“Exotic Hospitality in the Land of Tolerance.” In Paul Domela (ed.) Manifesta: Coffee Break. Liverpool: Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art, 2005. Pp. 65-74.

One of my relatives (let's call him Ivan) was sent to the war in Chechnya during his military service. His unit was abducted and there was a suspicion that they had been 'sold' by one of their own men. They were beaten up and split into smaller groups. The Chechen abductors 'sold' him, or, probably, passed him as a 'gift' to an old couple living in a remote village. Ivan did various manual jobs and was treated well. Once, while working in the field, he decided to leave. He was not sure where to go, so he just walked towards the mountains. He encountered a Chechen man. The man was happy to meet a Russian soldier as he hoped to sell him, or so he said. Ivan did not care, since he was tired and just wanted to rest and to eat. While having a meal in the Chechen man's house, they chatted (after all, Russian is the lingua franca in the former USSR). They discovered that both had a younger sister. After feeding Ivan, his host/owner brought him to a visible footpath and said: 'Just follow this road all the way, it leads to Dagestan, out of here.' And they parted. Ivan was walking for a long time, and then he saw an old man on a donkey crossing the road. It was Dagestan. The Dagestani man asked him: 'Where would you like me to take you?' Ivan replied: 'To a police post.' There he was immediately put on a train with other Russians who were discharged and coming back home. He made a friend on the train and brought him to his house near Moscow for a meal, before his friend left for Siberia. Ivan is now married and has a child.

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