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How they storm houses in Russia (Daghestan)
Novaya Gazeta ^ | February 2nd, 2006 | Anna Politkovskaya

Posted on 02/06/2006 2:19:31 PM PST by struwwelpeter

A report from the city of Khasavyurt, Daghestan

On Monday, January 30th, no one in Khasavyurt needed an alarm clock. The city woke up like a barracks. At 5:30 a grenade launcher blasted. Once. After a pause, given so that everyone could realize that this time, thankfully, it missed, another blast. Then a third, again from the grenade launcher. Later you stop counting.
Why? This is how in the special operations in the Caucasus begin, when parts of a residential area together with whoever is dug in there are destroyed in the hunt for ‘fighters’. The grenade launcher has long been used as a piece of combat engineering equipment here: for breaching a wall, no matter who is sleeping on the other side.

This time the operation was in the Olympic village, that of part of Khasavyurt that lays along the Makhachkala highway. Under siege was a house at the intersection of Sultanov and Biybulatov streets. The Maryam family once lived here, but they left due to a blood feud and the house was rented out. Those who rented it were not well known by the neighbors. They only saw them when they came and went. Typical Chechens like thousands here, they drew no attention to themselves in any way, according to the inhabitants of the adjacent homes. The neighbors were now out on the street, cringing in fear that their houses would also be damaged by the blasts, and collapse.
"Why can't they just take 'them' quietly, without the BTR's and all this blasting? While they were coming and going? Then they could interrogate them and find out something," asked a crowd of anxious neighbors.
"Because there aren't any bandits. This way they can declare them fighters for their report."
The crowd's summary of events continues on up to the end of the special operation. The have no trust whatsoever in the men in epaulets.
"They buy and sell everything here," the people assert. "Someone found out about this house and now they're storming it."
The reasons convince no one. Meanwhile the crowd is already serious. Idle folks converge from all sides, on all streets and alleys, all around the military’s perimeter. Beyond the residents are soldiers in white camouflage cloaks, maintaining their perimeter. (The winter in Daghestan is snowy, and, apparently that is how to conduct a special operation). Jutting from the white mass are dark-green grenade launchers.
"Are they hiding from someone, or what?" the man next to me asks.
The grenade launchers move to and fro, and the camouflage robes bum cigarettes from the locals without any conspiracy.
"Is the operation over? Can we go home?"
"Of course not. Can't you hear?"
A grenade flies by, probably from the basement of the almost destroyed house. Inside the courtyard, soldiers in camouflage unhurriedly crawl forward, and once again the slap of grenades is heard. They are firing grenades to their front, so that anyone still living will become a corpse.
The crowd seems to be watching a boring movie: no hullabaloo, just an everyday demeanor. No one catches any of the murderous energy nearby. People quietly discuss that in the courtyard, on the other side of a grenade hole, lay three bodies: a man, a woman, and a three-year-old child: “Like always, they killed a kid. What was he, a fighter as well?”
The soldiers, lazily looking around and yawning from a long night on their feet, pretend not to hear. The whole city, in general, is under some kind of indistinct siege. Whether there is one or not, something is not quite right. On the one hand, there it this special operation and all that entails. On the other hand, no one believes that real bandits were so close at hand. It is a game in general, a bit like a computer.

