Davide Monteleone - Chechen Republic

© Lorenzo Poli
©Fondation Carmignac

Davide Monteleone started his career in 2000, when he became an editorial photographer for the Contrasto agency. The next year he moved to Moscow as a correspondent. This decision determined his ensuing career.

Since 2003, Monteleone has lived between Italy and Russia, pursuing long-term personal projects. He published his first book Dusha, Russian Soul in 2007, followed by La Linea Inesistente in 2009, and Red Thistle in 2012.

His projects have brought him numerous awards, including various World Press Photo prizes and several grants like “Aftermath” and the European Publisher Award. In recent years he has carried out projects for leading international magazines, foundations and cultural institutions, exhibiting and teaching. Since 2011 Davide has been a member of VII Photo.

Italian. Born in 1974. Lives and works between Italy and Russia. Website


Studio Museo Francesco Messina
Via San Sisto 4/A, 20123 Milano (Italy)

24 May - 21 June 2014
Open Tuesday to Saturday
10am - 7pm
The exhibition will be
exceptionally open on sunday 25
May from 10am to 7pm.
Free admission

Chapelle des Beaux-arts de Paris

14 rue de Bonaparte, 75006 Paris

From 8th November to 4th December, 2013
Tuesday to Saturday from 11 am to 7 pm.
The exhibition will also be open on Sunday 17 November

Free entrance


is published by Kehrer Verlag

Bilingual publication in English/French


Chaired by Galia Ackerman, journalist, writer and translator of Anna Politkovskaya’s work, the panel of judges for the fourth edition had the following members:

  • Daphné Anglès, Picture Editor at the New York Times in Paris
  • Mari Bastashevski, photojournalist
  • Christian Caujolle, journalist, curator and founder of the VU’ gallery and agency
  • Elena Chernyschova, Russian photographer
  • Marielle Eudes, managing editor at AFP
  • Robin Hammond, photojournalist, winner of the 2011 Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award
  • Walter Keller, director of the Walter Keller gallery in Zurich

Of the applications received, 14 were shortlisted

  • Davide Monteleone
  • Valerio Bispuri
  • Patrick Chauvel
  • William Daniels
  • Thomas Dworzak
  • Stanley Greene
  • Andreas Herzau
  • Yuri Kozyrev
  • Olga Kravets
  • Diana Markosian
  • Justyna Mielnikiewicz
  • Maria Morina
  • Serge Ponomarev
  • Oksana Yushko


The panel assessed how successful each candidate was in offering a novel, meaningful interpretation of the situation in Chechen Republic. Its members also considered whether the involvement and understanding shown by the contestants extended beyond the moments of extreme tension covered by the media.

Davide Monteleone was selected as the winner of fourth Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award on 30 October 2012.

Grozny, March 2013 (1)
Grozny, March 2013

Davide Monteleone's report

[...] "Chechnya has won, Russia has won". Perhaps the losers are the many Chechens who chose to go into exile as a matter of honour. Those who stayed have returned to a normal life and can satisfy their basic needs after several decades of hardship. Such a “normal” life, however, requires them to make major compromises and often hold their tongues.

There is no alternative for those who want to work, have a home and carry on with their lives. In this state of reassuring stagnation, the authorities control everything, distributing favours as they please. The physical violence so prevalent in the post-conflict years, the kidnappings and the summary executions also seem to have decreased. The Chechens are so frightened that these acts of violence are almost no longer necessary. The violence is now psychological, a form of brainwashing that starts with the young.

Davide Monteleone’s study on identity gradually became the story of a compromise, one that all the inhabitants of this republic are forced to make with the authorities in return for a better life.

As he was told by a friend in the mountains around Itum-Kali who quoted a letter from Yermolov to Tsar Nicolas I during the Caucasus campaign: “The Chechens are a combative people, difficult to conquer, easier to buy.”

"Thank you Ramzan, thank you Russia" for everything. "Spasibo".

Click here to read the full Davide Monteleone's report (Press kit, PDF)

Grozny, March 2013 (2)
Grozny, March 2013
Shatoy (3)
Shatoy (4)

(1) Grozny, March 2013

 Security forces attending the 10th annual celebration of Constitution Day. In tha background, the five gleaming Grozny-City Towers, the heart of the reconstruction of Grozny and a symbol of the city’s recovery following the destruction wrought at the beginning of the millennium.

(2) Grozny, March 2013

A group of pro-Kadyrov activists in the main city square for the 10th anniversary celebration of Constitution Day. In the background, the Central Mosque and the Grozny-City skyscrapers, the main symbol of the reconstruction of Grozny and Chechnya thanks to the efforts of President Kadyrov and money from Moscow. 

(3) Shatoy

Most Chechens are Sunni Muslims and the majority of them belong to the mystical Sufi tradition. In the late 2000s, two new trends have emerged in Chechnya. A radicalised remnant of the armed Chechen separatist movement has become dominated by Salafis, mostly abandoning nationalism for pan-Islamism and merging with several other regional Islamic insurgencies to form the Caucasus Emirate. At the same time, the Moscow-backed Chechnya ruled by authoritarian President Ramzan Kadyrov has undergone its own controversial counter-campaign of Islamisation. The local governments have been actively promoting and enforcing their own version of a so-called traditional Islam, including the introduction of elements of the Sharia that have to a certain extent. 

(4) Shatoy

Rada, age 14, trying on a wedding dress designed by her sister, on board a bus during the rehearsal for the shooting of a movie on Chechen deportation. Child brides were very common in Chechen tradition, as in many other Muslim countries. Although President Kadyrov has consistently promoted a revival of Chechen tradition and Islamic law, he was recently forced by the Russian Federation’s Central Authority to publicly condemn the practice of child marriage, which is illegal in the entire Russian Federation.