A unique look at Chechnya’s remarkable transformation. This war-torn country has been replaced with a brand-new state where soaring skyscrapers and luxury malls have erased all traces of conflict. Behind the gleaming facade, the bereaved live in terror, oppression and uncertainty about the fate of their vanished loved ones.
In just a few years, Chechnya has undergone a complete metamorphosis. Minefields and piles of rubble have been replaced with broad avenues, huge skyscrapers and luxury boutiques. These remain virtually empty, because few people have enough money to shop there. It is virtually impossible to see that not so long ago, a bloody war raged here.
However, the consequences of this devastating battle live on in the hearts and minds of the bereaved who saw their children, spouses and parents disappear. Many of them have no clue where their loved ones are, let alone have a grave to visit. However, talking about the past is taboo. The new avenues carry the names of powerful rulers Vladimir Putin and Ramzan Kadyrov. On the birthdays of the great leaders, the people are ordered outside: everyone is forced to participate in the parade. Anyone who refuses will get fired, or worse.
Journalist Manon Loizeau has been reporting on the Chechen conflict for many years. After the war, she returned to a place she didn’t recognize: a country in a state of ‘complete schizophrenia’, its once proud people silenced by Putin.