Archivi tag: Storia

“Un manuale su come sconfiggere un impero” – Adriano Sofri presenta “Libertà o Morte!”

Il 13 Dicembre scorso, due giorni dopo l’uscita del secondo volume di “Libertà o Morte! Storia della Repubblica Cecena di Ichkeria, Adriano Sofri ha presentato il libro sulle colonne de Il Foglio, nella sua rubrica Piccola Posta. Riportiamo di seguito le sue parole, pubblicate anche su Facebook, su Conversazione con Adriano Sofri.

Adriano Sofri

Il singolare caso del giovane uomo che sa tutto della Cecenia e non si è mosso da Firenze

Segnalo oggi un caso culturale e umano piuttosto straordinario. Riguarda la Cecenia, e un giovane fiorentino che non ci è mai stato, non ne conosce la lingua, non conosce (ancora) il russo, ed è diventato lo studioso più autorevole della storia contemporanea di quel piccolo paese dai destini fatali. Francesco Benedetti è nato nel 1987, si è laureato in storia, ha una famiglia, una sua professione, una pratica musicale metal, e si appassionò presto alla vicenda di quel territorio grande, cioè piccolo, come una minore regione italiana, e popolato da poco più di un milione di persone, che si è ribellato per secoli all’impero russo e che, alla fine della versione imperiale sovietica, ha preteso l’indipendenza, ha sconfitto l’esercito russo in una devastante guerra aperta tra il 1994 e il 1996, e ne è stato sconfitto in una seconda guerra di sterminio nel decennio tra 1999 e 2009. Al costo della falcidie di un quinto della sua gente, dell’esilio di migliaia, della sottomissione dei rimasti alla corte di Putin, di cui sono diventati i pretoriani esosi ed efferati. Benedetti ha deciso di ricostruire su giornali, trasmissioni e memorie la cronaca quotidiana di questa vicissitudine, e di raccoglierne direttamente tutte le voci ancora disponibili, in ogni parte di mondo in cui si sono disseminate. Mette così insieme una mole impressionante di racconti, che va diventando il riferimento internazionale principale per chi voglia conoscere il conflitto fra Cecenia e Russia dopo il 1991, e per gli stessi protagonisti. Se ne è fatto editore, stampando (e vendendo, in volume, 15 euro, o kindle, 5,99) attraverso Amazon, e intanto mettendo in rete una profluvie di interviste e fonti su Facebook, al suo nome e a quello di Ichkeria.net – il nome della repubblica cecena.

Solo in certi bambini speciali o in certi inquietanti concorrenti al rischiatutto sorge e dura il proposito di sapere tutto di qualcosa. Un pezzo leggendario del Caucaso, Pushkin e Tolstoi e Lermontov – e Anna Politkovskaya – chi non vorrebbe? Senza una simpatia intima per il suo tema una simile ambizione non potrebbe esistere, e tuttavia nell’opera di Benedetti ai valori dell’audacia, della tenacia e della fiera tradizione montanara sono congiunti il disonore, la rivalità, il fanatismo e la violenza che nel corso di una lotta così strenua, impari e spietata si sono fatte strada. La Cecenia del ’91 aveva il suo passato tragico da vendicare, e lo rivendicò più presto che altri paesi, compresa l’Ucraina: dopo alla grande carestia del Holodomor ucraino negli anni ‘30, che aveva infierito anche nel Caucaso, venne la brutale deportazione del 1944 in Siberia e in Kazakistan: nessun ceceno dei nati fra il 1944 e il 1956 (e oltre) nacque in Cecenia. Il primo volume, “Libertà o morte. Storia della repubblica cecena di Ichkeria (1991-1994)”, 425 pagine, era uscito in italiano e in inglese (c’è una versione cecena in corso) nel febbraio 2020. Il secondo, “La prima guerra russo-cecena. 1994-1996”, 373 pagine, è uscito l’altroieri (in inglese a marzo). L’autore lo presenta così, in un modo che raccomando energicamente:

“La guerra in Ucraina è iniziata in Cecenia. Può sembrare una provocazione. Eppure, è la realtà che rivelano le pagine di questo secondo volume, interamente dedicato alla Prima Guerra Russo–Cecena. Genesi, sviluppo e svolgimento di questo sanguinoso conflitto sembrano la bozza del copione cui il mondo sta assistendo in questi mesi tra il Donbass e la Crimea. Anche allora, come oggi, la Russia invase uno stato libero, mascherando la guerra che stava scatenando dietro alla definizione di ‘operazione speciale’. Anche allora, come oggi, il nemico dello stato russo era stato etichettato e demonizzato: se Zelensky ed il suo governo sono chiamati oggi ‘nazisti’, Dudaev ed i suoi ministri furono chiamati allora ‘banditi’. Anche allora, come oggi, convinti della loro superiorità, i comandi militari marciarono sulla capitale, pretendendo di piegare un popolo alla loro volontà, come avevano fatto più volte in epoca sovietica. Ma anche allora, come oggi, furono costretti a ritirarsi, per poi scatenare una sanguinosa guerra totale, la più devastante guerra europea dal 1945.

La Prima Guerra Russo–Cecena fu il primo tragico prodotto del revanscismo russo: il ‘punto zero’ di una parabola che da Grozny porta a Kiev, passando dalla Georgia, dalla Crimea, dalla Bielorussia e dal Donbass. Con una differenza sostanziale: che quella prima guerra contro la Cecenia, i russi, la persero. Le loro ambizioni, poggiate sulle fondamenta logore di un impero fatiscente, finirono frustrate dalla caparbietà di una nazione immensamente inferiore, per numero e per mezzi, a quella ucraina, che oggi difende la sua terra dalla guerra scatenata da Putin.

Questa storia può impartire a chi avrà la pazienza di leggerla due importanti lezioni: cosa succede quando si assecondano le ambizioni di un impero, e come si fa a sconfiggerlo. Se è già tardi per mettere in pratica la prima, per la seconda siamo ancora in tempo”.

Libertà o morte! Storia della Repubblica Cecena di Ichkeria – Esce oggi il secondo volume in italiano

La guerra in Ucraina è iniziata in Cecenia. Può sembrare una provocazione. Eppure, questa è la realtà che rivelano le pagine di questo secondo volume, interamente dedicato alla Prima Guerra Russo – Cecena. Genesi, sviluppo e svolgimento di questo sanguinoso conflitto sembrano la bozza del copione cui il mondo sta assistendo in questi mesi tra il Donbass e la Crimea.

Anche allora, come oggi, la Russia invase uno stato libero, mascherando la guerra che stava scatenando dietro alla definizione di “operazione speciale”.

Anche allora, come oggi, il nemico dello stato russo era stato etichettato e demonizzato: se Zelensky ed il suo governo sono chiamati oggi “nazisti”, Dudaev ed i suoi ministri furono chiamati allora “banditi”.

Anche allora, come oggi, convinti della loro superiorità, i comandi militari marciarono sulla capitale, pretendendo di piegare un popolo alla loro volontà, come avevano fatto più volte in epoca sovietica. Ma anche allora, come oggi, furono costretti a ritirarsi, per poi scatenare una sanguinosa guerra totale, la più devastante guerra europea dal 1945.

La Prima Guerra Russo – Cecena fu il primo tragico prodotto del revanscismo russo: il “punto zero” di una parabola che da Grozny porta a Kiev, passando dalla Georgia, dalla Crimea, dalla Bielorussia e dal Donbass. Con una differenza sostanziale: che quella prima guerra contro la Cecenia, i russi, la persero. Le loro ambizioni imperiali, poggiate sulle fondamenta logore di un impero fatiscente, finirono frustrate dalla caparbietà di una nazione immensamente inferiore per numero e per mezzi, a quella che ucraina, che oggi difende la sua terra dalla guerra scatenata da Putin.

Questa storia può impartire a chi avrà la pazienza di leggerla due importanti lezioni: cosa succede quando si assecondano le ambizioni di un impero, e come si fa a sconfiggerlo. Se è già tardi per mettere in pratica la prima, per la seconda siamo ancora in tempo.

Acquista il volume qui:

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.

THE GENERAL OF NAUR: MEMORIES OF APTI BATALOV (Part III)

Defending Grozny

When the federal forces reached Grozny, my men and I were in Gudermes, where we had quartered to form an organized unit made up entirely of men from the Naur District . On January 4th , a runner sent by Maskhadov was placed in our command post. He gave me the order to converge on our capital with all the men at my disposal. Once in the city, I met a young volunteer, who made himself available to organize our group and put it in coordination with the other fighting units. It is called Turpal Ali Atgeriev. In conversation with him, I learned that he had taken part in the war in Abkhazia and that he had some fighting experience. There was not a single war veteran among us, starting with me: I was in desperate need of someone with combat experience. For this I asked Atgiriev to become my deputy, and he accepted my proposal. Since he didn’t have a weapon, I handed him an RPK-74 machine gun. Someone criticized my decision, accusing me of having appointed a stranger as my deputy. I was not interested in this gossip and intrigue, I was worried about only one thing itself: saving lives and at the same time beating the enemy.

We were deployed in defense of the Pedagogical Institute. A regiment of Russian marines had targeted the building: if this had been taken, it would have been possible to easily reach Maskhadov’s headquarters, which was literally fifty meters from our position, under the Presidential Palace. The Russians tried to break through our defenses almost every day, until January 19 , 1994, but without success. In these attacks they lost many soldiers, whose corpses remained in the middle of the road, in no man’s land, prey to stray dogs. We tried to remove them, to save their bodies, but without a respite we could not have prevented them from being eaten. Several times, during the fighting, our command and the Russian one reached an agreement for a 48-hour truce, precisely to clean the streets of the corpses of Russian soldiers. During these truces we talked to the Russian patrols stationed on the side streets. I remember one of these conversations with a Russian captain, to whom I had thrown a pack of cigarettes: Guys he said, quit, you will not win, because you are not fighting the police, but the army. His voice was not arrogant, he was a simple Russian peasant. That battle was also difficult because to supply our armories we had to capture weapons and ammunition from the Russians. In every disabled armored transport vehicle we found a heap of weapons, cartridges and grenades, which we looted. Later the Russians became more careful, and we didn’t find much in their means. On the other hand, their vehicles were stuffed with all sorts of carpets, dishes and other goods looted from the population.

January 19 , when it became clear that the defense of the Pedagogical Institute would no longer slow down the fall of the Presidential Palace, we withdrew. I was ordered to organize the defense of the Trampark area , and we occupied positions on Novya Street Buachidze . Trampark changed hands several times, and there were fierce battles until February 7th . Right in via Novya Buachidze suffered a shock from a tank bullet which, entering the window of the room where I was with some of my men, hit two of them in full, killing them. This shock still undermines my health. Finally, on the evening of February 7 , a messenger from Maskhadov handed me a note in which I was ordered to leave the position, join Basayev in Chernorechie and leave the city. I should have assumed the defense in the parking area in Via 8 Marzo, where the departments were concentrating to prepare for the exit from the city. Once there we counted all those present: also considering the staff of the Headquarters, we were 320 men. Obviously some departments were not present: detached units fought in other areas of the city, and besides them there were the so-called “Indians”, armed gangs who did not obey anyone, they fought when it was favorable gold and along the way they plundered everything that they could find. When Maskhadov lined up us in the square, he told us that our descendants would be proud of us, that the victory would be ours, that we were leaving Grozny only to return one day. The night between 7 and 8 Fenbbraio we left the capital.

The Naursk Battalion

It was after the retreat from Grozny that my unit, still an amalgam of more or less organized groups, began to become a real tactical unit. This same process was also taking place in the other units that had formed spontaneously at the beginning of the war. Moreover, in the Chechen resistance there were no military units and formations in the classical sense of the term: “battalions”, “regiments” and “fronts” were symbolic terms that did not correspond to a battle order in the classical sense. For example, what was called the “Argun Regiment” was an association of several groups, often poorly armed, made up of a variable number of people, each of which replied to its own commander. The members of these units, all volunteers, could leave at any time, there was no precise chain of command.

Our team spirit had already been forged in the battles we had fought together, and which unfortunately had forced us to count the first fallen. The first of our men to die for the defense of Chechnya was Beshir Turluev , who fell at the Ishcherskaya Checkpoint in December 1994. Since then, other young Chechens had sacrificed their lives for their homeland. Among those who remained alive, and who fought more assiduously with me, a group of “veterans” began to form, who by character or competence acquired the role of “informal officers”. Thus, for example, a 4th year student of a medical institute, whose name was Ruslan, became the head of the medical unit, while Sheikh Khavazhi , from the village of Naurskaya , became the head of logistics. The latter was in charge of keeping in touch with the Naur region , from which the supplies for our unit came. The inhabitants collected the food intended for our livelihood and delivered it to us via a KAMAZ truck, driven by Umar, from the village of Savelieva, and his companion Alkhazur . Sometimes money was also collected, usually a small amount, which was scrupulously recorded and distributed among the men. For the needs of the battalion, for the entire period of the 1994-1996 war, I, from the central command, did not receive more than 3 thousand dollars.

Defending Argun

After we had withdrawn from Grozny, Maskhadov ordered us to fall back on Argun, to help defend the city. We quartered ourselves in the city hospital, now empty and unused. The commander of the stronghold was Khunkarpasha Israpilov, and the commander of the largest unit, the so-called “Combined Regiment”, was Aslambek Ismailov. We were deployed in the sector of the so-called “Indian village”, a front of about 350 meters along the Argun River. On our left were the so-called “Black Wolves”, characterized by wearing very dark jeans. On the other side were Alaudi ‘s men Khamzatov , guard posts on the main bridge over the Argun. In front of us was a Russian paratrooper unit. We learned that we were facing special forces from a Russian soldier whom we captured when, with his squad, he attempted a reconnaissance close to our lines. At that juncture, as soon as the other side learned that their group had been identified and attacked, the Moscow artillery launched a massive bombing on our positions, during which two of our militiamen fell: Daud, coming from the village of Kalinovsky and Rizvan , from Naurskaya . To scare us, the Russians played Vladimir Vysotsky ‘s “Hunting for Wolves” at very high volume . We responded with “Freedom or Death”. The supply of the militias in the city of Argun, as well as in Grozny, was very scarce, there was a severe shortage of ammunition, there was a catastrophic lack of machine gun cartridges, RPG-7 grenade launcher shells and only dressing bandages they were more or less in abundance among the drugs.

