Tag Archives: St. Petersburg

Human Nature During War: An Essay by Anthony Marra

9780770436421By Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth 2014)

My interest in Chechnya began when I was in college. I spent a semester of my junior year in St. Petersburg, where I lived down the street from a Russian military academy. Sixteen- and seventeen-year-old cadets, dressed in sky-blue uniforms, marched in formation around the neighborhood each afternoon. Several blocks away, outside a metro station, men a few years older than the cadets gathered to panhandle at rush hour. These men also wore military uniforms, though theirs weren’t as clean or so neatly pressed. A number had lost their legs and wore hemmed trousers. These men were Russian veterans of the Chechen conflict that the cadets might one day join. When the cadets marched passed, they stared at the veterans as if peering into their own uncertain futures, while the veterans looked back with pity. Continue reading

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