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Polina Zherebtsova
Born (1985-03-20)March 20, 1985
Grozny, North Caucasus

Polina Zherebtsova (Russian: Жеребцова Полина, March 20, 1985, Grozny, USSR) is a writer, poet, and author, well known for penning The Diary of Polina Zherebtsova.[1] Polina was a Andrei Sakharov Prize finalist "Journalism as an act of Conscience" in 2012.[2] She was born in a mixed ethnic family in Grozny, Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic, USSR. Author of the report on the war in Chechnya.[3]

Polinabegan 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.

Childhood[edit | edit source]

File:Картина Война, 1995 год, Грозный, автор Жеребцова Полина, 10 лет.jpg

War 1995, author Zherebtsova Polina

Polina's father was a lawyer, who died when Polina was a child. Her mother, Elena, worked as a senior goods manager at a large company. She devoted her spare time to her daughter's education.

Polina grew in a family that equally revered books like the Torah, the Bible and the Koran. Since childhood, she had studied religion, history, and philosophy.

The First Chechen War[edit | edit source]

File:Фото дневника жеребцовой полины.jpg

Diary of Polina Zherebtsova (Russian language)

The first military campaign started in 1994. At the beginning of the war, Zherebtsova's grandfather, Anatoly, was killed by shells from airplanes. Zherebtsova made the first serious entries in her diary at this time. She kept the diary to herself, and wrote about humorous and sad moments in the life of her neighbors and friends.[1] Because of the name of her grandfather's stepfather, Zherebtsov, Polina was subjected to repeated insults at school.

The Second Chechen War[edit | edit source]

Diary of Polina Zherebtsova

In 1999 a new round of war in Grozny began in the North Caucasus, when Polina was 14 years old, which she describes in her diary.

While helping her mother trade in the central market in Grozny after high school, Polina was wounded in her leg on October 21, 1999 when the marketplace was shelled, as described in a preliminary report "The indiscriminate use of force by federal troops during the armed conflict in Chechnya in September–October 1999".

Due to injury and illness Polina and her mother didn't have time to escape from the war. She faced hunger and eviction along with other neighbors in the "cleansing", as described in pages of the diary. Her main goal was to make people understand the need to avoid war, especially in the same country. The diary also says that before the conflict began in 1994 in the Republic, the relationship between Russian and Chechen peoples was relatively friendly.

In February 2000, five months after her injury, 14-year-old Polina was operated on by surgeons of the 9th Moscow hospital, removing the biggest piece of shrapnel of the 16 pieces.

She had to change schools five times in the city, as all were destroyed in turn during the war in Chechnya. In 2002, 17-year-old Polina entered ChPGI (Chechen State Pedagogical Institute). In 2004 she graduated from the school of reporters with honors.

Since 2003, she had worked as a staff member for the newspaper Youth Change. She also been published in the newspapers News of the Republic, Capital Plus, Grozny Worker, People and Power, Dagestan conduct, Stavropol Truth, Gums, and in the magazines Vainakh(Our People), Stellad (Rainbow), Lam (The Herald), and others. She also published several poems.

In 2005, Polina moved to Stavropol. In Stavropol she transferred to the North Caucasus State Technical University, where she obtained her diploma for General Psychology in 2010.

In 2006, Polina was the winner of the international literary contest named after Janusz Korczak in two categories. In the same year, she wrote a letter to Alexander Solzhenitsyn, asking for help with the publication of her diaries. Staff members of Solzhenitsyn's foundation helped Polina move to Moscow, but failed to publish the diaries.

Polina continues to publish in the Moscow magazine Banner, the magazine Big City, and the newspaper Free Word.

In 2011, Polina published the book The Diary of Polina Zherebtsova, which is about Chechnya.

Emigration[edit | edit source]

Because of threats which Polina reported she had begun to receive, by mail and phone from people representing themselves as "patriots of Russia", she left Russia in January 2012, taking political asylum in Finland.[4]

"Threats were constantly set in the fact that I must stop writing on this subject if I want to live and if I don't want to have my family killed. It's unbearable to live in constant fear. I'm very worried about my family. We were able to go, and we asked for political asylum...."

In 2013 Poline was granted political asylum.

Publication of the diary[edit | edit source]

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 English and Slovenian.

  • Дневник Жеребцовой Полины Detektiv-Press,2011, ISBN 978-5-89935-101-3
  • Polina Jerebtsova, Le Journal de Polina, Books Editions, Paris 2013, ISBN 236-60803-28

Novels and Stories[edit | edit source]

  • Marriage of captivity - 2003
  • The Dream about Passport - 2003
  • Larissa - 2004
  • Not fate - 2004
  • Baptism - 2006
  • Little Angel - 2006
  • The Tale of Rabbit - 2007
  • Grandfather Idris - 2008

Literary Prizes[edit | edit source]

  • Janusz Korczak International literary prize for fragment from the diary published as "Baptism" - 2006
  • Janusz Korczak International literary prize military tale "Little Angel" - 2006
  • Polina was a Andrei Sakharov Prize finalist "Journalism as an act of Conscience" in 2012

References[edit | edit source]

External links and sources[edit | edit source]

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