Fan-Guide: Grozny, Chechnya

Zenit’s trip to Grozny, the capital of the Chechen Republic, will be the club’s second trip to Chechnya in its modern history. Zenit fans already set a new Russian record last year, when 1,500 blue-white-light blue fans traveled to watch Zenit’s away match against Terek in Grozny.

Most often there are no more than one hundred fans supporting the away team at Terek home matches. The reasons are obvious. Unfortunately, the Chechen Republic is most well-known for new reports on terrorist attacks and military fighting. The counter-terrorism operation here is officially over, but many people are still frightened when they hear the word “Grozny”.

Today the Chechen Republic’s leaders do everything they can to make the region one of the calmest in the Russian Caucuses, and they’ve been quite successful. Unprecedented measures are taken whenever any visiting fans come to support their team at Terek matches. Last year militia and OMON guards stood on every street corner in the district around the stadium, and checked the documents of almost every single person who walked by.

Keep in mind that the people who live in Grozny still haven't gotten over the sense of alarm and danger. Grozny a place where visiting fans should never provoke the local population. All visitors to the city should follow basic rules any time they visit the Caucuses. For example, don’t go to any public place in shorts or other revealing clothing. Wearing shorts is unacceptable here, and will draw adverse attention to your person.

Following simple rules of behavior will allow you to take only positive and remarkable impressions from the Chechen capital. Grozny is an absolutely unique city. Having been almost completely wiped off the map in the 1990s, today it simply shines with new buildings and perfectly clean, straight streets. One of the best examples of the Grozny renaissance is the local TsUM (Central Department Store), next to which practically all visiting fans want to have their picture taken.

The main tourist attraction of Grozny is of course the Heart of Chechnya Mosque named after Akhmat Kadyrov. The mosque is one of the largest in the world. Its splendor is extremely impressive. The mosque is part of the Islamic complex of the Republic, which has a total area of 14 hectares. After looking at the mosque you can relax in the special green park on the Sunzha River bank.

The main orthodox church in Grozny, the Church of Mikhail Archangel, is located not far from the mosque. The Church of Mikhail Archangel was built in the 19th century by Cossacks. Fan delegations coming to Grozny regularly visit this church along with the mosque.

There aren’t too many places to buy souvenirs in the city. To do so one has to go either to the airport, or to the central market. Don’t be concerned by the young men with machine guns at the entrance to the market – there are several pavilions with an extremely exotic selection of souvenir here. By the way, you can try local delicacies here too: make sure to find a dish that is available only here – chepalgash – a very cheap pie made with cheese, meat, and butter.

Most often visiting fans are met with open arms by the local fans, who try to take care of their guests right up until the match starts. Terek’s fans are very sociable and talkative, and if you go with them to the stadium you’ll have a real experience - nobody follows the driving laws on match day.

Nowhere else in the Caucuses do people cheer as hard for their team as in Grozny: the stadium just boils from start to end of the match. Occasionally during the match the announcer chants emotionally in Chechen over the loudspeaker system, driving the frenzy to new heights.

And if there's a chance to score on the field – get ready to hear drums!