Life in Grozny after war

A few excerpts showing life in Grozny in 2001-2002 through the eyes of photographer Thomas Dworzak – after the end of the second war in May 2000.

All photos and text belong to T. Dworzak.

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Chechnya. Grozny. March 2001.
Market.

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Chechnya. Grozny. March 2001.

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Grozny, Chechnya. February 19, 2002. One of the few remaining ethnic Russians. The 87 year-old blind woman lives with her daughter and receives no aid whatsoever. Her grandson was killed when Russian forced randomly rocketed their neighborhood late last year. She says that she feels permanently threatened by the Russian soldiers, “as they consider us as Chechens”.

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Chechnya. Grozny. Hospital March 2001.
Mother visiting her son in hospital after he was beaten up and kept in a ditch for 3 days by Russian soldiers.

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Grozny, Chechnya. 02/2002. Chechen men having a picnic in a bombed out neighborhood near Minutka square. They try to find valuable scrap metal to resell. Very few people remain living in the destroyed apartment blocks.

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Grozny, Chechnya. 02/2002. Outpatients in mostly destroyed “Republican Hospital”.

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Grozny, Chechnya. 03/2002. People living in the ruins of their houses.

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Grozny, Chechnya. 03/2002. Hospital #9. More than a dozen civilians where heavily injured when a Russian Army APC run into a bus with Chechen civilians. Reckless APC driving is a common complaint of Chechens.

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Grozny, Chechnya. 03/2002. Destruction in the city center. Nothing has been rebuilt since the two wars.

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Grozny, Chechnya. February 2002.
Side street in destroyed residential area of Oktyabrsky Rayon. Body of an unknown middle aged man who was shot by four Makarov bullets in plain daylight a day earlier. No one wants to bury him.

Grozny Chechnya after war dead man shot sniper

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Grozny, Chechnya. 03/2002. Burning oil refinery on the outskirts of town. Russian soldiers at a nearby checkpoint target practice at the abandoned factories.

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Grozny, Chechnya. 03/2002. Destruction in the city center. Nothing has been rebuilt since the two wars.

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Grozny, Chechnya. February 14, 2002. Relative showing the picture of a Chechen jobless civilian who disappeared several weeks ago. He crossed the street to see a neighbor shortly after darkness, was shot and picked up by unidentified Russian soldiers. The authorities deny any knowledge of the incident.

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Grozny, Chechnya. February 19, 2002. Chechen man who lives off digging oil in backyards. 3 days ago he was arrested and beaten unconscious by a Russian “death squad” when he wanted to cross the street in front of his home to continue drinking with a neighbor. He says what saved him was that he smelled of alcohol, a fact the “death squads” seem to appreciate. According to him, other detainees were tortured by electroshock, needles under the fingernails etc. until they admitted belonging to a rebel group. He was released the day before, has still difficulties to speak and his ears are ripped.

NOTE: He fears for his safety, only to be published with mosaic.

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Grozny, Chechnya. February 18 2002.
House of the Blind. Oktyabrsky Rayon. Totally abandoned by any sort of State Welfare, a dozen blind survivors of the wars in Grozny live together in the remains of the former “House of the Blind”. Extremely sensitive to noise, they are particularly traumatized from the shooting and bombing. Though, most say they are happy to be unable to see the destruction.

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Grozny, Chechnya. 03/2002. House of the Blind. Without any Humanitarian Aid, on a 640 Ruble = 22$ pension – a remaining dozen of blind people survive in the badly hit by the bombing “House of the Blind”. One of the blind is creating energy to shave, listen to audio book tapes and “electricity for light bulbs!!!” with a bicycle turned generator.

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Grozny, Chechnya. February 20, 2002. Barely inhabited and almost entirely destroyed neighborhood in the “Zavodskoy Rayon”. 84 year old ethnic Russian woman living in a bunker.

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Grozny, Chechnya. 20/02/2002. 25-year-old Chechen shooting heroin in the backyard of a neighbors house. Uncontrolled gas burns in most houses as the pipes haven’t been fixed since the bombings. Since the wars and the “situation without exit” the number of young men taking drugs is exploding. To finance his habit (50 Rubels a shot, bought at one of the many neighborhood dealers) he steals and collects valuable metals in the ruins for resale. Almost all of the youngsters like him still live with their families.

