For decades, the principals at a boxy, two-story kindergarten in Vilnius unwittingly pored over their lesson plans a few feet above one of the city’s most sacred sites.
I ask my driver about the “bandits” who hide out in the mountains and attack the police. “The bandits are in Moscow,” he replies. “The boys in the woods are just regular guys. They don’t touch us. They’re against Russia.”
I meet with a Chechen who asks me just to call him “a public figure.” I’m going to censor myself by redacting any other identifying clues. Even if the fighting is over, fear still inhabits the neat and tidy streets of Grozny.
The couple of women I see are extravagantly done up, wearing high, high heels as if they were out in Moscow. But there isn’t a drop of alcohol, not in the Café Muskat and not in the convenience store around the corner.