Safety First The Ingush hate the Ossetians. The Ossetians want nothing to do with the Chechens. The Russians do not even want to cross the border with Kabardino-Balkaria or one of the other North Caucasian republics. The region is a web of prejudices, cold wars or violent conflicts that are still fresh in the collective memory. These are sometimes pragmatically handled. For example, car license plates in the Russian Federation are numbered by region. North Ossetia is number 15, Ingushetia is number 06, Chechnya number 95 and the Russian territory to the north of it is number 26. There is little chance that a car with 26 on its license plate will enter Chechnya. North Ossetia has witnessed a number of particularly bloody terrorist attacks in the past decade, carried out by Islamic separatist movements whose aim is to establish the Caucasus Emirate in the North Caucasus. The market in the capital Vladikavkaz has been bombed three times and hundreds of children, parents and teachers were held hostage and many killed at School No. 1 in nearby Beslan. License plates from neighbouring Islamic republics are regarded with suspicion. This is bad news for the Ingush living in North Ossetia who, partly for practical reasons, drive cars with 06 on the license plate. While they may be able to drive around Ingushetia unhindered, a trip to Vladikavkaz can cost them dearly. Many Ingush are listed as missing, after being arrested and transported to unknown locations by obscure militia, police or soldiers. Travelling from one republic to the other by taxi or minibus would be a logical option in this region. The republics are tiny. The journey from North Ossetia to Chechnya takes less than half an hour â€“ through Ingushetia. Even so, no taxi drivers offer this route. Instead, they call a colleague who meets you at the border. There, between the small forts and bunkers, barbed wire, barriers, police and soldiers, a car with a different license plate waits to take you to the next border. Using this disjointed form of transport, you can drive from Sochi on the Black Sea to Makhachkala on the Caspian Sea without ever having to travel in a â€˜suspicious carâ€™ from the neighbouring republic. You have to imagine the North Caucasus as a mountain range that emerges abruptly and is fragmented by hundreds of gorges,
passes, rivers and forests. The larger villages and towns lie at the foot of the mountains. Only the mountains on the horizon, the fast-flowing rivers and the occasional stray foothill serve as a reminder to most inhabitants of the North Caucasus that they actually live in the Caucasus. The violence also seems further away. But high in those mountains, in the areas impassable to most, a war is being fought every day; a war that is only reported at press conferences held by the Russian army and the FSB security service or seen on the scant videos that the separatist fighters upload to mouthpieces like kavkazcenter.com. Grainy images show men walking through a thick forest, bent over to avoid detection. Between them they carry a body wrapped in a white sheet. Some fighters remain anonymous, covering their heads with cloths. Others look straight into the camera. In the background, unaccompanied male voices can be heard singing Muslim laments. The video is titled ‘Russian aggressor kills martyr’. The body is quickly buried in a shallow grave. If the bearded men came down from the mountains and visited the cities they would see a new reality. Russia subsidises 91% of the Chechen government budget. The money is used to build new roads and renovate homes. Huge mosques dominate the cityscape, alongside skyscrapers and expensive cars. Everyone is eager for their piece of the Russian pie, and those who are most successful at getting it live in gated communities in the suburbs. Russia hopes that its billions of roubles will buy loyalty. After two Chechen wars, the current Chechen leader has opted to cooperate with Moscow, a decision which has had its own rewards. In return, however, he is expected to curb the terrorist attacks and local extremism. But nobody knows how to fight terrorism effectively. All the major shopping malls, markets, stadiums and through roads are controlled by checkpoints, luggage scanners, security guards, police with vehicle search mirrors and sniffer dogs. Chechnya’s good relations with Russia are part of the school curriculum, as is the true Islam defined by the state, not the radical ‘imported Islam’ of the Wahhabis in the mountains. As soon as it is known or suspected that a man has strayed from the path and ‘gone into the woods’, a local euphemism for joining the militant factions, his family’s house can be set on fire and relatives interrogated, tortured or kidnapped. The war on terrorism is
fought ruthlessly. The risk of this approach is that one danger – terrorist attacks – is exacerbated by another danger – the risk that children, men, cousins and uncles are hauled from their houses without warning by masked men, only to reappear alongside thousands of other Chechen citizens on the missing persons list. A simple suspicion is enough. The filing cabinets at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg are filled with cases of missing people. On the day I wrote this – Eid 2011 – nine people were killed in Grozny in a series of suicide bombings. The cars carrying the suicide bombers probably displayed the local license plates. The bombers evaded the checkpoints or bribed the police officers. They did not have to put their bombs through the luggage scanner. No dog sniffed the boot of their car. The Chechen regime immediately released the bombers’ names. The houses of their parents, friends and families will have been searched. Perhaps the houses were evacuated or burned, bearded friends tortured. Perhaps one of their cousins went into the woods.
