Long ago the island was used for Chechen Prisoners that fought in the Caucasus with the Czars. After their release a few stayed on the island but they became difficult and wanted to return to the mountains. Some were deported to Kazakhstan, others were drowned in the sea. The island is a mystery, of actually what happened to the Chechens.
In 1964 the island was used for testing of a plane that could take off from the water. It was closed to the public from 1964 – 1982. Photographs from American spy satellites showed a strange aircraft carrying letters “KM” on its fuselage. CIA disambiguated it as “Kaspian Monster” but it actually meant “Korabl maket”. The chief designer was Rostislav Alexeyev and in 1982 pilot error caused a crash. The plane was too heavy to be recovered from its watery wreck site. By then the economy was completely destroyed, and only people with no where to go stayed. Fishing was the only industry but it was later semi banned by the Russian government for over fishing. Now the island has only a few residents, and they say they are dying like the Island.
Chechen Island is the first chapter of Stanley Greene’s long term project Hidden Scars – a photographic investigation into post-war Chechnya, where he crossed from Syria, Dagestan, Chechnya and finally Inigushetia in a period of four and a half months. Searching for clues of what happened to the Chechens, it became a photographic investigative journey and a personal one also, where he reopened his own scars from this war. The project will be released in a series of different photo essays presented on the noor site.
Made possible by the Aftermath Grant.