After a few years of relative calm with intermittent lawlessness, kidnappings and ransoms stemming from independent Chechnya, the second Chechen War was unleashed by Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev as an unsuccessful attempt to declare the neighboring Republic of Daghestan an Islamic State, one unfolding alongside Vladimir Putin’s ascension to power as the new authoritarian leader of Russia. The Chechen capital Grozny, pictured here by Thomas Dworzak, was still in ruins in 2002, during the insurgency phase.

I like the fact that I am not in control, that the photographs are what happens, rather than the result only of the decision I make.

Thomas Dworzak
© Thomas Dworzak | Magnum Photos
With an unflinching eye and depth of vision, Thomas Dworzak has documented many of this century’s most important news stories since the 1990s. Dworzak started travelling aged 16 to photograph conflicts in Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine and the disintegrating Yugoslavia. Since then, he has gone on to photograph wars in Afghanistan and Iraq post 9/11, the revolutions in the former Soviet republics of Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine. From 2005 to 2008, as a TIME Magazine contract photographer, Dworzak covered many major international news stories. The Caucasus, Russia and the former Soviet Union bloc has been an important area of work for Dworzak since the 90s, and continues to be so. Dworzak is also a keen curator, with a particular interest in digital culture. Other significant projects include a several-month assignment in Afghanistan for The New Yorker, where he discovered studio portraits of the Taliban. Dworzak became a full Magnum member in 2004. He was elected President of Magnum in 2017.

Get Magnum news and updates directly to your inbox