When we tell people that we are going to Chechnya or Dagestan, people flinch and look at you with concern. It is true that there were two wars in Chechnya, and the city of Grozny was completely destroyed. But that happened many years ago and now the country is flourishing and is unbelievably peaceful.

The Town without a Past
The city centre of Grozny is today full of tall buildings and the sky is lit by colourful lights at night. The main street of the town, Putin Avenue, contains a row of coffee shops and restaurants, there is a huge mosque on the main square, a copy of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, while not far from there is a fully equipped theatre and a huge museum built in the style of the traditional Chechen residential towers. The markets are full of life and the modern shopping centres offer an abundant choice of goods. Everything indicates a modern, live and active city. Apart from the memorials, the only thing to remind you of the past wars, is that everything is brand new. The plaster has not long set on the walls of the houses, the asphalt on the roads is unused and the cars running them are just a few years old. It is as if the history of the city (which did not really exist before it was established at the beginning of the 19th century as a Russian military station in a region with a thousand year history), had been totally wiped out. And, in fact, it had. The two Chechen wars changed everything! The earlier, Russian population of Grozny fled and the city was repopulated by Chechens. In Russia there are few points like Grozny, where you hear hardly any Russian words spoken on the street. Of course, all the signs are in Russian and everyone speaks the language. But even if people speak in Russian with each other, they mix in Chechen words, too.

 

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