Amina – Chechen Republic Online
(March 13, 1997)
|Headquarters||Palo Alto, California|
|Key people||Albert Digaev, Founder
|Website||Amina - Chechen Republic Online|
Amina – Chechen Republic Online, popularly known as Amina.com, is a social networking website that includes information on the Chechen language and culture and photos of the First and Second Chechen Wars. It was founded on March 13, 1997 by Albert Digaev, a Chechen refugee living in the United States, as a means of communication for the disparate global Chechen diaspora community.
At its inception, it was the first website about Chechnya on the Internet, and for a while the only one. Taking its name after a well-liked Chechen girl's name, the website initially provided information, links and images about and from Chechnya, its history, people, culture and the conflict. After numerous website layout updates, the site has expanded to include online discussion boards, chatroom, photo gallery, and private email service.
Amina – Chechen Republic Online now ranks in the top 25,000 sites based on web traffic on the Internet according to the website Alexa. The website's popularity grew to such an extent that it was once closely monitored by the pro-Russian Chechen government.
The site, which allows users to write in Chechen, Russian, and English, is free to users and generates revenue from advertising including banner ads. Features of the website include Chechen Forum, Articles related to Chechnya, Chechen Photo Gallery, Chechen Chat, and Chechen Mail.
As of May 17, 2007, the Chechen Forum hosted more than 3,500 members and more than 300,000 posts. Although all forum visitors may browse among the various threads, only visitors who have created a free subscription account may be able to make forum posts, receive email notifications of replies to posts, and send and receive private messages. In late April 2007, Albert Digaev added English language registration to the Chechen Forum, to allow English speakers access and an English language thread to allow English speakers to communicate with Chechens.
The articles section includes various essays on the Chechen conflict, resources on the Chechen language, and appeals to end the war in Chechnya. Some of the articles' authors include famed Russian journalist Andrei Babitsky, Chechen Ambassador to the United States Lyoma Usmanov, and U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns. The list of articles has not been updated since February 2005.
Chechen Photo Gallery
The Chechen Photo Gallery enables users with a free subscription account to upload photos of themselves and their friends, as well as rate or comment on others' photos. Although individuals are primarily Chechens, Russians and Caucasians are well represented in the gallery as well. Sections of the gallery include Individuals, Girls, Boys, Chechen Television, Our Neighbors, People of the Arts, Children, Historical Photos, My Chechnya, and New Photos.
Chechen Chat is a free IRC service powered by the ASP.NET web application framework. Users can private message directly with other Amina.com users. This feature was recently reinstated in 2007 after going offline for several months.
Chechen Mail is a Gmail-powered service which enables users to gain access to a private email account with an amina.com domain name. When Google Apps enabled Gmail users to check their email accounts using the BlackBerry wireless handheld device, Chechen Mail users by extension gained access to this new feature. Currently, email signup requires permission from the Amina – Chechen Republic Online domain administrator.