Archivi tag: Hostage

Memories of Budennovsk: Francesco Benedetti interviews Ikhvan Gerikhanov

Mr. Gerikhanov , your intervention in the Budennovsk hostage crisis begins on the evening of June 15, 1995, when you reach the city hospital, occupied by Basayev’s men, with the intention of starting negotiations. The task had been assigned to her by the Minister for Nationalities of the Russian Federation, Mikhailov. Do you remember how you responded to his request? Were you able to communicate with ChRI authorities from the time you were called to the hospital until you entered the hospital?

That’s essentially how it went. As chairman of the Constitutional Court , I had no contact with the leadership of the Chechen Republic, and was busy reporting on the war crimes that were taking place on the territory of our republic. I have personally held dozens of international conferences and roundtables, in which I have called for the intervention of the world community to stop the destruction of the Chechen people as an ethnic group!

At the time I was in Moscow, as an expert in the session of the International Tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Chechen Republic, headed by State Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova, later killed due to her civil engagement on the events in Chechnya. While I was at work, I was approached by one of my compatriots who held a responsible position in the presidential administration of the Russian Federation. He was looking for me at the request of the Minister for Nationalities, Mikhailov, who asked for my assistance in freeing the hostages held in Budennovsk. Naturally, I accepted the assignment, aware of the moral responsibility I had for these facts, as a senior official of the republic.

First of all, I interpreted my mission as that of allowing the hostages to understand the reason for this armed incursion, and to explain to them that they were not “militants”, as reported by all the world’s media, but defenders of their homeland.

Two or three days after I received the request, I was on a plane bound for Grozny, on which was also a delegation from the Russian Liberal Democratic Party, headed by Zhirinovsky. We had no contact with them, but the departure of the plane from Moscow was delayed for several hours.

Ikhvan Gerikhanov waits in front of an entrance to the Budennovsk hospital manned by one of Basayev’s men

Together with her were other Chechen officials. Who were they? And why did you choose them?

With me . were Paskushev and D. Khangoshvili . The second is a Georgian Chechen. Neither was an official of the state structure of the republic. I didn’t choose them, we just happened to be together. In fact I was not the head of the delegation. The other two simply knew my position among the authorities of the republic, and they recognized me as a sort of “primacy” in relation to the responsibility of my work. Unfortunately Khangoshvili passed away a week ago. Paskushev remained at headquarters in the Ministry of Internal Affairs building to ensure our safety.

I take this opportunity to express my special gratitude to my comrades for their courage and perseverance in these events. We were exposed to mortal danger of being shot in the rear by the Russian army, or by a sniper, or of being shot by our own if the military’s provocations ended with the assault on the hospital.

Did you personally know Basayev before Budennovsk? What opinion did you have of him? And how has it changed after the seizure of the hospital?

Before these events I had never had personal contact with him, as a Member of Parliament on first call and President of the Constitutional Court I was busy with my duties.

My opinion on this raid is still ambiguous today, I am against violence against civilians, although dozens of times we Chechens have seen how Russian troops put groups of civilians in front of them and went on the attack. But war is war , there are no rules of engagement and no one chooses the methods. This was mutually evident when civilians were killed by carpet bombing on the territory of the republic and filter camps were set up, where ordinary civilians, both women and men, were tortured, raped and killed.

The indifference of the absolute majority of Russian citizens and the world community gave the following result: our soldiers were forced to attract everyone’s attention in this way, to stop the destruction of the Chechens on a national basis. By the way, to this day the participants of Basayev’s raid are “found guilty” and sentenced to the maximum sentence, while not a single officer or soldier of the Russian army, except for the freak and rapist Budanov, has been held responsible for the criminal acts made on the territory of our republic.

This raid, with its pitiable innocent victims, produced results: the war was stopped and the Khasavyurt Accords on the cessation of hostilities and the beginning of peace negotiations were signed.

