Since the end of the first war in 1996, the definition of the Chechen national identity has been at stake in a top-level competition. I argue that four main trends – the separatists, the radical Islamists, the traditionalists and the pro-Russians – are in competition. Each of them produces its own narrative, based on a specific rendering of history. Using a constructivist approach, I address the influence of an all-out war context on social interactions, self-perception and categorisation by the others. I then examine the narratives in competition. I finally show how history and traditions have become political weapons in the struggle for power and legitimacy by opposing self-proclaimed elites promoted by wars.