Dedicated to the
victims of the
of 1994 - ? years
and to my father
« Father and son»
This is not just an ordinary novel, but a publicistic narrative about love, duty and honor. If you want to discover another truth about the Chechen war and feel it’s pain, this book is for you. Tragic and touching story about a schoolteacher... About father and son…
“I see the dawn bleeding. The blue sky washes the corpses and the earth is crying. I see birds and animals, everything burns under fire. How painful it is - a groan cuts my back. What can I do? It’s impossible to change a thing”.
The story of a Chechen journalist and a beginning writer Ismail Akaev is not simply a piece of fiction but reminiscence and an endeavor to look back to the terrible days of the Chechen war. The writer tries to estimate objectively the whole flow of history in the Past, from the very beginning of the gloomy days of the Chechen war. The writer tries to estimate objectively every step from the very beginning. He does not blame only one party, especially he doesn’t state that these are the Russian people, responsible for the war. But recalling the episodes of the past one by one, the writer comes to conclusion that every evil is primarily based on the people’s indifference, and then, on their fear. Indifference causes fear and vice versa. All the consequences turn as a boomerang to the society suffering from severe complications of this disease.
The Chechen people is not only the victim of the bloody aggression of the Russian troops, it is the victim of its own social apathy, of its fear before a group of renegades and gangsters. And it pays an excessive price for its fear. We see hundreds of thousands of killed and wounded, ruined cities and destroyed villages, broken hearts and injured souls. All that exists in the civilized world, in the eyes of apathetic and indifferent Russian society. But the requital is inevitable. The one who didn’t stop the hand of evil makes a more malicious act oneself. And every one will give an answer for one’s deeds, everyone will have to pay for the sins of the past. Good and evil acts will be estimated sooner or later on the scales of life and fortune. That is why the theme of the requital is sufficient in the narrative flow, it touches upon many characters of the story. The protest against war and violence is essential. Any war contradicts to the aim and purpose of the human life, to the idea of God. Any war is fratricidal and therefore – is criminal. It does not improve people, it makes them alike with animals, it awakes their animal instincts. The protagonist, Ibragim Tasuev is a typical representative of his ;poque. He was brought up on the Soviet philosophy and Soviet traditions. But having passed through the Afghan and Chechen wars and having seen the very worst nature of the man, able to kill with impunity a father, a brother or a son, he remains a humanist.
Perhaps, that is why the story, which is full of cruelty and violence, is optimistic and life-loving. Life is always stronger than death, good is stronger than evil, and that is the only reason for the human life on the Earth.
There is nothing more humiliating,
than a hypocritical servility
The contemplation of life is much more pleasant than drawing the death. And no matter how severe and gloomy my sketches are in this book, they are images of truth, images of harsh reality in which my heroes lived and where I lived, and also you. The truth is, that the war has its long echo. Unfortunately, this echo consists of pain, deceived hopes, injustice, incommensurability of human suffering; this echo we will listen for a long time. It will be heard in our memory and in the memories of our descendants. Despite the pain in my heart, I want to believe that this echo will once disappear and would not sound in hearts and souls. But, unfortunately, evil leaves loud and bright marks in our hearts.
Blessed memory to all those victims, fallen in this terrible, risky, deadly war. It does not matter, how professional “connoisseurs” describe these events that occurred in the Chechen Republic, on the land of Chechens, where the stubbornness of honor and nobility was always considered a virtue in the millennia. It is important that the Chechen people themselves understand and comprehend what has happened to them. And it is extremely important, that we always were able to disclose in ourselves all the good, bright, proud, noble, steadfast, strong-willed and spiritual center, keep united and rise from the shadow of evil into the light of illumination, leaving our descendants with the consciousness of their personalities, national identity and prosperity.
The day was breaking. A village was slowly waking up. However, nobody was sleeping in Zaurbek’s house at that time. Almost all men from Tasuyevs’ clan gathered there. They were discussing what was going to happen in the next few hours. All of them and especially Zaurbek had been waiting for this to happen for almost 25 years.
Zaurbek didn’t take part in the conversation. He was sitting frowned in the far corner of the room and seemed if not broken then at least tired from the burden of all he had been through. His long gray hair and long beard only added to his tiredness and the state of being doomed.
Zaurbek was drowned in his heavy thoughts. The scenes of the past were flowing one by one in his mind. He saw cold, crowded railroad cars taking people to some faraway, tragic obscurity, the guards’ grim faces, and lifeless bodies covered with snow at way stations. He saw and almost felt again his mother’s careful and tender hands, whose warmth tried to keep life in his puny body saving him from the February frost.
