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Islam Kadyrov

271,573 (2010)


Grozny in the past, History of Grozny

Chechen State University

Map of Grozny

Grozny (Russian: Грозный; [ˈgroznɨj]; Chechen: Грозный) is the capital city of the Chechen Republic, Russia. The city lies on the Sunzha River. According to the 2010 Census, it had a population of 271,573; up from 210,720 recorded in the 2002 Census, but still only about two-thirds of 399,688 recorded in the 1989 Census.


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In Russian, "Grozny" means "fearsome", or "redoubtable", the same word as in Ivan Grozny or Ivan the Terrible. While the official name in Chechen is the same, informally the city is known as "Соьлжа-Гӏала, Sölƶa-Ġala", which literally means "the city (гӏала) on the Sunzha River (Соьлжа)".

In 1996, during the First Chechen War, the Chechen separatists renamed the city Dzhokhar-Ghala (Chechen: Джовхар-Гӏала, Dƶovxar-Ġala), or Dzhokhar/Djohar for short, after Dzhokhar Dudayev, the first President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. In December 2005, the Chechen parliament voted to rename the city "Akhmadkala" (after Akhmad Kadyrov)—a proposition which was rejected by his son Ramzan Kadyrov, the prime minister and later President of the republic.

Russian fort

The fortress of Groznaya (Гро́зная; lit. fearsome) was founded in 1818 as a Russian military outpost on the Sunzha River by general Aleksey Petrovich Yermolov. As the fort was being built the workers were fired upon by the Chechens. The Russians solved the problem by placing a cannon at a carefully chosen point outside the walls. When night fell and the Chechens came out of their hiding places to drag the gun away all the other guns opened up with grapeshot. When the Chechens recovered their senses and began to carry away the bodies the guns fired again. When it was over 200 dead were counted. Thus did the 'terrible' fort receive its baptism of fire. It was a prominent defense center during the Caucasian War. After the annexation of the region by the Russian Empire, the military use of the old fortress was obsolete and in December 1869 it was renamed Grozny and granted town status. As most of the residents there were Terek Cossacks, the town grew slowly until the development of oil reserves in the early 20th century. This encouraged the rapid development of industry and petrochemical production. In addition to the oil drilled in the city itself, the city became a geographical center of Russia's network of oil fields, and in 1893 became part of the Transcaucasia — Russia Proper railway. The result was the population almost doubled from 15,600 in 1897 to 30,400 in 1913.

Soviet regional capital

One day after the October Revolution, on November 8, 1917, the Bolsheviks headed by N. Anisimov seized Grozny. As the Russian Civil War escalated, the Proletariat formed the 12th Red Army, and the garrison held out against numerous attacks by Terek Cossacks from August 11 to November 12, 1918. However, with the arrival of Denikin's armies, the Bolsheviks were forced to withdraw and Grozny was captured on February 4, 1919 by the White Army. Underground operations were carried out, but only the arrival of the Caucasus front of the Red Army in 1920 allowed the city to permanently end up with the Russian SFSR on March 17. Simultaneously it became part of the Soviet Mountain Republic, which was formed on January 20, 1921, and was the capital of the Chechen National Okrug inside it.

On November 30, 1922, the mountain republic was dissolved, and the national okrug became the Chechen Autonomous Oblast (Chechen AO) with Grozny as the administrative center. At this time most of the population was still Russian, but of Cossack descent. As Cossacks were viewed as a potential threat to the Soviet nation, Moscow actively encouraged the migration of Chechens into the city from the mountains. In 1934 the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Oblast was formed, becoming the Chechen-Ingush ASSR in 1936.