After landing in Budennovsk and reaching the hospital, you made contact with the Chechen units barricaded in the facility. Your first request to talk to Basayev, however, was turned down. Aslambek Ismailov, clarified that there would be no negotiations. Why do you think Basayev reacted so harshly? Didn’t he recognize you as a senior ChRI official? And speaking of Ismailov, did you know him before the Budennovsk events?

Before our arrival in Budennovsk, Basayev made it clear to everyone that there would be no negotiations before the withdrawal of the Russian army from the territory of our republic and that negotiations with Dudayev for the recognition of independence should begin. To all delegations, including one composed of Basayev’s relatives, he made it clear that he would not speak to anyone, and that any attempt to force the situation would lead to the death of the hostages.

After arriving at the Headquarters, headed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Egorov, I informed everyone about the purpose of my visit and after long discussions I called the hospital directly to explain that my intention was to visit the building where the hostages were being held. Since it was night, I resolved to enter the building the next morning. Ismailov, Basayev’s deputy, answered me. I had never met him before. He knew me, he knew I was a high official of the republic. He promised to tell Basayev what I was proposing, and to give me an answer within a few hours.

To get an affirmative answer, I had to declare that I was willing to remain inside the hospital together with the hostages and Basayev’s men if my efforts to resolve the crisis were unsuccessful.

June 18 , you finally managed to enter the hospital, leading two different groups inside the facility and starting negotiations to open an exit corridor for Basayev’s men, in exchange for the release of a certain number of hostages. How did these negotiations take place? Why do you think Basayev changed his attitude towards you?

My first contact was on June 16 , when Khangoshvili and Ismailov met at the hospital entrance. Before our arrival a sniper had shot one of Basayev’s men, and his corpse was still lying in plain sight, covered in blood, at a distance of 1.5 – 2 meters. To avoid risking the same end, we met on the entrance stairway, sheltered from snipers. After a short conversation with Ismailov, we parted. On the same day he contacted the General Headquarters informing those present that Basayev was available to meet the President of the Constitutional Court of the Chechen Republic.

Women and children hostages are freed during the negotiations.

What situation did you find in the hospital? Do you remember the conditions of the hostages and militants during your stay in the facility?

The situation was very tense, there were many women and children, some wounded, mothers who had just given birth. With respect to this, the Russian media presented a distorted version of reality: with the exception of military pilots and police officers, the hostages were shown respect and care, relative to the conditions in which they found themselves. The hostages themselves had spread white scarves and sheets outside the windows to prevent an assault by the Russian army. I saw a woman, a doctor from the hospital, slap a police lieutenant general who was saying that Basayev’s team was putting women and children against the windows!

Khangoshvili and I have been to the hospital 5-6 times until June 18th , and each time we came back with several children, who we returned to their mothers. They persuaded me to take the children with me, referring to the fact that Basayev would not object and that the children would be saved. On our next visit, we heard the voices of the women talking to each other saying that there was a “mustachioed prosecutor” and that another group of children needed to be rounded up.

According to press reports, it was you who developed the text of the agreement that led to the resolution of the crisis. Do you remember the genesis of this document? Were there discussions about what should be written on it? Do you keep a copy of this document?

Yes, I wrote that text. At the first meeting with Basayev he recognized my rank as an official, but said that he was accountable to his command, and that without the approval of his bosses he would not take any decision. Basayev insisted that the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya and the republic’s independence could not be negotiated. His detachment would not have left if these two conditions were not met. If necessary they would all have sacrificed their lives for this. I had to talk to all the members of Basayev’s team to explain to them that at this stage of the conflict, fulfilling both conditions would be impossible, even with the sacrifice of all Chechens on earth.

In the end, thanks to the help of the witnesses I brought, and the arguments of my reasoning, I managed to persuade Basayev that the withdrawal of troops and the opening of negotiations would be real steps towards ending the war and recognizing Chechen sovereignty . After another visit to the hospital on June 17 , Basayev finally declared that he was ready to open a dialogue on this basis, and asked me to draft a document. To the above conditions he added the request for a guarantee of safety for his men, so that they could return to Chechnya without incident. Finally, he reminded me that, as a Chechen, I would answer to the people and to Allah if the Russian military and political leadership did not abide by the agreements.