On the morning of March 20, the Russians began testing our defenses along the entire line of contact, simulating a force attack from our side. In reality, the main attack took place, surprisingly, at the Moskovsky state farm . We did not expect the enemy to break in from that side, and after a fierce battle during which we lost many men (including the commander of the Melkhu – Khe militia , whose name was Isa and a brave, young Lithuanian named Nicholas) we had to leave the city, to retreat to the wooded region of Nozhai – Yurt. In the defense of Argun, Abuezid , from the village of Naurskaya , Umar, Mekenskaya , Muslim, Nikolaevskaya also fell , while another ten of us were wounded. We left Argun in the night between 21st and 22nd March 1995.

IL TRADIMENTO CHE NON CI FU – L’OPERAZIONE “SCHAMIL” (I Parte)

Quando, nel Febbraio del 1944, Stalin decretò la deportazione di massa dei Ceceni in Asia centrale, egli motivò la terribile “punizione” con la supposta collaborazione dei Ceceni con le forze armate germaniche. Tale collaborazione sarebbe avvenuta, secondo la versione ufficiale, nel corso del 1942, in concomitanza con un’azione di intelligence e sabotaggio compiuta dalla Wehrmacht, chiamata in codice “Operazione Schamil”. Il marchio dell’infamia, gettato su tutti i ceceni dalla teoria del “tradimento”, avrebbe condizionato l’esistenza di un intero popolo il quale, ridotto a paria nel consesso delle nazioni che abitavano l’impero sovietico, fu costretto ad accettare una frustrante discriminazione sociale, economica e politica. Questa condizione fu uno tra i detonatori del desiderio di rivalsa che pervase i ceceni alla fine degli anni ’80, e alimentò quel desiderio di libertà che poi si concretizzò con l’indipendenza nel 1991.

Oggi in Russia si è accettata l’idea che la deportazione del 1944 fu un crimine terribile. Eppure rimane ben radicata dell’opinione pubblica l’idea che questo tradimento dei ceceni si sarebbe realmente consumato, e che pertanto vi sia una “colpa” ancestrale che i Vaynakh dovrebbero “espiare” di fronte alla madrepatria. Tralasciando il fatto che molti ceceni non considerano affatto la Russia la loro casa, e che quindi non si sentirebbero affatto dei “traditori” di una patria che non riconoscono, il fatto è che questa “colpa” non è affatto certa. Anzi, è piuttosto chiaro, dalle evidenze storiche, che la maggior parte dei ceceni combattè con onore nelle file dell’Armata Rossa, e che la popolazione civile non solidarizzò con i tedeschi più di quanto non lo fecero le altre nazioni sottoposte al giogo di Stalin.

Recentemente Pieter Van Huis, ricercatore dell’Università di Leida, nei Paesi Bassi, ha pubblicato una tesi dal titolo Banditi di montagna e fuorilegge della foresta. Ceceni e Ingusce sotto il dominio sovietico nel 1918-1944. Lo studioso dedica un capitolo proprio alla celebre “Operazione Schamil”: attingendo alle fonti documentali disponibili presso gli archivi della Wehmacht e dell’NKVD, ha saputo ricostruire la genesi e lo svolgimento di questa azione. Riepiloghiamo in sintesi quanto è emerso dagli studi di Van Huis, a loro volta riportati da Anastasia Kirilenko sul sito del Nodo Caucasico: https://www.kavkaz-uzel.eu/

I RAPPORTI LANGE

Le prime fonti cui fa riferimento Van Huis sono tre rapporti operativi, due firmati dal Tenente Maggiore Erhard Lange ed uno dal volontario osseto Boris Tsagolov. Tutte e tre le fonti, sebbene differenti nello stile, concordano sul fatto che l’operazione fu un sostanziale fallimento principalmente a causa della pronta reazione delle unità dell’NKVD, le quali procedettero a punire i residenti che davano ospitalità al nemico bruciando le loro case, o applicando punizioni collettive alle comunità che non si opposero attivamente al suo passaggio. Tutti e tre i rapporti, in ogni caso, concordano sul fatto che ad eccezione di alcune bande di irregolari, peraltro già attive prima dell’invasione, non fornirono un supporto sufficiente al buon esito dell’operazione.

Il primo di questi rapporti fu inviato da Ehrard Lange il 5 Gennaio 1943. In esso si riepiloga che l’Operazione Schamil ebbe inizio il 25 Agosto 1942, quando un aereo della Luftwaffe decollato da Armavir paracadutò 11 tedeschi e 19 volontari caucasici nei pressi di Chishki e di Dachu – Barzoi, a circa 30 kilometri da Grozny. Il cielo era sgombro, e la luce della luna illuminò fin da subito i paracadutisti, i quali furono presi di mira dal nemico. La maggior parte delle armi e dell’equipaggiamento fu quindi frettolosamente abbandonato, e ci vollero alcuni giorni prima che il gruppo potesse ricompattarsi, non prima di aver accertato alcune perdite e diserzioni. Il gruppo, ridotto a 22 uomini, tentò di racimolare qualche arma da fuoco sequestrandola agli abitanti dei villaggi vicini, mentre tentava di guadagnare un rifugio sicuro. Tuttavia, essendo stati notati fin dal loro arrivo, gli uomini del commando divennero da subito oggetto di una spietata caccia da parte dell’NKVD, che giunse a mobilitare addirittura 2.000 effettivi per stanarli. Lange tentò quindi di prendere contatto con i ribelli locali, arroccati sulle montagne, cercando di riunirli in un’unica banda organizzata, e di aggiungere a questa massa critica un contingente di 400 ribelli georgiani. Il piano, tuttavia, non riuscì a causa del fatto che il 24 Settembre 1942 l’NKVD intercettò Lange, costringendolo ad aprirsi una via di fuga con la forza. I sopravvissuti raggiunsero Kharsenoy, ma qui furono nuovamente intercettati e costretti a combattere. Dopo aver perduto altri uomini, Lange decise di abortire la missione. Dopo aver abbandonato le divise ed indossato abiti civili, riuscì a spacciare i resti del suo gruppo (cinque tedeschi e quattro caucasici) per una banda di banditi Cabardini, finché non riuscì ad ottenere la collaborazione di alcuni residenti locali, i quali accettarono di aiutarlo a patto i membri della banda fossero divisi e distribuiti secondo le loro volontà. Non potendo fare altro, Lange acconsentì. Lui e i suoi uomini rimasero nascosti fino al 9 Dicembre successivo, quando appresero che l’armata rossa aveva intercettato e distrutto la maggior parte dei ribelli operanti in Cecenia. Il giorno successivo Lange raccolse i suoi, e li portò oltre la linea del fronte. Rientrato alla base, l’ufficiale compilò una memoria nella quale indicò una lista di nomi di “103 persone assolutamente affidabili, che potrebbero fungere da guide”.

Successivamente, il 23 Aprile 1943, Lange depositò un secondo rapporto, nel quale specificava maggiormente lo scopo della sua missione: mettere in atto operazioni militari per ostacolare la ritirata nemica lungo la direttrice Grozny – Botlikh. Il compito, si specificava, non era stato portato a termine a causa del fatto che la maggior parte delle armi era andato perduto durante l’atterraggio, ma anche per via della scarsa collaborazione dei residenti locali. Secondo questo rapporto, una volta constatata la dispersione del “Gruppo Lange”, il comando tedesco aveva inviato una seconda unità, chiamata “Gruppo Rekert” a cercare di recuperare i dispersi. Questo secondo drappello, tuttavia, era stato sbaragliato ed i suoi componenti risultavano scomparsi. Rispetto al suo rapporto con i civili, Lange precisa che il gruppo era nelle mani della popolazione civile e correva quotidianamente il rischio di un tradimento da parte loro, e che soltanto dopo lunghe discussioni il commando riuscì a liberarsi da questa tutela. Infine, il resoconto specificava anche l’obiettivo secondario seguito da Lange una volta che quello principale (il sabotaggio) si rivelò irraggiungibile: Verificare la veridicità dei rapporti al Fuhrer secondo i quali ceceni e ingusci sarebbero particolarmente coraggiosi nella lotta contro i bolscevichi e, nel caso, fornire loro supporto logistico ed armi per proseguire la guerriglia. Per raggiungere questo secondo obiettivo Lang avrebbe dovuto passare alcune settimane in Cecenia, confidando nello spirito di ospitalità dei residenti locali. Egli sapeva che per un ceceno l’ospitalità è sacra. Nel rapporto riferisce, infatti: le regole locali sull’ospitalità richiedono di proteggere la vita di un ospite anche a costo della propria. Consci di questo, i tedeschi non risparmiarono ai ceceni veri e propri ricatti morali, minacciando di far sapere a tutti del disonore gettato sulla famiglia e sul Teip da persone che non accettavano di ospitarli e di collaborare con loro.

Se ottenere l’ospitalità dei ceceni sembrava piuttosto facile, molto più difficile risultò garantirsi la loro alleanza nel costituire un movimento di resistenza antisovietica. Sempre citando Lange:  I residenti locali non sono interessati a nulla, tranne che al destino del loro villaggio, nel quale vorrebbero vivere come contadini liberi. Essi non hanno alcun rispetto per il tempo, per lo spazio, né per il rispetto degli accordi presi. […] Tutto questo crea pessimi requisiti per una rivolta. Citando un evento accaduto al Gruppo Reckert, Lange ricorda che dopo aver ricevuto le armi, gli uomini sono tornati in fretta ai loro villaggi. A conclusione del suo rapporto, Lange consigliava di non investire uomini e mezzi in questa operazione, giacchè la popolazione locale non avrebbe combattuto per la Germania, ma al massimo per liberarsi delle fattorie collettive e riappropriarsi della terra.

ENGLISH VERSION


THE BETRAYAL THAT DID NOT HAPPEN – OPERATION “SCHAMIL” (Part I)

When, in February 1944, Stalin decreed the mass deportation of the Chechens to Central Asia, he motivated the terrible "punishment" with the alleged collaboration of the Chechens with the Germanic armed forces. According to the official version, this collaboration took place during 1942, in conjunction with an intelligence and sabotage action carried out by the Wehrmacht, codenamed "Operation Schamil". The stigma thrown on all Chechens by the theory of "betrayal", would have conditioned the existence of an entire people who, reduced to pariah in the assembly of nations that inhabited the Soviet empire, was forced to accept a frustrating social, economic and political discrimination. This condition was one of the detonators of the desire for revenge that pervaded the Chechens in the late 1980s, and fueled that desire for freedom which then materialized with independence in 1991.

Today in Russia it is accepted that the 1944 deportation was a terrible crime. Yet public opinion remains firmly rooted in the idea that this betrayal of the Chechens would actually be consummated, and that therefore there is an ancestral "guilt" that the Vaynakhs should "atone" in the face of the motherland. Leaving aside the fact that many Chechens do not consider Russia their home at all, and therefore would not at all feel like "traitors" to a homeland they do not recognize, the fact is that this "fault" is by no means certain. Indeed, it is quite clear from the historical evidence that most Chechens fought with honor in the ranks of the Red Army, and that the civilian population did not sympathize with the Germans any more than did other nations under Stalin's yoke. .

Pieter Van Huis, a researcher at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, recently published a thesis entitled Mountain Bandits and Forest Outlaws. Chechens and Ingush under Soviet rule in 1918-1944. The scholar dedicates a chapter to the famous "Operation Schamil": drawing on the documentary sources available in the Wehmacht and NKVD archives, he was able to reconstruct the genesis and development of this action. We summarize in summary what emerged from the studies of Van Huis, in turn reported by Anastasia Kirilenko on the Caucasian Node website: https://www.kavkaz-uzel.eu/
THE LANGE REPORTS

The first sources to which Van Huis refers are three operational reports, two signed by Lieutenant Major Erhard Lange and one by the Ossetian volunteer Boris Tsagolov. All three sources, although different in style, agree that the operation was a substantial failure mainly due to the prompt reaction of the NKVD units, which proceeded to punish the residents who housed the enemy by burning their homes. , or by applying collective punishment to communities that did not actively oppose its passage. All three reports, in any case, agree that with the exception of some bands of illegal immigrants, which were already active before the invasion, they did not provide sufficient support for the success of the operation.
The first of these reports was sent by Ehrard Lange on January 5, 1943. It summarizes that Operation Schamil began on August 25, 1942, when a Luftwaffe plane taken off from Armavir parachuted 11 Germans and 19 Caucasian volunteers near Chishki. and Dachu - Barzoi, about 30 kilometers from Grozny. The sky was clear, and the light of the moon immediately illuminated the paratroopers, who were targeted by the enemy. Most of the weapons and equipment were therefore hastily abandoned, and it took a few days before the group could regroup, not before having ascertained some losses and desertions. The group, reduced to 22 men, attempted to scrape together some firearms by seizing them from nearby villagers, while trying to gain a safe haven. However, having been noticed since their arrival, the men of the commando immediately became the object of a merciless hunt by the NKVD, which even mobilized 2,000 troops to track them down. Lange then attempted to make contact with the local rebels, perched in the mountains, trying to unite them in a single organized band, and to add a contingent of 400 Georgian rebels to this critical mass. The plan, however, failed due to the fact that on September 24, 1942, the NKVD intercepted Lange, forcing him to forcibly open an escape route. The survivors reached Kharsenoy, but here they were again intercepted and forced to fight. After losing other men, Lange decided to abort the mission. After abandoning his uniforms and wearing civilian clothes, he managed to pass off the remains of his group (five Germans and four Caucasians) as a band of Cabardini bandits, until he succeeded in obtaining the collaboration of some local residents, who agreed to help him provided the members of the gang were divided and distributed according to their will. Unable to do anything else, Lange agreed. He and his men remained in hiding until the following December 9, when they learned that the Red Army had intercepted and destroyed most of the rebels operating in Chechnya. The next day Lange gathered his own, and carried them over the front line. Returning to the base, the officer compiled a memo in which he indicated a list of names of "103 absolutely reliable people, who could serve as guides".
Subsequently, on April 23, 1943, Lange filed a second report, in which he further specified the purpose of his mission: to carry out military operations to obstruct the enemy retreat along the Grozny - Botlikh route. The task, it was specified, had not been completed due to the fact that most of the weapons had been lost during landing, but also due to the lack of cooperation from local residents. According to this report, once the dispersion of the "Lange Group" was ascertained, the German command had sent a second unit, called the "Rekert Group" to try to recover the missing. This second squad, however, had been defeated and its members had disappeared. With respect to his relationship with civilians, Lange specifies that the group was in the hands of the civilian population and daily ran the risk of betrayal on their part, and that only after long discussions did the commandos manage to free themselves from this protection. Finally, the report also specified the secondary objective followed by Lange once the main one (sabotage) proved unattainable: Verifying the veracity of the reports to the Fuhrer according to which Chechens and Ingush are particularly courageous in the fight against the Bolsheviks and, in the case, provide them with logistical support and weapons to continue the guerrilla warfare. To achieve this second goal, Lang would have had to spend a few weeks in Chechnya, trusting in the spirit of hospitality of the local residents. He knew that hospitality is sacred to a Chechen. In fact, in the report he reports: the local rules on hospitality require you to protect the life of a guest even at the cost of your own. Aware of this, the Germans did not spare the Chechens real moral blackmail, threatening to let everyone know of the dishonor thrown on the family and on the Teip by people who did not accept to host them and to collaborate with them.
While obtaining the hospitality of the Chechens seemed easy enough, it was much more difficult to secure their alliance in forming an anti-Soviet resistance movement. Again quoting Lange: Local residents are not interested in anything except the fate of their village, in which they would like to live as free farmers. They have no respect for time, space, or compliance with the agreements made. […] All this creates bad conditions for a riot. Citing an event that happened to the Reckert Group, Lange recalls that after receiving the weapons, the men quickly returned to their villages. At the end of his report, Lange advised not to invest men and means in this operation, since the local population would not fight for Germany, but at most to get rid of the collective farms and regain possession of the land.

