A Dubai-style skyscraper, opened to great fanfare in Chechnya two years ago and part of the complex housing the apartment of Gerard Depardieu, the French actor turned Russian citizen, has gone up in flames.
Smoke and fire engulfed almost the whole height of the building in Grozny, which at 145 metres is the tallest in the Caucasus. Everyone was evacuated and there are no reports of casualties, but the fire spread rapidly and caused serious damage to the building, which was the centrepiece of a plan to turn the capital from a war-torn husk to a modern metropolis.
Mr Depardieu was invited to Chechnya by its ruler, Ramzan Kadyrov, who is implicated in rights abuses. Mr Kadyrov gave the actor an apartment as a “gesture of friendship”.