Ant in a Glass Jar

Ant in a Glass Jar: Chechen Diaries 1994–2004 (Russian: "Муравей в стеклянной банке. Чеченские дневники 1994–2004" is a 2014 documentary book that is an author's diary about the years spent in Chechnya from 1994 until 2004.[1] It was written by Polina Zherebtsova, while she was 9–19 years old.[2]

In 2013, Polina has received a political asylum in Finland.

Обложка тетради Жеребцовой Полины, 1995
Chechen Diaries, 1995
Рисунок Жеребцовой Полины, 1995 год (автору 10 лет)
picture, 1995
Дома по улице Заветы-Ильича, автор Жеребцова Полина

Presentation of the book took place in the center of the Andrei Sakharov 30.05.2014.[3]

Politkovskaya described war as a journalist from the outside in. Polina Zherebtsova writes about war from inside the heart of darkness. Der Spiegel №10 /2015.[4]

Ant in a Glass Jar: Chechen Diaries 1994–2004
Chechen Diaries 1994–2004
AuthorPolina Zherebtsova
SubjectFirst Chechen War, Second Chechen War
GenreAutobiography, diary
PublisherАСТ: CORPUS
Publication date

Editorial history

This diary was edited by the author and it was published in spring 2014 by the Russian publishing house AST "Korpus", though as an abridged version because of the censorship policies in modern Russia.

The names of characters have been changed. The book tells about inter-ethnic relations of Russian and Chechen people and the lives of civilians during bloody Chechen wars. This book contains the following photographs and drawings made by Polina Zherebtsova in the years 1994–2004.

"I saw the actual writing, and I can confirm that this is a real diary of a real girl and not just some hoax" – said Svetlana Gannushkina, who is co-founder of the "Civic Assistance", committee member and head of the network "Migration and Law" of the Human Rights Centre "Memorial", to refute claims about inauthenticity of the published material at the book's presentation, according to Russian newspaper "Rossiyskaya Gazeta".[5] has put a book "Ant in a glass jar. Chechen Diaries 1994-2004" in the list "100 best books of all time" based on rating and voting results.

The library "Bestseller" has awarded the first place to the book in the project "With a book to peace and harmony", dedicated to the presentation of books about the war.


The book has been translated into Ukrainian, French, Lithuanian, Finnish, German.

Fragments were published in Slovenian and English

Polina Zherebtsova has always offered publishing rights for translations of all of her books by herself, without the use of services of literary agents.


The story begins in 1994 in Chechnya's capital city Grozny, in Polina's Zherebtsova's multinational family, which was in the midst of heavy fighting during military actions. Polina's ancestors are of different ethnicities: Russians, Chechens, Jews, Ukrainians and Tatars.[6] The girl grows up very quickly while living under the bombing. She learns how to survive, rescue her mom and how to work. But even having a life under the bombs, she reads books, falls in love, makes friends and enemies. Polina describes in her diary what is happening around with the neighbours, army men, friends and enemies. In her house Torah, Bible and Quran are highly honoured. But she turns out to be outside religions and nationalities.[7]


Фрагмент дневника Жеребцовой Полины.
Diary of Polina Zherebtsova

Polina Zherebtsova, a documentarian, poet and author of the famous diaries, covering her childhood, adolescence and youth that witnessed three Chechen wars.

Since 2002, she has begun to work as a journalist. She is a member of PEN International and the Union of Journalists of Russia. She has been awarded the Janusz Korczak international prize in Jerusalem in two categories (narrative and documentary prose). In 2012, she was awarded The Andrei Sakharov Award "For Journalism as an Act of Conscience". Since 2013, she has been living in Finland.

Polina Zherebtsova was born in 1985 in Grozny and lived there for almost twenty years. She considers herself a cosmopolitan as she has multi-national ancestry. Polina’s father died when she was very young. Polina’s maternal grandfather Zherebtsov Anatoly Pavlovich, with whom she had formed a friendship, worked in Grozny for more than 25 years as a TV journalist-cameraman. Polina’s maternal grandmother was a professional artist. Paternal grandfather was an actor and musician. Polina’s paternal grandmother was a professional actress.

