Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chechnya’s capital rises from the ashes, atop hidden horrors

Russia’s general policy toward mass graves in Chechnya is to leave them undisturbed. There are 57 known but unopened mass graves in the republic of Chechnya, which is about the size of Connecticut. Countless smaller grave sites lie beneath the capital’s parks, courtyards and basements.

In Grozny, bulldozers, cranes and men with jackhammers work around and sometimes over graves from two wars, the first from 1994 to 1996 and the second that began in 1999. (The fighting now is sporadic and small in scale.) The city, besieged, bombarded and depopulated by war, has now become the scene of a frantic, oil-financed rebuilding effort. And the authorities point proudly to gleaming new buildings as symbols of the peace.

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