Friday, July 04, 2008

In between everything else, I'm reading Olga Allenova's book about the Second Chechen War (in Russian). Actually, it's a collection of her stories published in Kommersant over the years of Putin's rule, interspersed with rather brief personal reflections. A heartbreaking reminder, if anyone needs any, of what this period has been about.

I've been following Allenova's work in Kommersant-Vlast for a while now, and am very happy she's got a book out. Her Chechnya stories remind me of those by Anna Politkovskaya, and she is as courageous and as human as Politkovskaya was. Only much younger: she was born in 1976.

I also wish I were reading Allenova's reportage right after I finished Yulia Latynina's thinly veiled fiction about the North Caucasus mess.


I was reading Allenova's book at the playground today, while Marta was busy in the sandbox. A pregnant woman sat down on the bench next to me, to watch her son play nearby, and soon we were talking about kids with her, eventually moving on to other subjects.

It turned out she grew up in Grozny, left the city in 1994, shortly before the nightmare began, but her parents have lived through the first war. She identified herself as an ethnic Russian, even though later she told me of her Ukrainian grandfather, who was born in Vinnytsya region, and of her relatives in Kyiv. She said she was trying hard to stay away from all things Muslim, because of what she and her family had been through in Grozny. She sounded determined in a weary kind of way when she talked about it. She didn't sound hateful, the way many Russian bloggers do. She blamed human rights folks for not being there for Chechnya's "Russians" - but didn't mention the Russian state's similar neglect. She asked me about Yanukovych and laughed when I told her about his favorite Russian poet, Anna Akhmetova.


  1. Sounds very interesting...
    How come Allenova's work is not censured, when all of Politkovskaya's was?

    Talking about history seen through the eyes of women, there should be upheaval in Ukraine : have you noticed ex-hostage Ingrid Betancourt now braids her hair just the way your Yulia does...Plagiarism...

    One observation : the result is much less glamorous
    One question : should we infer Betancourt has similar dreams?