that Russian army commit against civilians in Chechnya compels the population to
an open uprising after seven years of almost ceaseless conflict.
Kantiev, an emaciated looking Chechen man, recently released from a Russian
prison, opens his mouth to show a yellow row of golden front dentures that were
made to replace the teeth that Russian investigators beat out.
They filed off my teeth with a hack-saw
for metal, he says. Resident of
Achkhoi-Martan village located to the west of the Chechen capital, Kantiev
fought in the first Chechen War in the mid-90s but did not participate in the
present conflict. Now he regrets
that he didn’t go to fight in this war.
At least I would have avoided seven
months of Russian prison, he
says with bitterness. They tortured us with electric current every day, connecting the power
generator of a field telephone...
does not tell how he managed to free himself, but according to statements of
other Chechens no one detained by Russian side is released without payment of a
ransom, $2,000 in average. Family
of the detained often sells the last property to buy out their relative from the
to Kantiev, soon all the population of Chechnya will raise for a struggle
against occupants, because the Russian side does not distinguish between
civilians and fighters. They treat
all Chechens as rebels.
Chernokozovo (one of sadly famous filtration camps, were Chechen prisoners are
kept), we were told that the Day he was born a Chechen already committed crime.
my trip around populated areas of West Chechnya, controlled by Russian troops
for 18 months already, every person I managed to get interview from assured that
the partisan war would inevitably build up.
completely contradicts with the official line supported by President of Russia
Vladimir Putin, which contends that the war is won and resistance of rebels is
well-informed Chechen, who did not wish to have his name mentioned, told:
populated point in Chechnya counts from 50 to 200 people with arms and uniform,
ready at any moment to engage in struggle against occupants.
are the opinions of several Russian experts.
Konstantin Kosachev, representative of the chairman of Duma’s Foreign
Affairs Committee, after a recent visit to the North Caucasus, caustically wrote,
“Ardent assurances of the final victory of the military in Chechnya can remain
mere words. This victory can crash
just as suddenly as it happened in 1996, when Chechens took back Grozny, passing
to an unexpected offensive. “
the words of Mr. Kosachev, Russia can achieve success in Chechnya only by
stopping to violate human rights. Chechens
have to see new schools and hospitals built in place of the destroyed.
However, this does not happen. Settlements
are divided by Russian checkpoints. Here,
often, men in the age from 10 to 65 years are detained and disappear in
filtration camps. These checkpoints
are also the sites, where Russian soldiers extort bribes from residents.
Achkhoi-Martan is a good example of how the atrocities of Russian army alienated
the population. Majority of
villagers treated Russians loyally. But
after a number of incidents their attitude abruptly deteriorated.
is just one episode. Murad
Almurzaev, 27, was sitting in the yard of his house when suddenly men in black
masks intruded (as it turned out, an FSB detachment).
He attempted to run into the backyard but was knocked down by shots at
his feet. They threw him into the
body of a truck and started to beat with butt-stocks. Luiza, a relative, told that dissection showed that Murad
died of beating not of bullet wounds.
Later a FSB officer impudently declared “it’s a pity we confused the address.”
for children is the main problem for Chechen families. Natalia Estimirova, a worker of the Russian group of human
rights defense “Memorial”, describes how on 20 April Russian troops
surrounded a school in Achkhoi-Martan. She
They took 16 boys, all teenagers. They
loaded them one on the other into a truck and tramped on them.
Then, the boys were thrown into a large pit with several ounces of water.
They were beaten continuously.
soldiers demanded to point at guerillas. One
boy told, “How can I know? I’m just a schoolboy.”
“You are not a schoolboy. You
are Chechen,” shouted the soldier.
person I talked to in Chechnya believes that military operations will build up
dramatically. Russian troops
dispersed across Chechnya in checkpoints and small garrisons are too vulnerable.
Everyone expects a Chechen counterattack.
Leaders of the Chechen resistance could wait until the just anger of the
people becomes even stronger. However,
in any case, the next stage of the war will be considerably bloodier, which is
proven by the previous experience of the Chechen war...