Ant in a Glass Jar

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Ant in a Glass Jar: Chechen Diaries 1994–2004
Chechen Diaries 1994–2004.jpg
Author Polina Zherebtsova
Country Russia
Language Russian
Subject First Chechen War, Second Chechen War
Genre Autobiography, diary
Publisher АСТ: CORPUS
Publication date
Pages 608
ISBN 978-5-17-083653-6

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]

Chechen Diaries, 1995
picture, 1995

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

Editorial history[edit]

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".[4]


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


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.[5] 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.[6]

Diary of Polina Zherebtsova

Zherebtsova Polina, 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 October 21st 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"


"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.


Theatrical production[edit]

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[edit]

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.

  • Polina Jerebtsova, Le Journal de Polina, Books Editions, Paris 2013, ISBN 236-60803-28
  • "Муравей в стеклянной банке. Чеченские дневники 1994–2004" Corpus, 2014. ISBN 978-5-17-083653-6
  • Жеребцова Полина Sodan sirpaleet.Tytön päiväkirja Tšetšeniasta — Helsinki: INTO, 2014. — 300 с. — ISBN 978-952-264-312-4.
  • Жеребцова Полина LE JOURNAL DE POLINA — Paris: 10/18, 2015. — 528 с. — 5000 экз. — ISBN 978-226-406-455-4.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]