Accessibility links

Chechnya's Forgotten Christian Cemetery

Most of the ethnic Russian population of Grozny fled the Chechen capital during its many years of war. In their absence, the Central Christian Cemetery that once served the Russian community has become a wasteland. Many of the headstones have been stolen, and some are apparently used for target practice. (Photos by Yekaterina Neroznikova for RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service)


A toppled plinth in the cemetery designated for Grozny’s ethnic Russian population
1

A toppled plinth in the cemetery designated for Grozny’s ethnic Russian population

The shrapnel-scarred grave marker of a person who died in 1970. Some of the damage to the graves is probably a result of fighting during the two wars that ravaged Chechnya through the 1990s and early 2000s. 
2

The shrapnel-scarred grave marker of a person who died in 1970. Some of the damage to the graves is probably a result of fighting during the two wars that ravaged Chechnya through the 1990s and early 2000s. 

Other damage appears to be deliberate. 
3

Other damage appears to be deliberate. 

Orthodox crosses overtaken by shrubbery. Before the Chechen wars, around 250,000 ethnic Russians lived in the mountainous republic.   
4

Orthodox crosses overtaken by shrubbery. Before the Chechen wars, around 250,000 ethnic Russians lived in the mountainous republic. 
 

Snails cluster on the top of some tombstones. After the wars, a 2010 census counted just 24,000 ethnic Russians remaining in Chechnya.
5

Snails cluster on the top of some tombstones. After the wars, a 2010 census counted just 24,000 ethnic Russians remaining in Chechnya.

Soviet-era graves in the cemetery, which is three kilometers north of central Grozny
6

Soviet-era graves in the cemetery, which is three kilometers north of central Grozny

Some of the graves are nearly impossible to reach through the thick undergrowth. 
7

Some of the graves are nearly impossible to reach through the thick undergrowth. 

A memorial to the civilians who died "during the tragic events" in the Chechen Republic. 
8

A memorial to the civilians who died "during the tragic events" in the Chechen Republic. 

The mayor's office is responsible for the upkeep of the cemetery, and students occasionally visit on Sundays to maintain sections.
9

The mayor's office is responsible for the upkeep of the cemetery, and students occasionally visit on Sundays to maintain sections.

Several private firms in Grozny offer grave maintenance, for a fee.
10

Several private firms in Grozny offer grave maintenance, for a fee.

But most of Grozny's Russians now live far from their former home and the relatives buried here. 
11

But most of Grozny's Russians now live far from their former home and the relatives buried here. 

XS
SM
MD
LG