On photo: Remains of Chechen hostages, blown apart by Russian occupiers
During the first and the second war in Chechnya, I myself witnessed many deaths, saw dead people. I saw many wounded and crippled children and adults. I saw grief, blood and tears.
In those days, and now I heard many stories about atrocities, carried out by Russian military men against peaceful civilians. What is noteworthy is that most of these crimes were carried out by the so called “kontraktniki”.
That is servicemen, who serve in the military by a contract. Not 18-20 years old youths, but quite mature adults. Inhabitants of Chechnya usually call them mercenaries. And this definition, in my opinion, suits them best. For these people go to war, go to kill for money. They want to build their happiness on suffering, blood and grief of others. Such ones are hated even by conscripts, as I understood.
During one of my journeys to a conference in Moscow, this was in summer last year, I met a former Russian soldier, who served in Chechnya in the years 1999-2000. We were in the same compartment (of railway carriage), we got to know each other, got to talk, had a launch. He drunk a little and somehow, among other things, he told me a story, which greatly shocked me to the depths of my soul. I didn’t ask him to tell me this, but he had an urge to speak with these revelations for some reason.
According to this former serviceman, lets call him Vladimir, this took place in the winter of 2000, and more exactly at the end of January. His unit was sent to carry out a so-called “zachistka” mopping up operation in the area of “Berezka” settlement, which is located along Staropromyslovsky highway of Grozny (Djokhar). Among them were many “kontraktniki”, who were called “kontrabases” by the conscripts. And all of them, according to Vladimir, almost always were drunk.
In those days Grozny had few inhabitants, because heavy fighting for the control of the city was still raging and all of those, who were able, had left the city, leaving their dwellings and belongings.
In one of the houses, according to Vladimir, mercenaries came across a family of seven people. Adult men and women, as well as young men and two young children were immediately shot dead by the soldiers. Only a girl aged around 13-14 years, was left alive.
The house was looted, just as other close by houses, left by their owners, and then set ablaze. The girl was thrown into an APC and taken to their place of stationing, near the Zagryajsky settlement in Staropromyslovsky district.
Vladimir said that throughout the week, the girl was raped by officers of this unit. This took place every night, and often in day time too. Having tormented the child in abundance, commanders gave her to “kontraktniki” to be savaged.
What was done to her by these barbarians can’t be described by words. She was beaten and raped for hours daily by groups of savages. The girl used to lose consciousness often, and she was brought to her senses, by being poured upon with cold water.
After some days of continues torture she was almost dead. The girl could die any moment and therefore it was decided, as one mercenary said, to “use her for the last time with benefit for the cause”.
As Vladimir said, half dead, naked child was hung up by hands in one of the basements in such a way, that her feet barely reached the floor. Then, a detained young man was brought in. For a few days, the unfortunate young man was brutally beaten and tortured, with demands that he tells, where weapons are hidden, and that he shows them where the fighters were. However, he persistently kept quiet, despite sadistic torture from monstrous mercenaries.
They would burn him with red-hot metal, stab and cut with knives, beat with clubs and heavy boots, but the young man would persistently reiterate that he doesn’t know anyone or anything, because he has come home just recently from Russia. Vladimir knew that neither this small girl, nor the detained young man, had any chances to survive this ordeal.
According to this soldier, he was ordered to bring the detained into the basement, where a group of mercenaries had gathered and where the girl was. Along the way, he whispered to the detainee, that he shouldn’t slander himself and warned him, that in any case he would not be let out alive. Young man, who was hardly standing, was brought into the basement, and positioned in front of the crucified girl.
Mercenaries again told him to say, where he had hidden the weapons, saying that otherwise they would harm the girl. He kept quiet. Then one of the mercenaries went up to the girl and cut off her breast with a knife. She screamed profoundly, and young man got deathly pale and tried to turn away from this terrible scene.
However, he was cruelly beaten, and forced to look how by his “guilt” a girl was dying. Then, the same mercenary cut off the child’s second breast and she lost consciousness. Young man started to beg mercenaries to stop this barbarity and said, that he accidently saw how one of the locals had hidden a rifle in a rainwater pipe and named the place. This greatly amused the mercenaries.
Having said that “now we don’t need neither you nor her”, they started to finish off the dying girl. First they cut off her legs with an axe, then hands and when the body fell down, her head was cut off.
Parts of the body were put into a big bag, after which the young man was taken outside. They took him to a waste plot of land, tied him to a box of TNT, placed the bag with remains of the girl on top, and blew up both of them. The dead child and the young man.
Vladimir was himself crying, when he was telling me this. He said, “kontrabases” would always torment people, would kill without mercy for no reason, regardless of gender, age or even nationality. Vladimir left the train somewhere near Voronej. I have never met him again. He did leave his phone number and took mine as well, but we never called each other, and why would we?
The story told by this former Russian soldier, was probably the most terrible of what I have heard in these years. While I repeat, that I saw and heard a lot. Unfortunately, I don’t know names of this girl and the lad.
I suppose their relatives, are still looking for them, hoping that some day they will come back home, and they cant even imagine, how painful and horrible was their death. Moreover, they don’t even have a grave. They were simple scattered by explosion and that’s it. And this was done by the military, who came here to “free” us from “international terrorists”.
I have read somewhere such an expression: “The one who killed – will be killed, the one who killed by an order – will be killed, the one who gave an order to kill – will be killed”. And I hope, that these monsters in military uniforms, who barbarically killed unarmed people, women, children and old people, will sooner or later receive due punishment. And if not in this world, then at least in the hereafter they will answer for their deeds before the Almighty.
Chairman ANO “Committee for protection of rights of forced refugees” expert of the Moscow Helsinki group
Department of correspondence