THE GENERAL OF NAUR – MEMORIES OF APTI BATALOV (Part II)

The first meeting with Maskhadov

My first meeting with Aslan Maskhadov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Chechen Republic took place a few days after my appointment. That day I was summoned to Grozny for a meeting of the commanders of the military units. When I arrived in Grozny, I introduced myself to his office, which if I remember correctly was on the second floor of the building that housed the Headquarters. After a short wait I was called by one of his guards and invited to enter. Maskhadov’s office, then still a Colonel, was not large. He was sitting on his desk and writing. I greeted him with the usual Chechen greeting, he got up from his chair and replied with a counter greeting. When he had finished, he looked at me and asked me what the purpose of my visit was.

I introduced myself, and Merzhuyev ‘s order regarding my appointment as Commander of the districts of Naursk and Nadterechny was placed on the table. Maskhadov took the document, read it, crossed out a sentence with his pen and said to me: Have it wright again, I don’t have enough cops. And he gave me back my order. I took the paper and looked at what he had erased. After seeing his correction the blood went to my head, my face started to burn with anger. Maskhadov had ticked “Police Captain”. Holding back the indignation with difficulty, I replied: I did not ask for this position, I will not go to anyone and I will not write anything! To be honest, in a way, I was satisfied with this “entry” into the ChRI authorities. Now I could legitimately refuse my appointment and go home in peace. But as I reached the door Maskhadov called me back: The meeting will start in an hour, please go to the Central Control Center. I didn’t know what he was talking about and so, after taking my leave, I asked a guard what the Central Control Center ( TsKP ) was, and where it was. The guard told me that it was the Central Command Post, and that I could reach it on the first floor of the Presidential Palace, in the right wing. I headed for my destination, keeping the order in my pocket. I still keep it in my personal archive. As I walked, I thought to myself: Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. The subsequent history of the Republic confirmed the validity of my hypothesis.

False alarms. Luckly!

Between 29 and 30 August , at the Ishcherskaya checkpoint , we arrested a boy of about 25 from the Stavropol District. Subjected to inspection, in his backpack we found a T-shirt, underwear, a black mask and a full-face balaclava, as well as a silk rope of about one meter in length. In his pocket we found a letter which, we discovered, was addressed to his sister. We questioned him about the purpose of his trip to Chechnya, and he replied without hesitation that he had come to join the opposition and protect the Russians from the oppression and violence of the Dudaevites. He said that he had already fought in Yugoslavia, on the side of the Serbs, and that the mask and the rope he had already used there. He said that once he reached his destination he would send the letter to his sister, the only one who loved him, to inform her of his arrival. After detaining him, I called for ad AN – 2 from Khankala delivered him to Grozny. A few days later the “volunteer” was shown on TV and President Dudaev, in front of the reporters, after showing the mask and the cordon, read aloud the “letter from a volunteer”.

As I wrote earlier, all settlements in the region were equipped with radio stations, there was a consolidated link between the district and the village commander’s offices, at any time of day I could contact the commander of each village and know the situation in this settlement. In addition to ensuring the safety of the Naur region from the Avturkhanov opposition, we, through our local supporters in the village of Znamenskoye , who were not few, monitored what was happening in the opposition camp, and relayed reports to Grozny. We had a signalman who knew radio stations well once he served in Afghanistan as radio operator in a GRU sabotage detachment.

One day, the operator tuned in to the opposition radio station in Znamenskoye , and listened to a radio conversation of our opponents that was endlessly repeated: Tonight , at zero – zero, the time X arrives. Fearing to be heard, I decided to deliver the report personally, and went to Grozny myself. Arriving at the Presidential Palace, I went to the Central Command Post, but found no one. It was late at night, but the news was too important, so I went to the sixth (or possibly seventh) floor, where Colonel Merzhuyev ‘s office was located . After listening to me, he confirmed my fears: Apparently tonight, or early in the morning, something will happen. The Ingush [I don’t know who he was referring to] received orders from Moscow to block the Rostov – Baku highway and to keep it ready for the mass advance of military vehicles.

Merzhuyev was visibly agitated by my message. Before leaving, he asked me to warn Abu Arsanukaev , commander of the Presidential Guard, to strengthen security around the Palace. Having found Arsanukaev , I sent him Mershuyev ‘s order , and he began to tinker with the armored vehicle parked at the entrance, a BRDM armed with a machine gun. After a brief check, it became clear that the vehicle’s machine gun was unable to fire. The guards present began to look for an alternative: it seems that a tank was available, stationed around a nearby corner, but that it was unable to move and that they should have towed it.

I thought, disconsolately, about the conversation with Merzhuyev , while observing the readiness or rather, the non-readiness of the defense of the Presidential Palace in the event of an attack. I returned to Ishcherskaya , waiting for the impending attack. Fortunately, neither that day nor the next day did anything happen. A week or two later Mershuyev apparently quit for health reasons.

Musa Merzhuyev (left) attends the Independence Day military parade, September 6, 1993

The hardest two hours of my life

On 23 August 1994 an opposition unit, mounted on trucks and escorted by two T – 64s, appeared near Chernokozovo, a few kilometers from Naurskaya. Waiting for him was a crowd of local residents, led by the Prefect, Aindi Akhaev , who literally seized the tanks, disarmed the avturkhanovites and sent them back, with a promise never to come back armed. Shortly thereafter, I received an ultimatum from Avturkhanov: either we would return the wagons to him and remove the roadblocks, or, in his words, he would march into the district in bloody boots . Receiving no response from us, he sent a messenger and asked me for a meeting on the bridge between Ishcherskaya and Znamenskoye . I accepted, and went to the birdge. Halfway there was a Volga, from which first a tall man with blond hair got out, then Avturkhanov.

We shook hands. His was sweaty, and visibly trembling. I mocked him, asking: What is it, Umar, don’t you have reliable Chechens to use as bodyguards? He muttered back to me, then moved on to threats. He asked me to return the tanks to him, and to my refusal he replied: I’ll give you two hours, otherwise I’ll reduce you to dust! He did not insist again on the dismantling of the roadblock, perhaps he had forgotten. I replied aloud, in Russian: we’ll see who cancels whom. We are waiting for you. I went back to my companions and told them about our conversation. We prepared to repel the attack. Fifteen minutes later, on the other side of the river we noticed a great commotion: civilian cars were massing at the checkpoint, a ZPU-2 anti-aircraft gun had appeared out of nowhere, and its turret rotated left and right, aimed at ours. locations.

The moment was very tense, and some of us started running away. A police officer who was with me along with four of his fellow soldiers stated that he had been urgently recalled to the District Police Department, and that they should leave us. I couldn’t resist, and I let them go. Other militiamen also left. I had to do something, so I ordered one of the tanks we had seized to be placed at the entrance to the Checkpoint, and aimed the gun at our opponents. At the sight of the tank, the opposition militants on the other side began to fidget, running back and forth. Two painful hours passed while we awaited the attack. If there had been a well-organized attack, we would never have been able to keep the bridge. They would have taken the tank back from us, and no one could have helped us. The difference between our forces and theirs was too great, we barely had two magazines each, and neither of us had military experience. If Avturkhanov had persisted, the bridge would have fallen. At the time I did not understand why he considered it so important to enter the Naursk District, being able to use the road from Lomaz – Yurt to Znamenskoye , along the right side of the Terek, to get to Grozny. Only some time ago, in a conversation with a guy who was an opposition militant at the time, I learned that the anti – Dudaevites had trouble getting the equipment through that street, because the inhabitants of Lomaz – Yurt (now Bratskoye ) they were for the most part supporters of Dudaev, and opposed arms in hand to the passing of arms against the government. Avturkhanov wanted to check the bridge in order to use the road on the left bank of the Terek. But these things I learned only later. I was not aware of this at the time, and I did not understand what this opposition showdown was for.

Eventually Avturkhanov gave up. There was no attack. The Avturkhanovites limited themselves to undermining their side of the bridge and damaging it, leaving only a narrow pedestrian passage. That day I learned about who was with me: I was very proud of the companions who remained. To be honest, these two hours were perhaps the hardest hours of my life for me. The most difficult because for the first time, I had to make a decision that could have had serious consequences. In those days the Chechens were not so indifferent to the bloodshed of their compatriots, they were not yet hardened by the hatred due to political differences!

After the war, when I was director of the National Security Service, I learned from an inmate that the Provisional Council had organized the August 23 Raid to try to take over the entire district. The raid on Naurskaya, stopped by Akhaev in Chernokozovo , was supposed to induce the population of the district to surrender, taking the militia behind while they were busy defending the checkpoints. What Avturkhanov’s strategists had not considered was the courage of the people of Naursk and Mekenskaya . They were simple people, but very determined, who with their courage made the plan of our adversaries fail.

Dudaev (left) Maskhadov (centre) Edilov (Right)

VERSIONE ITALIANA

PARTE II

Il primo incontro con Maskhadov

Il mio primo incontro con Aslan Maskhadov, Capo di Stato Maggiore Generale delle Forze Armate della Repubblica Cecena è avvenuto pochi giorni dopo la mia nomina. Quel giorno fui convocato a Grozny per una riunione dei comandanti delle unità militari. Arrivato a Grozny, mi presentai nel suo ufficio, che se non ricordo male si trovava al secondo piano dell’edificio che ospitava il Quartier Generale. Dopo una breve anticamera fui chiamato da una delle sue guardie ed invitato ad entrare. L’ufficio di Maskhadov, allora ancora Colonnello, non era grande. Egli era seduto sulla sua scrivania e scriveva. Lo salutai con il consueto saluto ceceno, lui si alzò dalla sedia e rispose con un contro saluto. Quando ebbe finito di scrivere, mi guardò e mi chiese quale fosse lo scopo della mia visita.

Mi presentai, e l’ordine di Merzhuyev riguardo la mia nomina a Comandante dei distretti di Naursk e Nadterechny gli fu posto sul tavolo. Maskhadov prese il documento, lo lesse, barrò una frase con la penna e mi disse: Fallo rifare, non ho abbastanza poliziotti. E mi restituì l’ordine. Io presi il foglio e guardai che cosa avesse cancellato. Dopo aver visto la sua correzione il sangue mi andò alla testa, il mio viso iniziò a bruciare di eccitazione. Maskhadov aveva barrato “Capitano della Polizia”. Trattenendo a fatica l’indignazione, risposi: Non ho chiesto io questa posizione, non andrò da nessuno e non scriverò nulla! Ad essere onesti, in un certo modo, ero soddisfatto di questo “ingresso” nelle autorità della ChRI. Ora potevo legittimamente rifiutare la mia nomina e tornare a casa in pace. Ma come raggiunsi la porta Maskhadov mi richiamò: La riunione comincerà tra un’ora, fatti trovare al Centro di Controllo Centrale. Io non sapevo di cosa stesse parlando e così, dopo essermi congedato, chiesi ad una guardia che cosa fosse il Centro di Controllo Centrale (TsKP), e dove si trovasse. La guardia mi precisò che si trattava del Posto di Comando Centrale, e che avrei potuto raggiungerlo al primo piano del Palazzo Presidenziale, nell’ala destra.

Dopo aver salutato, mi avviai verso la mia destinazione, tenendo l’ordine in tasca. Lo conservo ancora, nel mio archivio personale. Mentre camminavo, pensai tra me e me: “C’è del marcio in Danimarca”. La successiva storia della Repubblica confermò la validità di questa mia ipotesi.

Falsi allarmi. Per fortuna!

Tra il 29 ed il 30 Agosto, al posto di blocco di Ishcherskaya, fermammo un ragazzo di circa 25 anni proveniente dal Distretto di Stavropol. Sottoposto ad ispezione, nel suo zaino trovammo una maglietta, della biancheria, una maschera nera ed un passamontagna integrale, oltre ad una corda di seta di circa un metro di lunghezza. In tasca gli trovammo una lettera che, scoprimmo, era indirizzata alla sorella. Lo interrogammo riguardo lo scopo del suo viaggio in Cecenia, e lui rispose senza esitazione che era venuto per unirsi all’opposizione e proteggere i russi dall’oppressione e dalla violenza dei dudaeviti. Disse che aveva già combattuto in Jugoslavia, dalla parte dei serbi, e che la maschera e la corda li aveva già usati lì. Disse che una volta giunto a destinazione avrebbe inviato la lettera alla sorella, l’unica che gli volesse bene, per comunicarle il suo arrivo. Dopo averlo trattenuto, feci arrivare un AN – 2 da Khankala e lo feci consegnare a Grozny. Pochi giorni dopo il “volontario” fu mostrato alla TV ed il Presidente Dudaev, davanti ai giornalisti,  dopo aver mostrato la maschera ed il cordone, lesse ad alta voce la “lettera di un volontario”.