Towards 13:00 only the frame remains of the structure, while towards 15:00 the whole thing is almost gone. No one is throwing grenades, and there is no more chatter from the automatic weapons. A two-meter tall colonel in an Astrakhan hat comes out to meet the public. It is Sergey Solodovnikov, deputy chief of the southern federal military region. Huge soldiers gripping Israeli rapid-fire machine pistols, which look like toys and are pointed toward the crowd, surround him on all sides. The people do not pay the slightest attention to them, but gossip: “Israeli, or 'Stechkins'?”
"Three fighters were killed," declares Colonel Solodovnikov. "The names of two of them are unknown."
"Then who knows that they were fighters?" parries the crowd quietly.
"The third is Emir Lechi Ehskiyev," continues the imperturbable colonel in a voice like a lecturer from the 'Knowledge' society. "During the winter, due to the frost and our special measures in the mountains, the bandits find it hard to go to ground there. They are seeking refuge elsewhere, like these who ran away to Khasavyurt. Today, in cooperation with the FSB-RF, we showed you what prospects these can expect. Now we will conduct bomb-disposal and neutralization in the house. The prosecutor's office is working there, so no one can enter the area."
"When will it be possible?"
"Maybe, in the morning." The colonel shrugs his shoulders uncertainly, but keeps his bravado because of his ring of 'Israelis' or 'Stechkins'.
The crowd comments:
"They'll put bombs in there and toss some Wahhabi literature around to prove that these were fighters."
"Maybe they really were fighters?"
"What fighter is going to carry a bunch of Wahhabi pamphlets and sit around on bombs with his kids?"
Colonel Solodovnikov, however, does not listen to idle conversation.
The people are certain that a woman and her three-year-old child perished during the special operation. The question is heard: "Where are their bodies?"
"Who are you?" The colonel, putting it mildly, is not pleased with the question, but he wishes to be open and democratic. His eyes flash and bulge from their sockets. "Lechi's wife and children are at the district attorney's office, making statements."
Somewhere in the distance, between the rows of soldiers in their white camouflage robes, it looks like they are dragging bodies. Nothing can be verified, however: neither how many were killed, nor who they are, or the nature of their fatal injuries.
The armored personnel carrier snorts.
"It can't move, it's stuck," the crowd continues to comment.
A soldier from the Daghestan OMON (paramilitary police) mutters through his teeth: "It isn't stuck. It's smashing the fighter."
"What?"
"So that he can't throw any grenades," answers the soldier, setting his eyes on the trampled yet still clean snow beneath boots.

After a few hours the Khasavyurt district attorney's office confirmed that one corpse killed in the course of today's special operation was mashed into porridge by a BTR, thus establishing its identity was impossible, but, in all likelihood, this was Ehskiyev. It really did not matter, since they would not turn his body over for burial so that his comrades could give it military honors.
Or perhaps it was not Ehskiyev's body?
The heavy evening quickly falls on Khasavyurt. Children's weeping is heard from the windows of the district attorney's office. A woman with three little children is standing by the duty officer's counter. It is the widow of the man they called 'Emir Ehskiyev'. She lived in 'that' house, but she and her children were spared, they were not shot as has frequently happened in similar special operations before January 30th, when those declared to be emirs were liquidated along with their families, so that there would not be any 'black widows'.
Where will you go?
"I don't know."
Who was your husband?
"Just an average person." Her strength leaves her, and she begins to sob. She already knows that they will not turn over her husband. There will not be a funeral, and everyone around her will fear her presence.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Russia; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: chechenterrorist; chechnya; daghestan; politkovskaya; russia
An interesting article, though a bit thick on the hyperbole.

So much for Russian censorship of the media. Here's an old article on 'Black Widows', from the same source
1 posted on 02/06/2006 2:19:34 PM PST by struwwelpeter
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To: struwwelpeter; Sarajevo; Romanov; jb6
Here is the problem with this article...Anna Politkovskaya. I have read enough of her articles to know she is the propaganda mouth for the Islamofacists (AKA al-Qaeda) in Chechena. I don't doubt for a second the Russian Army can be brutal, but I have read many of her articles, and this woman clearly has an agenda.
2 posted on 02/06/2006 2:32:15 PM PST by GarySpFc (de oppresso liber)
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To: struwwelpeter

"Why can't they just take 'them' quietly, without the BTR's and all this blasting? While they were coming and going? Then they could interrogate them and find out something," asked a crowd of anxious neighbors.

Meanwhile, in the US:

"Pardon me, Mr. Koresh. I'm afraid you'll have to come with us, we'd like to ask you a few questions....


3 posted on 02/06/2006 3:20:45 PM PST by proxy_user
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To: proxy_user
"Why can't they just take 'them' quietly, without the BTR's and all this blasting?"

Seems they could get them all out in the streets with just a few mohammed cartoons.

4 posted on 02/06/2006 3:23:47 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum.)
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To: GarySpFc
Misguided perhaps, but still braver than me - she brought water and juice into the Dubrovka theater during that notorious incident.

I wouldn't have gone close to that place for all the money in the world.