In 1944, the entire population of Chechens and Ingush was deported after rebelling against Soviet rule. Large amounts of people who were not deemed fit for transport were 'liquidated' on the spot, and the situation of the transport and of the stay in Siberia caused many deaths as well. According to internal NKVD data, a total of 144,704 were killed in 1944–1948 alone (death rate of 23.5% per all groups). Authors such as Alexander Nekrich, John Dunlop and Moshe Gammer, based on census data from the period estimate a death toll of about 170,000–200,000 among Chechens alone, thus ranging from over a third of the total Chechen population that was deported to nearly half being killed in those 4 years (rates for other groups for those four years hover around 20%). All traces of them in the city, including books and graveyards, were destroyed by the NKVD troops. The act was recognized by the European Parliament as an act of genocide in 2004.

Grozny became the administrative center of Grozny Oblast of the Russian SFSR, and the city at the time was again wholly Russian. In 1957, the Chechen-Ingush ASSR was restored, and the Chechens were allowed to return. The return of the Chechens to Grozny, which had been lacking of Nakh for thirteen years, would cause massive disruptions to the social, economic and political systems of what had been a Russian city for the period until their return. This caused a self-feeding cycle of ethnic conflict between the two groups, both believing the other's presence in the city was illegitimate. Once again migration of non-Russians into Grozny continued whilst the ethnic Russian population, in turn, moved to other parts of the USSR, notably the Baltic states, after the interethnic conflict broke briefly out in 1958.

According to sociologist Georgy Derluguyan, the Checheno-Ingush Republic's economy was divided into two spheres—much like French settler-ruled Algeria—and the Russian sphere had all the jobs with higher salaries, while non-Russians were systematically kept out of all government positions. Russians (as well as Ukrainians and Armenians) worked in education, health, oil, machinery, and social services. Non-Russians (excluding Ukrainians and Armenians) worked in agriculture, construction, a long host of undesirable jobs, as well as the so-called "informal sector" (i.e., illegal, due to the mass discrimination in the legal sector).

At the same time a great deal of development occurred in the city. Like many other Soviet cities, the Stalinist style of architecture was prevalent during this period, with apartments in the centre as well as administrative buildings including the massive Council of Ministers and the Grozny University buildings being constructed in Grozny. Later projects included the high-rise apartment blocks prominent in many Soviet cities, as well as a city airport. In 1989, the population of the city was almost 400,000 people.

Collapse of Russian authority

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Grozny became the seat of a separatist government led by Dzhokhar Dudayev. According to some, many of the remaining Russian and other non-Chechen residents fled or were expelled by groups of militants, adding to a harassment and discrimination from the new authorities. These events are perceived by some as an act of an ethnic cleansing of non-Chechens, which has been reflected in the materials of General Prosecutor's office of the Russian Federation.

This view is disputed by authors, such as Russian economists Boris Lvin and Andrei Illarionov, who argue that Russian emigration from the area was no more intense than in other regions of Russia at the time. According to this view of the ethnic situation in Ichkeria, the primary cause of Russian emigration was the extensive bombing of Grozny (where 4 out of 5, or nearly 200,000 Russians in Chechnya lived before the war) by the Russian military during the First Chechen War.

The covert Russian attempts of overthrowing Dudayev by means of armed Chechen opposition forces resulted in repeated failed assaults on the city. Originally, Moscow had been backing the political opposition of Umar Avturkhanov "peacefully" (i.e. without supplying the opposition with weapons and encouraging them to try a coup). However, this changed in 1994, after the coups in neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan (both of which Moscow was involved with), and Russia encouraged armed opposition and occasionally assisted. In August 1994 Avturkhanov attacked Grozny, but was repelled first by Chechen citizens who were then joined by Grozny government troops and Russian helicopters covered his retreat. On September 28, one of these interfering helicopters was shot down and its Russian pilot was held as a prisoner-of-war by the Chechen government. The last one on 26 November 1994 ended with capture of 21 Russian Army tank crew members, secretly hired as mercenaries by the FSK (former KGB, soon renamed FSB); their capture was sometimes cited as one of the reasons of Boris Yeltsin's decision to launch the open intervention. In the meantime, Grozny airport and other targets were bombed by unmarked Russian aircraft.

