Russia bans movie on Stalin deportations of Chechens

Quick reminder: Between 1939-1945, Stalin carried out massive deportations of Estonians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Finns, Romanians, Ukrainians, Poles, Germans, Crimean Tatars, Balkars, Karachay, Digors (from Ossetia) and the entire populations of Chechnya and Ingushetia – numbering 7-8 million people (although the numbers could be higher). Half of them died due to hunger, cold, lack of medical care, or simply because they were forced to “work to death”.

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Source – Reuters News

MOSCOW: Russia has refused to permit the release of a film about the mass deportations of entire ethnic groups on Stalin’s orders during World War II, calling it anti-Russian and a falsification of history.

Russia-bans-film Stalin-deportations-Chechens Siberia soviet

The historical drama shot in Chechnya details how the Soviets forcibly deported the whole Chechen nation and the related Ingush group — half a million people — from their homeland in the North Caucasus to Central Asia in the winter of 1944, accusing them of lacking loyalty to the state.

A culture ministry official condemned the film as a “historical falsification” in a letter shown to AFP by the film’s scriptwriter and producer, Ruslan Kokanayev.

“We consider the film will promote ethnic hatred,” wrote Vyacheslav Telnov, director of the ministry’s cinema department, in the letter in response to a request for a release certificate.

Titled “Ordered to Forget”, the film was intended to mark the 70th anniversary of the deportations this year. The culture ministry, which licenses cinema releases, singled out a massacre depicted in the film in which 700 people were burnt to death in the Chechen mountain village of Khaibakh in 1944.

The ministry said it had searched three Russian state archives including the files of the NKVD security forces that carried out the deportations and Stalin’s personal files.

 “As a result of the investigation, no documents were discovered proving the fact of the mass burning of residents,” the ministry said.

“This allows us to conclude that claims of this ‘event’ are a historical falsification.”

An advisor to Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, Larisa Khon, told the Kommersant daily the ministry had not taken a final decision on the film and would carry out a further expert assessment. The ministry did not respond to a request for comment from AFP.

Chechnya deportations atrocities war crimes movie russia

 ‘A generally accepted fact’

But Alexander Cherkasov of rights group Memorial told AFP the Khaibakh massacre “is considered a generally accepted fact.”

“On February 23 (1944), snow fell in the mountains and it was difficult to move the people out on foot. They brought out the men, but set fire to those who could not walk,” Cherkasov said. “It is only possible to argue about the numbers of the dead.”

The ministry “apparently acted on the principle: let’s not get ourselves into trouble,” Cherkasov said.

The film’s makers were taken aback by the decision. “I didn’t expect it because we were sure we’d get a distribution licence, because these facts are known,” Kokanayev said by telephone from the Chechen capital Grozny.

“I intend to contest this ban,” Kokanayev said. “We will go to court and show that we are in the right.” The history graduate from Chechen State University in Grozny also denied that the film could incite ethnic hatred of Russians. “The film can’t be anti-Russian because it doesn’t say one nation killed another nation,” he said. “Some Russians behaved well towards those deported.”

Russia under President Vladimir Putin has increasingly taken on the mantle of the Soviet Union and prides itself on its victories while downplaying the millions of deaths under Stalin’s forced industrialization, collectivization and prison camps.

Putin has voiced opposition to debate on history and is overseeing the creation of a single history textbook series to be used by all schools.

The film is a “full-length feature film, the first Chechen film,” said Kokanayev. Unusually for a movie maker, the 52-year-old works as the head of a municipal district in Chechnya.

The film was financed by “private investors in Grozny and Moscow,” he said. “We didn’t have any financing from the (state) budget.” It stars several acclaimed actors including Roza Khairullina, who last year won best actress at Russia’s prestigious Golden Mask theatre awards.

The film’s makers have submitted it to a number of film festivals both in Russia and abroad, including the Moscow International Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival.

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Read more about the 1944 “Deportations”

 Testimonies

Salman Dudayev was in the trenches of Stalingrad when he was told he was being exiled on charges of helping the invading Nazi army

Mukhazhar Dzhabrailova was the sole survivor in her family

Other video testimonies

Crimeans
Romanians
Poles

Children of war

Chechnya North Caucasus chechen children Grozny war 5

During the two recent Russian wars, humanitarian help was non-existent in Chechnya. Thousands of children died, others lacked proper medical care, all the children were left severely malnourished and many remained with physical and/or mental scars of war. According to the UN, Chechnya is still one of the most heavily land-mined countries in the world; Russia expelled all international landmine clearing experts for inexplicable reasons.