I've never met her, but a mutual acquaintance transmitted a SCOTUS pen to her. At first she didn't want it, but after taking one look, she was: "Davai-davai!"

I'm not much for the British kiss-their-ass-and-win-their-minds-BS, but we could give the Russians some pointers on our version of a happy median.

Someone smarter than me said that the Russians, unfortunately, only have blunt instruments to use in their GWOT.

5 posted on 02/06/2006 3:44:27 PM PST by struwwelpeter
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To: struwwelpeter

Good to see you back on here. Well, about the water and everything. At the risk of sounding cynical, a lot of opportunists were using that situation for their own fame -Iosef Kobzon also went into Dubrovka. Plus, the terrorists asked for her. She's known for being friendly to them. She also more than likely turned a case of food poisoning into "the FSB tried to poison me" case.


6 posted on 02/06/2006 3:48:06 PM PST by Romanov
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To: Romanov
She also more than likely turned a case of food poisoning into "the FSB tried to poison me" case.

Exactly! They let her travel in and out of a war zone. If the FSB wanted her dead it would be far easier to kill her in the zone than to attempt to poison the woman. Furthermore, that is the whole problem with these poison stories, because if the FSB wanted her poisoned, and operated like the old KGB she would be dead.
7 posted on 02/06/2006 3:52:29 PM PST by GarySpFc (de oppresso liber)
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To: GarySpFc

We actually call her the Russian Christian Amanpour in our office.


8 posted on 02/06/2006 3:55:07 PM PST by Romanov
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To: Romanov
Thanks ;-)

Iosef Kobzon pisses me off. He's been on my personal death list since he destroyed Bernes' Lyubimiy Gorod on Victory Day '02. Of course, Alla Pugacheva did her Dubrovka stunt, too, but we won't dis her. We may end up having to duel ;-)

Novaya Gazeta's interesting, especially for a lot of the Nord-Ost lawsuit material that few of the other periodicals cover.

I look at 'Novaya' and Politskovskaya as evidence that Russia's not as far gone as that world-reknowned Russian expert Condi seems to think. They're still open for business, so that says a lot.

Sometimes I wonder if Strobe Talbot got a sex change.

9 posted on 02/06/2006 4:08:33 PM PST by struwwelpeter
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To: struwwelpeter

Kobzon - he's had more farewell concerts than Cher!


10 posted on 02/06/2006 4:13:45 PM PST by Romanov
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To: Romanov
It didn't take me too long to analyze her after the first couple of articles.

Anna Politkovskaya = Drama Queen
11 posted on 02/06/2006 4:20:32 PM PST by GarySpFc (de oppresso liber)
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To: GarySpFc; Romanov
Anya's actually listed on NG's masthead as a 'Reviewer'. Back in '03 she wrote a nasty article on the 'revived' Nord-Ost musical (the one the Chechens interrupted), and the producer flamed her royally in his letter to the editor.

Her review.

Producer Georgiy Vasilyev's rebuttal

I haven't seen any actually 'reviews' since then.

12 posted on 02/06/2006 4:40:43 PM PST by struwwelpeter
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To: struwwelpeter

I think the producer showed her to be the drama queen she is in reality.


13 posted on 02/06/2006 6:05:14 PM PST by GarySpFc (de oppresso liber)
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To: struwwelpeter

Someone smarter than me said that the Russians, unfortunately, only have blunt instruments to use in their GWOT.

Sometimes a hatchet is more effective than a scalpel. Maybe this was one of those times.

14 posted on 02/06/2006 8:05:45 PM PST by Sarajevo
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To: GarySpFc
You want drama queen?

Here's one of her more robust tales, from last April. I took one look at it and decided not to post it (not much pity for Chechens left after Beslan, sorry), but it's pretty interesting in its own way:


http://2004.novayagazeta.ru/nomer/2004/27n/n27n-s00.shtml

NINE-MONTH-OLD GIRLS ARE DECLARED MARTYRS

Who fired rocket no. 350 F 5-90?

In Chechnya they are once again catching Basayev - for the last two weeks in a row. Accorrding to official information from the regional operational headquarters of counter-terrorist operations (ROHq), a "large-scale troop operation is being conducted to destroy members of armed gangs, and has already liquidated seven gunmen."

