Chechnya. Associations are clear: war, terror, destruction. Chechnya shows itself to be a symbol of Russian authoritarianism and totalitarianism. I see poor, cut-out, oppressed people, who are in vain fighting for freedom against the Moscow oppression. Chechnya is conscience pangs of Europe, which is idly looking at the law-breaking of weak, but too big Russia.
The reportage of Jonathan Littell entitled “Chechnya, The 3rd year” corrects this view only partially. It turns out, for instance, that the country (a region, actually, because Chechnya still belongs to the Russian Federation) has already been largely rebuilt. What is more, it seems, that it keeps its quite big autonomy – Chechnya is ruled by Chechen Ramzan Kadyrov. So what if he does so with an iron fist? So what if his power is undivided and uncontrolled by neither people nor other institutions? So what if “whole Chechnya belongs to him”? Moscow does not stand in his way. It is even not concerned, that Kadyrov is aiming at the revitalization of Islam with all his might. Interesting, considering that, the war against Chechens was justified as a war against terrorism. But it is not the Islamic fundamentalism, that raises concern, but “a germ of separatism”. “Faith is your case, you should be obedient and it is important” – this is how the announcement of Moscow sounds.
The most noticeable sign of totalitarianism is the attitude of authorities towards women. Polygamy is not only acceptable, but it is simply a patriotic duty in a situation, when the war caused a serious lack of men. Kadyrov is saying with astonishing frankness: “The better way for women is to be the second or the third women than to lose life”. A woman should not work, because it proves lack of appreciation of her husband’s care. He is entitled to beat her, and even kill her, if he finds her disobedient.
Obedience is the keyword to understand what is going on in Chechnya. The omnipresent corruption is absolutely acceptable as long as it does not menace the Kadyrov’s business. His subordinates can be growing rich, but not too much. And if he deems that one’s business is developing too well, he takes it away. Totally unlawfully. Feudalism. As a different world. Some other, very distant epoch. It is probably impossible to write „the 21st century”.
The war in Chechnya is over, but it is still far from the true peace.
Translation: Milena Dawidzionek