In the Ruins of Grozny

Just before nine every morning Anna Vasilikhina leaves the fourth-floor apartment where she has lived for more than 30 years — and where her husband was murdered by looters 14 months ago — and walks to her job as head nurse in a nearby children's clinic. Like nearly every other building in Grozny, her five-story block was largely destroyed during the Russian assault in January 2000, and only one other family still lives on her staircase. The hall, however, is neatly swept, and chalked in an authoritative hand on the door of each empty apartment is a notice: "Checked 26.12.00."...

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