Come ho scritto in precedenza, tutti gli insediamenti della regione erano dotati di stazioni radio, c’era un collegamento consolidato tra il distretto e gli uffici del comandante del villaggio, a qualsiasi ora del giorno potevo contattare il comandante Di ogni villaggio e conoscere la situazione in questo insediamento. Oltre a garantire la sicurezza della regione di Naur da parte dell’opposizione di Avturkhanov, noi, attraverso i nostri sostenitori locali nel villaggio di Znamenskoye, che non erano pochi, monitoravamo quanto stava accadendo nel campo dell’opposizione, e trasmettevamo rapporti a Grozny. Avevamo un segnalatore che conosceva bene le stazioni radio, una volta ha attraversato l’Afghanistan dove era un operatore radio in un distaccamento di sabotaggio del GRU.

Un giorno, l’operatore si sintonizzò sulla stazione radio dell’opposizione a Znamenskoye, ed ascoltò una conversazione radio dei nostri avversari che si ripeteva incessantemente: Questa notte, a zero – zero, arriva l’ora X. Temendo che anche le nostre conversazioni fossero ascoltate, decisi di recapitare il rapporto personalmente, e mi recai di persona a Grozny. Giunto al Palazzo Presidenziale, mi recai al Posto di Comando Centrale, ma non trovai nessuno. Era notte fonda, ma la notizia era troppo importante, così mi recai al sesto (o forse al settimo) piano, dove si trovava l’ufficio del Colonnello Merzhuyev. Dopo avermi ascoltato, questi confermò i miei timori: A quanto pare questa notte, o al mattino presto, succederà qualcosa. L’Inguscio [non so a chi si riferisse] ha ricevuto ordini da Mosca di bloccare l’autostrata Rostov – Baku e di tenerla pronta per l’avanzata in massa di mezzi militari.

Merzhuyev era visibilmente agitato dal mio messaggio. Prima di prendere commiato, mi chiese di avvisare Abu Arsanukaev, comandante della Guardia Presidenziale, di rafforzare la sicurezza intorno al Palazzo. Trovato Arsanukaev, gli trasmisi l’ordine di Mershuyev, e questi si mise ad armeggiare con il mezzo blindato parcheggiato all’ingresso, un BRDM armato di mitragliatrice. Dopo un breve controllo, fu chiaro che la mitragliatrice del veicolo non era in grado di sparare. Le guardie presenti si misero a cercare un’alternativa: pare che fosse disponibile un carro armato, appostato dietro ad un angolo lì vicino, ma che non fosse in grado di muoversi e che avrebbero dovuto rimorchiarlo.

Ripensai, sconsolato, alla conversazione con Merzhuyev, mentre osservavo la prontezza o meglio, la non prontezza della difesa del Palazzo Presidenziale in caso di attacco. Tornai ad Ishcherskaya, aspettando l’attacco imminente. Fortunatamente, né quel giorno, né il giorno successivo accadde nulla. Una o due settimane dopo Mershuyev si licenziò a quanto pare per motivi di salute. Non l’ho più visto

Le due ore più difficili della mia vita

Il 23 Agosto 1994 un reparto dell’opposizione, montato su camion e scortato da due T – 64 comparve nei pressi di Chernokozovo, a pochi chilometri da Naur. Ad attenderlo c’era una folla di residenti locali, guidati dal Prefetto, Aindi Akhaev, i quali letteralmente sequestrarono i carri armati, disarmarono gli avturkhanoviti e li rispedirono indietro, con la promessa di non tornare mai più armati. Poco dopo ricevetti un ultimatum da Avturkhanov: o gli restituivamo i carri e rimuovevamo i posti di blocco, oppure, citando le sue parole, egli avrebbe marciato sul distretto con gli stivali insenguinati. Non ricevendo da noi alcuna risposta, inviò un messaggero e mi chiese un incontro sul ponte tra Ishcherskaya e Znamenskoye. Io accettai, e mi recai sul ponte. A metà strada c’era una Volga, dalla quale scese dapprima un uomo alto, coi capelli biondi, poi Avturkhanov.

Ci stringemmo la mano. La sua era sudata, e visibilmente tremante. Lo irrisi, chiedendogli: Che c’è, Umar, non hai ceceni affidabili da usare come guardie del corpo? Quello mi rispose bofonchiando, poi passò alle minacce. Mi chiese di restituirgli i carri armati, e al mio rifiuto rispose: ti do due ore, altrimenti vi riduco in polvere! Non insistette nuovamente sullo smantellamento del posto di blocco, forse se n’era dimenticato. Io gli risposi ad alta voce, in russo: vedremo chi cancellerà chi. Vi aspettiamo. Tornai dai miei compagni e raccontai loro della nostra conversazione. Ci preparammo a respingere l’attacco. Quindici minuti dopo, dall’altra parte del fiume notammo un gran trambusto: auto civili si stavano ammassando al posto di blocco, un cannone antiaereo ZPU – 2 era apparso dal nulla, e la sua torretta ruotava a destra e a sinistra, diretta contro le nostre posizioni.

Il momento era molto teso, ed alcuni di noi iniziarono a darsela a gambe. Un ufficiale di polizia che era con me insieme a quattro suoi commilitoni dichiarò che era stato richiamato urgentemente al Dipartimento di Polizia Distrettuale, e che avrebbero dovuto lasciarci. Non potevo oppormi, e li lasciai partire. Anche altri miliziani se ne andarono. Dovevo fare qualcosa, e allora ordinai che uno dei carri che avevamo sequestrato fosse posizionato all’ingresso del Checkpoint, e che puntasse il cannone contro i nostri avversari.  Alla vista del carro, dall’altra parte i militanti dell’opposizione iniziarono ad agitarsi, correndo avanti e indietro. Passarono due ore dolorose, mentre attendevamo l’attacco. Se ci fosse stato un attacco ben organizzato, non avremmo mai potuto tenere il ponte. Loro ci avrebbero ripreso il carro armato, e nessuno avrebbe potuto aiutarci. La differenza tra le nostre forze e le loro era troppo grande, noi avevamo appena due caricatori a testa, e nessuno di noi aveva esperienza militare. Se Avturkhanov avesse insistito, il ponte sarebbe caduto. Sul momento non capivo perché ritenesse così importante penetrare nel Distretto di Naursk, potendo utilizzare la strada che da Lomaz – Yurt procede pe Znamenskoye, costeggiando il lato destro del Terek, per arrivare a Grozny. Soltanto qualche tempo da, conversando con un tizio che a quel tempo era un militante dell’opposizione, ho saputo che gli anti – dudaeviti avevano problemi a far passare l’equipaggiamento da quella strada, perché gli abitanti di Lomaz – Yurt (oggi Bratskoye) erano per la maggior parte sostenitori di Dudaev, e si opponevano armi in pugno al passaggio di armi contro il governo. Avturkhanov voleva controllare il ponte per poter usare la strada sulla sponda sinistra del Terek. Ma queste cose le ho sapute soltanto dopo. All’epoca non ne ero informato, e non capivo a cosa servisse questa prova di forza da parte dell’opposizione. 

Alla fine Avturkhanov desistette. Non ci fu alcun attacco. Gli avturkhanoviti si limitarono a minare il loro versante del ponte e a danneggiarlo, lasciando soltanto uno stretto passaggio pedonale. Quel giorno imparai a conoscere chi era con me: fui molto orgoglioso dei compagni che erano rimasti. Ad essere sincero, per me  queste due ore sono state forse le ore più difficili della mia vita. Le più difficili perché per la prima volta, dovetti prendere una decisione che avrebbe potuto produrre gravi conseguenze. A quei tempi i ceceni non erano così indifferenti allo spargimento di sangue dei loro compatrioti, non erano ancora induriti dall’odio dovuto alle differenze politiche!

Dopo la guerra, quando ero direttore del Servizio di Sicurezza Nazionale, seppi da un detenuto che il Consiglio Provvisorio aveva organizzato il Raid del 23 Agosto per tentare di impossessarsi dell’intero distretto. Il raid su Naur, fermato da Akhaev a Chernokozovo, avrebbe dovuto indurre la popolazione del distretto ad arrendersi, prendendo la milizia alle spalle mentre era impegnata a difendere i posti di blocco. Quello che gli strateghi di Avturkhanov non avevano considerato era il coraggio delle popolazioni di Naursk e di Mekenskaya. Si trattava di persone semplici, ma molto determinate, che con il loro coraggio fecero fallire il piano dei nostri avversari.

MEMOIRS OF A CHECHEN FARMER

Story of Khamzat

I was born in 1959. From 1989 to 1992 I was a public figure and I participated in the socio-political life of our Achkhoy -Martan district of the Chechen Republic. At the first democratic elections of perestroika, I was elected representative in the municipality of the village of Achkhoy – Martan and helped to carry out an agrarian reform, thanks to which the first private farms in the district appeared, with the acquisition of owned land. I participated in the presidential and parliamentary elections of 27 October 1991 as a member of the district electoral commission, for the elections of the first President, Dudaev, and of the first independent parliament, in 1997 I was a member of the electoral committee of Aslan Maskhadov. From 1992 to 2002, I continued my social and political work, and organized my farm. In April 2004 I emigrated to Poland, from November 2004 to today I live in a small French town in the Vendée department.

The 90s, for me, were the happiest time of my life. At that time I was younger. But that’s not it. It was the sense of freedom that pervaded everyone.

The origins

Between the end of 1988 and the beginning of 1989 the Komsomol Secretary for the Achkhoy – Martan District, Ruslan Ezerkhanov , began to oppose the then First District Secretary of the CPSU, Ruslan Bazgiev , exploiting the Glasnost and the recognized freedom of speech. from Gorbachev’s Perestroika. At the time, the District Committee, headed by Bazgiev, was the local governing body. Due to his pressure, Ezerkhanov was removed from his post, so he began to mobilize people against the district authorities. I immediately joined him, and together we formed a movement called the Popular Front. We wanted to implement Perestroika in our territory. At that moment I met Ruslan Kutaev, who participated in political life at the national level and supported us in every possible way.

The Popular Front arose spontaneously in many cities of Chechnya, and Bisultanov was only its best-known figure. He was a participant in the Kavkaz association, whose organizers were Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, Movladi Ugudov, Lecha Umkhaev, Yusup Elmurzaev and others, and whose purpose was to steer Chechnya in the right direction. It was they who gave a name to the informal movement that was developing in the country, calling it the Popular Front for assistance to Perestroijka. After some time Bisultanov was expelled from this group, constituting the Popular Front (devoid of other attributes) and began holding demonstrations in Gudermes, against the construction of a biochemical plant for the production of lysine, an enzyme that serves to grow the muscle mass of cows. As it later became known, he had been introduced into the movement with the sole purpose of promoting the appointment of Zavgaev as First Secretary of the Regional Party Committee, and then of directing the movement of the masses in his direction. To do this, he needed to weaken the position of Yandarbiev and his comrades in the struggle, not giving them the opportunity to influence the course of the processes taking place in the Republic.

After the abolition of article 6 of the USSR Constitution “On the leadership role of the CPSU”, instructions for the transfer of powers to representative councils elected by regular elections were sent to the District Committee. We had those instructions from a member of the Committee, who secretly sympathized with us. We began to study these directives as we prepared for the elections of local deputies. On February 15 , 1990, we started demonstrating against the First Secretary, Bazgiev . At that time the leadership of our movement, in Achkhoy – Martan, had passed from Ezerkhanov to Shepa Gadaev, future deputy of the republic. I had known Gadaev for many years already. He had helped me when, in 1984, due to a conflict with the manager of the hospital where I worked, I was illegally fired. Gadaev was a lawyer, and with his help I was able to return to work, remaining there for more than ten years. He was a brilliant man, very competent, who was not afraid to confront power. Perhaps that is why, unfortunately, in 1996 he was kidnapped and killed. Most likely his opposition to Bazgiev has something to do with it, but at the time the investigation was never carried out, and the culprit of his murder was never found.

Land reform

Let’s go back to 1990. The gathering we organized lasted seven and a half days, and in the end Zavgaev removed Bazgiev. At the next party meeting, Shepa Gadaev was elected in his place. We had achieved our first victory. Thus, we continued the preparation for the elections for the District Council, and the Village Council, and in the elections we managed to conquer many positions, assigning them to people loyal to our movement. Among these was also: I was one of the 30 members of the Village Council. Me and a colleague we were the promoters of the creation of an alternate commission for the implementation of the agrarian reform in our village.

At that time the Soviet central government had already passed three laws: the “Land Code of Russia”, the “Peasants and Agriculture Law” and the “Land Reform Law”, all of which went in the direction of restoring private property. of the land, but the domination of the bureaucracy and the party slowed down all initiatives, and blocked reforms. Yeltsin, in Moscow, had issued a resolution on the imposition of land reform, allowing the District Committees to set up farms by allocating up to 10% of the arable land of the Sovkhozes and Kholkhozes to private companies. The Land Commission we set up immediately appealed to this right, requisitioning 150 hectares of arable land from one Sockhoz and another 64 (later increased to 75) from another, and set up private farms on these land. Even today, 15 of the farms built on the smaller land are still fully operational. The others, unfortunately, closed due to various reasons. I, too, set up my own private farm on land alienated from the Commission. Then I formed a consortium of farms, called “Commonwealth”, leading it until 2004. I am convinced that it was also thanks to the consortium that these farms managed to survive. The assignment of the lands was made on the basis of the applications submitted by the citizens who intended to work on it. One of these questions was asked by my father, and when the privatization of the land began, he too got his piece of land. As far as I know, the land allocation was not affected by corruption. Of course, the head of the process, Mitrishchev, gave land to three of his brothers, favoring them, even if none of the three managed to build solid companies. But in general, farmers got their land without having to pay bribes. The agrarian reform continued even after independence, because the Parliament, once elected, published a law identical in all respects to the Russian one (only the title changed: from “Russia” to “Chechnya”), however limiting the size maximum of the land that can be sold by each state-owned company to 50 hectares. State funds were also allocated to finance the start-up of agricultural activities: 10% of the budget allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture was donated to the Association of Republican Farmers, which assigned funds to new agricultural enterprises. These funds were not very large, and generally ran out by spring.

