Sixteenth issue of the monthly Chechen Society Today released
PRAGUE, January 18 - The sixteenth issue of the monthly Chechenskoye obshchestvo segodnya (Chechen Society Today) has been released.
The issue opens with an account of the recent celebration in Grozny’s House of the Press of the 90th anniversary of one of the republic's oldest newspapers, Groznenskiy rabochiy (The Grozny Worker). The event was attended by prominent politicians and public figures, as well as by journalists, writers, performers and artists. Shamsail Saraliyev, the Chechen minister for national policy, press and information, conveyed a message of greetings from President Ramzan Kadyrov and read out a speech of welcome from him. The evening concluded with a concert by Chechen performers, including the eminent bass singer Movsar Mintsayev.
The Russian car manufacturer Avtovaz is planning a joint venture with the Chechen government to produce cars under the Lada brand in Chechnya. A report on this development states that the project should create 8,000 new jobs in Chechnya, and the work of the proposed plants will include parts manufacture. The article points out that the joint project was initiated back in 2006 by the then general manager of Avtovaz, Vladimir Artyakov, who was a signatory to the agreement between the Togliatti Auto Factory and the Chechen government. Mr Artyakov is now governor of Samara Oblast, and the article points to the many links between that province and the republic of Chechnya, with many young Chechens studying there with the aim of occupying leading positions in their native land as lawyers, managers, doctors, engineers, and as members of other professions.
The magazine’s “Justice and the courts” section focuses on a report on progress in the trial of two young Chechens, Umar Batukayev and Ruslan Musayev, who on May 8 this year were charged with preparing an act of terrorism in Moscow to coincide with the Victory Day celebrations on May 9. When President Ramzan Kadryov heard of the charges, he took a personal interest in the case, and as a result the pair of young men were treated less roughly than before. However, the FSB decided to name the young men's target as Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov in order to deprive them of support in Chechnya. The article considers this and other aspects of the case, and concludes that the charges are absurd - particularly where the identity of the supposed “target” is concerned.
Film critic Ruslan Karayev reviews "A Matter of Honour", a new 8-part television series by the young St Petersburg director Andrei Chernykh. The film describes the events of 1996 in Chechnya, when for a brief period the republic's capital, Grozny, was reoccupied by the forces of guerrilla leader Aslan Maskhadov. Although the Russian federal forces fled in disarray, the civil servants who pulled the strings of people's destinies remained, both in the republic and in the Kremlin. The treachery of those officials led to an untenable situation, and the film analyses the details of this political and social cul-de-sac. It was accompanied by an increasing wave of abductions and kidnappings, orchestrated by the Russian security services in conjunction with criminal elements in order to bring the incipient breakaway republic to its knees by striking at the very fabric of ordinary people's lives. The review's author ends by expressing the hope that the film will be screened in Russia, and also abroad.
The main part of the issue follows the customary pattern: a mix of articles and reports on social, cultural and sporting life. A reader's letter complains about conditions on the Grozny to Moscow rail route and the excessive fares charged, while in an adjacent article the editors give advice to readers on what steps to take if they have lost their passport. A feature on leaders in the field of trade and commerce spotlights a recent award ceremony in connection with the Chechen construction industry, and on turning the page we read about the 65th birthday of the Chechen ethnographer Said-Magomed Khasiyev.
There are articles and interviews on the subject of the current attempts being made to restore the republic's artistic life, particularly in the field of dance and music. Asked about his hopes for the future, Chechen culture minister Dikalu Muzakayev expresses the wish to create a Chechen national symphony orchestra, theatre, opera and ballet, though he admits to seeing this as a long-term project. It is also noteworthy that he gives particular emphasis to Islamic notions of morality in the performing arts, claiming that in the republic far too much attention is currently devoted to entertainment, and not enough to serious high-brow culture. This has a distinctly "Soviet" ring, paradoxically enough. A feature on a recent celebration in Moscow of the music of the Chechen composer Adnan Shakhbulatov is followed by a memoir-interview – an account by the Russian singer Iosif Kobzon of his friendship with Shakhbulatov, and a highly laudatory assessment of the latter's artistic achievement.
In shorter features, we are introduced to the first Chechen chess grand master, Adam Tukhayev. A column of particular interest discusses a new Chechen primary and secondary school that has recently opened in Moscow.
The issue’s concluding pages are largely devoted as usual to articles and texts relating to the history of Chechnya, with another chapter from Lecha Ilyasov's "Shadows of Eternity", and the concluding part of Indarbi Byzov's study of the 19th century Caucasus War and the methods used by the Russian military authorities to suppress the national cultures of the region.
The sports section contains a profile of five members of the "Daymohk" soccer team who recently visited Belgium at the invitation of the local Chechen community there. There is also the text of an open letter from "Terek Grozny" soccer fans to RFU President Valery Mutko requesting that the team be allowed to play home games at home, in Grozny. (This request has now been granted by the Chechen authorities).
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The black-and-white Russian-language publication Chechen Society Today is a joint project of Prague Watchdog and the Moscow-based Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, which is being implemented thanks to support from the US-based National Endowment for Democracy. The journal’s aim is to strengthen Chechen civil society, promote independent media in Chechnya, and provide objective information to Chechens living in Russia and Europe.
A thousand copies are published in Moscow; additional copies are printed and distributed by Prague Watchdog for Chechen exiles in Europe. In addition, a printer-friendly PDF version can be downloaded from the PW (http://journal.watchdog.cz) and CJES websites (http://chechnya.cjes.ru). Free e-mail subscription to the PDF version is also available.
Prague Watchdog welcomes proposals from both organizations and individuals for participation in this project, especially the distribution of the paper version of the journal.