In 1994, Polina started keeping a diary in which she recorded what was happening around her. Her diaries cover her childhood, adolescence and youth that witnessed three Chechen wars. School, first love, quarrels with parents, what is familiar to any teenager, side by side in the life of Polina with the bombing, starvation, devastation and poverty.

On 21 October of 1999 she was wounded by shrapnel during a missile attack on Grozny Central Market.

Since 2002, she has begun to work as a journalist. In 2003-2004, she studied at the School of Correspondents.

In 2004, Chechen diary was completed when the author was 19 years old.

In 2006, she has been awarded the Janusz Korczak international prize in Jerusalem in two categories (narrative and documentary prose). Competition theme was "terror and children."

Since 2007, she has been a member of the Russian Union of Journalists.

In 2010, she graduated from the Stavropol North Caucasus University with a degree in General Psychology.

In 2011, "Polina Zherebtsova's Journal: Chechnya 1999-2002" was published.

Since 2012, she has been a member of PEN International.

In 2012, she was awarded The Andrei Sakharov Award "For Journalism as an Act of Conscience".

In 2013, she has received a political asylum in Finland.

In 2014, "Ant in a Glass Jar" was published.


The year was 1995.

"I ran through the gardens, so I could reach the base. I was running alone. A sniper was shooting the railway. Bullets were falling nearby. I wanted to find my mother. I was running, calling for her. I saw murdered people, but my mother was not one of them, so I did not get close to them. Some aunts and children were lying on the snow. And, there was one grandmother with a grey scarf."


Ant in a glass jar. Chechen diaries of 1994–2004 is a more full edition of "The Diary of Polina Zherebtsova"

  • In February 2015, Novaya Gazeta reported that the theater "Practice" refused to put the performance of the two Chechen wars because of the dangerous political situation in Russia.


"This is a terrific human document, translated into many European languages" – writes the Russian magazine "Medvedj".

"Agonizing Zherebtsova's storytelling already caused a comparison to her predecessors – Anne Frank, who kept a diary during the Second World War, and Zlata Filipovic, whose diary tells about the war in Bosnia. Publishers highly valued the diary, however, for a long time, one after another, they refused to print it, being "loyal to the government of modern Russia.-" Alissa de Carbonne, "Reuters", United Kingdom.


"When the word "death" from the books broke through the cardboard covers and got reunited with its sister that was swooping down on the city from the dirty sky, and it had overgrown with bones and settled in Grozny for a long time, Polina already had an antidote. Not only she survived, but also found the right words to tell the impossible." Bozhko Stanislav, writer and peacekeeper.


Has this book changed anything in my personal perception of the war in the Caucasus? Yes, I think so. It's not that I am politically illiterate person from a street. I can imagine what was the first and second Chechen wars, and what has been transformed into the city of Grozny. But when faced with the direct testimonies of a living person who was there, lived, fought for a piece of bread, this read, no doubt, changes your perspective.

Marina Davydova, theater critic, editor in chief of "Theatre" magazine


Polina Zherebtsova was 14 when the bombs started raining down. They hit the market where she worked with her mother, the streets she walked down daily, until Grozny was reduced to rubble, a hometown no longer recognisable. From the start, Zherebtsova wrote about it, an act of catharsis as much as a document on the second Chechnya war. She filled dozens of diaries in a messy, scribbled cursive, sometimes embellished with doodles – bomb blasts that look like flowers, blocks of flats seen from a distance.

Miriam Elder, journalist, correspondent of The Guardian


Diary of Polina Zherebtsova is valuable by the fact that it upsets the balance of the roles and calls for the voices of other characters: girls, women, old women, waiting for the death from young, strong Russian men in military uniforms. Polina called them "Germans" or "white" because how can she, born at the turn of the Soviet Union and growing up with the Soviet films, name enemies any different? Russians as "Germans", shooting in poor or old women or cackling over the girl who skedaddle from them on all fours - these paintings are not so easy to accept even for the most liberal and unblinkered consciousness, but it makes the effort of every reader to open "Diary" even more valuable.

