Monday, 4 April 2011

North Caucasus Journal- Day 5- Nalchik back to Grozny

Today the FSB finally let us film a checkpoint and sent someone with us to make sure they let us. As a result, rather than the torrent of abuse we received last time we tried, we managed to film some good shots of the police at work. We then set off back for Grozny to talk to some of the leading figures at the local football club Terek Grozny. They recently hired Ruud Gullit as their coach. A nearby Dagestani team has signed Roberto Carlos. The rationale being pursued by local administrations, funded and supported by the Kremlin is to distract the region’s angry young men into sport. To a degree it might be working. As a local official said, when the team first went for training in a nearby town people stood and stared on the roadside. They didn’t even know Chechnya had a football team. When they saw it, people realised the decade of bloody war the territory had been through must over. Well, open fighting at least.

On our way back to Grozny we were shafted by the Ingush police again, 200 roubles this time. No car check; they just wanted the money. What a way to fight terrorism.

When we arrived in Grozny again it was a hazy and busy afternoon. Looming up through it all was the city's central mosque, one of the largest in Europe, built under Ramzan Kadyrov’s reign. It’s a strange symbol for a territory supposedly resisting the creation of a Caucasus emirate. It might be a supremely cunning long term plan of Ramzan's to bring about a Muslim state subtly. But one thing that is striking is the sheer number of mosques springing up all over Chechnya. The future of the region will be intimately linked to the type of Islam being imbibed in them.

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