Earth : Europe : Russia : Southern Russia : North Caucasus : Chechnya : Grozny
Grozny (Russian: Гро́зный GROHZ-nyh) is the war-torn capital city of Chechnya. Since the end of the Second Chechen War, Grozny has undergone a renaissance in development and many abandoned or low-quality apartments and houses demolished and replaced with newer re-built apartment buildings and suburbs. Grozny was originally a Russian fort and named after Ivan the Terrible, as Grozny is Russian meaning "terrible" and Ivan the Terrible's Russian name is Ivan Grozny. Throughout 1994 and the early 2000s the city underwent chaos as Russian military battled Chechen rebels. As of today, Grozny is undergoing redevelopment but is extremely dangerous and the Russian Mafia is very active in the city.
Grozny was originally founded in 1818 as a Russian fort. It was a major stronghold for the Russians during the Caucasian Wars during 1818-1864. During the early 20th century, population boomed because of the city's rich oil reserves which drove many Russians from other parts of the country to work in the city.
During World War II, Josef Stalin thought the Chechens were working with the Nazis to overthrow the Soviet government. It was decided to deport all Chechens to concentration camps in Northern Kazakhstan. Although they were allowed back into the city after Stalin's reign, many were angry with years of inequality.
In the 1990s, rebels began to form groups in an attempt to destroy Russian control in the city and the rest of Chechnya. The government lost partial control and the city was very much dangerous every day. Peace finally began to restore during the late stages of the war in the 2000s and currently the government is beginning to reconstruct the city.
Because of Grozny being highly devastated by years of war, transportation is often tricky and hard as much of Grozny's transportation system has been destroyed. However, since reconstruction began, it's possible to take a flight to the city or use a train, bus or the convenient highway system.
The only two ways to get to Grozny by air is by using the Vnukovo Airport in Moscow and the Sabiha Gokcen Aiport in Istanbul. Rusline is one airline with regular flights between Moscow and Grozny, and Grozny Avia is the regular flights between Istanbul and Grozny, although it may be difficult if not impossible for non Russian visitors to gain proper authorization to travel there. The flights to Grozny are extremely guarded since the war and 9/11, so expect delays.
A night train departs from Moscow every second day, taking two nights. Due to terrorist threats, this train is heavily guarded, expect delays and hassles. Also, there is a night train from Rostov-on-the-Don and a day train from Astrakhan. Local trains connect with Khasavyurt and Gudermes.
Grozny is connected to the rest of Russia by a large highway system. The P-308, P-307 and M-29 highways connect the city to other cities in Russia. Keep in mind that it's best to take a map with you, or else you can get lost.
It's very difficult to get around Grozny since during the Siege of Grozny the tram and trolley system was almost destroyed. The tram is not expected to re-open, but the trolley has re-opened this year. The trolley still has not fully developed, so it's advised to use a car to travel the city. There is a (religious) taxi company operating in the city called Islam, which uses green-painted cars.
Because of the region's war's affect on the economy, many items in Grozny are cheap. Don't expect to find much Western essentials you can find in other parts of the country in many stores. Many authentic swords and daggers can be bought at low prices. There is a flea market with many Chechen and Russian merchants. Again, don't expect much and expect to find some bootleg copies of well-known products.
There aren't many bars in the city, but there are many local vendors which sell beer. Common sense must be used when approaching alcohol, and beer can only be sold legally between 8:00 and 10:00 AM.
Grozny has only partly stabilized enough to be safe for travel. Take extreme caution when visiting war-torn areas as there are some unexploded land-mines. Rebels often take tourists as hostages, so try to blend in with the population. It's said that the Russian Mafia have more members in the city then there are police, so be careful. It's advised NOT to speak Chechen in the city, as a foreigner speaking the language will attract a lot of unwanted attention. If you plan to visit Grozny, take lots of precaution.
Many foreign governments, including the UK, Canadian and US governments, strongly warn their citizens not to travel to Chechnya under any circumstances. They report that there have been many incidents of their citizens visiting there as well as Russian citizens being missing, killed, or kidnapped for ransom.