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Grozny In The Holiday Spirit

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov ordered his ministers to make these holidays a time to remember in the capital, Grozny.

The official touches include a monumental Christmas tree in the center of that beleaguered city -- one that is said to be second in size in Russia to the Kremlin's own.

After an unsuccessful search far and wide for a suitably ostentatious tree, planners decided to fasten together smaller trees to produce a massive centerpiece that lacked only a dusting of snow during unseasonably warm temperatures in the area.

But Kadyrov had an answer for that, too. He ordered Grozny's mayor "to organize snowfall on New Year's Eve." If that fails, local authorities were expected to truck snow to Grozny's central square to make it feel more festive.

The only conspicuous reminder of the city's travails being the heightened security and metal detectors all around that same square.

-- Khasin Raduev

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