Between 1992 and 1994 I tried to set up a thriving farm. In two and a half years I put together a whole set of agricultural tools and machinery, including two tractors and a truck. I was the most successful farmer at that time, in Achkhoy – Martan. All the company’s products were brought to the markets of Grozny and Vladikavkaz. I took care of it personally, with my truck: I sold the products at the market or along the road, to the residents.

As time passed, land reform began to get bogged down. For the government, the issue was not considered a priority, as it was first necessary to obtain official recognition from the independent state. Local authorities were not interested in losing their power, and few attempts by deputies (including Shepa Gadaev ) to revive the privatization of land. The same agricultural reform was repeatedly contested.

From Committees to Prefects

When Dudaev became President and Parliament was elected, a very special situation developed in the Republic. District Committees hostile to Dudaev’s leadership began to sabotage the work of the new administration. On the contrary, the village administrations strongly supported the new course. There was, in essence, an intermediate level of administration that prevented the transmission of orders from the central government to the territory. For this reason, in one of our Popular Front meetings, we proposed to dissolve the District Committees and abolish that intermediate level, putting local administrations directly in contact with the Grozny government. Shepa Gadaev , who in the meantime had been elected deputy, was the promoter of this initiative in Parliament. Dudaev intervened, abolishing the District Committees and introducing the figure of the Prefect by presidential nomination. In our District the President appointed Alvi Khatuev , a former party official. He had been First Secretary of the Komsomol in our district, then he had run a small milk processing plant in the village of Valerik . In that capacity, he had made himself known and named Prefect. Khatuev never found a common language with local administrations, because there was no law that identified precisely what his rights and duties were. Parliament had not passed any, perhaps due to the inconsistency between the position of the president and the parliament in matters of strengthening district power structures. And in the subsequent elections for the village administration, Khatuev ran Mayor of Achkhoy – Martan and was elected.

ПЕРЕВОД НА РУССКИЙ ЯЗЫК

ВОСПОМИНАНИЯ ЧЕЧЕНСКОГО ФЕРМЕРА

История Хамзата

Я родился в 1959 году. С 1989 по 1992 год был общественным деятелем и участвовал в общественно-политической жизни нашего Ачхой – Мартановского района Чеченской Республики. На первых демократических выборах перестройки я был избран представителем в муниципалитете села Ачхой – Мартан и помог провести аграрную реформу, благодаря которой появились первые частные хозяйства в районе, с приобретением земли в собственность. Участвовал в президентских и парламентских выборах 27 октября 1991 года в качестве члена окружной избирательной комиссии, в выборах первого Президента Дудаева и первого независимого парламента, в 1997 году был членом избирательной комиссии Аслана Масхадов. С 1992 по 2002 год я продолжал свою общественную и политическую деятельность, организовал свое хозяйство. В апреле 2004 г. я эмигрировала в Польшу, с ноября 2004 г. по сегодняшний день живу в маленьком французском городке в департаменте Вандея.

90-е годы для меня были самым счастливым временем в моей жизни. В то время я был моложе. Но это не так. Это было чувство свободы, которое пронизывало всех.

Истоки

В период с конца 1988 по начало 1989 года секретарь ВЛКСМ Ачхой – Мартановского района Руслан Езерханов начал противодействовать тогдашнему первому районному секретарю КПСС Руслану Базгиеву , эксплуатируя гласность и признанную свободу слова. от горбачевской перестройки. В то время местным органом управления был райком во главе с Базгиевым . Из-за его давления Эзерханова сняли с поста, поэтому он начал мобилизовывать людей против районных властей. Я сразу же присоединился к нему, и вместе мы сформировали движение под названием «Народный фронт». Мы хотели осуществить перестройку на нашей территории. В тот момент я познакомился с Русланом Кутаевым , который участвовал в политической жизни на национальном уровне и всячески поддерживал нас.

Народный фронт возник стихийно во многих городах Чечни, и Бисултанов был лишь самой известной его фигурой. Он был участником объединения «Кавказ», организаторами которого были Зелимхан Яндарбиев, Мовлади Угудов, Леча Умхаев, Юсуп Эльмурзаев и другие и целью которого было направить Чечню в нужное русло. Именно они дали название развивавшемуся в стране неформальному движению, назвав его Народным фронтом содействия Перестройке . Через некоторое время Бисултанов был исключен из этой группы, составившей Народный фронт (лишенный других атрибутов) и начал проводить демонстрации в Гудермесе, против строительства биохимического завода по производству лизина, фермента, служащего для роста мышечной массы коровы. Как потом стало известно, он был введен в движение с единственной целью способствовать назначению Завгаева первым секретарем обкома партии, а затем направить движение масс в его сторону. Для этого ему нужно было ослабить позиции Яндарбиева и его товарищей по борьбе, не дав им возможности влиять на ход процессов, происходящих в республике.

После отмены статьи 6 Конституции СССР «О руководящей роли КПСС» в райком было направлено указание о передаче полномочий представительным советам, избираемым на очередных выборах. Мы получили такие указания от члена Комитета, который тайно симпатизировал нам. Мы начали изучать эти директивы, готовясь к выборам местных депутатов. 15 февраля 1990 года мы начали демонстрацию против первого секретаря Базгиева . В то время руководство нашим движением в Ачхой – Мартане перешло от Езерханова к Шепе . Гадаев , будущий депутат республики. Я знал Гадаева уже много лет. Он помог мне, когда в 1984 году из-за конфликта с заведующей больницей, где я работал, меня незаконно уволили. Гадаев был юристом, и с его помощью я смог вернуться к работе, оставаясь там более десяти лет. Это был блестящий человек, очень грамотный, не боявшийся противостоять власти. Возможно, поэтому, к сожалению, в 1996 году его похитили и убили. Скорее всего, тут как-то связано его противодействие Базгиеву , но в то время следствие так и не было проведено, а виновник его убийства так и не был найден.

Земельная реформа

Вернемся в 1990 год. Организованная нами сходка длилась семь с половиной дней, и в итоге Завгаев снял Базгиева . На очередном партийном собрании Шепа На его место был избран Гадаев . Мы одержали первую победу. Таким образом, мы продолжили подготовку к выборам в районный совет, в сельсовет, и на выборах нам удалось отвоевать многие должности, закрепив за ними лояльных нашему движению людей. Среди них было и: Я был одним из 30 членов сельсовета. Мы с коллегой были инициаторами создания альтернативной комиссии по проведению аграрной реформы в нашем селе.

В то время советское центральное правительство уже приняло три закона: «Земельный кодекс России», «Закон о крестьянах и сельском хозяйстве» и «Закон о земельной реформе», все из которых шли в направлении восстановления частной собственности. земли, но господство бюрократии и партии тормозило все инициативы и блокировало реформы. Ельцин в Москве издал постановление о проведении земельной реформы, разрешающее райкомам создавать фермы путем выделения до 10% пахотных земель совхозов и колхозов частным компаниям. Земельная комиссия, которую мы создали, тут же апеллировала к этому праву, реквизировав 150 га пашни у одного совхоза и еще 64 (впоследствии увеличенных до 75) га у другого, и устроив на этих землях частные хозяйства . Даже сегодня 15 ферм, построенных на меньшей земле, все еще полностью функционируют. Остальные, к сожалению, закрылись по разным причинам. Я тоже завел свое личное хозяйство на земле, отчужденной от Комиссии. Затем я сформировал консорциум ферм под названием «Содружество», руководил им до 2004 года. Я убежден, что в том числе благодаря консорциуму эти фермы смогли выжить. Назначение земель производилось на основании заявлений, поданных гражданами, намеревавшимися на них работать. Один из таких вопросов задал мой отец, и когда началась приватизация земли, он тоже получил свой участок. Насколько мне известно, при отводе земли коррупция не затронула. Разумеется, руководитель процесса Митрищев отдал землю трем своим братьям, благоволя к ним, даже если ни одному из троих не удалось построить солидные компании. Но в целом крестьяне получали землю без взяток. Аграрная реформа продолжалась и после обретения независимости, потому что парламент, будучи избранным, издал закон, идентичный во всех отношениях российскому (изменено только название: с «России» на «Чечня»), однако ограничив максимальный размер земли что может быть продано каждой госкомпании до 50 га. Государственные средства были также выделены для финансирования начала сельскохозяйственной деятельности: 10% бюджета, выделенного Министерству сельского хозяйства, было передано Ассоциации республиканских фермеров, которая выделила средства для новых сельскохозяйственных предприятий. Эти средства были не очень велики и обычно заканчивались к весне.

Между 1992 и 1994 годами я пытался создать процветающую ферму. За два с половиной года я собрал целый набор сельскохозяйственных орудий и техники, включая два трактора и грузовик. Я был самым успешным фермером в то время, в Ачхой – Мартане . Вся продукция компании была выведена на рынки Грозного и Владикавказа. Я об этом заботился лично, на своем грузовике: продавал продукты на рынке или по дороге, жителям.

Со временем земельная реформа захлебнулась. Для правительства вопрос не считался первоочередным, так как сначала нужно было получить официальное признание со стороны независимого государства. Местные власти не были заинтересованы в потере своей власти, и немногочисленные попытки депутатов (в том числе Шепы Гадаев ) возродить приватизацию земли. Та же аграрная реформа неоднократно оспаривалась.

От комитетов к префектам

Когда Дудаев стал президентом и был избран парламент, в республике сложилась совершенно особая ситуация. Райкомы, враждебные дудаевскому руководству, стали саботировать работу новой администрации. Наоборот, сельские администрации решительно поддержали новый курс. Был, по сути, промежуточный уровень управления, препятствовавший передаче приказов от центральной власти на территорию. Поэтому на одном из собраний Народного фронта мы предложили распустить районные комитеты и упразднить этот промежуточный уровень, поставив местные администрации в непосредственный контакт с грозненским правительством. Шепа Гадаев , который тем временем был избран депутатом, был инициатором этой инициативы в парламенте. Вмешался Дудаев, упразднивший райкомы и введший фигуру префекта по выдвижению президентом. В нашем округе президент назначил Алви Хатуев , бывший партийный деятель. Он был первым секретарем комсомола в нашем районе, потом руководил небольшим молокоперерабатывающим заводом в деревне Валерик . В этом качестве он заявил о себе и был назначен префектом. Хатуев так и не нашел общего языка с местными администрациями, потому что не было закона, который точно определял бы его права и обязанности. Парламент так и не принял, возможно, из-за несогласованности позиций президента и парламента в вопросах усиления районных властных структур. А на последующих выборах в айыл окмоту Хатуев баллотировался на пост главы айыл окмоту Валерика и был избран.

MEMORIES OF WAR: FRANCESCO BENEDETTI INTERVIEWS ILYAS AKHMADOV

There are people who know the recent history of Chechnya, and people who do not know it. The former will certainly have heard of Ilyas Akhmadov. The latter, perhaps, no. Yet this interview, as well as others that will follow, could be interesting for both categories of readers. The first will have the opportunity to read, after a long time, the words of one of the most brilliant exponents of independent Chechnya. The latter will be able to learn from his personal history, which is imbued with this interview, a great deal of things about themes that, in the West, seem to remain in the memory like scenes from an old film. I think about words like “idealism”, “sacrifice” “war” “exile”. Experiences that literally constitute the framework on which our societies have been built. But which, after so many years of apparent peace, seem to be difficult to visualize as real experiences. The following words are not the plot of a series airing on Netflix. These are the real experiences of a man who could look down on many of Western political leaders, strengthened by the gigantic proof that he, like thousands of his compatriots, have given to the world. And yet he accepted to share his memories with me with a disarming kindness and availability.


This interview is one of the conversations I am having with Akhmadov as part of the making of the second volume of “Freedom or Death! History of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria ”. In the course of these conversations some of his memories emerged which, although they could not find a place in a historical monograph, in my opinion represent a human heritage that could not in any way be sacrificed.

FRANCESCO BENEDETTI INTERVIEWS

ILYAS AKHMADOV

Your “Baptism by Fire” was between the Elektropribor factory, and the 2nd Sovkhoz, close to Staropromislovsky highway. Could you tell me about that fight?

I actually did very little at this fight, I was just a spectator. By the time I got there with another Chechen the fight was basically over. The Chechens were shooting at Russian soldiers who were running away. From our family’s house, the fight was approximately two or three bus stops away. Staropromislovsky highway is the longest road in Grozny and goes through the entire district. To describe what the fighting area looked like: it was at the northern edge of a suburb and a big field approximately three or four miles long laid ahead.  On the morning of the fight, my neighbor and I heard explosions. I only had two grenades and a pistol. He had a Kalashnikov. By the time we got there, there was a group of local volunteers and a unit of Gelayev’s men. I can’t recall who the leader of this volunteer group was, we had no time to ask –you often just ran from one unit to another trying to find someone that you knew.

We were at the end of the city and in front of us was a long field with state farms like Sovkhoz #2. The Russian column (under Pulikovsky’s command) had one self-propelled cannon 76 mm (самоходная артиллерийская установка САУ) several APCs, I don’t remember seeing any tanks. Their goal was to cross the long field and reach the highway which would allow them to move straight to the middle of the city.  I don’t think they thought they would encounter any heavy resistance from us. They began shooting and crossing the field. The first ACP rolled forward and it was followed by a self-propelled cannon. They reached the avenue intersection and several guys with grenade launchers took them out. The rest of the Russian force stopped their advance and spread out. It was then that I arrived and saw our men shooting at the retreating Russians. 

In total, it was not a big Russian column. There were around two or three platoons, several APCs.  3 APCs were destroyed –two that had actually entered the streets in addition to the ACP and self-propelled cannon that I just discussed. A combination of Gelayev’s men and a volunteer group were the ones who had taken them out with grenade launchers. The launchers were just basic RPG-7s and RPG-2s. I remember ten of fifteen Russian bodies at the north edge of the suburb. There were also probably some Russian bodies in the field that had been shot while trying to retreat. There was no ground attack again from that direction in the northwest on that day. A couple hours later though, helicopters attacked the area with rockets. Throughout the day, the Russians attacked along different sections of the long Staropromislovsky highway. In four or five other sections along the road I saw the same exact scenario as in the section I discussed. On the sections closer to the center of the city, however, I saw bigger columns and our resistance groups were greater too. There were a lot of Russian bodies and destroyed armored vehicles. 

Earlier you referred to a group of “local volunteers”. How were these units organized?

