assault on Chechen civilians, a move he said would violate the Russian constitution. He then ordered his tank division to take a peaceful attittude towards the population. In December 1994 Russian troops entered Chechnya in an attempt to quash the country's independence movement. Early promises of a quick victory were soon silenced as the Chechens put up fierce resistance to the Russian assault and the death toll mounted. Up to 100,000 people, many of them civilians, are estimated to have been killed in the 20 month war that followed.