In many ways, post-war Chechnya has faired very well. Just about ten years ago, the extent of the republic’s destruction was compared to that of the battle for Stalingrad. Now, the capital Grozny displays glimmering skyscrapers and renovated apartment buildings, one of the largest mosques in the Western hemisphere, a modern airport and decent infrastructure. The country is much less a nest for terrorism than it was in the 1990s and in the early 2000s. That being said, this does not mean that the North Caucasian separatists turned Islamic radicals are not roaming, especially in the Caucasus Mountains of South Chechnya.
It is undeniable that from an economic point of view post-war Chechnya has become a noteworthy success story. However, the stability and the relative economic strength have not come without a price. Under the leadership of the current Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, Islam has been elevated to an official religion and its citizens are forced to venerate his cult of personality. There have been numerous reports of human rights abuses, some of them atrocious. The price of peace lies in the pact between Moscow and Kadyrov that gives the Chechen President unprecedented power to rule the republic to his own liking, provided that he guarantees that Chechnya will not challenge Russia’s territorial integrity, i.e. seek independence. Additionally, in order to insure the stability of the regime in Grozny, the Chechen capital, Russia has been paying for the majority of the republic’s budget and funding Chechnya’s post civil war reconstruction and economic development.
Photo credit: MIKHAIL GALUSTOV / LAIF / REDUX