The text was signed by responsible persons. I was asked to sign as head of the Chechen delegation, but I refused because I was a state official. However, having to identify a guarantor among the Chechens, I asked Kanghoshvili to sign, since the Russian government would not accept my signature as an official of the Chechen Republic.

The main concern for me and for Basayev was: who would guarantee the free passage of the buses on which the Chechen fighters and their escorts would leave? Knowing the insidious behavior of the Russian military and leadership, when I returned to the HQ I asked on my own initiative that this guarantee be given by the Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin: without his direct intervention, Basayev’s men would not have left the building, and they would have agreed to fight to the death. All those present reacted with anger: Deputy Prime Minister Yegorov , FSB director Stephasin and other military commanders invited me to leave. To which, brusquely, I told them that if they stormed the hospital, the whole world would immediately know about it from me, and the death of the hostages would remain on their conscience!

While returning to Moscow with the Chechen delegation, the human rights activist, S. Kovalev, approached us, and told us that Chernomyrdin was willing to talk with us about the guarantees to be given to Basayev’s men. I replied that this shouldn’t have been behind the scenes, but that it should have been an official statement. I then demanded that the Prime Minister speak to Basayev directly on the phone, and threatened to abandon the negotiations, and to return to my job if the conversation did not take place.

When you left the hospital, you took about a hundred hostages with you. Do you remember any of them? Were you able to exchange a few words between you? What did the hostages think about what was happening?

As I said, after I learned that Chernomyrdin would call Basayev, I returned to the hospital on June 18th . Arriving from Basayev I asked him: if the Prime Minister provides a guarantee of safe passage to Chechnya, will this be a sufficient basis for the release of the hostages? Basayev and his men laughed: they didn’t believe such a guarantee would be possible. However Kovalev and the accompanying State Duma deputies confirmed my words, so we added this clause to the agreement, and signed it. I asked Basayev to give a sign of good will by handing over, together with the request for agreement, at least 100 hostages, including women and children, to be released. Basayev agreed to the request the next day.

Upon your departure, Basayev reportedly warned you: “Remember that you are a Chechen. If even a single hair falls from my fighters’ heads along the way, your whole family will answer for it!” Does this mean you got involved in a family feud to save the Budennovsk hostages?

Naturally this was a provocation on Basayev’s part. After all, I could not vouch for their free passage through Russian territory. Knowing about Yeltsin’s intention to show himself to the world community as a fighter against “terrorists”, I nipped in the bud another provocation thought up by the head of the operation to free the hostages, General Yerin . As soon as I arrived in Moscow, I gave several interviews to Russian and foreign journalists in which I feared a possible military provocation against Basayev’s detachment on the way back.

After signing the agreement, on your way home, you were abruptly called back at Aslambek ‘s explicit request Abdulkhadzhiev . The feds had asked all those who had joined Basayev on the return journey to sign a document that effectively exempted the Russian authorities from any responsibility in the event of accidents on the way back. It was a tacit admission of a willingness to raid Basayev’s convoy as soon as it entered Chechnya. Abdulkhadzhiev stated that without your intervention the negotiations would not have resumed. Did you know him? Why was your presence deemed necessary?

I have already mentioned General Yerin , the author of this receipt stating that such and such a person “voluntarily joins Shamil Basayev’s group…”. Abdulkhadzhiev reacted urgently to this provocation and declared that without a conversation with the President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic, the agreement would not proceed.

A car caught up with us on the way to the airport, and we were asked to come back. Upon arrival in Budennovsk, after reading the text proposed by General Yerin , I asked to speak urgently with Chernomyrdin and, after my explanations, Chernomyrdin slipped through Yerin , scolded him about the receipt and ordered him to cancel it. It later became known that the General was preparing an assault on Basayev’s convoy on orders from President Yeltsin, who was outside Russia at the time. Indeed, an attempted assault took place near the Chechen border, at the height of Kurskaya , when military helicopters began flying over the buses. However, due to the great attention these events caused and the presence of many foreign journalists, the attack did not take place.