First Chechen War

During the First Chechen War, Grozny was the site of an intense battle lasting from December 1994 to February 1995 and ultimately ending with the capture of the city by the Russian military. Intense fighting and carpet bombing carried out by the Russian Air Force destroyed much of the city. Thousands of combatants on both sides died in the fighting, alongside civilians, many of which were reportedly ethnic Russians; unclaimed bodies were later collected and buried in mass graves on the city outskirts. The main federal military base in Chechnya was located in the area of Grozny air base.

Chechen guerrilla units operating from nearby mountains managed to harass and demoralize the Russian Army by means of guerilla tactics and raids, such as the attack on Grozny in March 1996, which added to political and public pressure for a withdrawal of Russian troops. In August 1996, a raiding force of 1,500 to 3,000 militants recaptured the city in a surprise attack. They surrounded and routed its entire garrison of 10,000 MVD troops, while fighting off the Russian Army units from the Khankala base. The battle ended with a final ceasefire and Grozny was once again in the hands of Chechen separatists. The name was changed to Djohar in 1997 by the President of the separatist Ichkeria republic, Aslan Maskhadov. By this time most of the remaining Russian minority fled.

Second Chechen War

Grozny was once again the epicenter of fighting after the outbreak of the Second Chechen War, which further caused thousands of fatalities. First the Russians informed their Turkish friends as to who the mystery forces lurking in Iraq were. Then, during the early phase of the Russian siege on Grozny on October 25, 1999, Russian forces launched five SS-21 ballistic missiles at the crowded central bazaar and a maternity ward, killing more than 140 people and injuring hundreds. During the massive shelling of the city that followed, most of the Russian artillery were directed toward the upper floors of the buildings; although this caused massive destruction of infrastructure, civilian casualties were much less than in the first battles.

The final seizure of the city was set in early February 2000, when the Russian military lured the besieged militants to a promised safe passage. Seeing no build-up of forces outside, the militants agreed. One day prior to the planned evacuation, the Russian Army mined the path between the city and the village of Alkhan-Kala and concentrated most firepower on that point. As a result, both the city mayor and military commander were killed; a number of other prominent separatist leaders were also killed or wounded, including Shamil Basayev and several hundred rank-and-file militants. Afterwards, the Russians slowly entered the empty city and on February 6 raised the Russian flag in the centre. Many buildings and even whole areas of the city were systematically dynamited. A month later, it was declared safe to allow the residents to return to their homes, although demolishing continued for some time. In 2003 the United Nations called Grozny the most destroyed city on earth.

After the wars

Today, the federal government representatives of Chechnya are based in Grozny. Since 2003, the city has been rebuilt from scratch, and hardly any destroyed buildings now remain there. Out of several dozens of industrial enterprises, three have been partially rebuilt — the Grozny Machine-Building Factory, the Krasny Molot (Red Hammer) and Transmash factories.

Although most of the city's infrastructure was destroyed during the war, the city's sewage, water, electricity and heating systems have since been repaired, along with 250 kilometers (160 mi) of roads, 13 bridges and some 900 shops. Before the war, Grozny had about 79,000 apartments, and the city authorities expect to be able to restore about 45,000 apartments; the rest were in the buildings that were completely destroyed.

Railway connection was restored in 2005, and Grozny's Severny airport was reopened in 2007 with three weekly flights to Moscow. In 2009 the IAC gave Grozny's Severny airport the international certificate after checking and evaluating the airport's airworthiness. On November 16, 2009, the airport had its first international flight, taking Pilgrims on Hajj to Saudi Arabia via a Boeing 747. As of 2016, the only current international flight is from Grozny to Bishkek.

After four years of construction, the Grozny Mosque was formally opened to the public on October 16, 2008 and is considered one of the largest mosques in Europe. In 2009, the city of Grozny was honored by the UN Human Settlements Program for transforming the war scarred city and providing new homes for thousands.

