Monday, May 17, 2021

Chechnya’s Housing Stock Largely Rebuilt but Not Its Factories

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 15 – Moscow and Grozny regularly post pictures of the center of the Chechen capital today to make the claim that the republic has completely recovered from the wars Russia launched against that North Caucasus republic in the past. But what neither stresses is a fateful imbalance: Chechens have rebuilt their homes, but no one has rebuilt their factories.

            The Chechens have a long tradition of working on their houses during weekends and vacations, and they have done so to a remarkable degree over the last decade. But the republic has been unable to attract investors to rebuild the factories and Ramzan Kadyrov has not used the money Moscow sends for that purpose.

            As a result, a heavily illustrated article on Zen.Yandex suggests, much of Chechnya looks just fine as far as the residences of its people are concerned; but the republic lacks the industrial economy that was its base before 1991 and shows little sign of getting it back (

            According to the article, outside investors say they are reluctant to invest because they have no idea what conditions will be like over the next 20 to 30 years, perhaps a more accurate reflection of what people really think about the future of Chechnya than those offered by Moscow and those it has installed as rulers in Chechnya itself.

            The skyscrapers Kadyrov has erected in Grozny may look impressive, but they can’t hide three things: the dominance of women because the men have been killed or forced to flee to Russia or abroad for work or to avoid arrest, the power of the teips over all aspects of life, and the massive presence of siloviki who are prepared to view any violation as separatism.

            All three things, the article says, suggest the peace in Chechnya is shakier and more deceptive than many want to believe; and it points to “the de-Russification” of the republic which means there is less glue to hold Chechnya to Russia than is the case in other non-Russian republics.

            Because that is so, it is the height of absurdity to think that Russians will soon be travelling around Chechnya the way they do around the Altai. That isn’t possible now and won’t be for a long time, perhaps ever because Chechens aren’t going to forget or forgive what the Russian invasions meant.

            “The cemeteries are a reminder of that, and even now, Chechens keep up the graves of “those who died in the war with Russia,” not exactly the image of the past the Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin want to project and one that suggests the future there is far less certain than Moscow thinks.

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