“Chechnya has won, Russia has won”. Perhaps the losers are the many Chechens who chose to go into exile as a matter of honour. Those who stayed have returned to a normal life and can satisfy their basic needs after several decades of hardship. Such a “normal” life, however, requires them to make major compromises and often hold their tongues.
Today Chechnya is an autonomous republic in the Russian Federation, subdued and pacified by force after centuries of rebellion against Moscow. Putin protégé president Ramzan Kadyrov holds absolute power and has almost limitless support from Moscow.
Davide Monteleone is well acquainted with the complex, tor- mented life of ordinary Chechens. He has crisscrossed the coun- try, stopping in cities and villages, mountains and forests. This book contains neither majestic city- or country-scapes nor blood- spattered depictions of violence. Monteleone rather shows us the otherwise invisible: the stifling atmosphere, the regnant hel- plessness and fear, the young women resigned to their fate, and the elderly, whose traditional authority has diminished in the fa- ce of Kadyrov’s brutes.
But Monteleone’s photographs also depict hope. Chechens are a mountain people who have endured wars and other atrocities for centuries, including the collective deportation to the arid Kazakh steppes and to Siberia under Stalin in 1944. They know how to re- sist, and they know when to wait. Strong by nature, they are ab- le to laugh even amidst adversity, and they sustain a birthrate that repopulates the land and replaces the dead. They know per- fectly well that this dictatorial regime will fall sooner or later, as it has in other Muslim countries.«Galia Ackerman
“Thank you Ramzan, thank you Russia” for everything. “Spasibo”
Documentary about Chechnya today, winner of the 4th Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award