Elena Rybakova, the correspondent of "Moscow News"


Theatrical production

A scriptwriter of Moscow's theatre "Praktika" is willing to put on a play based on the book "Ant in a glass jar. Chechen diaries of 1994–2004." He spoke about this idea in one of his interviews. Also, negotiations are happening now in the U.S. about the book's release on the big screen.

Publication of the diary

The Diary of Zherebtsova Polina from 1999 to 2002 was published by Detective Press in 2011. Shortened fragments of the diary from 1999 and 2000 were published in Russian and foreign media in 2006–2010. It has been partly translated into Georgian and Slovenian.

  • Дневник Жеребцовой Полины Detektiv-Press, 2011, ISBN 978-5-89935-101-3
  • "Ant in a glass jar. Chechen diaries of 1994-2004" Corpus, 2014. ISBN 978-5-17-083653-6

Publication in foreign languages

  • Polina Zherebtsova, Le journal de Polina. France, Paris: Books Editions., 2013. ISBN 2-36608-032-8.
  • Polina Zherebtsova, Sodan sirpaleet. Finland, Helsinki: INTO, 2014. ISBN 978-952-264-312-4.
  • Polina Zherebtsova, LE JOURNAL DE POLINA. France, Paris: 10/18, 2015. ISBN 978-226-406-455-4.
  • Polina Zherebtsova, Чеченські щоденники 1994-2004 рр. Ukraine:«Клуб сімейного дозвілля, 2015.ISBN 978-966-14-8343-8.
  • Polina Zherebtsova, Polinas Tagebuch. Berlin, Rowohlt Verlag, 2015. ISBN 978-3-87134-799-3.
  • Polina Zherebtsova, Polinos Dienorastis. Lithuania: Tytoalba, 2015. ISBN 978-6-09466-107-5.
  • Polina Zherebtsova, BizBooks, 2016. Czech Republic ISBN 978-80-265-0500-6.

See also

External links


  1. ^ Муравей в стеклянной банке. Чеченские дневники 1994–2004 гг.
  2. ^ Polina Zherebtsova on the diary she kept as a child during the Chechen war. ВВС on YouTube
  3. ^ Presentation of the book in the Sakharov Center
  4. ^ Der Spiegel №10 /2015
  5. ^ Rossiyskaya Gazeta
  6. ^ Report on war crimes in Chechnya in 1994–2004.
  7. ^ Letter to Khodorkovsky
1995 Shali cluster bomb attack

The 1995 Shali cluster bomb attack refers to an incident which occurred on January 3, 1995, in which Russian fighter-jets repeatedly bombed the Chechen town of Shali with cluster bombs.

2004 raid on Grozny

2004 raid on Grozny was a series of overnight attacks in central Grozny, capital of Chechnya.

According to estimates of the investigation group, 250-400 fighters entered the city on August 21, established their own roadblocks, and simultaneously attacked a number of polling places and other targets, according to law enforcement sources killing 58 members of police and pro-Moscow militia and five federal soldiers. More than a dozen civilians were also killed.

Abu Hafs al-Urduni

Abu Hafs al-Urduni (ابو حفص الاردني, born Jordan; 1973 – November 26, 2006), also transliterated as Abu Hafs al-Urdani was a Mujahid Emir (commander) and a terrorist fighting in Chechnya. After Abu al-Walid's death in April 2004, he assumed command of the Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya. He was killed in Dagestan on November 26, 2006.

Arthur Getagazhev

Arthur Getagazhev (Russian: Артур Гатагажев), also known as Emir Abdullah or Ubaydullakh, was an Islamist militant leader in the Russian North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia.

Active in the Insurgency in Ingushetia from at least 2009

, Getagazhev was credited for many attacks in Ingushetia including the assassination of the Ingushetia head of security Akhmet Kotiev.

