Archivi tag: Independence

FREEDOM SOLD OR WAR BOUGHT? – REFLECTIONS BY APTI BATALOV (part 1)

I believe I am not mistaken when I say that one of the tragedies of the Chechen people originated on the day when Chechnya proclaimed itself an independent state. After choosing the first president, the Chechens naively believed that Russia would respect their choice. After all, Yeltsin said “take all the freedom you can swallow!” The Chechens did not know that “Swallowing freedom” they would regurgitate their blood.

The conquest of freedom

The Russians did not recognize the presidential elections held on October 27, 1991 in Chechnya. Rejecting any possibility of peaceful separation from Chechnya, the Kremlin has focused on the definitive solution of the Chechen “problem”. In planning actions against Chechen sovereignty, it was obvious that the Russian government would prioritize provocative and subversive activities, and this was evident from the growing activity of pro-Russian provocateurs on the territory of Chechnya. Funded and armed by Moscow, the leaders of the “anti-Dudaevites” began to form criminal groups under the cover of political slogans, calling themselves “opposition of the Dudaev regime”. In reality, the ideologues of this movement were full-time agents of the Russian special services and, following the instructions of the Lubyanka , they caused a civil war in the Chechens. Through these ” Mankurts ” [1], in the first half of the 90s of the twentieth century, Chechnya was transformed into a land of internal contrasts and social instability. Having already gained political independence from Moscow, many officials who held high positions in the state did what they could to discredit the idea of independence. With their actions they compromised the government, corrupted it, doing everything to make the Chechens repent of their choice. Every day, these people desecrated the idea of a free and sovereign state, and achieved many successes in this action, furthering the premises of the 1994/1996 Russo-Chechen War.

However, one detail had not been taken into consideration: the war imposed by the Kremlin would have ignited the genetic memory of the Chechens. All the people, with rare exceptions, took up arms and stood up to defend that choice. Evidently, after receiving the order to intensify their activities, the Russian special services agents began to increase their efforts to destabilize the political, economic and social situation throughout the Ichkeria territory. By sowing discord among the leaders of the state, creating an atmosphere of mutual distrust and enmity in the relations between yesterday’s comrades, the Russian mercenaries achieved the objectives set by Moscow. Instead of rallying around the president, in this hard and difficult time for the fate of the Chechen nation, and exercising their authority to defend and strengthen the authority of Ichkeria, the leaders of the country faced each other in the political arena with every sort of intrigue, against each other, using their credit only for speculative and populist purposes. After withdrawing troops from Ichkeria in 1996, the Russians invaded it with their agents. Terrible times came for Ichkeria, banditry assumed the proportions of a national catastrophe, kidnapping and the slave trade became the profession of a significant part of the former freedom fighters, lack of work and poverty swelled the ranks of criminals.

Heroes yesterday, enemies today

Thus there was no effective authority in Ichkeria. The comrades in arms of the President of yesterday, having had the opportunity to strengthen it, did not do so, but rather, having become politicians, they were the real antagonists of the President, doing everything to weaken his power. On every occasion, and under various pretexts, his authority was undermined: not a day passed without some “emergency” directed against the President. At that time I was convinced that these antagonists wanted to break Maskhadov psychologically. Imagine the state in which a person subjected to daily torture can be, every day more sophisticated and insidious. One fine day, the President collapsed… all this turmoil around the presidency drove the people to despair, their faith in authority and yesterday’s heroes disappeared. Social inequality, the absence of any guarantee of security, corrupt authorities at all levels, poverty and devastation: the Chechen people faced the 1999 war in these conditions … With an economic blockade, political and information isolation in place, the Chechen leadership he had no way of adequately preparing for Russian aggression.

The signs that the Russians were preparing a new war against Ichkeria appeared as early as February – March 1999. In February 1999, a demonstration of many thousands of people was held in support of the President’s policy in the city of Dzhokhar [formerly Grozny, NDR ]. The participants in the demonstration approved and supported in unison Maskhadov, the foreign and internal policy he pursued, and expressed the desire and willingness to take up arms to restore order in the country. Two or three Russian journalists were present at this gathering, being able to work without any restrictions. They assured me that the Russian media would report the demonstration, but not a single TV channel mentioned it. On the other hand, Russian public opinion began to be influenced by the idea that Maskhadov was a weak and indecisive person, that he had lost the support of the people, that power in Ichkeria was in the hands of the field commanders, that banditry and the slave trade flourished in Ichkeria. Obviously it would be wrong to deny these claims, which were partly true, but that the people did not support Maskhadov, or that he was weak, that was an absolute lie. The Chechen people had responded to the President’s appeal, and were willing to defend him. But the Russian media hid this fact from their audience. As for the field commanders, most of them obeyed without question the President and Commander the Chief of the Armed Forces.