The photos in ‘Safety First’ were damaged by an X-ray scanner in Grozny on Wednesday, 5 January 2011. We had landed at Vladikavkaz Airport the night before. On the trip to Grozny, we stop at the monument commemorating the victims of the hostage crisis in Beslan. The next day, the full rolls of film are still in my bag. On our first morning in Grozny, we go to the ice rink opened in 2009. Or rather, two ice rinks: one for girls and one for boys. We are given permission to take photographs at both of them, although not all the parents are happy about the idea. In the afternoon, we come across a dilapidated apartment building. Our local assistant refuses to go inside. The building is inhabited by people who lost their homes during the previous war. They
Colophon Safety First is the first in The Sochi Project Sketchbook Series. Photography: © Rob Hornstra / INSTITUTE. Courtesy Flatland Gallery NL | Paris. Text: © Arnold van Bruggen, Prospektor Translation: Cecily Layzell Design: Kummer & Herrman, Utrecht Print: Drukkerij Slinger, Alkmaar Print run: 750 ( all numbered ) More photostories & articles on thesochiproject.org
Thanks to: Johannes Abeling Antoine Achten David K. Adams Liesbeth van Aerssen Paul van Akkeren Jeroen Akkermans Yulan van Alphen Johannes Amm Brechje Asselbergs Neville Austin Inga Lara Baldvinsdottir Harry Barkema Peter Bartak Saskia Barth Eugenijus Barzdzius Det Bazelmans Stefan Becker Rainer Berg Nele van den Berghe Danielle van Berkel Joost M. Beunderman Mark Beunderman Marc Bierings J.J.M. van de Bijl Leontine Bijman Michel Angelo Binsbergen Eefje Blankevoort Victor Blankevoort Niels Blekemolen Jelle Bloem Kees Boef Roos Boer Maarten Boerma Flip Bool
Kris Borgerink Chloe Borkett Jack Bos Nicolaas Bot Gerwin Botterhuis Els Bovenberg Allan Bovill Enda Bowe Valentijn Brandt Patrick Bras Karel de Bree Jacco Brink Corine van den Broek Marca van den broek Gerard Broersen Anke van Bruggen Erik van Bruggen Janny en Popke van Bruggen Irma Bulkens Heleen Bulthuis Tessa Bunney Simon Burer Melchior Bussink David Campbell Stefan Canham Theo Captein Nelson Chan Jasmin Chang Francesco Chiericoni David Christensen Sally Clark Chris Clement Toon de Clerck Joerg Colberg Rutger Colenbrander Color Utrecht Giorgio Comai Jeannette Cornelisse L.J.A.D. Creyghton Benno van Daalen Nelson Daires Alessandro Dandini de Sylva Dieter Danzer Adrian Davies Laura De Marco Debras Debras Maartje Degenaar Els Dekker Hans Dekker Helga Dichte Andrea Diefenbach Emilio D’Itri Martin Dixon Stichting Doel Zonder Naam Carola van Dongen de Boer Ivan Donovan Albert Doorenbos Jochem Driest Derk Duit Marc Duponcel Tom Dziomba Chris Ecclestone
Simen Edvardsen Janus van den Eijnden Simone van Eik Anna Eikelboom Jan Pieter Ekker Simon Eliasson Hanna Emmering Frank van den Engel Michael Ensdorf Leo Erken Peter Evans Nicole Ex Asselbergs Sarah Eyre Federico Ferrari Silva Ferretti Olivier Fierens Richard Fieten Eva Flendrie Peter Flik Joeri Folman Markus Franke Klaas Fris McKenzie Funk Esther Gaarlandt Francoise Gaarlandt Kist Thijs Gadiot FreeLens Galerie Dirk Gebhardt Marijke Geelen Borker Coen Geertsema Jan van Gemert Christo Geoghegan Bertus Gerssen Carlo Gianferro Heidi de Gier Frits Gierstberg Jasper Gilijamse Roos Gils Mariette Glas Albers Jan Glerum Lia Goldman Ingo Gotz Peter Granser Henk Greven Jasper Groen Martijn Groeneveld Cocky de Groot Inge de Groot Peter Guettler Anke van Haarlem Anne Haenni Arjan van Hal Ingrid Harms Gregory Harris Neil Harrison Hans Ueli Hasler Frans van Hasselt Maarten van Heems Mieke Heeringa Chantal Heijnen Mark Henderson Hans Hendriks Marlene Herkemij Michael Hermse Arthur Herrman
accuse the government of corruption and self-enrichment and feel utterly neglected. We then visit the main square, where President Ramzan Kadyrov has erected a giant Christmas tree and brought in 20 truckloads of snow to enhance the festive atmosphere over the Christmas holidays. The only reminder of the past is the amount of security and X-ray scanners. In the evening, we visit World War II veteran Akhmed Ustarkanov (88), who has fought in four wars and been married three times. At the end of our interview, he asks whether his cousins can be photographed with him. Back at the hotel, I exchange the full rolls of film in my photo bag with empty ones. Over the following days, my bag goes through many other X-ray scanners. These do not damage any of the films.
