Together with friend Harald, I finally made it to Dagestan - my only missing "country point" in the Caucasus. Dagestan currently ranks as the most dangerous area in Russia, whereas Chechnya is fantastically rebuilt and rather safe.
We flew on a Yak 42 by Grozny Avia in 2,5 hours from Moscow's Vnukovo airport. Flight tickets can be bought in the brand new terminal, starting at ca. EUR 200 (one-way).
From Grozny to Machackala (2 hours, good road) we were provided with an armed Toyota Landcruiser.
From Machackala onwards to Kalmykia and Astrakhan (7 hours on some bad roads) we had an unarmed driver.
Buying tickets at the Grozny Avia counter in Vnukovo airport
Times change: a brandnew airport building
Our Yak 42 takes it from behind
Food in business class is like a last supper
Welcome to Grozny!
Grozny's airport building with billboards of Medvedev (here) and Putin
With President Ramzan Kadyrov (again)
With Vice President Adam Delimkhanov (click)
Strong local impressions
Onwards to Machackala: the border post signals the approaching dangerzone.
Dagestan looks and feels like a warzone compared to the cleaned-up Chechnya.
Even the Dagestanis will admit that they are afraid these days.
Anzhi Machackala, the soccer club of billionaire Suleyman Kerimov (click) with superstars E'too and Roberto Carlos (they live and train in Moscow)
View over Machackala and the Caspian Sea
Update 2013: The border between Russia (Dagestan) and Azerbaijan is now open for foreigners as well.