But, as they say, no family is without monsters. On the occasion of the second anniversary of the signing of the Peace Treaty between Ichkeria and Russia on May 12 , 1997, well-organized celebrations were held in the city of Dzhokhar: events were held in the city center, horse races were held on the outskirts of the capital, with prizes in prize money, including “VAZ” 6 car models. It was a bright and festive day, during which the Ichkeria leadership showed all its desire for peace with Russia. Once again, Russian TV reporters worked on the event, as always without restrictions. And once again the media did not say a single word about the fact that similar celebrations were held in the city of Dzhokhar. All of this suggested that there would be no celebration the following year.


[1] Figuratively speaking, the word ” mankurt ” refers to people who have lost touch with their ethnic homeland , who have forgotten their kinship . For further information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mankurt

THE GENERAL OF NAUR – MEMORIES OF APTI BATALOV (PART IV)

Battle in Ilaskhan – Yurt

After leaving Argun, we moved to a wooded mountainous area in the Nozhai – Yurt district. Here we organized our base, well hidden in a gorge near the village of Shuani. On the afternoon of March 25, a messenger arrived at the base: we were ordered to go in force to the village of Novogrozny, today Oyskhara. When we arrived Maskhadov gave me a brief report on the situation: “The Russians have left Gudermes, and are moving in the direction of Novogrozny. They crushed our defenses. We have to delay them at least for a few hours, until we evacuate the hospital and the documents. I have no one else to send except your battalion. I ask you to detain the Russians as much as possible: there are many wounded in the hospital, if the Russians find them they will shoot them all. ” Then Maskhadov told me that on the eastern outskirts of Ilaskhan – Yurt a unit of militiamen from nearby was gathering and they would give us a hand.

There were few people with me, about thirty in all, because after the retreat from Argun many of the militiamen, cold and tired, had dispersed to the surrounding villages to recover their strength. We immediately set off towards Ilaskhan – Yurt and, having reached the goal, we reunited with 70 militia men. The Russians advanced on the wooded ridge overlooking the village, traveling in the direction of Novogrozny. We settled in positions previously equipped, and then later abandoned. Their conditions were not the best: due to the heavy rains of those days they were full of water, and we guarded the positions with mud up to our knees. We tried to drain them, but the water returned to fill them in a few hours, due to the damp soil.

Soon our presence was noticed by the Russians, who began bombing our trenches from their high positions. Using mortars and field artillery. In that bombing we suffered the wounding of three or four men. However , they did not proceed to an attack, allowing us to hold them back for many more hours. Having left in a hurry, we had brought neither food nor water with us: we spent the next night hungry and cold in our damp trenches, under constant enemy bombardment. We were so starved that, when we managed to get our hands on a heifer the next day, we ate its almost raw meat, but not before getting permission from a local clergyman.

March 29 , the first Russian patrol reached our trenches. We managed to repel the assault: the enemy lost two men and retreated quickly. From the uniforms and weapons found in the possession of the fallen Russians, we understood that we had a paratrooper unit in front of us. As soon as the Russians were back in their trenches the artillery began a pounding bombardment on our positions with mortars and 120 mm artillery, causing many injuries among our units. After a long preparatory bombardment, the infantry moved on to the attack, and we began the unhooking maneuvers: some of us took the wounded away, others retreated into the woods, or returned to their homes. Only five of us remained in position: Vakha from Chishka, Khavazhi from Naurskaya, Yusup from Alpatovo, Mammad from Naursk station and myself. When we finally managed to get away we were exhausted: I came out with chronic pneumonia, which would accompany me in the years to follow.

Combined Regiment Naursk

In April, if memory serves me well, on April 2, as he said, the head of the main headquarters of the armed forces of the CRI, General Maskhadov, came to my base. The Chief of Staff briefly introduced me to the latest events and changes on the lines of contact between us and the Russians: it was clear from his words that our situation was not good. Consequently he asked me to become subordinate to the commander of the Nozhai- Yurta leadership, Magomed Khambiev. The same day I went to Nozhai-Yurt, where I met the new commander. He assigned the battalion’s area of responsibility to a location not far from the village of Zamai-Yurt, southwest of this village. Once deployed, we dug trenches and equipped shooting points for the machine gun. Here at the base, we, in our Naur battalion, were joined by groups of militias from Gudermes and the Shelkovsky district, for a total of 200 people. As a result, our battalion became the “Combined Naur Regiment”. I was confirmed by Maskhadov himself as commander of this new unit.

The Regiment held the assigned position until the early days of 1995, fighting a war of position against Russian forces. These faced us mainly with artillery, throwing a hail of mortar rounds at us, and increasing the dose with incursions of combat helicopters MI – 42 and MI – 18. During this phase we mourned the death of one of us, Dzhamleila of Naurskaya , and the wounding of ten men. Finally, in the first days of June , we received the order to switch to guerrilla warfare.