Hostages leave the hospital

After resolving this second crisis, you were faced with the frustrated reaction of the Russian military and civilians who had witnessed the kidnapping. Why were they mad at you? What made them so nervous?

The answer in this case is unequivocal. Many soldiers wanted to destroy Basayev’s detachment and gain prestige. They didn’t care about the hostages and their punishments at the time. On our next visit to the hospital we realized that the army’s special units clearly wanted to take advantage of the stalemate in operations due to the negotiation process to storm the hospital. And the police major’s snide comment: You can’t come here, you’re no better than the terrorists you sent home I assumed I never expected the most basic humanity or gratitude from these people.

After Basayev’s return to Chechnya, your mission was over. Were you able to contact Dudayev, or another official of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria?

Unfortunately no, I was very busy with the international tribunal, and until 1996 I was unable to return to the republic. According to Abdulkhadzhiev , in the presence of Ismailov and Basayev, my actions in this mission were highly appreciated by the President, who said that at the first meeting with me he would present me with the Republic’s highest award, the “Honor of the Nation ”. Unfortunately, the infamous assassination of the President of the Chechen Republic prevented us from meeting on this earth.

Did the Russian authorities give you any credit for ending the Budennovsk hostage crisis?

First of all, I didn’t expect anything from gold and I didn’t work for them. I only accepted the offer to participate in this matter, in good faith, because I was one of the highest officials of the Republic. Secondly, I did what I did out of civic duty, and I am grateful to the Almighty for giving me the opportunity to be of service to my people and to free more than 1200 hostages who were not involved in hostilities, like dozens of thousands of civilians in Chechnya, who suffered the most from the presence of the Russian army.

It was said a long time ago that I was offered an apartment in Moscow. Speculation around this topic was a useless farce of the Russian leadership, just as some newly emerged “patriots” among the Chechens could be accused of treason, who even today cannot understand and evaluate my actions as Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Republic Chechen. But that’s another topic!

The Budennovsk crisis allowed the Chechen government to conclude a truce which proved useful in winning the war. However, it has cast a shadow of terror on the resistance. How do you think Budennovsk changed the history of independent Chechnya?

Today the whole world has known the face of the Russian Empire and has finally understood that the war of the aggressor, launched against our republic, was the beginning of perfidy and contempt for all norms and principles of international law, so as well as its obligations to the world community. The Budennovsk events forced the Russian leadership to sit down at the negotiating table, and this saved tens of thousands of lives, both on the territory of our republic and in Russia itself.

As for the “shadow of terror”, state terror was declared against the Chechen people by Russia, exclusively on a national basis, and has not stopped to this day, even though the peace treaty with the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria was signed a long time ago! So who is guilty of terrorism? Who is the terrorist?

Thank God the European community has already declared Russia a sponsor of terrorism. This is mine answer at the your last question !

Text of the agreement drawn up by Gerikhanov.

The document, translated for us by Inna Kurochkina, says:

Agreed text for the time 10 hours 40 minutes 18.06.95.

On the release of the hostages, the city of Budyonnovsk.


-On the part of the Government of the Russian Federation represented by the Prime Minister

V.S. Chernomyrdin:

Immediately stop hostilities and bombardments of the territory of Chechnya.

All other issues, including the disengagement of troops, should be resolved exclusively by personal means on the basis of the negotiation process.

The person authorized to negotiate with the Chechen side is Usman Imaev.

-From Shamil Basayev:

Release of hostages, with the exception of the security assurance team.

Time of completion:

Statement by Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Chernomyrdin.

The release of the hostages in the amount of one hundred people Sh. Basaev immediately after the speech of Viktor Chernomyrdin.

The rest, with the exception of the security guarantee group, are released during the time for the security of the departure of Sh. Basayev’s group.