Then he remembered a terrible drama that happened in Kazakhstan several years after the deportation. His heart and mind told him that he couldn’t behave differently.
Rowdy Alikhan offended him and according to the law of adat only blood could wash away that insult. He undeservedly insulted Zaurbek’s mother’s name. A fight started and Alikhan’s friends took his side. The forces were unequal and Zaurbek stabbed his offender. Though the wound was not a serious one, Alikhan died from the loss of blood.
Although Zaurbek was seriously wounded himself in the fight, he was put to trial after a long treatment. He got 10 years of hard labor.
At about the same time, another trial took place, the trial of adat, where late Alikhan’s relatives were the judges. They sentenced Zaurbek to death at the earliest convenience. And he knew that sooner or later the sentence would be carried out.
In the civilized world the law of blood revenge is seen as a barbarous survival. However, for the Chechens, in their tragic history of permanent wars for freedom and independence but very often it was only blood feud that kept people from manslaughter.
O believers, ordained for you is retribution
For the murdered,
(whether) a free man (is guilty),
of ((the murder of) a free man, or a slave of a slave,
or a woman of a woman.
But he who is pardoned some of it by his brother
Should be dealt with equity,
And recompense (for blood) paid with a grace.
This is a concession from your Lord and a kindness.
He who transgresses in spite of it
Shall suffer painful punishment.
In retribution there is life (and preservation).
O men of sense, you may haply take heed of yourselves.
(Sura 2 The Cow, column 178, 179 from the Koran )
Zaurbek was amnestied in 1953 after Stalin’s death. He got married, then his first child Said was born. It seemed that his life returned to its routine path when one day comes after another.
But then his mother died, she couldn’t survive the unbearable nostalgia and pine for her husband who died as a hero in 1941 defending the Brest Fortress. She kept a faded triangle, his letter from the front, as a memory of him.
Many Chechens defended the Motherland during the Great Patriotic War on the battlefields. In the first days of the War, at the Brest Fortress alone, more than 200 Chechens perished as heroes. But dying for their Motherland they didn’t know that on February 23, 1944 all the Chechens and Ingushes were declared collaborators of the Hitlerite Germany and were deported to Siberia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
Bekisat was buried on the next day. The funeral procession with mournful prayers set out to the cemetery. There was no dear, kind, and careful mother anymore.
Despite the relatives’ and friends’ help, Zaurbek couldn’t bury his mother according to his predecessors’ traditions. The funeral repast was poor. Instead of a proper tombstone they put a small simple stone at Bekisat’s grave. Her ashes still rest in Kazakhstan soil. But of course her remains should be brought to her motherland and reburied according to the traditions. But there is neither strength nor money for this. Zaurbek hopes that some time he or his sons will do it.
In 1957 the Chechens and Ingushes, like rooks missing their native land after a long and severe winter, set for the Caucasus, elated with the upcoming meeting with the motherland. With a sad feeling Zaurbek was seeing off cheerful crowds of his compatriots. His return was impossible for him since the threat of the blood revenge was more realistic there. So, he stayed where he was. Life was hard, but the experience that he got at the labor camps and his diligence helped him to survive. Zaurbek’s family lived no better no worse that the others. Said’s progress in school gladdened the hearts of the parents, then their daughter Zargan was born and then – their son Ibragim.
Zaurbek got reassuring news from the Caucasus. His relatives there, through the elders, were negotiating with Alikhan’s relatives about his fate. According to the law of adat Zaurbek could not return home because of the blood revenge thereby showing respect towards the offended side. Years were passing by. Having received permission from his clan’s elders Zaurbek and his family secretly moved to Chechnya. But not to his native village at the foothills but to a village in the steppes on the right bank of the Terek river. There he lived modestly and imperceptibly; he worked on land without a let-up. His children grew up. Said finished school and later – graduated from a law department. Zargan became a doctor and got married. The younger son, Ibragim, studied at school. He was tall, athletic-looking, kind and a good helper to his father. Of all Zaurbek’s children Ibragim was the kindest and the most responsive one. Even now he is stealthily watching his father and seems to be absorbing all his pains and worries.
Zaurbek has never told anyone about his special attitude towards Ibragim. Still from time to time he betrays himself.
Reconciliation of “blood enemies” in accordance to the law of adat has its own strict ritual. According to the agreement, representatives of the offended side are the first to come to a set place. The place should be far from the populated area, preferably in a field. After the arrival of the relatives of the dead man to the place of reconciliation, the mediator goes there. He appeals to them in a very respectful way and announces that their “blood enemies” are ready to hear their verdict. After getting the permission for the guilty side to arrive to the place of the ritual the mediator returns. Having received the news from the mediator, the representatives of the side that shed the blood begin their procession.