Akhmat Tower

Sometime in 2013, the Akhmat Tower was proposed. Its renders were released to the public, the design was based on the Military towers, but many people giving a dislike against the design.

In 2015, the tower was redesigned, it is estimated to be completed in 2020. Construction started in 2015.

Administrative and municipal status

Grozny is the capital of the republic. Within the framework of administrative divisions, it is incorporated as the city of republic significance of Grozny—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts. As a municipal division, the city of republic significance of Grozny is incorporated as Grozny Urban Okrug. The city also serves as the administrative center of Groznensky Municipal District, but not of the corresponding administrative district.

City divisions

For administrative purposes, the city is divided into four city districts: Leninsky, Zavodskoy, Staropromyslovsky, and Oktyabrsky. All of the districts are residential, but Staropromyslovsky District is also the city's main illegal oil drilling area, and Oktyabrsky District hosts most of the city's industry.

Culture and education

Grozny was known for its modern architecture and as a spa town but nearly all the town was destroyed or seriously damaged during the Chechen Wars. It is home to Chechen State University and FC Terek Grozny, which after a fifteen-year absence from its hometown returned to Grozny in March 2008. Also in Grozny is Chechen State Pedagogical Institute.


The first train pulled into the Grozny Railway station on May 1, 1893.

Tram and trolleybuses

On November 5, 1932, the Grozny Tram system was opened to the public, and by 1990 it was 85-kilometer (53 mi) long, with 107 new Russian-built KTM-5 trams that it received in the late 1980s, and two depots. The Grozny Trolleybus system, began operation on December 31, 1975, and by 1990 was approximately 60-kilometer (37 mi) long with 58 buses and one depot. Both versions of transport came under difficult pressure in the early 1990s, with frequent theft of equipment, staff not being properly paid and resultant strikes. A major planned Trolleybus extension route to the airport was cancelled. With the outbreak of the First Chechen War both transport services stopped operation. During the destructive battles, the tram tracks were blocked or damaged, cars and buses were turned into barricades. The trolleybus system was luckier, as most of its equipment, including the depot, survived the war. In 1996 it was visited by specialists from the Vologda Trolleybus Company, who repaired some of the lines, with services planned to be restarted in 1997. However, after they returned, most of the equipment was stolen. The surviving buses were transported to Volzhsky where they were repaired and used in the new Trolleybus system.

After the Second Chechen War, little of the infrastructure of both systems was left. The created Ministry of Transport of the Chechen Republic in 2002, decided not to build the tram system (rated as too expensive, and no longer answering to the city's needs, as it had since lost half of its population). The trolleybus system however was more fortunate, and despite delays, Grozny hopes to re-open it by 2010.


The city is served by Grozny Airport, hub to airline Grozny Avia.


Grozny is home to Russian Football Premier League club FC Terek Grozny. After winning promotion by coming 2nd in the Russian First Division in 2007, Terek Grozny finished 10th in the Russian Premier League in 2008. The team still plays in the top tier. The club is owned by Ramzan Kadyrov and play in the recently built city's Ahmad Arena. Ruud Gullit was the team manager from the beginning of the season 2011, but was later sacked by the club in June.


Grozny has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa) with hot summers and cold winters.

Twin towns and sister cities

Grozny is twinned with:

Notable people

  • Timur Aliev, journalist
  • Israil Arsamakov, weightlifter
  • Meseda Bagaudinova, pop singer
  • Khassan Baiev, surgeon
  • Dzhokhar Dudayev, Major General of Aviation
  • Mamed Khalidov, mixed martial arts fighter
  • Yuri Radonyak, boxer
  • Makka Sagaipova, singer and dancer
  • Artur Sarkisov, soccer player
  • Gennady Troshev, Colonel General
  • Lyudmila Turishcheva, Olympic gymnast
  • Visitor attractions

  • Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque
  • Grozny-City Towers Facade Clocks
  • References

    Grozny Wikipedia

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