10 hours 03 minutes


Viktor Stepanivich Chernomyrdin

Shamil Basaev

From the Government of the Russian Federation on behalf of Viktor Chernomyrdin: Head of

the Delegation Sergey Kovalev

From the Administration of the Stavropol Kraj Member of the delegation Sergey Popov

Deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Yuliy Rybakov

From the side of the Chechen diaspora Khangoshvili Dzhabrail

Federation Council Deputy Viktor Kurochkin

Assistant to Kovalev Oleg Orlov “Memorial”

Amendments to the first document

The document, translated for us by Inna Kurochkina, says:

Additional agreements to the text of the Agreement dated June 18, 1995.

The delegation of the Russian Federation and Shamil Basayev’s group agreed on the following:

All questions of a political settlement, including the question of the status of the Republic of Chechnya, its relations with the federal authorities of the Russian Federation, and the republics of the Russian Federation, and other issues, should be resolved exclusively by peaceful means, on the basis of international legal acts, legislation and agreements reached in the negotiations.

This procedure should be the subject of consideration by authorized officials of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and representatives of the Government and the Federal Assembly of

the Russian Federation.


11 hours 03 minutes


Shamil Basaev

From the side of the Chechen diaspora Khangoshvili Dzhabrail

From the delegation of the Russian Federation:

Sergey Kovalev

Juliy Rybakov (Deputy of the State Duma)

Viktor Kurochkin (Member of the Federal Assembly)

Oleg Orlov (“Memorial”)

From the Administration of the Stavropol Kraj Sergey Popov



Uno degli argomenti sostenuti con maggior vigore dal governo russo per giustificare la seconda invasione della Repubblica Cecena di Ichkeria era quello relativo al caos imperante negli anni successivi alla fine della Prima Guerra. Gennady Troshev nelle sue memorie circostanzia, citando le sue fonti, il contesto di illegalità diffusa e di connivenza di alcune autorità statali in crimini odiosi come la presa di ostaggi a scopo di riscatto, il traffico di droga ed il furto di petrolio. In questo paragrafo del suo racconto si parla del cosiddetto “Mercato degli schiavi”:

“Gli attacchi armati di banditi alle nostre truppe, anche fuori dalla repubblica, sono diventati regolari. Ma se già questo era un problema, il rapimento e la tratta di persone hanno assunto proporzioni senza precedenti. Senza troppe esagerazioni, possiamo dire che questa industria ha assunto proporzioni di primo piano nell’economia della repubblica. In pianura e sulle montagne, la maggior parte delle famiglie cecene aveva i propri schiavi – la propria forza lavoro gratuita.

Alle soglie del terzo millennio, nel pieno centro di Grozny, nell’area della cosiddetta piazza dei “Tre Bogatiri” per diversi anni, fino all’autunno del 1999, ha funzionato a dovere il più grande mercato di schiavi del Caucaso Settentrionale, dove uno schiavo poteva essere acquistato per tutti i gusti ad un prezzo ragionevole. E la contrattazione qui era abbastanza appropriata. Anche i bambini del posto sapevano che il prodotto più redditizio era un “non ceceno”. […] .

In cima alla scala venivano valutati gli stranieri, giornalisti famosi e politici: per loro si potevano ottenere grandi somme, fino a diversi milioni di dollari. Questi prigionieri erano tenuti in condizioni relativamente normali. Questo tuttavia non riguardava il comportamento della banda di Arbi Barayev, dove si torturavano tutti i prigionieri, anche quelli “super redditizi”. I rapitori più semplici preferivano “lavorare” con specialisti civili, E poiché c’era tensione con loro in Cecenia, gli ostaggi dovevano essere catturati nelle repubbliche vicine Inguscezia, Daghestan, Ossezia del Nord, Cabardino – Balcaria. Per questi non erano necessari i dollari, potevi concordare uno scambio di materiali da costruzione, veicoli, cibo… […].

La moneta più scarsa nel mercato degli schiavi era pagata per un soldato russo. A cause di varie circostanze questo prodotto, dopo Khasavyurt, non era protetto né dal governo federale né dal tesoro. E’ vero, alcune regioni a volte hanno cercato di tirare fuori dalla prigionia i loro connazionali. Ad esempio, l’amministrazione del Territorio di Krasnodar ha pagato cinquantamila dollari per i guardiamarina Soltukov e Moskalev, e per il rilascio di Berezhny e Vatutin i residenti di Krasnodar hanno dato 40 tonnellate di farina. Ma questi fatti sono piuttosto l’eccezione alla regola.

