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Bitter Days for Chechnya
JULY 2005
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In Learn More the National Geographic magazine team shares some of its best sources and other information to expand your knowledge of our featured subjects. Special thanks to the Research Division.

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Did You Know?Did You Know?

For the past decade filmmakers, photographers, and writers have recorded the horrors of the Chechen wars. In 2004 Finnish director Pirjo Honkasalo won international acclaim for her documentary The Three Rooms of Melancholia, which follows young cadets at a Russian military academy, a woman's attempts to care for dozens of war orphans in Groznyy, and the psychological trauma of Ingushetiya's refugee camps. Heidi Bradner's photographs reveal the lives of teenage soldiers and broken families trying to survive in the devastated landscapes of the North Caucasus. And in some of the most moving writing about the conflict, Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya portrays a lawless land where children wander without homes or families—and even without names. Each new story brings to light the burdens borne by the youngest victims of this conflict. (See Related Links and Bibliography for more information.)
Today many international aid organizations—including the International Rescue Committee, Doctors Without Borders, Islamic Relief, UNICEF, and World Vision—are trying to bring health, education, and hope to the children of the Caucasus. A recent United Nations report records some improvement in education and basic infrastructure in Chechnya, but warns that most schools are overcrowded and lack essential books and materials. Access to food, water, sanitation facilities, and electricity is still problematic. The report also notes the need for psychological and social support, and predicts that "if no vigorous action is taken to promote tolerance and peace among the population—and particularly among the younger generations—the growing tensions may lead to conflict in the future."
—Shelley Sperry

Related Links

International Rescue Committee
Find out how to contribute to improving the quality of life for Chechnya's children through IRC projects that supply educational materials, psychological counseling, nutritional supplements, water, and emergency shelter.

Islamic Relief
Read individual stories and view a photo essay about Chechnya's tragedy. Then find out how to donate to relief programs providing food, health care, and water to displaced persons—including meals for thousands of schoolchildren.

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)
Download MSF's report about its activities in the Russian Federation—which focus primarily on the Caucasus region—and find out how to volunteer or donate to mobile clinics and health care operations in refugee camps.

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
This site provides in-depth information—including links to audio interviews and individual children's stories—about UNICEF's efforts to aid the victims of Beslan, North Ossetia.

World Vision
Find out how to sponsor relief projects in Chechnya and Ingushetiya that focus on children's welfare, including mobile health teams and the distribution of clothes, food, and other supplies to schools and kindergartens.

Heidi Bradner, Photojournalist
In several galleries on her website, photographer Heidi Bradner displays photos spanning ten years of war in Chechnya, portraying the suffering of ordinary men, women, and children, and the "lost boys" who serve in the Russian military.

Human Rights Watch: Chechnya—Renewed Catastrophe
Read about victims of human rights abuses in Chechnya and examine background information, news reports, and video interviews. Then find suggestions for taking action to help.

Institute for War and Peace Reporting: Caucasus Programme
Gain access to a network of dedicated reporters who cover the latest news from the Caucasus, plus regional profiles, maps, and photo essays on this website. The IWPR aims to "raise professional standards, heighten awareness of human rights, corruption and governance, and improve communication within a region divided by conflict and misunderstanding."

The War Through My Eyes: Children's Drawings of Chechnya
Tour a virtual exhibition of artwork created by children in Ingushetiya's refugee camps.



Gall, Carlotta, and Thomas de Waal. Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus. New York University Press, 1998.
Greene, Stanley. Open Wound: Chechnya, 1994 to 2003. Trolley, 2003.
Meier, Andrew. Chechnya: To the Heart of a Conflict. W. W. Norton, 2004.
Politkovskaya, Anna. A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches From Chechnya. University of Chicago Press, 2003.

NGS Resources

Viviano, Frank. "The Rebirth of Armenia." National Geographic (March 2004), 28-49.

Zwingle, Erla. "Crucible of the Gods." National Geographic (September 2002), 74-101.

"The Land Mine Wars." National Geographic (May 2002).

Edwards, Mike. "In Focus: The Fractured Caucasus." National Geographic (February 1996), 126-31.
Roxburgh, Angus. "Georgia Fights for Nationhood." National Geographic (May 1992), 82-111.
Hyman, Charles, et al. The Soviet Union Today. National Geographic Books, 1990.
Singer, Rolf. "Roaming Russia's Caucasus: Rugged Mountains and Hardy Fighters Guard the Soviet Union's Caucasian Treasury of Manganese and Oil." National Geographic (July 1942), 90-121.
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