At present, North Caucasus has the largest youth population in Russia and at the same time the biggest unemployment rate (over 50%).

In the following video, Chechen children talk about life during war. 

 

Children of war victims Chechnya people Russia North Caucasus

Chechnya North Caucasus cehchen children people Grozny war 4

 

Chechnya North Caucasus chechen children Grozny war 47

Collecting bricks from the bombed out buildings was the only way to make money long time after the war. For 400 bricks, Chechens received 3 dollars.

The story a young Grozny woman who tried to survive by collecting bricks together with her children Women of Grozny – Elza

Vedensky, Chechnya

Vedensky district is situated in the southeast of Chechnya. In Vedensky you can find “the pearl of Caucasus” – Kezenoy-am lake (Blue lake), the biggest lake in North Caucasus. On the way to Kezenoy-am there are several old settlements – Karachoy, ancient Khoi, Kazenoy fortress, Makazhoy the old land of Cheberloy clans – ” the land of mountain-dwellers”.

Makazhoy Nakh tower Cheberloy clan Chechnya Kazenoyam North Caucasus people

Caucasus mountains Vedensky Chechnya landscape road to Kezenoyam lake

Caucasus mountains river Vedensky Chechnya landscapes

Chechnya mountains Caucasus mountains river to Kezenoyam Vedensky

Caucasian goats river Vedensky Chechnya mountains

North Caucasus mountains Vedensky Chechnya landscape

Mountain road Chechnya Caucasus mountains

Mountain road Chechnya Caucasus mountains

Caucasus mountains Vedensky Chechnya landscapes 1

Caucasus mountains road to Kezenoyam lake Chechnya mountains Caucasus landscapes

Caucasus mountains Vedensky Dargo village Chechnya landscapes

Soldiers near Karachoy

Soldiers near Karachoy

Mountain road between Kharachoy - Kazenoyam lake

Mountain road between Kharachoy – Kazenoyam lake

 

Kharachoy village is one of the main stopovers on the way to Kezenoy-am lake. It is an old ancestral village and place of birth of Abrekov Zelimkhan. Like every old village, it had its own watchtower which was destroyed during the 1990’s wars . A symbolical tower was rebuilt in 2012.

The village was in the way of intense fighting during the 1st and 2nd Russian war but it was spared from destruction.

road Kharachoy village Chechnya North Caucasus

Kharachoy Chechnya landscapes North Caucasus

Kharachoy Chechnya North Caucasus

Kharachoy village Chechnya North Caucasus mountains

Karachoy village Chechnya landscape Caucasus mountains

Kharachoy watchtower Chechnya North Caucasus

Kharachoy watchtower

Caucasus mountains Kharachoy village Chechnya

North Caucasus mountains Kharachoy mosque village Chechnya landscapes

Caucasus mountains view over Kharachoy village Chechnya mountains

Caucasus mountains view over Kharachoy village Chechnya

Caucasus mountains Kharachoy mosque Chechnya North Caucasus

Abrekov Zelimkhan monument

Abrekov Zelimkhan monument

Abrekov Zelimkhan monument

Abrekov Zelimkhan monument

Abrekov Zelimkhan monument in Kharachoy Chechnya

chechen girls Kharachoy Chechnya North Caucasus people

watchtower Kharachoy Caucasus mountains Chechnya North Caucasus

mountain road Kharachoy Chechnya North Caucasus mountains

mountain road Caucasus mountains Kharachoy Chechnya North Caucasus

mountain road Kharachoy village Chechnya North Caucasus landscapes

Kharachoy village Chechnya North Caucasus

view Kharachoy village Chechnya North Caucasus mountains

Caucasus mountains Kharachoy village Chechnya landscapes North Caucasus

Caucasus mountains Kharachoy village Chechnya North Caucasus

Kharachoy village Chechnya North Caucasus people chechens

Caucasus mountains Kharachoy river Chechnya North Caucasus

Caucasus mountains view over Kharachoy Chechnya North Caucasus

North Caucasus mountains Kharachoy village Chechnya North Caucasus

road to Kezenoy-am lake, Caucasus mountains

road to Kezenoy-am lake, Caucasus mountains

Caucasus mountains Vedensky Chechnya road to Kezenoyam lake

Caucasus mountains Vedensky Chechnya landscapes road to Kezenoyam lake

river flowing into Kezenoyam lake Chechnya mountains Caucasus landscapes

River Kovkhi falling to lake Kezenoy-Am

River Kovkhi falling into Kezenoy-Am lake

Caucasus mountains Vedensky Chechnya landscapes Kezenoyam lake

Kezenoy-am lake

Kezenoy-am lake

North Caucasus mountains Vedensky Chechnya landscapes Kezenoyam lake

 

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war chechen girls baloons

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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”.