Centinaia di ufficiali e soldati russi, per diversi anni, hanno piegato le spalle ai padroni ceceni. Nei distretti di Vedeno e di Itum – Khale coltivavano tè di montagna; piantagioni di papaveri venivano coltivate vicino al villaggio di Alleroy, bestiame veniva pascolato nel distretto di Nozhay – Yurt e molti altri costruirono una strada per Shatili. Venivano tenuti in condizioni terribili: lavori pesanti dall’alba al tramonto, freddo, fame, percosse… non tutti resisterono a queste prove. Come ha osservato uno dei mercanti di schiavi locali: “I catturati rimarranno in prigione per molto tempo…se, naturalmente, rimarranno vivi.” Queste parole sono state confermate dalle statistiche: in dieci mesi, solo un militare che ha preso parte alle ostilità è stato rilasciato dalla prigionia cecena, mentre gli accordi di Khasavyurt prevedevano l’estradizione di tutti i prigionieri.

Giovani coscritti russi sotto minaccia armata di militanti separatisti

A onore del vero le affermazioni di Troshev, e in particolare quelle relative al fenomeno della cattività dei soldati russi prigionieri, non trovano riscontro nelle statistiche. Se ci fu ricorso a manodopera forzata tra i prigionieri di guerra non restituiti alla Russia, questo fu meno massiccio di quanto riferito dal Generale anche se, certamente, il fenomeno del rapimento per riscatto riguardo molte centinaia di persone, se non migliaia.


I due tratti distintivi dell’Ichkeria postbellica furono certamente lo stato di diffusa anarchia che regnava nel paese ed il revanscismo anti – russo, a causa del quale decine di migliaia di cittadini di origine slava furono costretti ad abbandonare la città o ad accettare continue vessazioni. Ecco come Troshev descrive la situazione della Cecenia all’indomani della fine della Prima Guerra:

“Tre anni di “indipendenza” hanno portato la repubblica al disastro: le masse popolari sono stati private del diritto ad una vita dignitosa. L’approvvigionamento della popolazione è praticamente cessato, le scuole sono state chiuse, anche se gli insegnanti sono rimasti nei villaggi. Gli insegnanti non ricevettero alcuno stipendio dopo il 1995. Gli ospedali e le cliniche mancavano delle attrezzature e dei medicinali necessari, e in molti casi non c’era nulla per fornire anche il primo soccorso. Le pensioni venivano emesse in maniera estremamente irregolare. Ad esempio, l’ultima volta che i pensionati ricevettero denaro fu nel Luglio – Agosto 1997 per un importo di 300 – 350 rubli. La già difficile situazione della popolazione era aggravata dalla mancanza di elettricità e gas, che in precedenza venivano forniti dal Daghestan e dal Territorio di Stavropol. La maggior parte delle fabbriche erano inattive. E le merci che vi venivano prodotte, ad esempio, nelle zone di pianura, venivano semplicemente “espropriati” dalle autorità di Grozny.

Il bersaglio principale dei separatisti, storditi dalla permissività, erano gli “stranieri”: trecentocinquantamila russi, abbandonando ciò che avevano acquisito per anni, lasciarono la Cecenia. Chi rimase bevve a pieno il calice amaro. Quante volte abbiamo letto e sentito di massacri di “non ceceni”?

Negli ultimi anni i banditi ceceni hanno sequestrato più di centomila appartamenti e case appartenenti a russi, daghestani e persone di altre nazionalità. Quasi cinquantamila tra i loro vicini furono ridotti in schiavitù dai ceceni. E quanti “schiavi” hanno piegato le spalle alla costruzione di una strada di alta montagna attraverso la cresta principale del Caucaso fino alla Georgia, vagavano nelle raffinerie di petrolio artigianali, nelle piantagioni di papavero e canapa.

