Residents of Grozny said that they were forced to participate in a rally dedicated to the third anniversary of the annexation of the Crimea. The Caucasian Knot online news site did the main coverage for the story.
"This was another 'obligatory' event. The rally took place in the center of the city, next to the 'Press House.’ We were handed flags of Russia and Chechnya, as well as United Russia banners. We had to stay at the rally for more than an hour," an employee of one of the local agencies, Zarema, told the publication.
According to Islam, a student of the Grozny State Oil Technological University, on March 18 there were no classes at the university. "However, this did not particularly upset anyone, I just don't like it when they force you to go to some event and then in the evening they say on TV that thousands of people were actively participating in the rallies and all that," the student said.
Another student, Khamzat, said that on March 23 they will be sent to celebrate the Day of the Constitution of Chechnya. "Overall, we will have to waste two days on these rallies. As usual, we, students, will be used as extras and then they will announce that almost all of Chechnya voluntarily went to these rallies," Khamzat said.
According to the students, it would be impossible to miss such an event because they might not be allowed to take tests and exams if they did miss it.
The head of one of the technical schools told the publication that educational institutions receive an "order" for a certain number of students and teachers who must be sent to a rally.
Chechen state radio and television company Grozny reported that 'several thousand people' came to a rally on March 18.