During the war, there were a lot of local volunteer groups of five or six men, sometimes they were all relatives. It was very important to find a group that you knew. If you linked up with someone from your village, street, block, or family then you had a 90% guarantee that they would not leave your body if you were killed or wounded. If no one from a group knew you, they didn’t want you. It was understandable from both sides. If something happened they wouldn’t be able to locate your relatives to bury you. It was very important to make sure you’d be returned to your family. 

What Memories do you he have about the so-called “New Year’s Onslaught?”   

*Ilyas paused for an unusually long time before beginning to answer *

We ran like mad in those days. I was trying to reach the Presidential Palace. Shamil was there as the chief of the Grozny garrison, with his men acting in the center of the city. I still only had two grenades and a pistol.  We were going through Staropromislovsky highway and hopped on a big truck with five or six fighters, one who was my relative under Gelayev’s command. He was a young man who died later form wounds.,. We reached the Printing House near the Red Hammer factory (Красный Молот) at the end of the highway. Everything was under heavy artillery. There was one civilian who had come to find his relatives and was on his way back to Shatoy. We went underneath the Printing House. There were many different groups. There was one commander, I can’t remember his name, but he asked if anyone wanted to step forward to help our sniper find the Russian sniper who was hitting our position. I volunteered and went up to the ninth floor with a borrowed Kalashnikov to protect our sniper. Just when we got to the top I remember the ground beneath me feet violently shaking. The artillery was battering the floor below us. We couldn’t find the enemy sniper because our sniper couldn’t properly work in that kind of chaotic situation. We went back downstairs. It’s a miracle we got back down.

The building was mostly empty but every now and then a Chechen would run up to the second or third floor and fire at Russian vehicles. When the Chechens took out an APC, and if was possible, they would run to find ammo in them. Also, the building was in the center of a lot of fighting and afforded an advantageous view in three directions. This is probably why the Russians worked so furiously to destroy it. Around 4 pm, the five fighters who I had hopped on the truck with and the civilian started towards the Presidential Palace only about 1.5 miles away. But, with the hell around us, that was a very long distance. It was difficult to understand where the Russians and Chechens were. You can imagine what it’s like when you put 100 hungry dogs in a cage, it was the same thing. 

We slowly ran from street to street trying to reach the Palace. The Russian artillery was working furiously. Sometimes in a small yard you’d see two or three explosions at the same time. When we reached some courtyard, there were two Russian babushkas asking for bread. We wanted to help but didn’t have anything and we strongly advised them to return to the basement. To ask for bread in the middle of this hell was almost funny. 

There was a row of buildings and we hopped from one to the other. Suddenly in front of us, two guys came out from behind a building. They both had black jeans and a black jean jacket. In those times, when someone didn’t have a uniform they would wear heavy duty jeans and a jean jacket. I was very surprised the way these two men jumped out from behind the corner, however. We stopped and looked. In those first few days, “Allah Akbar” became like a password to identify oneself as Chechen. It was very stupid because the Russians caught on and lured and killed some of our men this way. I was right behind of the men in my group, who was only able to let out “Allah–” to the two men who suddenly appeared, before my instinct kicked in and I tackled him to the ground.

The Chechen “uniform” was often just heavy-duty jeans, a jacket, and a wooly hat. These two men were wearing this uniform but something about their hat caught my eye. Hats have a folded band around their bottom but the band was very very thick on these two mens’ hats. I realized they were balaclavas which had been rolled up. They were the same balaclavas that the Russian spetsnaz especially used. The moment I tackled the friendly in front of me down, as he let out “Allah–”, these two Chechen men with rolled-up balaclavs started shooting and a platoon of Russians popped out from behind the corner and joined them. The knocked down man and I crawled into an open door of a government building on the right side of the street. The men who had been behind me ran into the same building but through a basement entrance. The Chechen collaborators and the Russians were ahead in the building diagonally from us on the left side of the street.   

The Russian babushkas, who had just asked us for bread, started pointing and yelling “они там, они там!” (They are there! They are there!) They were helping the enemy find us. I was laying down and the Russians started firing machine guns at the door we had entered through. I still only had a pistol and the other man had a Kalashnikov. He was very confused about where we had been fired upon from. I pointed out it was from the direction of the two Chechens who suddenly appeared in front of us. 

They started shooting into the building’s iron-bar windows one-by-one with the grenade launchers on their guns. We ran around inside the building as their hits got closer to us but everything was closed. The civilian we had met earlier when we were picked up on the way to the Printing House was actually killed by one of them in the basement. The grenade lodged into his chest and ripped everything open when it exploded.  The Chechens who had run into the basement were able to escape under the cover of smoke. They recovered the civilians’ body later that night. I was furious with the Russian babushkas who had pointed out where we were hiding. As the grenade launchers were exploding all around the building, we finally found one window on the other side, where the iron bars had been bent or destroyed for an opening, and left. We returned to the Printing House that night. The civilians’ body was brought back too. There was still shooting all around. This is how I spent my New Year’s, in this Printing House. 

I still think about those two babushkas…only ten minutes before they wanted our help and then wanted us dead moments later. I’m not sure what happened to them, we had a full-time job running. It took me three months to stop thinking about those two Chechens collaborators. It was a shock for me. It’s a miracle that in that mess my instinct caught onto their strange hats. This feeling saved my life. Unfortunately, that civilian had died in the fight. He was very calm and pleasant. When I had met him on the truck I observed him: very clean clothes and had just freshly shaven. We were all sweaty and muddied. He must have sensed he could die soon. It was important for Chechens to die clean. Poor guy, poor guy.

I remember when we had initially set out from the Printing House to the Presidential Palace there was a big square where mortars were falling heavily. We had to hit the ground and run a few times to cross it. When we had fully crossed I realized I was missing one of my nice leather gloves. It must have fallen out of my military cargo pants’ pocket. I could clearly see the dark glove on a white patch of snow. I had to run and hit the ground twice before I reached it. Mortars were still falling. No one understood what the hell I was doing. When I returned they asked me what I had run for, I smiled and held my glove up in the air. “Idiot!”

To sum up those days, it was a complete mess. You could pass a courtyard that was ours five minutes ago and now the Russians’. Nobody had any plan. When you saw the enemy, you shot him. The Russians were bewildered. I remember our first POWs said that their goal was just to reach the Presidential Palace and were promised that the second we saw their tanks we would run away. When they infiltrated the city with all their armor, the Chechens gave them hell. Imagine a bull entering a China shop and being teased from all directions, the Russians similarly went crazy and just shot everywhere, everywhere at anything that moved!

Between Janurary 19 and February 4, 1995, federal forces consolidated control on the left bank of the Sunzha., while the Chechen forced barricaded themselves on the right bank. Do you remember those days? 

During the devastating crush of the Russian advance on New Year’s their troops were stopped from the north direction, which was under the command of General Rokhlin, at Pervomaiskaia Street. From the northwest direction General Pulikovsky was stopped and his forced were almost entirely wiped. From the west came Bibchev. He was stopped by peaceful civilians for a couple days. Surprisingly he didn’t act cruelly like other Russian generals. This slowed him down.    

They understood their initial plan wouldn’t work. It was a crazy circus. The tanks were running in every direction disoriented. Some Russian troops were surrounded and tried to run out of the city. On every street, Chechens were darting around with grenade launchers and when they heard tanks they raced to destroy them. I even once saw two Chechen groups fist fighting each other over who had taken out a tank and who deserved the loot inside. It was hard to understand who specifically destroyed this or that tank because you had guys shooting down on them from many different floors, from different buildings, and directions. 

Problems like that were symptoms of our disorganized volunteers. Two men: Basayev and Maskhadov went through tremendous trouble to organize the chaos. You must imagine without real communication –we had only a few Motorolas in those days. I think the chief of staff of Basayev’s battalion Eli aydayev whose nickname was “Lambada” he had a Motorola radio. After he was killed we stopped using them for some time because the Russians found his radio. He was killed in a train depot where there was terrible fighting and his body was never found. We had some military radios from destroyed APCs but it was very easy for the Russians to intercept our communications. 

Even now, I can’t understand how Basyev and Maskhadov accomplished what they did. They were always on the frontlines, moving around and between all the troops, speaking with them, forcing them to organize.  When Babichev and Rokhlin linked somewhere around Red Hammer Factory and the Printing House they cut the Staropromislovsky district from the rest of the city. By that point there was no point in defending the district because the main movement was moving towards the city, where the Presidential Palace was.  

When the Russians linked, they started using bombs which cut through floors and can reach underground shelters. It was after they started using these bombs, which hit underground shelters where even Russian POWs were being treated, that Dudayev and Maskhadov made the decision cross to the other side of the Sunzha. They conducted a very organized crossing even as they faced heavy advancement from Russians. It was much more organized than the first few days of the war. In the New Year’s days, everyone was his own field marshal.   

When our forced first crossed the Sunzhun Maskhadov established headquarters at City Clinic #4. Then the headquarters was moved to a massive branch of the Red Hammer factory. We later joked about it, because his staff had a habit of setting up HQ under very big and visible landmarks/buildings.  

What did you do after Grozny fell in Russian hands?

After New Year’s I had a severe cold and was coughing up blood so I spent two weeks with some relatives in a village. When I came back to the city in the end of January I ran into Basayev. Shamil said to me, “What are you doing running around, you will probably die in 2-3 days. You can be much more profitable in some other way, Maskhadov is organizing headquarters and he could use someone like you to help.”    

He told me to go to Argun and find Abu Mosayev, the head of our Department of State Security (Департамент государственной безопасности ДГБ) . I went and I knew no one there. After several hours, I noticed that security began looking at me suspiciously. They probably thought: “This guy, with ammunition, speaking with no one, and walking around the grounds is up to no good.” However, one afternoon came Basayev’s brother and he introduced me to Abu Movsayev. In the evening Basayev came himself. I remember he never had guards around him, he drove alone. During this time, the sky was on fire with non-stop Russian artillery. Basayev took me to Maskhadov, this was my first time seeing him in person. 

I know Maskhadov and his staff continued to look at me a little suspiciously.Initially I wasn’t aware of the competition and rivalries between different commanders. I eventually understood that they thought Basayev had sent me to be his “fly on the wall” on Maskhadov. It was funny. I was insulted because I was very idealistic in my young days and this war –we had to fight together. Despite this, at that time Maskhadov and Basayev were quite close. You must admit these two men organized these chaotic –you can call them “tribe warriors” haha – into one of the best infantry in the world in just a couple weeks, all the while, dealing with one of the biggest armies in the world But yes, competitions eventually did begin to develop between the two of them.

Over the next few days, the Chechen garrison withdrew from grozny, while Basayev covered the barricaded retreat in the suburb of Chernorechie. Do you remember of those days?

Basayev did a great job with the retreat. There were many groups which did not have communications with the main forces and he checked every corner of the territory under his control, gathered all these men, and orchestrated an orderly retreat.  The timing of our retreat from one bank of the Sunzha to the other was partly unintentional. We could have held out a little longer. There were many different groups running around shooting any enemy they could see. Some of these units were not from the city and they would come fight for 3-4 days then retreat home and relax for a week in their village. When a unit from the city would ask where they were going it was embarrassing to say, “we are going home” so they said, “we have orders from Maskhadov to retreat” instead. With no way to verify this and no reason to doubt their explanation, they also retreated across the Sunzha. This sped up the move to the other bank.

We only had a few walkie-talkies and some radios from APCs but they were useless. The Russians easily intercepted them and of course we did the same to them. We would sometimes trick them. Basayev took lessons from that retreat to the other side of the Sunzha and applied them to the major retreat out of Grozny. He went around to all the units, checked them, organized and grouped them in Chernorechie and took them through the forest.   The Russians tried to mine the retreat from the air. Despite this, someone told me that Basayev was at the head of the column with a little stick in his hand, singing some funny Russian song and led the way. After they crossed the Chernorechie forest they split off into two directions. Those who fought under Gelayev went southwest. Baseyev’s group went to the Southeast. 

Dudayev and Maskhadov made the right decision to retreat into the mountains. Just outside of the city, it was harder to fight the Russians. It was like position war: we built many trenches but had no artillery and the Russians were firing at the positions all the time. To describe the big picture: First we moved from one bank of the Sunzha to the other after causing devastating casualties for the Russians. Afterwards, the Russians used a new tactic: they bombarded blocks for 2-3 weeks before slowly moving in. When our fighters destroyed a tank and killed 10-15 of their men the Russians would retreat and resume their bombardment then slowly return. We ran out of ammunition after a while. Many Chechens died trying to retrieve trophies form Russians. We turned away many civilian volunteers who wanted weapons because we simply did not have enough to give out and we didn’t need people needlessly dying.  We didn’t have real, organized communication.

It was obvious we could not keep the city for too long hence why we moved. Dudayev and Gelayev were doing a good job organizing in the Southwest direction. Maskhadov and Basayev were responsible in the Southeast. The retreat from Grozny was very well organized. It wasn’t a frantic run like the Russians pretend. You can really only appreciate how well executed it was if you could be there to see it and understand that 70% of out fighters hadn’t even served in the military. The Russian advancement was absolutely massive. Their artillery was raining down constantly. Except on some foggy days, their aviation was always working too. When I came back to Grozny 6 months later, for peace negotiations, I didn’t recognize the neighborhood I was raised in all my life. It was a half-empty desert.   With only a few thousand men with Kalashnikovs, it was a miracle what was accomplished.

Есть люди, которые знают новейшую историю Чечни, и есть люди, которые ее не знают. Первые наверняка слышали об Ильясе Ахмадове. Последнего, пожалуй, нет. Тем не менее, это интервью, как и другие, которые последуют за ним, могут быть интересны обеим категориям читателей. У первых будет возможность прочесть спустя долгое время слова одного из самых ярких представителей независимой Чечни. Последний сможет узнать из своей личной истории, которой проникнуто это интервью, многое о темах, которые на Западе, кажется, остаются в памяти, как сцены из старого фильма. Я думаю о таких словах, как «идеализм», «жертва», «война», «изгнание». Опыт, который буквально составляет основу, на которой построено наше общество. Но которые, после стольких лет кажущегося покоя, трудно представить себе как реальные переживания. Следующие слова не являются сюжетом сериала, транслируемого на Netflix. Это реальный опыт человека, который мог смотреть свысока на многих западных политических лидеров, подкрепленный гигантскими доказательствами, которые он, как и тысячи его соотечественников, дал миру. И все же он согласился поделиться со мной своими воспоминаниями с обезоруживающей добротой и доступностью.


