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Grozny University (1:31) Excerpt from film "Greetings From Grozny" July 2002
Dr. Dadashev teaches physics on the shattered campus of Grozny University. He conducts a tour of the war-torn campus.

Country: Chechnya
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  • Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

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    Guiding Questions
    1. How does this film clip portray the costs of the war in Chechnya?

    2. Characterize Dr. Dadashev's mission.

    3. What are the best means of preserving the identity of an ethnic group? Do some employ means that cannot be justified?
    Background Essay
    Dr. Raikom Dadashev is a physicist and the former dean of Grozny University in Chechnya. In this clip, he leads viewers on a visual tour, highlighting the extensive destruction evident on the war-torn campus.

    Small but fiercely independent, the republic of Chechnya has been involved for years in a war for self-determination against Russia. The ruined cityscape of Grozny and the scarred roads and fields of the countryside are evidence of a conflict that has been marked both by brutal occupation and terrorist resistance.

    In 1991, General Jokhar Dudayev, leader of the separatist party, was elected as president of Chechnya and promptly declared Chechnya's independence from the Soviet Union. This declaration of independence was not accepted by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who at the time was trying to build a new regime. After a failed attack by the Russian counter-intelligence, Yeltsin directed Russian troops to invade Chechnya in December of 1994. Russian forces seized Dudayev's presidential palace. Despite this and other Russian strategic gains, the rebel attacks continued. Russia momentarily appeared to gain an upper hand in April 1996, when Russian forces killed the Chechen president in a missile attack.

    A peace agreement was signed in August of 1996 that postponed consideration of Chechnya's political status until 2001 and recognized de facto independence. Unfortunately, internal conflicts between rival Chechen warlords continued, despite the introduction of varied means of control, including Islamic Sharia courts. In 1999 Russian mounted a second, extended, military intervention in the area in an attempt to reclaim Grozny and weed out rebel fighters. Russian forces instituted a campaign of zachistki - "clean-up operations" - among the civilian population, resulting in the disappearance or death of hundreds of Chechen civilians. Many of them fled the area. Russian attempts to convince Chechen refugees that they can safely return to their homeland are ongoing, but, set against a backdrop of ruined cities, mined fields and an ever-changing security situation, have not met with success.

    The Wide Angle film GREETINGS FROM GROZNY is a journey that leads the viewer behind the lines on both sides of the Russian-Chechen conflict. Film crews accompany Russian troops on "cleansing missions" through residential districts of Grozny, and spend 24 tense hours at a Russian checkpoint. They also go undercover in the border regions where there is evidence that radical Islam increasingly motivates Chechen fighters, and provide glimpses into the webs of special interest woven around this horrific conflict by the United States, the Wahabist Muslims and the Georgians.

    The Chechen language had practically disappeared. It wasn't taught in schools anymore. No one used it. Art and literature were on their last legs.

    Dr. Raikom Dadashev is a physicist and the former dean of Grozny University. He's had many job offers outside Chechnya, but insists on teaching in his shattered campus.

    This was our main lecture hall for the physics department.

    NARRATOR: Dadashev was one of the founders of the secular nationalist movement in Chechnya in the late 80s, during the period of liberalism under President Gorbachev.

    This is where the magnetics lab was. There was a meeting room on the top floor and the University library was underneath.

    We had about a million volumes there -- they're all burnt to cinders now.

    I started in this office in 1976 when I began my research and completed my dissertation in 1993. I found it recently. It's been a bit damaged by shrapnel.

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