They have to walk to the meeting place. The “blood enemy” surrounded by his closest relatives (his father, brothers and sons) is in the head of the procession. He wears a long coat with his head and face covered. His relatives depending on to the degree of relationship follow him. Then the representatives of his teip.
Few meters before the deceased person’s relatives the procession stops and a long dialogue between the elders of two hostile sides starts. The elders either be in holy orders or have an indisputable authority among people. If there is no such person in the family then an authoritative representative from the teip or a man from the same village is invited. As a result of this dialogue a compromise is reached which is announced to both sides. The “blood enemy” obtains mercy but the process of reconciliation doesn’t end at this point. The elder of the offended side starts speaking. He appeals to the gathering. He addresses mostly the young. In his speech he quotes suras from the Koran on the greatest value of human life as an irreproducible phenomenon of nature created by Allah, the Most High creator of everything existing on Earth. He says that only Allah has the right to take a man’s life. He speaks about the respectful attitude toward the elders and about the respectful attitude of people toward each other, gives examples from the life of the Chechen society. In other words, this speech is about moral and ethical norms of people’s life. In the end he announces to those gathered the decision made and finishes the speech with a thanksgiving prayer to Allah for giving brains to those gathered to strictly observe the main testament of the Koran. Its essence is the following: “death for death of a killed innocent, but if the judges’ function is given to the hands of Allah, Allah will see this as an act above praise which deserves His reward”.
Then an elder from the guilty side starts speaking. He thanks the offended side for the great mercy and nobleness showed by it in the name of Allah. There is absolutely no arrogance or haughtiness in his speech and it is also very quiet. Then they start shaking hands. Both sides come to each other and shake hands. All the representatives of the guilty side when shaking hands thank the representatives of the offended side for the mercy displayed. The ritual is over.
Then follows the last and the most decisive act of this humane process. Recent enemies form a circle, a chair is put in the middle of it where the “blood enemy” sits. The closest relative of the deceased approaches him and opens to the world the head bent in the humility. He has a razor-sharp dagger in his hands. He will shave the head and the face of a person who was his blood enemy only half an hour ago and who he would have definitely killed at that time (if Allah wanted it). But now the circumstances have changed. Allah didn’t allow the devil to settle in their souls, sent peace between two feuding clans. Now the man with the dagger in his hands standing opposite to his enemy has the role not of the avenger but of the peacemaker. With the name of Allah he starts perhaps the most difficult work in his life. He takes the upper hand over the devil, he takes the upper hand over the beast and the savage in himself. He proves to himself and to the people around him that he is an Allah’s humble slave and the word given by him is firm and eternal and that he and his relatives forgive the killer once and forever. Legends say that there were several incidents in history when the hand of the one who shaved had the misfortune to “shake” and covered with blood. Then both sides clashed in a deadly fight and were fighting each other not sparing their lives.
The history probably knew such black sheep since these legends exist. May be it’s not without reason that the presence of women is forbidden at these places, and junior or the only sons do not have the right to participate in the reconciliation ritual. They stay at home or in a shelter. However the history of the last 100-150 years does not have any examples of the breach of the word given to “blood enemies” and the gray-bearded elders, the keepers of people’s memory are the witnesses to it.
Morning started. The village woke up. Bleating of sheep, bellowing of cows, barking of dogs could be heard from every corner of the small village hidden in the steppes on the banks of Terek. Suddenly Zaurbek came out of his reverie. Preparations for the long-awaited event were almost over. Having discussed all the details of the forthcoming event the elders once again gave instructions to put a three-year old bull-calf, two sacks of flour and two sacks of sugar on the truck. The bull-calf and provisions were destined for Alikhan’s family. They also prepared five thousand rubles as an immediate compensation for Alikhan’s relatives. Material compensation is also envisaged by the adat and depending on the agreement between both sides it may reach this or that amount but it cannot exceed the cost of forty cows. Since this was a matter of long standing and having taken into account all the circumstances, the relatives of the deceased refused from the material compensation. However the representatives of the guilty side rendering homage to Alikhan’s family decided to bring and to offer this symbolic compensation once again. Having finished all the preparations the men went to the agreed place, the one which could be conveniently reached and where the representatives of both sides could gather.
According to the law of adat, Ibragim, Zaurbek’s youngest son, had to stay at home on that, important for the whole family, day. In case of misfortune and death of the men in a possible fight Ibragim had to be the transmitter of life in Tasuyevs’ family. Although it was high confidence it seemed to the young boy that his role was not that worthy at a moment so decisive for the fate of his father and his relatives.