Это интервью — одна из бесед, которые я веду с Ахмадовым в рамках работы над вторым томом «Свобода или смерть! История Чеченской Республики Ичкерия». В ходе этих бесед всплыли некоторые его воспоминания, которые, хотя и не нашли места в исторической монографии, представляют собой, на мой взгляд, человеческое наследие, которым ни в коей мере нельзя пожертвовать.

РУССКАЯ ВЕРСИЯ

(translated by google translate)

ФРАНЧЕСКО БЕНЕДЕТТИ ИНТЕРВЬЮ

ИЛЬЯС АХМАДОВ

Ваше «Крещение огнём» было между заводом « Электроприбор » и 2- м совхозом, недалеко от Старопромысловского шоссе. Не могли бы вы рассказать мне об этом бое?

Я на самом деле очень мало сделал в этом бою, я был просто зрителем. К тому времени, когда я добрался туда с другим чеченцем, драка уже практически закончилась. Чеченцы стреляли по убегавшим русским солдатам. От дома нашей семьи драка была примерно в двух-трех автобусных остановках. Старопромысловский тракт — самая длинная дорога в Грозном и проходит через весь район. Чтобы описать, как выглядел район боевых действий: он находился на северной окраине пригорода, а впереди лежало большое поле примерно в три или четыре мили в длину. Утром в день боя мы с соседом услышали взрывы. У меня было только две гранаты и пистолет. У него был автомат Калашникова. К тому времени, как мы туда добрались, там была группа местных добровольцев и отряд гелаевцев . Не могу вспомнить, кто был лидером этой волонтерской группы, у нас не было времени спрашивать – часто просто бегали из одной части в другую, пытаясь найти кого-то, кого вы знали.

Мы были в конце города и перед нами было длинное поле с совхозами вроде Совхоза №2. Русская колонна (под командованием Пуликовского ) имела одну самоходную пушку калибра 76 мм ( самоходная артиллерийская установка САУ ) несколько БТРов, танков не помню. Их целью было пересечь длинное поле и добраться до шоссе, которое позволило бы им двигаться прямо в центр города. Я не думаю, что они думали, что столкнутся с сильным сопротивлением с нашей стороны. Они начали стрелять и переходить поле. Первый АКП покатился вперед, а за ним самоходная пушка. Они дошли до перекрестка проспекта, и несколько парней с гранатометами их вывели. Остальные русские силы остановили свое продвижение и рассредоточились. Именно тогда я приехал и увидел, как наши люди стреляют в отступающих русских.

В общем, это была не большая русская колонна. Там было около двух-трех взводов, несколько БТРов. Было уничтожено 3 БТР — два, которые действительно вышли на улицу, в дополнение к БТР и самоходной пушке, о которых я только что говорил. Уничтожили их из гранатометов сочетание людей Гелаева и группы добровольцев. Пусковыми установками были обычные РПГ-7 и РПГ-2. Я помню десять из пятнадцати русских тел на северной окраине пригорода. Также, вероятно, в поле было несколько русских тел, расстрелянных при попытке отступления. Наземных атак с этого направления на северо-западе в тот день больше не было. Однако через пару часов вертолеты обстреляли район ракетами. В течение дня русские атаковали на разных участках протяженного Старопромысловского шоссе. На четырех или пяти других участках дороги я видел тот же самый сценарий, что и на участке, который я обсуждал. Однако на участках ближе к центру города я видел большие колонны, и наши группы сопротивления тоже были больше. Там было много трупов русских и уничтоженной бронетехники.

Ранее вы упомянули группу «местных волонтеров». Как были организованы эти отряды?

Во время войны было очень много местных добровольческих отрядов по пять-шесть человек, иногда все они были родственниками. Было очень важно найти группу, которую вы знали. Если вы связывались с кем-то из вашей деревни, улицы, квартала или семьи, то у вас была 90% гарантия, что они не покинут ваше тело, если вас убьют или ранят. Если никто из группы не знал вас, они не хотели вас видеть. Это было понятно с обеих сторон. Если что-то случится, они не смогут найти твоих родственников, чтобы похоронить тебя. Было очень важно убедиться, что тебя вернут в семью.

Какие воспоминания у него остались о так называемом «Новогоднем натиске»? 

*Ильяс непривычно долго помолчал, прежде чем начать отвечать*

Мы бегали как сумасшедшие в те дни. Я пытался добраться до Президентского дворца. Шамиль был там начальником грозненского гарнизона, а его люди действовали в центре города. У меня остались только две гранаты и пистолет. Мы ехали по Старопромысловскому шоссе и запрыгнули в большой грузовик с пятью-шестью бойцами, один из которых был моим родственником под командованием Гелаева . Это был молодой человек, который позже скончался от ран. Добрались до Типографии возле завода Красный Молот ( Красный Молот ) в конце шоссе. Все было под тяжелой артиллерией. Был один гражданский, который пришел за своими родственниками и возвращался в Шатой. Мы прошли под типографией. Было много разных групп. Там был один командир, я не помню его имени, но он спросил, не хочет ли кто-нибудь выйти вперед, чтобы помочь нашему снайперу найти русского снайпера, который бил по нашим позициям. Я вызвался и поднялся на девятый этаж с одолженным автоматом Калашникова, чтобы защитить нашего снайпера. Когда мы добрались до вершины, я помню, как сильно тряслась земля под моими ногами. Артиллерия била по полу под нами. Мы не могли найти вражеского снайпера, потому что наш снайпер не мог нормально работать в такой хаотической ситуации. Мы вернулись вниз. Это чудо, что мы вернулись вниз.

В основном здание было пустым, но время от времени чеченец забегал на второй или третий этаж и стрелял по российским машинам. Когда чеченцы доставали БТР, и если была возможность, то бегали искать в них патроны. Кроме того, здание находилось в центре многочисленных боев и открывало выгодный обзор в трех направлениях. Вероятно, поэтому русские так яростно работали над его уничтожением. Около 16:00 пятеро боевиков, с которыми я запрыгнул в грузовик, и гражданский двинулись к Президентскому дворцу всего в 1,5 милях от меня. Но с адом вокруг нас это было очень большое расстояние. Трудно было понять, где русские и чеченцы. Вы можете себе представить, каково это, когда вы сажаете в клетку 100 голодных собак, это было то же самое.

Мы медленно перебегали с улицы на улицу, пытаясь добраться до Дворца. Яростно работала русская артиллерия. Иногда в маленьком дворе можно было увидеть два-три взрыва одновременно. Когда мы дошли до какого-то двора, там две русские бабушки просили хлеба. Мы хотели помочь, но у нас ничего не было, и мы настоятельно посоветовали им вернуться в подвал. Просить хлеб посреди этого ада было почти смешно.

Там был ряд зданий, и мы прыгали от одного к другому. Внезапно прямо перед нами из-за здания вышли двое парней. У обоих были черные джинсы и черная джинсовая куртка. В те времена, когда у кого-то не было униформы, они носили плотные джинсы и джинсовую куртку. Однако меня очень удивило, как эти двое мужчин выскочили из-за угла. Мы остановились и посмотрели. В те первые дни «Аллах Акбар» стало паролем для идентификации себя как чеченца. Это было очень глупо, потому что русские спохватились, заманили и таким образом убили некоторых наших людей. Я был прямо позади мужчин в моей группе, которые смогли только выкрикнуть «Аллах-» двум мужчинам, которые внезапно появились, прежде чем мой инстинкт сработал, и я повалил его на землю.

Чеченская «униформа» часто состояла из плотных джинсов, куртки и шерстяной шапки. Эти двое мужчин были одеты в эту форму, но что-то в их шляпах привлекло мое внимание. Шляпы имеют загнутую ленту по низу, но на этих двух мужских шапках она была очень- очень толстой . Я понял, что это балаклавы, которые были свернуты. Это были те самые балаклавы, которые специально использовал русский спецназ. В тот момент, когда я сбил стоящего передо мной товарища, когда он выкрикнул «Аллах-», эти двое чеченцев в закатанных балаклавах начали стрелять, а из-за угла выскочил взвод русских и присоединился к ним. Сбитый с ног мужчина и я пролезли в открытую дверь правительственного здания на правой стороне улицы. Мужчины, которые были позади меня, вбежали в то же здание, но через подвальный вход. Чеченские коллаборационисты и русские были впереди в здании по диагонали от нас по левой стороне улицы.

Русские бабушки, которые только что попросили у нас хлеба, начали тыкать пальцем и кричать « они там , они там !” (Они там! Они там!) Они помогали врагу найти нас. Я лежал, и русские начали стрелять из автоматов по двери, через которую мы вошли. У меня по-прежнему был только пистолет, а у другого был автомат Калашникова. Он был очень озадачен тем, откуда нас обстреляли. Я указал, что это было со стороны двух чеченцев, внезапно появившихся перед нами.

Они начали по очереди стрелять в решетчатые окна здания из гранатометов на автоматах. Мы бегали по зданию, пока их снаряды приближались к нам, но все было закрыто. Гражданский, которого мы встретили ранее, когда нас подбирали по дороге в типографию, на самом деле был убит одним из них в подвале. Граната застряла в его груди и разорвала все вокруг, когда взорвалась. Забежавшим в подвал чеченцам удалось спастись под прикрытием дыма. Позже той же ночью они обнаружили тела мирных жителей. Я был в ярости от русских бабушек, указавших, где мы прячемся. Поскольку гранатометы взрывались по всему зданию, мы, наконец, нашли одно окно с другой стороны, где железные прутья были согнуты или разрушены для открытия, и ушли. В тот же вечер мы вернулись в типографию. Привезли и тела мирных жителей. Вокруг по-прежнему стреляли. Вот так я провел свой Новый год в этой типографии.

Я до сих пор думаю о тех двух бабушках… всего за десять минут до того, как им понадобилась наша помощь, а через несколько мгновений хотели, чтобы мы умерли. Не знаю, что с ними случилось, у нас была постоянная работа. Мне потребовалось три месяца, чтобы перестать думать об этих двух чеченских коллаборационистах. Это был шок для меня. Это чудо, что в этом беспорядке мой инстинкт уловил их странные шляпы. Это чувство спасло мне жизнь. К сожалению, этот гражданский погиб в бою. Он был очень спокойным и приятным. Когда я встретил его в грузовике, я увидел его: в очень чистой одежде и только что выбритым. Мы все были потные и грязные. Он, должно быть, чувствовал, что скоро может умереть. Чеченцам было важно умереть чистыми. Бедняга, бедняга.

Помню, когда мы сначала двинулись от Типографии к Президентскому дворцу, там была большая площадь, где сильно падали минометы. Нам пришлось удариться о землю и несколько раз пробежать, чтобы пересечь ее. Когда мы полностью перешли дорогу, я понял, что мне не хватает одной из моих красивых кожаных перчаток. Должно быть, он выпал из кармана моих армейских штанов. Я отчетливо видел темную перчатку на белом пятне снега. Мне пришлось бежать и дважды удариться о землю, прежде чем я добрался до нее. Минометы все еще падали. Никто не понимал, какого черта я делаю. Когда я вернулся, меня спросили, зачем я бежал, я улыбнулся и поднял перчатку в воздух. “Идиот!”

Если подытожить те дни, то это был полный бардак. Можно было пройти мимо двора, который пять минут назад был нашим, а теперь русским. Ни у кого не было никакого плана. Когда ты увидел врага, ты выстрелил в него. Русские были в недоумении. Помню, наши первые военнопленные сказали, что их цель — просто добраться до Президентского дворца, и нам пообещали, что, как только мы увидим их танки, мы убежим. Когда они проникли в город со всей своей броней, чеченцы устроили им ад. Представьте быка, входящего в посудную лавку и дразнящего со всех сторон, русские точно так же сходили с ума и просто стреляли везде, везде во все, что двигалось!

В период с 19 января по 4 февраля 1995 г. федеральные силы закрепили контроль на левом берегу Сунжи, а чеченцы вынуждены были забаррикадироваться на правом берегу. Вы помните те дни?

Во время сокрушительного разгрома наступления русских под Новый год их войска были остановлены с северного направления, находившегося под командованием генерала Рохлина, на улице Первомайской . С северо-западного направления генерал Пуликовский был остановлен и его силы были почти полностью уничтожены. С запада пришел Бибчев . На пару дней его остановили мирные жители. Удивительно, но он не действовал жестоко, как другие русские генералы. Это замедлило его.

Они поняли, что их первоначальный план не сработает. Это был сумасшедший цирк. Танки беспорядочно бежали во все стороны. Некоторые русские войска попали в окружение и попытались бежать из города. На каждой улице чеченцы шныряли с гранатометами и, услышав звуки танков, бросились их уничтожать. Я даже однажды видел, как две чеченские группировки дрались друг с другом на кулаках из-за того, кто подбил танк и кто заслужил награбленное внутри. Трудно было понять, кто именно уничтожил тот или иной танк, потому что по ним стреляли ребята с разных этажей, из разных зданий и направлений.

Подобные проблемы были симптомами неорганизованности наших волонтеров. Двое мужчин: Басаев и Масхадов приложили огромные усилия, чтобы организовать хаос. Вы можете себе представить без реального общения – у нас тогда было всего несколько Motorola . Кажется, у начальника штаба басаевского батальона Эли Айдаева по прозвищу «Ламбада» был радиоприемник «Моторола». После того, как его убили, мы на какое-то время перестали их использовать, потому что русские нашли его рацию. Он был убит в вокзале, где шли страшные бои, и его тело так и не нашли. У нас было несколько военных радиостанций с уничтоженных бронетранспортеров, но русским было очень легко перехватить наши сообщения.

Я до сих пор не могу понять, как Басиев и Масхадов сделали то, что сделали. Они всегда были на передовой, двигались вокруг и между всеми войсками, разговаривали с ними, заставляли их организовываться. Когда Бабичев и Рохлин соединились где-то в районе завода «Красный Молот» и Типографии, они отрезали Старопромысловский район от остального города. К этому моменту оборонять район уже не было смысла, так как основное движение двигалось в сторону города, где находился Президентский дворец.

Когда русские связались, они начали использовать бомбы, которые пробивают полы и могут достигать подземных укрытий. Именно после того, как они начали использовать эти бомбы, попавшие в подземные убежища, где лечили даже русских военнопленных, Дудаев и Масхадов приняли решение перебраться на другой берег Сунжи. Они провели очень организованную переправу, несмотря на сильное продвижение русских. Она была гораздо более организованной, чем в первые дни войны. В новогодние дни каждый был сам себе фельдмаршал.