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Grozny, Chechnya. February 2002.
25 year-old Chechen drug-addict preparing a shot of heroine in a friend’s car. Drug addiction among young men is on a skyrocketing rise since the wars. Mostly, heroin is easily available (50 Rubels, = 1,5 $ a shot).

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Grozny, Chechnya. February 17, 2002.
Chechens collecting bricks in the rubble of the bombed out Zavadskoij Rayon. For 400 bricks they recieve 100 Rubels (= 3,5 $).

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Grozny, Chechnya. 02/2002. Trauma ward at hospital #9. Women with bullet or shrapnel wounds after they where shot at in a bus and in their home by Russian forces. Random shootings are common.

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Grozny, Chechnya. 02/2002. Anti-war graffiti in the hallway of a destroyed house.

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Grozny, Chechnya. 02/2002. Former Cold-War nuclear shelter inhabited by a Russian family. They have been missing for several days.

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Grozny, Chechnya. February 2002.
Mother and uncle of a year old 24 Chechen girl who blew herself and the former Russian Army Commander of Urus-Martan, up in a Kamikaze attack. Commander was responsible for the death of her husband and 2 brothers. After the attack, Russian Forces confiscated all of the girl’s belongings.

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Grozny, Chechnya. February 2002.
Street in destroyed part of the city.

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Grozny, Chechnya. February 2002.
Street in a less destroyed part of the city.

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Grozny, Chechnya. February 2002.
Checkpoint near a police station. Pro-Russian Chechen police. There are 48 checkpoints of all sorts of Russian or pro-Russian police, army, and interior ministry troops around the town.

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Grozny, Chechnya. February 2002.
Bazaar, burning gas pipeline, in the Microrayon district, the only part of town where residence sometimes dare to venture out at nightfall.

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Grozny, Chechnya. February 2002.
One of the few remaining ethnic Russians. The 80 years old woman lives in the basement of her bombed out house.

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Grozny, Chechnya. February 2002.
Chechen man, 52 years old, showing his torture marks. He was just released from custody with the Russian Forces. During a 10 days “Zatshiska” – a cleaning up or mobbing up operation, the village Stari Atagi was entirely sealed, and house to house searched, conducted by different groups of the Russian forces. Interior Ministry, Army, FSB, … The man was arrested, beaten unconscious and mock executed several times, apparently because he bears a name similar to a “Wahabbi Rebel”. After 5 days held in a ditch he was released, his passport confiscated. All in all, about 26 men had a similar faith, 4 villagers where killed in a shootout, apparently rebels, and 2 FSB soldiers where ambushed.

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Grozny, Chechnya. 02/2002. Hospital #9. Pro-Russian Chechen militia where shot at at a Russian checkpoint without obvious reason. Injured in the foot.

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Grozny, Chechnya. 02/2002. Some few remaining civilians live in the ruins of their houses. Zavadskoy Rayon. There is no running water or electricity. “Lijudi” (translated to “people”) written on the door in a vain hope to have the mercy of looting Russian soldiers.

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Ingushetia, Chechnya. February 2002. Home for retarded youngsters and kids where refugees/patients from Grozny live. Between 200 and 400 000 Chechens fled to neighboring Ingushetia since the 2nd Chechen war started in 1999. Chechens and Ingush where formerly in one Republic, their language is very similar.

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Grozny, Chechnya. 03/2002. Home of the elderly and mentally ill “Katajama”. Poster of Malik Saidulayev. Poor widow and her 3 kids moved in with the patients.

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A chechen widow moved in the sanatorium with her children

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Grozny, Chechnya. 03/2002. Patients waiting in the Respublikansky Hospital – which is devoid of electricity.

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Grozny, Chechnya. 03/2002. Checkpoint of the pro-Russian Chechen militia, OMON. There are currently 48 permanent check-points in the city and regularly mobile ones.

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Grozny, Chechnya. February 2002.
Body of a Chechen man who worked in the Traffic Police Department of the Pro-Russian Chechen militia and was shot in his car. The man had been missing for several days. After he had left home one afternoon, his car was found bloodstained near a Russian checkpoint in town. The authorities denied any knowledge of the incident. A search party of relatives finally found the body, beaten to death, in a oil well-dump on the road to the main Russian military base Khankala.