VERSIONE ITALIANA

IL GENERALE DI NAUR – MEMORIE DI APTI BATALOV (PARTE 4)

Battaglia ad Ilaskhan – Yurt

Dopo aver lasciato Argun, ci trasferimmo in una zona montuosa coperta di boschi, nel distretto di Nozhai – Yurt. Qui organizzammo la nostra base, ben nascosta in una gola vicino al villaggio di Shuani. Nel pomeriggio del 25 Marzo giunse alla base un messaggero: ci era ordinato di dirigerci in forze al villaggio di Novogrozny, oggi Oyskhara. Quando arrivammo Maskhadov mi fece un breve rapporto sulla situazione: “I russi hanno lasciato Gudermes, e si stanno muovendo in direzione di Novogrozny. Hanno schiacciato le nostre difese. Dobbiamo ritardarli almeno per qualche ora, finchè non evacuiamo l’ospedale ed i documenti. Non ho nessun altro da inviare, tranne il tuo battaglione. Ti chiedo di trattenere i russi il più possibile: ci sono molti feriti nell’ospedale, se i russi li trovano li fucileranno tutti.” Poi Maskhadov mi disse che alla periferia orientale di Ilaskhan – Yurt si stava radunando un reparto di miliziani provenienti dalle vicinanze, i quali ci avrebbero dato man forte.

Insieme a me c’erano poche persone, una trentina in tutto, perché dopo la ritirata da Argun molti dei miliziani, infreddoliti e stanchi, si erano dispersi nei villaggi circostanti per recuperare le forze. Ci mettemmo subito in marcia verso Ilaskhan  – Yurt e, raggiunto l’obiettivo, ci ricongiungemmo con 70 uomini della milizia. I russi avanzavano sulla cresta boscosa che dominava il villaggio, viaggiando in direzione di Novogrozny. Ci sistemammo in posizioni precedentemente attrezzate, e poi successivamente abbandonate. Le loro condizioni non erano delle migliori: a causa delle forti piogge di quei giorni erano piene d’acqua, e presidiavamo le posizioni con il fango fino alle ginocchia. Cercavamo di drenarle, ma l’acqua tornava a riempirle in poche ore, a causa del terreno umido.

Ben presto la nostra presenza fu notata dai russi, i quali iniziarono a bombardare le nostre trincee dalle loro posizioni elevate. Usando mortai ed artiglieria da campagna. In quel bombardamento patimmo il ferimento di tre o quattro uomini. Tuttavia non procedettero ad un attacco, permettendoci di trattenerli ancora per molte ore. Essendo partiti in fretta e furia, non avevamo portato con noi né cibo né acqua: trascorremmo la notte successiva affamati ed infreddoliti nelle nostre trincee umide, sotto il costante bombardamento nemico. Eravamo così provati dalla fame che, quando il giorno dopo riuscimmo a mettere le mani su una giovenca, ne mangiammo la carne quasi cruda, ma non prima di aver avuto il permesso da un religioso locale.

A mezzogiorno del 29 Marzo la prima pattuglia russa raggiunse le nostre trincee. Riuscimmo a respingere l’assalto: il nemico perse due uomini e si ritirò velocemente. Dalle divise e dalle armi trovate in possesso dei russi caduti capimmo di avere davanti un reparto di paracadutisti.  Non appena i russi furono rientrati nelle loro trincee l’artiglieria iniziò un bombardamento martellante sulle nostre posizioni con mortai ed artiglieria da 120 mm, provocando molti ferimenti tra le nostre unità. Dopo un lungo bombardamento preparatorio, la fanteria passò all’attacco, e noi iniziammo le manovre di sganciamento: alcuni di noi portarono via i feriti, altri si ritirarono tra i boschi, o tornarono alle loro case. In posizione rimanemmo soltanto in cinque: Vakha da Chishka, Khavazhi da Naurskaya, Yusup da Alpatovo, Mammad dalla stazione di Naursk ed io. Quando finalmente riuscimmo ad allontanarci eravamo esausti: io ne uscii con una polmonite cronica, che mi avrebbe accompagnato negli anni a seguire.

Reggimento Combinato Naursk

Ad aprile, se la memoria mi serve bene, il due aprile, come ha detto, il capo del quartier generale principale delle forze armate della CRI, il generale Maskhadov, è venuto alla mia base. Il capo di stato maggiore mi ha brevemente presentato gli ultimi eventi e i cambiamenti sulle linee di contatto tra noi e i russi: era chiaro dalle sue parole che la  nostra situazione non era buona. Di conseguenza mi chiese di diventare subordinato al comandante di la direzione Nozhai-Yurta,  Magomed Khambiev. Lo stesso giorno mi recai a Nozhai-Yurt, dove incontrai il nuovo comandante. Egli assegnò l’area di responsabilità del battaglione ad una posizione non lontana dal villaggio di Zamai-Yurt, a sud-ovest di questo villaggio. Una volta schierati, abbiamo scavato trincee e attrezzato punti di tiro per la mitragliatrice. Qui alla base, noi, nel nostro battaglione Naur, siamo stati raggiunti da gruppi di milizie di Gudermes e del distretto di Shelkovsky, per un totale di 200 persone. Di conseguenza, il nostro battaglione divenne il “Reggimento Combinato Naur”. Fui confermato dallo stesso Maskhadov comandante di questa nuova unità.

