Grozny looks like shit - I've seen photos and footage. They don't show much of it here (or anywhere) - but in the little that you get to see there're way too many ruined buildings and men in uniform. There is some imitation of life there - not just the election but even a university with some totally charming guys studying there.
Much of Russia looks like shit, too. The difference between war-torn Grozny and certain small towns elsewhere in Russia wouldn't be as striking as, say, between Baghdad and a town in the U.S. Midwest.
There are many Chechens living in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia, and in the West. A few are very very rich but most live quietly and poorly, just like most other people. If you ask me, the rich ones should go back to their homeland and kick some asses: it's all about money, not independence.
The newly-elected Chechen president looks and sounds a lot nicer than the recently murdered Kadyrov: I'll feel genuinely sorry for him when they blow him up, too. I didn't feel sorry for Kadyrov, he was a thug. His son is even worse: thank God he's only 27 and couldn't run for president after his father died. I did feel terribly sorry for all those people who gathered on May 9 at that stadium to watch the Victory parade and ended up nearly killed: all those beautiful skinny mamas, dressed up and made up, who came to show off their beautiful teenage daughters. For them it wasn't imitation of life - it was life, a holiday, and some schmucks made a mess of it. Fuck independence.
Now, North Osetia isn't populated by Russians. Daghestan (where they seized a hospital in 1999 - was it 1999?) has too many ethnicities and languages to count and most people there aren't Russian either. It's like killing those 12 Nepali construction workers in Iraq. What for? Why?
Many Russians think there's no war going on in Chechnya. That's what they are being told - and they are either too dumb or too tired and underfed (or overfed and drunk) to bother to think. Many Russians think Daghestan is some foreign country, populated by all those Muslims. A cab driver yesterday said: "Fucking Muslims." And I had to go into explaining the complexity of it all to him: the Cohen plus Hamas kind of equation.
There's some oil in Chechnya. There's money that's allocated for reconstruction but gets stolen by the fat assholes, never reaching Chechnya. Read Anna Politkovskaya's book for that. Also, there's been only one precedent so far when part of the country proclaimed independence and was recognized by the rest of the world: Bangladesh in 1971. Maybe I'm wrong here, though.
Mishah's home from work - maybe I'll write more later - but now I need a hug real bad.
P.S. I forgot to mention the Chechen soccer team, Terek - those guys rock! They've had some very unlikely victories lately and are becoming quite famous. The fans who accompany the team - to Moscow and to Poland, among other places - are very sweet, too. Not the types who'd take hostages or blow themselves up.