Abrek is a Caucasian term. Origin from Ossetian language (Abræg - Bandit ). In Chechen (Obarg) or Ingush (Ebarg) the word abrek means as "avenger", in Circassian or Karachay the word means "brave man". Prior to Russian invasion into the Caucasus, and following Islamization of the North Caucasians in the 16th to 19th centuries, the majority of the people of the North Caucasians were Pagans, although some were Christians. Once it was used for a person who vowed to avoid any pleasures and to be fearless in fight for the sake of the God.
An abrek renounced himself from any contact with friend and relatives. Abrek lifestyle also included a lonely life in the unexplored wilderness and praying.
The word abrek was used as propaganda to and the example for the anti-Soviet guerrillas at the post-war North Caucasus, as well as for all illegals. These abreks were widely popularized as the defenders of the motherland and paupers by the Caucasians. Becoming aged, abreks of the West Caucasus usually devote themselves to beekeeping. Majority of the East Caucasian ones were killed by the Russians.
The Chechens and Ingush habitually raided Russian interests. Primary Chechen targets were the Cossacks who occupied the lowlands, which were previously owned by Chechens. Chechens generally failed to see the distinction between Russian and Cossack, and to this day they may be used as synonyms. Primary targets for the Ingush arbeks were Ossetians and Cossacks, because of the proximity of the Georgian Military Road, a major road network connecting Russia and Georgia. Where much of the Russian trade, banking, and mail services in the Caucasus were done.
Both hatred of the Russian oppressors and the need to either fill the mouths of hungry children and to regain lost lands played a role. The Chechen raiders, known as abreks, were the focal point of this conflict and are almost symbolic of the two different viewpoints. The Russian view of the abreks is that they were simple mountain bandits, a typical example of Chechen barbarism (in contrast to Russian "civilization", as the colonizers implicitly assumed the inherent superiority of their culture). They were, however, depicted as men of honor by some Russian authors. The Chechen view is that they were valiant heroes, much like Robin Hood. As Moshe Gammer points out in his book Lone Wolf and Bear, Soviet ideology fell somewhere in between the two views, and notably, one such abrek, Zelimkhan, was made a Chechen hero.
After the establishment of the Soviet power, abreks continued the fight against oppressors, for the most part in Chechnya. The Chechen abreks unleashed the rebellions of 1920-21, 1929–31, 1931-1939, and the last in 1940-44, that led to the deportation. The last anti-Soviet Chechen abrek was killed 28 March 1976 at the age of 70.
- Zelimkhan Gushmazukayev - the most prominent Chechen abrek
- Khasukha Magomadov - Chechen abrek, killed by KGB
- Buzurtanov - Ingush abrek who killed Russian viceroy to Ingushetia colonel Mitnik. Executed by Russian communists on the orders of Chernoglaz.
- Uzhakhov - Ingush abrek who killed Soviet Communist leader of Ingushetia Chernoglaz. Executed by Russian communists.
- Sulom-Beck Sagopshinski - Ingush abrek and a close friend of Zelimkhan Gushmazukayev
- Akhmed Khuchbarov - Ingush abrek, killed by NKVD
- Laisat Baisarova - Ingush woman-sniper who killed scores of Russian soldiers and NKVD officers 1944-1991. Never killed or captured. Currently lives in Chechnya.
- Gammer, Moshe. Lone Wolf and Bear. Page 117.
- Magomadov Biography