The flag is not just a colored rag: it is the spiritual synthesis of a people’s identity. This is more than ever true when it comes to the flag of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Every Chechen who yearns for independence carries its colors in his memory, and gets excited every time he sees them. In the green cloth marked with red and white he finds the pride of a free nation, the tragedy of the blood shed by his brothers and the promise of a future redemption.
An informant who requested to remain anonymous has brought us some fascinating stories about the tricolor of Ichkeria, which we make available to our readers.
A flag at the market
September 6 , 1995. That day a major anti-war demonstration was scheduled in Grozny. At that time, a “filtration camp” was located in Neftyanka where prisoners from all over the republic were deported. Here they were tortured and if they survived, often set free for a ransom, they remained bent in body and spirit for the rest of their short lives.
In front of the camp there was a market teeming with people, organized for the military, the only ones who had money to make purchases. On the other side of the road, the armored vehicles on which the camp inmates were transported were stationed. Above them sat bored soldiers, swollen with beer bought at the market, waiting for a new “crop” of prisoners, victims of this terrible conveyor belt of death. Suddenly from a crossroads came a Zhiguli . The car parked between the market and the armored vehicle parking lot. A passenger came out of the car carrying a large ChRI flag, and began tying it to the door.
Panic immediately broke out: the sellers fled, spilling the goods, the soldiers suddenly awoke from their torpor, locking themselves inside their vehicles. The passenger of the Zhiguli , without flinching, finished arranging his flag, got into the car and slammed the door behind him. After that he set off again in complete tranquillity. It was enough for a patriot to display the flag of the Chechen Republic, with the wolf guarding it, to unleash panic among the Russian military. They had seen what miracles the Chechens had performed under this banner, defending their land from invaders.
The flag on the crane
During the war, someone hoisted a large ChRI flag on a tall construction crane at the “new stop” in Staropromyslvsky district . The occupation authorities, noticing her, demanded that she be seized. However, they could not find anyone willing to ride the crane, not even for a reward. There were rumors that somewhere there was a sniper guarding the flag, who would electrocute anyone who approached the flag. Thus, the tricolor of Ichkeria continued to fly on the crane until August 1996, when the Chechens liberated Grozny and victoriously ended the war.
The flag of the Presidential Palace
ChRI’s most famous flag was the one that flew from the Presidential Palace. In times of peace, citizens could see this great banner waving in the sky. During the first war this was impetuously bombed and, after two anti-bunker bombs managed to penetrate up to the basement of the structure, it was necessary to evacuate it to avoid a massacre. The Palace gave shelter to hundreds of people (up to 800) and the bombings had so deeply affected the structure that its defenders, and the wounded, risked ending up buried under the rubble. So it was decided to abandon it: not before, however, having removed the flag from the mast to save it. Under a massive barrage a patrol ventured onto the roof of the palace, removed the flag and took care of it, preventing it from falling into the hands of the Russians, who would no doubt display it as a trophy. It seems that the national flag is still preserved and protected waiting to be able to wave again for a free Chechnya.
One of the most legendary and iconic places of the First Russo-Chechen War is undoubtedly the Bamut fortress. Here the Chechens resisted the attacks of the Russian army for many months, enduring a terrible siege. One day, after yet another bombardment, the defenders realized that there was not a single building left intact enough to hang the flag. It was then decided to hoist it on the village water tower. The Russians, who evidently feared that that flag alone would prevent them from advancing, fired artillery at the tower until it collapsed to the ground, taking the flag with it. It was evident that the Russians were so afraid of the Chechen cloth that they were unwilling to fight under it. The defenders then decided to hang the flag from the tallest mast, so that it would continue to instill fear in the enemy.