(SNIP)

...It was like this: two military aircraft, whose tail numbers no one could recall, flew over the houses. A few minutes later the aircraft fired rockets. Imar-ali Damayev who lived at the farmstead was at that moment in a nearby cemetery. Seeing the aircraft, he broke into a run towards home, where his wife remained with their five children.

The scene that confronted him would convert a strong soul into either an eternal pacifist, or a kamikaze: Imar-ali's 29-year-old wife Maidat was already dead, clutching 4-year-old Janati, 3-year-old Zharadat, 2-year-old Umar-Khazhi, and tiny nine-month-old Zara. Mother's embrace saved none of them; shrapnel killed them all. The body of Zura, Zara's twin sister, lay a bit to the side. Maidat had neither the reach nor the time, apparently, to shield her fifth child under her body, while Zura could not crawl the two paces to her mother.

Soon people came running. Rocket fragments were collected, and they found out that the serial number of the killer-rocket had been preserved: 350 F 5-90. They began to bury the dead, and an ulem, a Moslem law interpreter from the adjacent settlement of Nokhchi-Keloi, said that he would declare all those killed to be shakhidy - martyrs. And so they were buried by evening of that day, as martyrs, without washing the bodies or wrapping them in funeral shrouds. They were buried in the clothing in which they accepted death.

(SNIP)

...Thus patience wears out. In the almost five years of this second Chechen war, the interpreters of Sharia law had not declared a single baby to be a martyr, since ALL the murders of children during shoot-outs and cleansing operations since 1999 still remain unopened cases. There were not investigated by law-enforcement agencies, the baby killers did not take their seats on the defendant's bench, and for this very reason patience wears every thinner against a background of servicemen in Chechnya who behave as if they were out on the training range and everything around them is completely empty and clear of people and children.

(SNIP)

...I will end (Struw comment: she doesn't, though) with what has happened for the first time since the beginning of the war, about declaring children to be martyrs. It goes without saying that this was a strong reaction by the ulem of Nokhchi-Keloi, and not simply a flash of emotion. Nokhchi-Keloi is near the village farmstead of Rigakh. For the last two years Nokhchi-Keloi has been living with a tragedy that happened there in 2002, when officers of the GRU general staff's special operations force also participated in a 'troop operation' (they were catching the 'wounded Khattab'). In an offhand manner they killed and burnt six villagers in a UAZ minibus on a scheduled bus route, traveling home to Nokhchi-Keloi from the regional center. Among the passengers were the director and the principal of the village school that was to become the savior of Imar-ali's oldest son. Also killed in the 2002 raid was a pregnant woman who had seven children at home.

After that 'large-scale troop operation' there were 28 orphans in Nokhchi-Keloi. The killers were quickly arrested, and the jury verdict should be issued April 19th in Rostov-on-the-Don. Nokhchi-Keloi did not quite make it to April 19th, to the sentencing of the culprits of the previous villainy. Now this same village has a new tragedy: the incomparable horror of mass infanticide. It is not difficult to understand the ulem, especially when the entire village agrees with him.

(SNIP)

(Struw comment: so much for ending)...The world seethes around us. Hostages die. Countries and peoples demand that their governments and international organizations send troops to save the lives of people who are performing their duty. Everything is quiet where we are. The deaths of children and their subsequent reckoning to be martyrs did not entail a single demand to send troops, or even that immediate discussion begin about what is going on in Chechnya, for the purpose of the seeking ways to a dialogue, to pacification, demilitarization, and everything else that needs to happen at the end of a war.

Anna POLITKOVSKAYA
19.04.2004
15 posted on 02/06/2006 10:19:23 PM PST by struwwelpeter
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To: struwwelpeter; Romanov; jb6; x5452; Hill of Tara
Of course Anna Politkovskaya personally saw all of this, or did she take the word of the al-Qaeda lead Chechens as Gospel? If the truth be known she never was near this village, but they brought the propagandists to her for the interview. This reminds me of the reporters in Baghdad reporting from the front lines, when actually they are drinking Jack and coke in the bar of the Marriott.
16 posted on 02/07/2006 6:00:49 AM PST by GarySpFc (de oppresso liber)
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