How do you get an interview with the warlord of Chechnya? The best bet for catching Ramzan Kadyrov is just to show up on his own turf, announce your presence and hope for the best.
Even though both his grandfathers died in Bolshevik captivity, Ilyas Kayayev can’t say Russian rule has been bad for Dagestan on the whole: “What’s the point of being independent and sitting in a cave?”
Dagestan Airlines Flight 372 is a Tupolev-154 which hasn’t seen a redesign since the 1970s. I get a window seat in row 31, where I can put up my legs on a hump that covers the landing gear. The only advantage of my seat is that I’m next to an emergency exit.
Less than an hour’s drive to the north is Tskhinvali, where fighting began after Georgian forces took the city following a night of heavy bombardment. Most houses had broken windows and were either pockmarked by bullets or gutted by shelling.
Vladimir Putin isn’t a man who usually acknowledges his mistakes, but on Monday he confessed that his government had failed to propagate tolerance and understanding among Russia’s more than 100 ethnic groups.