Grozny Chechnya after war elderly russian woman

Grozny Chechnya after war old russian woman________________________

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war 09 North Caucasus wars

Grozny Chechnya after war 00 Caucasus wars________________________

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war ruins

Grozny Chechnya after war ruins North Caucasus wars________________________

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

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Grozny Chechnya after war 003

Grozny Chechnya after war Caucasus wars 4________________________

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

Grozny Chechnya after war North Caucasus wars

Grozny Chechnya after war chechen girl Caucasus wars

Grozny Chechnya after war chechen women________________________

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war chechen men doctor North Caucasus wars

Grozny Chechnya after war chechen man woman wounded North Caucasus wars

Grozny Chechnya after war 4 North Caucasus wars

Grozny Chechnya after war 3

Grozny Chechnya after war 2 North Caucasus wars

Grozny Chechnya after war 1 North Caucasus wars

Grozny Chechnya after war

Grozny Chechnya after war chechen women wounded North Caucasus wars________________________

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

Grozny Chechnya after war destroyed North Caucasus wars

Grozny Chechnya after war destroyed 4

Grozny Chechnya after war 090________________________

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

Grozny Chechnya after war dead man________________________

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

Grozny Chechnya after war 77

Grozny Chechnya after war 7________________________

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war missing chechen man North Caucasus wars________________________

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war beaten old man North Caucasus wars________________________

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war 14 Caucasus wars

Grozny Chechnya after war 10 North Caucasus wars

Grozny Chechnya after war 11 North Caucasus wars________________________

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war 13 Caucasus wars

Grozny Chechnya after war 070

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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.

Grozny Chechnya after war 15 Caucasus wars________________________

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war 17

Grozny Chechnya after war 100

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).

Grozny Chechnya after war chechen young man

Grozny Chechnya after war 43 Caucasus wars

Grozny Chechnya after war chechen man 2

Grozny Chechnya after war chechen man heroin Caucasus wars________________________

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 $).

Grozny Chechnya after war 09 Caucasus wars

Grozny Chechnya after war chechens North Caucasus wars

Grozny Chechnya after war 020________________________

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war chechen women hospital

Grozny Chechnya after war Caucasus wars

Grozny Chechnya after war Caucasus wars 1________________________

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

Grozny Chechnya after war Caucasus wars 2________________________

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

Grozny Chechnya after war Caucasus wars 5________________________

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war elderly chechens Caucasus wars________________________

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

Grozny Chechnya after war 00

Grozny Chechnya after war 0________________________

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

Grozny Chechnya after war 007

Grozny Chechnya after war 14d________________________

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war 005________________________

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war 006

Grozny Chechnya after war ..________________________

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war elderly russian woman 4

Grozny Chechnya after war old russian woman .________________________

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war lo

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

Grozny Chechnya after war 111

Grozny Chechnya after war Caucasus________________________

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war 07________________________

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war 06

Grozny Chechnya after war 05________________________

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war 02

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war 004 Caucasus wars

Grozny Chechnya after war mn________________________

 

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.

Grozny Chechnya after war ;

Grozny Chechnya after war .,

Funeral

Funeral

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

Grozny Chechnya after war 030

Who Killed Litvinenko?

Alexander Litvinenko

“You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed. You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty or any civilized value.”

Litvinenko’s last words to Putin. Read full letter here

Alexander Litvinenko was an FSB secret service (ex KGB) officer who accused the Russian government of ordering killings against “anyone disagreeable”, and also accused the FSB (and therefore the Russian government) of staging the Russian apartment bombings  of 1999 – which were immediately blamed on Chechens and became the excuse for another war against Chechnya.

Litvinenko died of poisoning on November 23rd 2006 in London, where he had been granted political asylum.