There’s been a lot of talk of Russian republic Chechnya recently, what with 107 per cent voter turnout in the region last week and fishy assassination plots against Vladimir Putin.
But perhaps most notable is the attempt by the capital city of Grozny to re-brand itself — no longer as a derelict wreck of a city, ruined in one of the most brutal wars in the late 20th century, but as a glittering, marble-clad international city of wealth
A rumoured $21 billion of spending has gone a long way, but the problem is that old image of Chechnya as a war ravaged hell-on-earth is going to be hard to shake.
Mark Mackinnon of the Globe and Mail traveled to Grozny and found that the swanky, 32-story-high Hotel Grozny City, with its three restaurants and five-star service, is pretty much always 90 per cent empty.
“Even if I gave rooms away for one ruble, there are no people to take them.” the hotel manager confided in Mackinnon.
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