Following the killing of Dzhamaleyl Mutaliyev (alias Emir Adam) by Russian security forces on 21 May 2013, Doku Umarov, leader of the Caucasus Emirate, appointed Getagazhev as the head of the Vilayat Galgaycho rebels. Getagazhev was among 7 killed during a raid by security forces on the village of Sagopshi on 24 May 2014.

Aslan Byutukayev

Aslan Avgazarovich Byutukayev (Russian: Аслан Бютукаев), also known as Emir Khamzat and Abubakar, is a Chechen insurgent commander in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Wilayah al-Qawqaz, the commander of the Riyad-us Saliheen Brigade of Martyrs and a close associate of the deceased Caucasus Emirate leader Dokka Umarov. Byutukayev was listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the United States on July 13, 2016.

Battle of Dolinskoye

The Battle of Dolinskoye (Dolinskoe, Dolinsky), which took place 25 kilometers northwest of the Chechen capital of Grozny, was the first major ground engagement of the First Chechen War.

Battle of Khankala

The Battle of Khankala was a failed attempt by the Chechen separatists to counterattack at the strategic position at Khankala from Grozny and Argun using armoured vehicles.

Khankala is a former Soviet military base and airstrip at the eastern outskirts of Grozny, also overtaking the main Rostov-Baku highway and cutting direct access into the Chechen capital of Grozny from the town of Argun. It was captured by a column of Russian troops led by elements of the 104th Guards Airborne Division in a surprise south-east dash from the village of Tolstoy-Yurt.

Reportedly, in the aftermath of the battle, the Chechen attackers were repelled by Russian paratroopers, losing six tanks and an armoured personnel carrier.

Caucasian Front (militant group)

The Caucasian Front (Russian: Кавказский фронт) also called Caucasus Front or the Caucasian Mujahadeen, was formally established in May 2005 as an Islamic structural unit of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria's armed forces by the decree of the separatist President of Chechnya Abdul-Halim Sadulayev during the Second Chechen War.


State News Agency Chechenpress (SNA Chechenpress) is the news agency of the Chechen separatists who proclaim themselves to be the representatives of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. It used to be the official press agency of Chechnya.

As of 2008, SNA Chechenpress, linked with London-based Akhmed Zakayev, is the Chechen nationalist website rival to the Islamist Kavkaz Center website run by Movladi Udugov. In November 2007 the editors of Chechenpress declared it works since then directly under the ChRI Parliament.

Counter-insurgency operations during the Second Chechen War

Counter-insurgency operations during the Second Chechen War have been conducted by the Russian army in Chechnya since 1999. The President of Chechnya, and former rebel, Ramzan Kadyrov declared this phase to end in March 2009. On 27 March 2009, the President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev met with Alexander Bortnikov, the Director of the Federal Security Service to discuss the official ending of counter-terrorism operations in Chechnya. Medvedev directed the National Anti-Terrorism Committee, which Bortnikov also heads, to report to the Russian government on this issue, which will then by decided by the Russian parliament.As of early 2009 there were close to 480 active insurgents situated in the mountains under leadership of field commander Doku Umarov, according to official data.Clashes with insurgents also continued in other regions of North Caucasus in 2009.

Guerrilla phase of the Second Chechen War

The following lists detail the incidents of guerrilla warfare and counter insurgency in the republic of Chechnya and the rest of the North Caucasus since the official end of the main Russian offensive in April 2000. The lists are incomplete and the actual casualty count is much higher. Both Russian and separatist reports of casualties are often considered unreliable.

Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade

The Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade (Russian: Исламская международная миротворческая бригада; abbreviated IIPB), also known as the Islamic International Brigade, the Islamic Peacekeeping Army, was the name of an international Islamist terrorist mujahideen organization, founded in 1998.

