Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Train Brings Chechen Refugees Home - to Rubble and Sadness

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Train Brings Chechen Refugees Home - to Rubble and Sadness

Article excerpt

As the train from Moscow chugs into Grozny's station, returning refugees stare in shock at their capital - an open field of rubble after two years of war.

"My heart is breaking for my town - a town which they took and threw away," says a trembling Lyubov Andreyevna, a retired woman who fled soon after fighting started between Russia and Chechen rebels.

Only when the passenger train linking Moscow and Grozny began running again recently could Chechens be sure the war was over. It quickly became a lifeline for the shattered republic, bringing hordes of refugees home and taking Russian soldiers out. Chief conductor Sultan Istamulev says soldiers never have enough money for tickets but are allowed to ride free because "we're glad to see them leaving." The journey into the heart of southern Russia is a visual catalog of the tiny republic's struggle for independence. The last stop in Russia is Mozdok, a massive military base from which Moscow's forces launched scores of bombing raids on Grozny. …

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