Paul Herrmann Marloes Hiethaar Richard Higginbottom Paul ‘t Hoen Eva Hofman Emile Holba Bert van Hoogenhuyze Korrie Hopstaken Joop Hopster Joost en Joke Hornstra Luc Hornstra Maarten Hornstra Tom Hornstra Alexa ter Horst Laurien ten Houten Marjan Hoving Ewout Huibers Elisabeth van ‘t Hull Vermaas Eelco van Hulsen Michiel Hulshof Fred Icke Juliette Janssen Lucia Janssen Tom Janssen Els Jekel Michael Jellema Fred Jelsma Cornelie de Jong Mayke Jongsma Antie en Jan Kaan Roy Kahmann Karijn Kakebeeke Felix Kalkman Manja Kamman Emile Kelly Dolph Kessler Vivian Keulards Robin Klaassen Erik Klappe Martijn Kleppe Anneke Kloostra Kim Knoppers Talmon Kochheim Ria Kock Olaf Koens Ben Krewinkel Lars Krueger Sybren Kuiper Jeroen Kummer Tom Lagerberg Margaret Lansink Rindert W. Leegsma Theo Willem van Leeuwen Aernout Leezenberg Percy B. Lehning Oscar Leker Beate Lendt Andra Leurdijk Carolyn Levisson Jann Liebert Baptiste Lignel Geisje van der Linden Christine Lindo
Johan Linssen Emmy Lokin Piscaer Alma Loos Hans Loos Marijke Louppen Ron Louwerse Allard Luchsinger Menno Luitjes Celina Lunsford Femke Lutgerink Michael van Maanen Igor Malashenko Henrik Malmstrom Paul Malschaert Michael Marten Jack Martin Francesca Masarie Michael Mccraw Carol McKay Andre van der Meer Andrea Meuzelaar Gustavo Miotti C.F. van der Molen Davide Monteleone Giovanni Monti Fotolab MPP Gerda Mulder Joachim Naudts Patricia Nauta B.C.M Neggers Simon Neggers Herbert Nelissen Esther van Nes Dieter Neubert Floor Nicolas Pepijn Nicolas Pipo Nicolas Leonie van Nierop Bart Nijkamp Michiel Nijland Bram Nijssen Corinne Noordenbos Job Noordhof Giuseppe Olivieri Mieke Oostwoud Henk Otte Katrien Otten Floris van Overveld Ilker Ozdemir Lodewijk van Paddenburgh Nell Pastors Douglas Penn Steve Pepper Marcus Peters Anna Pfautsch Andrew Phelps Cock Pleijsier Rik Plomp Astrid Pollers Max Prooy Jeppe van Pruissen Mireille de Putter Ingvar Hogni Ragnarsson Rianne Randeraad
Marco Rapaccini Elsje van Ree Jukka Reverberi Ramon Reverte Masco Wilfred Roelink Mike Roelofs Laura van Roessel Loek van Roessel Heidi Romano Peter Rommens Johannes Romppanen Jacqueline de Rooij Tijmen Rooseboom Alexander van Rootselaar Pieter Roozenboom Jewgeni Roppel Jeanette van Rotterdam Rixt Runia Jacobien Rutgers Erik Ruts David Schalliol Pieter van Scherpenberg Hannah Schildt Marike Schipper Samuel Schliske Nils Schmeling Ralph Schmitz Andreas Schoening Meindert Scholma Soeren Schuhmacher Gerrit Schurer Hannah Schwarzbach Roel Segerink Patrick Sijben Iris Sikking Katja Sinnema Fransje Sjenitzer Bart Sleegers Robin Sluijs Rob en Eva Sluys Merlijn Smeele Hans Snellen Frans Soeterbroek Baato Soort Peter Sorantin Frieda Spanjersberg Sander Spek Marijn Staal Michiel Stadhouders Hans Stakelbeek Bonnie Steenman Conny Steenman Jolien Steenman Joop Steenman Lorette Steenman Anoek Steketee Kitty Steketee Truus Stevens Alain Stoeckli Glen Stoker Philip Stroomberg Rik Suermondt Evgenia Sveshinsky
Ton Sweep Marlies Swinkels Bjoern Theye Mirelle Thijsen Mandy Thomas Giovanni Toccafondi Chiara Tocci Jeroen Toirkens Reinier Treur Piero Turk Serge Van Cauwenbergh Jan Vandemoortele Anneke van Veen Christiaan van Veen Evelien Vehof Hanneke van Velzen Mia Verhagen Kirsten Verpaalen C.M.E. Versteeg Henny Verstege Danny Veys Marieke Viergever Jon Vismans Dirk Jan Visser Ellen Visser Geert Vlastuin Henkjan van Vliet Elise Volker Jurryt van de Vooren Tom Voorma Zelda de Vries David Vroom Martijn de Waal Theo de Waal Gijsbert van der Wal Jan van Walsem Rob Wandelee Rolf Weijburg Theijs van Welij Hans van de Wetering Michael Wichita Thomas Wiegand Friso Wiersum Yannik Willing Lars Willumeit Goof van de Winkel Marijke Winnubst Jan Willem Wirtz Peter van de Witte Marieke ten Wolde Stephen Wooldridge Valentin Wormbs Peter Yankowski Walker Lap Ming Yeung Antonia Zennaro Elza Zijlstra Wytze van de Zweep