An interactive documentary by
Olga Kravets, Maria Morina and Oksana Yoshenko. 

An interactive production by
Chewbahat Storytelling Lab 

Photographs and video production
Verso Images

Picture Editor & Curator
Anna Shpakova

Interactive Design and Art Direction
Gerald Holubowicz

Powered by

Music and Sound design by 
José Bautista - Kanseisound

Performed by   
 Violin: Adam Lukaczs  
Double bass & Cello: Alberto Moreno  
Viola: Eszter Nemes  
Trombone: Sebastián Lopez  
Piano, guitar and samplers: José Bautista   Recording & Mastering studio 
A Different Angle Studios  

Pictures postproduction
Maria Pleshkova

Video postproduction 
Jose Bautista   

Main English and Russian voice over 
Maria Morina

Additional Voiceovers

Caroline Driscoll, Robin The Fog, Alice Lagnado, Charles Maynes, Maria Vassilieva


Larisa Privalskaya (English)
Elena Ramkina (French)

Mark Stevens 


We want to say thank you to our families and loved ones who have supported us through this four-year-long journey.  

We want to thank every single person in Chechnya who welcomed us into their homes and shared their lives with us, Sultan and Suleiman, our drivers and guardian angels in the field, as well as Milana Bakhaeva and Dokka Itslaev at Memorial in Grozny, Satsita Israilova and Kheda Saratova who helped us with research, and entire Joint Mobile Group, without which it would not have been possible to tell the stories of victims and survivors.   

Special thanks (in alphabetical order) to:

Tina Ahrens, Marina Akhmedova, Peter Bitzer and Laif agency, Aleksandr Cherkasov and Memorial in Moscow, Marie-Laure de Decker, Liza Faktor, Jesús Filardi, Aslan Gaisumov, Stanley Greene, Guillaume Herbaut, Karim Ben Khelifa, Yuri Kozyrev, Amir Kupusija, Alice Lagnado, Anna Loshkin, Ilyas Magomadov (for giving us a precious copy of "The city of Grozny" film, one of the works of his father Umar Magomadov), Zargan Makhadzhieva, Lucas Menget, Cerwyn Moore, Anna Nemtsova, Jussi Niemelainen and Helsingin Sanomat, Susanna Niinivaara, Nestan Nijaradze and Tbilisi Photo Festival, Markku Niskanen, Andrei Polikanov and Russian Reporter Magazine, Emma Raynes and Magnum Foundation, Max Sergeyev, Hannamari Shakya, Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, Ákos Székely, Sara Terry and The Aftermath Project, Galina Timchenko and Lenta.ru, Taisa Titieva, Maria Vassilieva, Roman Veretennikov, Anna Zekria and Salt Images.    

We also want to thank our backers on Emphas.is who have helped us finish a significant part of this work: Tanja Aitamurto, Reem Akl, Alexandra Anikina, Tommaso Barsali, Jose Bautista, Oleg Cheremin, Gregory Eidinov, Christian Esch, Peter Evans, Igor Fridman, Guillaume Herbaut, Katja Heinemann, Aliona van der Horst, Dmitry Ilyevsky, Ciril Jazbec, Olaf Koens, Yuri Kozyrev, Alice Lagnado, Madeleine Leroyer, Anna Loshkin, Regina Mamykina, Eugenia Maximova, Steve Mepsted, Nicolas Mingasson, Laura Montanari, Jussi Niemelainen, Susanna Niinivaara, Markku Niskanen, Maria Ponomareva, Sergey Ponomarev, Louis Quail, Tommaso Protti, Simon Kruse Rasmussen, Helen Rimell,Laura Saunders, Irina Sheludkova, Aleksandr Sholomon, Vlad Sokhin, Ilya Timakov, Galina Timchenko, Mila Teshaieva, Sara Terry, Maria Turchenkova, Maria Vassilieva, Gennady Victorov, Dmitriy Velikovskiy, and 22 more people who wished to remain anonymous.

Thanks to the authors and especially Olga Kravets for trusting us and being such a great person and professional. Thanks to the Racontr team, and especially Greg Sierra & Julien Hazenfratz for their patience and efficiency. Thanks to the great Chewbateam for the support and their work.  

Grozny, Chechnya, freshly reconstructed after being named the most destroyed city on Earth in 2003, expands over Russia’s vast reality like a giant Totalitarian Mosque. Layer by layer, veils are removed to reveal the city’s dark secrets. While some celebrate a fragile state of peace, others are kidnapped, tortured and may never be heard from again.
Grozny is doing its best to go through a purification process while getting rid of its collective memory. The viewer travels through a city of ordinary people, a city of servants of the nation, a city of religion, a city of men, a city of oil, a city of women, a city of strangers, the city that had ceased to exist and finally arrives at the city of a hidden war that continues to this day.
Once you have experienced the city for a while, different aspects begin to emerge. The viewer can skim over the surface, or delve deeper into a specific sections. Like Dante’s Inferno, to understand the essence of what is really going on in  a Chechnya shrouded from outsiders, one must pass through many layers.

A long-term project
We began working on this project in the fall of 2009, shortly after we founded Verso, a collective of emerging photographers interested in documenting social change in the former USSR, which has since grown into an interdisciplinary production company. 
We decided to combine our efforts to produce a collective project on Chechnya, investigating the aftermath of the two wars by providing our audience with three different views of the city.  
This approach, inspired by Thornton Wilder’s book, “Theophilus North”, enabled us to break down the task of understanding the complexity of the city by looking at its individual components.
We pursued complicated issues with patience until doors opened for us. We came back to Grozny several times a year to cover important events and document the daily life of its people. 
Most of the project was self-funded, but we also worked in Chechnya on photographic assignments, ran a successful crowd funding campaign and received a prize at the Lens Culture International Exposure Awards. Olga Kravets was also named a Magnum Emergency Fund 2013 grantee for her work in Chechnya.

How we worked
Mostly we travelled to Grozny together and worked as a team, which helped us divide up responsibilities and offer a complete and accomplished final product than we might have otherwise managed individually.
Combining photography, audio and video gave us a new and varied way to expose one the most painful pressure points in the history our country. A photograph helps to analyse the event, frozen in a single frame; while moving image and sound help to immerse the viewer into the environment on and engage them on an emotional level.
During the shooting stage we teamed up with our curator, Anna Shpakova and Jose Bautista, who respectively shaped the visual composition of the project and created its unique soundscape. Finally, Gerald Holubowicz and Chewbahat Storytelling Lab joined us to design the narrative structure, the interactive components and the global design .
Interactive Design and Design
© Chewbahat Storytelling Lab - 2014





The city of Servants
The city of War
The city that Ceased to Exist
The city of Strangers
The city of Women
The city of Ordinary People
The city of Religion
The city of Religion
The city of Men
The city of Oil