Когда наши форсировали первый раз Сунжунь Масхадов создал штаб в городской поликлинике № 4. Затем штаб-квартира была перенесена в огромный филиал завода «Красный молот». Мы потом шутили по этому поводу, потому что у его сотрудников была привычка устраивать штаб под очень большими и заметными достопримечательностями/зданиями.

Что вы делали после того, как Грозный попал в руки русских?

После Нового года я сильно простудился и кашлял кровью, поэтому две недели провел у родственников в деревне. Вернувшись в город в конце января, я столкнулся с Басаевым. Шамиль сказал мне: «Что ты тут бегаешь, наверное, через 2-3 дня умрешь. Вы можете быть гораздо выгоднее как-то иначе, Масхадов занимается организацией штаба, и он мог бы использовать кого-то вроде вас в помощь».

Он сказал мне ехать в Аргун и найти Абу Мосаева , начальника нашего Департамента госбезопасности ( Департамент государственный безопасность ДГБ ). Я пошел, и я никого не знал там. Через несколько часов я заметил, что охрана начала подозрительно на меня смотреть. Они, наверное, подумали: «Этот парень, с боеприпасами, ни с кем не разговаривающий, а по территории гуляющий, никуда не годится». Однако однажды днем пришел брат Басаева и представил меня Абу Мовсаеву . Вечером пришел сам Басаев. Я помню, что вокруг него никогда не было охраны, он ездил один. Все это время небо непрерывно обстреливала русская артиллерия. Басаев повел меня к Масхадову , я впервые увидел его лично.

Я знаю, что Масхадов и его штаб продолжали смотреть на меня несколько подозрительно . Поначалу я не замечал конкуренции и соперничества между разными командирами. В конце концов я понял, что они думали, что Басаев подослал меня, чтобы быть его «мухой на стене» на Масхадове . Это было забавно. Меня оскорбили, потому что я был очень идеалистичным в молодости и на этой войне — мы должны были сражаться вместе. Несмотря на это, в то время Масхадов и Басаев были достаточно близки. Вы должны признать, что эти двое мужчин организовали этих хаотичных — можно назвать их «воинами племени», ха- ха , — одну из лучших пехотинцев в мире всего за пару недель, все это время имея дело с одной из самых больших армий в мире. мир Но да, соревнования со временем начали развиваться между ними двумя.

В течение следующих нескольких дней чеченский гарнизон отошел из Грозного , а Басаев прикрывал забаррикадированный отход в пригороде Черноречья . Вы помните те дни?

Басаев отлично справился с отступлением. Было много групп, не имевших связи с основными силами, и он проверил каждый уголок подконтрольной ему территории, собрал всех этих людей и организовал организованное отступление. Время нашего отступления с одного берега Сунжи на другой было отчасти непреднамеренным. Мы могли бы продержаться еще немного. Вокруг бегало много разных групп, стреляя в любого врага, которого они могли видеть. Некоторые из этих отрядов были не из города и приезжали воевать на 3-4 дня, потом отступали домой и неделю отдыхали в своей деревне. Когда часть из города спрашивала, куда они идут, было неловко говорить «мы идем домой», поэтому вместо этого они говорили: «у нас есть приказ от Масхадова отступать». Не имея возможности проверить это и не имея причин сомневаться в их объяснении, они также отступили за Сунжу. Этот ускорил переход на другой берег .

У нас было всего несколько раций и несколько радиостанций от БТРов, но они были бесполезны. Русские легко их перехватили, и мы, конечно, сделали с ними то же самое. Иногда мы их обманывали. Басаев извлек уроки из этого отступления на другой берег Сунжи и применил их к крупному отступлению из Грозного. Он обошел все части, проверил их, организовал и сгруппировал в Черноречье и провел через лес. Русские пытались заминировать отход с воздуха. Несмотря на это, кто-то сказал мне, что Басаев шел впереди колонны с палочкой в руке, пел какую-то веселую русскую песенку и шел впереди. После того, как они пересекли Чернореченский лес, они разделились на два направления. Те, кто воевал под Гелаевым, ушли на юго-запад. Группа Басеева ушла на юго-восток.

Дудаев и Масхадов приняли правильное решение отступить в горы. Только за городом бороться с русскими было сложнее. Это было похоже на позиционную войну: мы построили много окопов, но не имели артиллерии, и русские все время стреляли по позициям. Чтобы описать общую картину: сначала мы перебрались с одного берега Сунжи на другой, причинив русским огромные потери. После этого русские использовали новую тактику: они обстреливали кварталы в течение 2-3 недель, прежде чем медленно продвигаться вперед. Когда наши бойцы уничтожали танк и убивали 10-15 человек, русские отступали и возобновляли обстрел, а затем медленно возвращались. Через некоторое время у нас кончились боеприпасы. Многие чеченцы погибли, пытаясь отобрать трофеи у русских. Мы отказали многим гражданским добровольцам, которые хотели оружия, потому что у нас просто не было достаточно, чтобы раздать, и мы не нуждались в том, чтобы люди умирали без нужды. У нас не было настоящего организованного общения.

Было очевидно, что мы не сможем удерживать город слишком долго, поэтому мы переехали. Дудаев и Гелаев неплохо организовывали юго-западное направление. Масхадов и Басаев несли ответственность на Юго-Востоке. Отступление из Грозного было очень хорошо организовано. Это не был бешеный бег, как притворяются русские. Вы действительно можете оценить, насколько хорошо это было сделано, только если вы могли быть там, чтобы увидеть это и понять, что 70% наших бойцов даже не служили в армии. Русское продвижение было абсолютно массовым. Их артиллерия сыпалась постоянно. За исключением некоторых туманных дней, их авиация тоже всегда работала. Когда через полгода я вернулся в Грозный для мирных переговоров, я не узнал район, в котором воспитывался всю свою жизнь. Это была полупустая пустыня. Всего несколько тысяч человек с автоматами Калашникова совершили чудо.

“BUCHA CECENA” – IL MASSACRO DI NOVYE ALDY

Nei giorni in cui viene pubblicato questo articolo la guerra tra Russia e Ucraina è in pieno svolgimento. E’ notizia di poche settimane fa il ritrovamento di decine di cadaveri lungo le strade e in una fossa comune nella cittadina di Bucha. Secondo il sindaco della cittadina le vittime sarebbero centinaia, uccise a sangue freddo dai militari russi in ritirata e abbandonate sul luogo dell’esecuzione. Sono state riportate anche testimonianze riguardanti strupri, saccheggi e devastazioni. La tragedia, se confermata, non sarebbe tuttavia la prima a vedere le forze armate russe responsabili di atrocità e crimini di guerra. Il triste copione di Bucha è stato più volte realizzato in Cecenia, sia durante la Prima che durante la Seconda Guerra Russo – Cecena. E in questi casi la responsabilità delle truppe del Cremlino è acclarata, e consegnata alla storia. Forse il più tragico di questi avvenimenti è quello che accadde nella cittadina di Novye Aldy, alla periferia meridionale di Grozny, il 5 Febbraio 2000.

OPERAZIONE DI “PULIZIA”

All’inizio della Seconda Guerra Cecena la cittadina di Novye Aldy contava circa trentamila abitanti. Ali primi di Gennaio del 2000 le forze federali raggiunsero i sobborghi occidentali e meridionali dell’abitato, nell’ambito dell’operazione di accerchiamento della capitale della Repubblica Cecena di Ichkeria. La cittadina aveva subito un primo bombardamento da parte dell’artiglieria e dell’aereonautica, a seguito del quale quasi tutti i residenti erano sfollati, cosicché alla fine del mese appena duemila persone, per lo più troppo anziane o malate per potersene andare, rimanevano acquattate nei seminterrati delle abitazioni, mentre nel cimitero cittadino si erano contate 75 nuove tumulazioni, in parte dovute alle esplosioni dei giorni precedenti. Novye Aldy era considerata dai russi un punto strategico non soltanto perché si trovava immediatamente a sud di Grozny (all’epoca chiamata “Dzhokhar” in onore del primo Presidente della ChRI, Dudaev) ma anche perché allo scoppio delle ostilità la sua moschea aveva ospitato una preghiera alla quale avevano partecipato il Presidente Maskhadov, l’ex Presidente Yandarbiev ed altre figure di alto profilo dell’Ichkeria. Era quindi definita una “roccaforte” degli indipendentisti, pur non essendo di fatto né trincerata, né difesa dalle forze regolari cecene.

Secondo quanto riportato dalle testimonianze dei residenti sopravvissuti, Aldy era stata temporaneamente occupata da unità alle dipendenze del Generale di Brigata Akhmed Zakayev, ma prima che i bombardamenti avessero inizio tale reparto si era già ritirato fuori dal centro abitato. Tuttavia quando le forze federali raggiunsero i suoi sobborghi, iniziò un fitto bombardamento sulla cittadina, che proseguì quasi ininterrottamente tra il 2 ed il 5 Febbraio, provocando decine di morti. Soltanto dopo che una rappresentanza di residenti locali ebbe modo di parlare con il comando militare russo, garantendo che la città fosse completamente libera da uomini armati, il bombardamento cessò, ed il giorno successivo, 5 Febbraio 2000, forze della polizia militare, la famigerata OMON, penetrarono nel villaggio per effettuare una “operazione di controllo dei passaporti”. L’operazione fu condotta da due distinti reparti: il reparto OMON della Polizia di San Pietroburgo ed un reparto eterogeneo composto da poliziotti, soldati a contratto e coscritti. Le due unità penetrarono dentro Novye Aldy da Nord e da Sud, abbandonandosi fin da subito al sistematico saccheggio delle abitazioni, prassi tristemente usuale durante entrambe le guerre russo – cecene.

IL MASSACRO

Ben presto tuttavia la portata dei crimini divenne ancora più drammatica: lungo la via principale della cittadina militari russi penetrarono casa per casa, lasciando dietro di loro una scia di morti: il primo a cadere fu il cinquantenne Sultan Temirov, che abitava al numero 170 di quella strada. Il suo corpo, privato della testa (che non fu mai ritrovata) fu rinvenuto fatto a brandelli davanti alla porta di casa. Dopo di lui fu la volta di altre ventirè persone, per lo più donne e anziane. La vittima più vecchia, Rakat Akhmadova, aveva 82 anni, e fu freddata con due colpi sul marciapiede davanti alla sua abitazione. Tra le vittime si contarono almeno sei giovani donne, una delle quali incinta, ed un bambino di un anno, giustiziato con due colpi alla testa e bruciato in strada.

I militari russi andavano di casa in casa, chiedendo la consegna di tutti gli oggetti di valore, ed ammazzando a sangue freddo chiunque opponesse resistenza, o che non consegnasse un riscatto sufficientemente alto. In altri casi, secondo le testimonianze, anche coloro che possedevano qualcosa furono successivamente giustiziate, in quanto non avevano prodotto i documenti di identità richiesti. In almeno un caso si ebbe uno stupro di gruppo ai danni di sei donne, tre delle quali successivamente strangolate. La maggior parte delle case di proprietà delle vittime furono devastate e date alle fiamme, probabilmente nel tentativo di coprire i crimini commessi. Quando, al tramonto, i militari russi se ne andarono dal villaggio, i pochi superstiti uscirono dai loro nascondigli per spegnere gli incendi, prestare soccorso ai feriti e seppellire i cadaveri. Davanti a loro si palesò il dramma di una vera e propria strage, assimilabile ad un atto di genocidio, contro civili la cui unica colpa era quella di trovarsi nel villaggio al momento dell’operazione di “pulizia” e di non possedere sufficienti risorse per comprare la loro salvezza e quella dei loro cari. Nelle case e sulle strade rimasero tra i 56 e gli 82 cadaveri. Contrariamente a quanto prescritto dalla tradizione islamica, i superstiti non seppellirono immediatamente i corpi delle vittime, ma li mantennero nelle loro posizioni originarie affinché potessero essere filmati. Nel corso dei giorni successivi furono realizzati numerosi video amatoriali, molti dei quali sono visibili oggi nel documentario Aldy: A Past That Cannot Be Forgotten che riportiamo qui di seguito.

COPERTURE DI STATO

Malgrado l’evidenza del crimine commesso, le autorità federali si mossero con estrema lentezza ed inefficacia. Dapprima si negò che la strage fosse avvenuta: interrogato sull’argomento, il Tenente Generale Stanislav Kavun dichiarò: Queste affermazioni non sono altro che un intruglio non supportato da fatti o prove. Le dichiarazioni di questa organizzazione per i diritti umani, basate esclusivamente sui resoconti verbali di testimoni anonimi, dovrebbero essere viste come una provocazione il cui obiettivo è screditare l’operazione delle forze federali contro i terroristi in Cecenia. Nel frattempo, un secondo raid dell’OMON ebbe luogo a Novye Aldyh il 10 Maggio. L’azione fu verosimilmente orchestrata per costringere i sopravvissuti al silenzio: non si registrarono ulteriori vittime, ma si verificò un nuovo, sistematico, saccheggio, e gli abitanti del villaggio furono malmenati e minacciati.

Soltanto il 14 Marzo, su pressione dell’Osservatorio dei Diritti Umani, si presentarono nel villaggio i primi investigatori. Le prime dichiarazioni degli inquirenti resero subito chiaro che l’intento del governo di Mosca fosse quello di sminuire la gravita dell’evento, e se possibile di attribuirne la responsabilità agli stessi ceceni, i quali si sarebbero travestiti da soldati russi ed avrebbero compiuto la strage con l’intento di screditare le forze federali. Nel corso degli anni successivi, nessun responsabile fu mai individuato dalle autorità russe, e l’unico soldato riconosciuto colpevole di saccheggio ed omicidio, un poliziotto OMON dell’unità di San Pietroburgo, dopo essere stato condannato fece perdere le proprie tracce, dopo di che la sua condanna fu sospesa. Neanche l’intervento del Tribunale Internazionale, delle Nazioni Unite e del Consiglio d’Europa (OSCE) hanno permesso di accertare le responsabilità della strage.

Un resoconto completo della tragedia è riportato nel rapporto dell’Osservatorio per i Diritti Umani che alleghiamo di seguito:

https://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/russia_chechnya3/