Il Reggimento tenne la posizione assegnata fino ai primi di giorni del 1995, combattendo una guerra di posizione contro le forze russe. Queste ci affrontavano principalmente con l’artiglieria, lanciandoci contro una grandine di colpi di mortaio, e rincarando la dose con incursioni di elicotteri da combattimento MI – 42 e MI – 18. Durante questa fase piangemmo la morte di uno di noi, Dzhamleila di Naurskaya, ed il ferimento di dieci uomini. Nei primi giorni di Giugno, infine, ricevemmo l’ordine di passare alla guerra partigiana.

“There are forces more dangerous than any tank!” Dudaev’s first speech

On November 23, 1990, the first session (and also the only one with this name) of the Chechen National Congress took place. At the end of this event, Air Force General Dzhokhar Dudaev appeared to the general Chechen public for the first time. We will not dwell on the origins of the congress, nor on the figure of Dudaev but on the words he uttered. His intervention came at the end of the work of the congress, when the delegates had already decided to vote a Declaration of Sovereignty of the Chechen Republic, and to transform the congress into a permanent political platform. We publish Dudaev’s words first of all because the full text of the speech has never been translated from Russian, and it constitutes a fundamental historical source for understanding not only the General’s political parable, but also for framing the entire evolution of Chechen nationalism.

The original Dudaev’s speech

Dear brothers and sisters. Dear comrades, our dear guests.


I sincerely congratulate you and myself on the first hours and first day of citizenship of a sovereign state. The declaration has been adopted and I am fully convinced that even if someone has the idea to object, he will be a potential enemy of our people.


The delegates of the congress took on the extraordinary responsibility of being representatives of the people. The announcement itself is not that difficult. But there is a wise saying among the people: “don’t take out the dagger unnecessarily, if you take it out, use it”.


The dagger is unsheathed. Now we need to think about how to equip a sovereign state. This is an extremely delicate and complex process. I would like to warn my compatriots that the most dangerous period regarding possible provocation, conditioning of the minds of individuals, which can lead to bloodshed, is coming right now. There are sufficient forces for this. The young man who spoke earlier recalled the danger of an attack with tanks. The tank is vulnerable. It is clearly visible, you can lie under it with and detonate it with grenades. There are forces more dangerous than any tank, plane, and any weapon. Seven-story buildings (KGB) located on the next street. Even if one person sits in each of their offices, one can imagine what forces there are for this republic. Not a single autonomous republic has such potential, even just in terms of building. Probably down below too, a couple of floors underground.

The KGB building in Grozny before the war


No matter how difficult it is to recognize and assume this responsibility: if the sovereign republic does not have its own protection forces, guarantors of the republic’s security, and a Ministry of the Interior, if it is not willing to mobilize, to create its own formations, a sovereign republic, at the present stage, does not exist.


This confirms the course of events, the ongoing struggle in all regions. And as has been said here, now we must act and not wait for outside help. If we present a bill, my personal belief is that Russia should stay closer. Where is the evolved parliament, where are the capable forces, the forces of democracy and the master generator of perestroika. It is necessary to present to the allied department all the reports we are talking about for the damage suffered by our little and poor peoples on this earth.


The well-being that today is relatively available in the republic compared to other regions and is ensured, first of all, by the flexibility of the management, to which due must be recognized, and no less by the wisdom of the people. A beautiful land, one of the most fertile corners, nature always gives birth to beautiful people: soul, body, spirit, will, character, all positive natural qualities. Of which we talk a lot …


I asked my compatriots not to turn the glory of the past on them, the best people of Russia and all countries of the world spoke of this glory. When we talk about it ourselves, it means that the spiritual potential of the present generation has run out.

Dudaev at the first session of the Chechen National Congress


It would seem …


So, I have so many proposals, that (if the Organizing Committee of the Congress is interested), and with full conviction (if until now there were doubts about the possibility of maintaining democracy, the creation of a rule of law), then young people of the Organizing Committee, which in the most difficult conditions managed to convene the People’s Congress (the highest organization of our time), then there is the potential of young people, there is the strength of young people.


The rest of the proposals on Parliament, if they are of interest to the Management and the Organizing Committee, I will send them in writing.
Thanks for your attention, good luck and on.