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Anna Politkovskaya and us. A control shot
Written by Сергей Баймухаметов (Москва)   
Среда, 01 Ноябрь 2006
Article Index
Anna Politkovskaya and us. A control shot
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Here is what she told me on November 16th, 1999.
But first, remember November of 1999: Putin is acting president. It is just before the presidential campaigns. In August there were the bombings of apartment buildings in Moscow and Volgodonsk. Basayev has invaded Dagestan, and the Second Chechen War has begun and is going on.

And so, Anna Politkovskaya:
Chechnya and Ingushetia are a very close distance from us. They could almost be in our house. This is our neighbor’s pain, and if we do not feel the pain, it will come right into our house, forthwith and directly.

The first feeling is that it just cannot be. That this is some American action film, but then you realize that is not a movie. I cannot understand it, standing on land that is covered by the Constitution of the Russian Federation. Can I really be standing here and talking with people about where cruise missiles are heading? “Is that one flying to Grozny from Mozdok?” Someone else says: “No, that would be just a little bit more to the right.” And another says: “And there go a couple from Vladikavkaz, what do you think? Where are they going?” Can you understand this? Children are participating in the conversation! They are also discussing this.

A passenger Yak-42 pops out from behind a mountain, and the women and children hit the dirt out of habit. They do it in a second, not taking any time to think. It is already reflex. Women and children become terrorists. It is incomprehensible, and you just do not want to believe it. There you meet an officer who is so crazed with blood that he calmly says this about women: “I won't let those make babies,” meaning that he will kill them. On the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia, he sorts out children: “How old are you? Ten? Well, I’ll let you go. And you, how old are you? Fourteen? I won’t let you go, because you’ve already been trained in the Basayev’s terrorist camp.” How can I explain to him that, if the boy has not already been in Basayev’s camp before, after this conversation he will go there? They way they are conducting the second Chechen war new guerrillas are inevitable.

After my first trip to the refugee camps I was very ashamed to hear the words: “You Russians can’t even get your own people out of Grozny. So now you’ve started bombing the nursing home. There can’t be any Chechens in a nursing home in Chechnya. There can only be Russians.” I went to Moscow and began making the rounds of government offices. I lied and said: “There are Russians dying there in that nursing home.” Even though it disgusted me to say this, because what is the difference if it is an old Russian or an old Chechen? I lowered myself so far that I could speak in the language of ‘political expediency’. In the language understood today in the corridors of government, because it is necessary to only speak about the protection of Russians, only then you will be understood. As a result, they found places for these old people, all of them, a hundred people, in different nursing homes in Astrakhan and the Voronezh region. True, I was later chided by Labor Minister Sergei Kalashnikov: “Anna Stepanovna, why did you deceive me? It turned out that there were in fact fifteen Chechens.” But while we loitered, the military closed the circle and people from the government said: “You know, now we are of the opinion that it is politically inexpedient take people out of the nursing home.”
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