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Sunday, 25 November, 2001, 11:53 GMT
War-hit Chechen paper soldiers on
The news gets out despite Chechen troubles
A local newspaper is demonstrating the resilience of the war-ravaged population of the troubled Russian republic of Chechnya.


There were no modern conveniences whatsoever. The windows had been smashed everywhere. We rented a diesel engine... and began

Editor-in-chief Said Khognaliyev
Russian NTV has reported how a small editorial team based in a residential house in the town of Urus-Martan, to the south of the capital Grozny, toils heroically to produce the Russian-language local newspaper Marsho - Chechen for freedom.

Nothing about the operation has been easy.

Following the second Chechen war, when renewed hostilities broke out between Russian federal forces and Chechen separatist rebels in 1999, the team has had to restore the paper's shattered building and damaged equipment themselves.

Time-consuming

As editor-in-chief, Said Khognaliyev explained, they managed to get the paper out despite having less than ideal conditions.


The printing office is located outside in the yard
"There were no modern conveniences whatsoever. The windows had been smashed everywhere. We rented a diesel engine... and began.

So, to the sound of the engine, without electricity or heating, the journalists worked around the clock to produce their paper.

And even today, they explain that the process is far from being at the cutting edge of technology.


We are in danger 24 hours a day, because journalists here are in between a rock and a hard place

Correspondent Isa Tavsultanov
There is not a single computer in the printing office and two typesetters assemble the text by hand, making typesetting the most time-consuming part of the production.

They describe how each line of text has to be transformed into a lead plate and the casting of one page takes around four hours. The whole issue takes about a week to assemble.

And the lack of technology is not the only problem they face.

Danger

When Chechnya's rebel president Aslan Maskhadov was in control, he closed down the paper and twice arrested its editor-in-chief.


All the type plates have to come from the Republic of Dagestan
Mr Khognaliyev said the newspaper's overriding policy is objectivity and that its journalists fell foul of the former rulers because they were not afraid to criticize the separatists.

Now Marsho often reports what the TV describes as abuses by Russian federal troops in Chechnya, which carries similar problems.


The journalists take particular pride in the front page
"We are in danger 24 hours a day, because journalists here are in between a rock and a hard place. Ordinary people may not say what they think but we have to take this or that line," explains correspondent Isa Tavsultanov.

In the light of such drawbacks, the journalists are proud of their achievement, and produce a newspaper which is read not only by locals but by the Russian troops stationed nearby and not only that, it's all for free.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

18 Nov 01 | Europe
Moscow opens Chechnya peace talks
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