Today, when the naming of two Chechens as suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings has put it back on the world’s front pages, Chechnya appears almost miraculously reborn.
The streets have been rebuilt. Walls riddled with bullet holes are long gone. New high rise buildings soar into the sky. Spotless playgrounds are packed with children. A giant marble mosque glimmers in the night.
Yet, scratch the surface and the miracle is less impressive than it seems. Behind closed doors, people speak of a warped and oppressive place, run by a Kremlin-imposed leader through fear.