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25 Oct, 2008 10:05

Chechen capital recovers from war

The capital of Chechnya, which once bore the scars of two devastating anti-terrorist campaigns during the 1990s, has almost no traces left of its violent past. Moscow is pumping billions of dollars into the reconstruction of Grozny.

Since 1994 the southern Russian republic has seen two major anti-terror campaigns.

Large parts of the capital left in ruins were a constant reminder to its residents and the world community of those turbulent years. Today it seems to be growing into a modern city, where going to the theatre or grabbing a bite to eat at a cafe is now part of everyday life again.

Now most parts of Grozny have been either restored or completely rebuilt using different architectural styles. Although reconstruction still continues, it's already possible to sit down and enjoy western European architecture in the centre of the Chechen Capital.

After a look at the new roads, buildings, shops, restaurants and theatres, it’s hard to believe that this is the capital of Chechnya – a region left devastated after years of violence.

The plan for the reconstruction of the capital Grozny stretches until the year 2020.

According to its head architect sometimes it's easier to start from scratch than to rebuild the old.

“We're working on reconstructing the city's centre, which was heavily damaged during the years of violence. Some of the buildings had to be knocked down and built again,” said Grozny’s head architect Kalmykaev Sulman. “We're also planning to construct new business centres, apartment blocks and other infrastructure.”

One of the highlights of Grozny's facelift is the newly built mosque – one of the largest in Europe, built with the help of Turkish specialists. It can accommodate up to 10,000 worshippers and has already been deemed the ‘Heart of Chechnya’.

“I remember this city when it had only one three-storey building. Later we built it into quite a beautiful place. Then the city was almost destroyed during the violence. It used to be beautiful before, but I think now it's even better,” says local resident Yakhlayev Shata.