Anche in questo caso i numeri citati da Troshev fanno fatica a trovare conferma. La misura di centomila appartamenti e di cinquantamila schiavi è certamente simbolica, e non trova conferma nelle statistiche ufficiali. Certamente il “furto di appartamenti” conseguente alla distruzione dell’archivio di stato durante la guerra fu un problema endemico, e la minoranza russa ne patì i principali effetti.

La scritta “Benvenuti all’inferno” campeggia su un muro in rovina nel centro di Grozny


L’ultima frase del precedente intervento introduce un altro dei gravi problemi che afflissero il paese all’indomani della pace del 1996: il traffico ed il consumo di droga.

“Uno dei motivi per le rapine in Cecenia era e rimane la droga” ha testimoniato il giordano Khalid Al – Hayad, che è stato tra i combattenti ceceni per diversi mesi, nella banda dello stesso Gelayev. In precedenza al pari delle armi, le droghe venivano vendute nel centro di Grozny. Dopo che i russi hanno preso la città, la droga è diventata molto difficile da reperire ed i prezzi sono saliti alle stelle. I militanti, anche sotto il fuoco dell’aviazione federale e dell’artiglieria, erano pronti a portare al mercato sacchi di merci saccheggiate tutto il giorno, in modo che la sera, avendo venduto le loro cose, potessero procurarsi una siringa con una piccola dose e rilassarsi. Non si può dire che tutti i militanti fossero tossicodipendenti, ma ce n’erano abbastanza. Si iniettavano, fumavano cannabis, usavano qualsiasi cosa per ottenere uno sballo.

[…] La distrutta economia cecena, la disoccupazione ed altre questioni di natura sociale e domestica non potevano non influenzare la psiche di molti, anche di pacifici cittadini ceceni. Inoltre, è ben lungi dall’essere un segreto che nella “Ichkeria libera” la produzione di droga fosse essenzialmente un’attività legale. Un tempo gli stessi Basayev e Khattab ottennero un notevole successo in questo campo. Le piantagioni di papavero e canapa appartenevano a loro e si trovavano a Kurchaloy, nei distretti di Gudermes, Nozhai – Yurt e Vedeno. E il fratello di Shamil Basayev, Shirvani, acquistò proprio per questo motivo l’edificio della scuola numero 40 in Turgenev Street, trasformandolo in un impianto di produzione di droga. Esso venne recintato con filo spinato elettrificato. Tuttavia l’attrezzatura qui era tedesca, e professori e fermacologi indiani fungevano da consulenti […] durante il girono, a fabbrica miracolosa “intitolata ai fratelli Basayev” produceva tre chilogrammi di eroina pura. Sul mercato nero, un grammo di questa droga costa duecento dollari. I signori della droga Basayev aprirono quindi i loro “uffici” a San Pietroburgo, Volgograd, Krasnodar, Ufa, Kaluga. E il denaro scorreva verso di loro come un fiume. Le fabbriche “Ichkeria” per la produzione di oppio e la lavorazione dell’eroina erano situate anche nel sanatorio degli ingegneri energetici nel distretto di Vedeno, nel campo dei pionieri “Zorka” vicino a Shali e in altri luoghi.”

Shirvani Basayev, fratello minore di Shamil Basayev. Secondo Troshev, era uno dei signori della droga in Cecenia

Anche in questo caso le affermazioni di Troshev vanno prese con le dovute cautele. Sicuramente il consumo di eroina divenne endemico nella Cecenia del dopoguerra: molti militanti ne abusarono durante il conflitto, dove la terribile sostanza serviva a curare il dolore fisico delle ferite ed a placare lo stress della battaglia. Molti comandanti di campo ne divennero produttori e distributori, e la piaga della tossicodipendenza falcidiò lo stesso esercito separatista durante la Seconda Guerra.

per approfondire queste ed altre questioni relative ai conflitti russo – ceceni leggi “Libertà o morte! Storia della Repubblica Cecena di Ichkeria” acquistabile QUI