Russische Föderation: Zuleikhan Bagalova

Those trying to conceal the truth about Chechnya do their best also to conceal the fact that the activities of the human rights organizations are anti-war rather than anti-Russian.

— Zuleikhan Bagalova

Zuleikhan Bagalova (born 1945) is a leading actress of the Chechen theater. She holds the titles People's Actress of Checheno-Ingushetia and Distinguished Actress of the Russian Federation. For her theatrical achievements, she was awarded the order Symbol of Honor. Zuleikhan already began her social activities in Soviet times. She was three times elected to the Supreme Council of Chechen-Ingushetia. Since 1995, she has been directing the LAM Center which focuses on reviving Chechen culture, providing humanitarian aid, and taking a stand against the war in Chechnya.

The Chechen theater was Zuleikhan's life. And she herself was the main heroine and director of the drama. She has always had many friends and admirers. The war turned her sunny city of Grozny into a pile of rubble, and her audience had either died or been dispersed over the four corners of the world. During the dreadful hours of bombing and artillery fire, she wanted to stay with the living and to live completely differently, to love the whole world, and to cherish every moment. When she went out into the streets, she no longer recognized her city and its people: these were different faces, gray, sullen, and unhappy. Zuleikhan felt like doing something to change this distressing life, to breathe color and joy into it. She conceived the idea of uniting the forces of many people–writers, students, doctors, and actors–to revive and popularize Chechen culture. The LAM Center was born. The first major projects of the organization were the video film ‘Vaynakh Songs’ and the book ‘Chechnya: The Right of Culture.’ But then a new, even bloodier war broke out. Zuleikhan had to leave for Ingushetia. Her hometown, the theater, old friends–everything was left behind in this dreadful war. In Chechnya, it was dangerous not only to talk about anything in public, not to mention to protest, but also simply to live. In Ingushetia, a new life began for Zuleikhan. And she decided to dedicate it to those people who had stayed in Chechnya, to the refugees, and to the victims of war. The LAM Center continued its activities and took a very determined anti-war stand. The organization was one of the first to publicly announce its anti-war position, support refugees in court, carry out humanitarian activities, and publish an anti-war bulletin. Behind all this stood the well-known actress and peace activist Zuleikhan Bagalova.

LAM–Center for Complex Research and Popularization of Chechen Culture