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Chechnya. February, 2002. Russian conscript guards a site where deminers blow up mined houses.

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Akhmad Kadyrov museum – Grozny, Chechnya

Akhmad Kadyrov museum is a recently built museum (2010) in the heart of Grozny, Chechnya. It hosts a memorial dedicated to the first president of Chechnya Akhmad Kadyrov (father of current Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov), a war monument honoring Russia’s victory in World War Two (the Great Patriotic War), an exhibition of (relatively new) paintings and other temporary exhibitions.

During the war, all the artistic heritage of Chechnya was destroyed. Museums, universities , cultural centers – all were leveled to the ground by the Russian forces, causing irreparable damage to Chechen national treasure,  cultural heritage and educational system.

 

However, the museum ranks third in Russia when it comes to construction and interior design. Occupying a surface of 14 hectares, it was built with marble imported  from Spain and Iran, and crowned with a half a ton chandelier – which is covered with 20 kg of gold and over 750 light bulbs. In the center of it – an inscription says “Justice will prevail”.

The memorial dedicated to the 1941 Great Patriotic War fought by Soviets against Nazis comes as a contraindication – considering that 3 years later Stalin deported the entire population of Chechnya and Ingushetia to Siberia and Central Asia under the unfounded accusations of Nazi cooperation.

Grozny before war, Chechnya

Old pictures of Grozny, the city that was named “the most destroyed city on earth” by the United Nations after the two Russian wars.
Below is an article on what Grozny used to be

There were parks in Grozny, before the war

“Dispatches from Chechnya” – report on the damage done to the infrastructure of Chechen culture and education system based in Grozny (Chechen State University was one of the leading institutions of higher education in the North Caucasus )

Dispatches from Chechnya

Grozny was one of the most important oil centers of the Soviet Union. Russian oil giant Rosneft has taken over the business – even if in Chechnya’s detriment.

For Grozny during war click here

War in Grozny, Chechnya

In 2003, United Nations declared Grozny “the most destroyed city on earth”, as the entire city infrastructure was destroyed and no building was left intact (literally).

Mark Irkali on Grozny, 2002 - "Some little girl had a little paper doll, something that someone made for her. He asked what it was and she held it up, but it dropped, and it fell into a hole where the street has been blown clear down to the sewer. He was down on his knees looking for it. Then he's trying to squeeze down to climb into the sewer and get it.

Mark Irkali on Grozny trip with a friend, 2002 – “Some little girl had a little paper doll, something that someone made for her. He asked what it was and she held it up, but it dropped, and it fell into a hole where the street has been blown clear down to the sewer. He was down on his knees looking for it. Then he’s trying to squeeze down to climb into the sewer and get it. I’m trying to stop him, the girl is crying and I’m seeing that people are starting to notice us, looking over and wondering why this girl is crying. He is about half-way down and I’m looking around and shaking his leg, going, “Man, man, come on, we’ll do something for her, don’t do this, people are staring.” He pushes me and I look and he’s got tears in his eyes, he’s saying “that’s the last fucking thing she’s got and she lost it. Fuck you, I’m going to get it.”

Grozny went through two wars. If the first war caused massive damage, the second war destroyed it completely. Despite Putin’s declaration on only terrorist hideouts being attacked, reality showed that the entire city was razed to the ground.

In December 1994, despite strong opposition to war, Russian president Boris Yeltsin ordered his troops to launch assaults on Grozny.

The Chechen Air Force (as well as the republic’s civilian aircraft fleet) was completely destroyed in the air strikes that occurred on the very first few hours of the war in December 1994.

For pictures before war click here

Article on what Grozny used to be – There were parks in Grozny, before the war

Dispatches from Chechnya – report on the damage done to the infrastructure of Chechen culture and education system based in Grozny. (Chechen State University was one of the leading institutions of higher education in North Caucasus )

Grozny was also one of the most important oil centers of the Soviet Union. Today, Russian oil giant Rosneft has taken over the business, in Chechnya’s detriment.

Some of the pictures belong to photographer Stanley Greene. In the interview below, he talks about his experiences in Chechnya.

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Footage of Grozny ruins during war (fighting can be heard in background)