Khasavyurt Accord

Khasavyurt Accord (Russian: Хасавюртовские соглашения) was an agreement that marked the end of the First Chechen War, signed in Khasavyurt in Dagestan on 30 August 1996 between Alexander Lebed and Aslan Maskhadov.

Magomed Suleimanov

Magomed Aliyevich Suleimanov (Russian: Мухаммад Алиевич Сулейманов; 29 February 1976 – 11 August 2015), also known as Abu Usman Gimrinsky (Russian: Абу Усман Гимринский), was a Dagestani Islamist in Russia and the third leader of the Caucasus Emirate militant group.

Movsar Barayev

Movsar Buharovich Barayev (Russian: Мовсар Бухарович Бараев; October 26, 1979 – October 26, 2002), earlier known as Suleimanov, was a Chechen Islamist militia leader during the Second Chechen War, who led the seizure of a Moscow theater that led to the deaths of over 170 people.

Polina Zherebtsova

Polina Zherebtsova (Russian: Полина Викторовна Жеребцова, IPA: [pɐˈlʲinə ʐɨrʲɪpˈt͡sovə], March 20, 1985) is a documentarian, poet and author of the diaries Ant in a Glass Jar, covering her childhood, adolescence and youth that witnessed three Chechen wars.Since 2002, she has begun to work as a journalist. She is a member of PEN International and the Union of Journalists of Russia. She has been awarded the Janusz Korczak international prize in Jerusalem in two categories (narrative and documentary prose). In 2012, she was awarded The Andrei Sakharov Award “For Journalism as an Act of Conscience”. She was born in a mixed ethnic family in Grozny, Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic, USSR. Since 2013 she has received a political asylum in Finland.

Author of the Report on war crimes in Chechnya in 1994–2004.

ru. eng.Polina was born in Grozny, USSR, and began keeping her diary when she was 9 years old, at the start of the First Chechen War. She was still living in Grozny when the Second Chechen War began. On October 21, 1999, the market in Grozny where she was helping her mother sell newspapers was shelled, and Polina was moderately wounded.

Politkovskaya described war as a journalist from the outside in. Polina Zherebtsova writes about war from inside the heart of darkness. Der Spiegel №10 /2015.

Ant in a glass jar. Chechen diaries of 1994–2004 has been translated into Ukrainian, Slovenian, French, Lithuanian, Finnish, German, Georgian, and Chechen.

Polina Zherebtsova has given interviews to the BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, has participated in literary festivals around the world.

She has always offered publishing rights for translations of all of her books by herself, without the use of services of literary agents.

Polina Zherebtsova's Journal

Polina Zherebtsova's Journal: Chechnya 1999-2002 is the edited diary kept by Polina Zherebtsova while she was living in Grozny, the capital of the Chechen Republic. It was published in September 2011. Zherebtsova wrote the diary when she was 14–17 years old, from the beginning of The Second Chechen War until December 2002. It tells the story of ethnic relations between Russian and Chechen peoples and of the lives of civilians during the war. This book is non-fiction, but real names were changed by the author in the book.

According to The Guardian, Zherebtsova said of the book:

I don't scold anyone in particular, neither the rebels nor the Russian soldiers ... There is no evil in the book – just the life of civilians who fell into life in war

Supyan Abdullayev

Supyan Abdullayev (Russian: Супьян Абдуллаев; 8 November 1956 – 28 March 2011) was the vice president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. He was appointed to this position (vacant since the death of Shamil Basayev) on 19 March 2007, by the President of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, Dokka Umarov. He was considered the most senior figure after Umarov in the ranks of the Caucasian Emirate and a possible successor.Abdullayev was commander of the Jundullah Brigade, linked to the Vedeno-based wing of the Chechen resistance movement which was close to Basayev. He was primarily a religious figure rather than a military man, alike Abdul-Halim Sadulayev.

Turpal-Ali Atgeriyev

Turpal-Ali Atgeriyev (8 May 1969 – 18 August 2002) was a Deputy Prime Minister and National Security Minister of Chechnya.

First Chechen War
Second Chechen War
Major attacks
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