The column of numerous cars and buses started off. They had to cover 150 kilometers. People who saw them off wished Zaurbek and his relatives a happy deliverance.
A black “Volga” car approached the gathered just few minutes after the arrival of the procession to the agreed place. A Chechen of imposing appearance, obviously somebody from special services got out of the car and asked someone from those who had arrived to come to the car. The elders said a few words to each other and decided to send Said, Zaurbek’s son, to negotiate with the supposed KGB official. Said approached the car and after a ritual greeting he and the stranger got into the car. Negotiations seemed to last very long though not more than twenty minutes passed. Said got out of the car together with two KGB officials. One of them, senior in rank, was a Russian. In Soviet times Russians held all high positions in power structures and every assignment carried out by a Chechen was always controlled by a Russian.
The men from the car said goodbye to Said and left. Said returned to the procession and when asked about his conversation with the uninvited guests by the elders explained to everyone why the representatives of special services had come. The KGB officials’ appearance in places like that was neither a secret nor a surprise to anyone. Though in most cases their visits ended up with just a conversation like this time, sometimes they made quite a lot of unpleasant and unpredictable changes in the procedures of such processes. Within the framework of the struggle against the institution of blood revenge, which was proclaimed by the Communist Party, each case of blood feud among numerous Chechen clans was known to the KGB. This body did everything to uproot the institution of blood revenge in the Chechen society.
First of all, the aim of that visit was the demonstration of power and omnipresence of the Committee as an all-knowing and all-powerful body, for which nothing remains unnoticed. Indeed, in Soviet times it was a powerful organization whose networks covered every town, every tiny village in the country. It had agents everywhere. For the population of the Chechen-Ingushetia it was inevitable evil, to which they did not get used use but tolerated it. Quite recently, about sixty or seventy years ago secret cooperation with the power and reporting were considered a disgrace in the Chechen society. A person noticed in denouncing and his whole family were condemned by all and were kicked out from their village forever without any right for forgiveness. The Borshchikovs family from Kharachoi can serve as obvious example of this. They were kicked out for the betrayal of Zelimkhan Kharachkoyevky, the famous abrek. Up to now, no one from the family has had an opportunity to visit his native land. Friendship with this family has always been and is still a disgrace.
In the period of anti-colonial wars “noble work” of a secret agent could lead to enormous damage and death not just of one person but of the whole village. Now, denouncing a person who stole a sovkhoz’ (state farm’s) haystack or who dared criticize the Soviet system resulted in “just” two or three years in prison. Of course, the fact of denunciation was widely discussed and if the informer became known the relatives that suffered from his denunciation tried their best to take revenge upon him. Everyone tried to live within the framework of the law since locust years led people to the idea that they don’t have enough strength to struggle against the Soviet power, and that is why it was better to live in peace and accord with it. Because despite it’s obvious drawbacks, the Soviet system wasn’t that bad for common people.
When the KGB officials learnt that Said was not only the son of the “blood enemy” but also worked for the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the commissioned officer’s rank and moreover a Communist, they began to criticize him for being involved in an event like this. They reminded him of the Party’s guidelines on this matter and warned that his participation in this ritual contradicts the state’s ideology and system and will be made known to his employers and the republican Party leadership and threatened to disperse them by force. Said explained to them on that day they were going to put an end to a conflict the echo of which had been looming over these two clans for more than a quarter of a century. That day’s reconciliation was of educational character for the young and for all of Chechen society and that is why it had to be considered useful from the Party’s point of view. Said had to show maximum diplomacy during negotiations with the representatives of the special services. He agreed with the fact that an event like that was a holdover from the past, but at the same time he managed to convince them of its usefulness taking into account its peacemaking character. Said told them that the Soviet system of the execution of punishment was not perfect and most of those who served their term in prison commit crimes again. But history does not know a single case when a man, after being forgiven by the adat for a murder, committed a crime again, even a minor one. Thus statistics speaks in favor of adat. But of course in a socialist society, despite the seeming advantages of adat, there should be no place for holdovers from the past. And the negotiations ended on this optimistic note.
The elders approved of Said’s behavior not forgetting to mention the importance of education in a man’s life and moved on to the business that had brought them here.
The ritual of reconciliation was carried out in full compliance with the traditional scenario without any violations of the established rules and norms. Alikhan’s relatives as they had said before refused the offered material compensation. They were assured immediately that Zaurbek would use the bull-calf, sugar and flour for godly purposes and as aid to low-income and orphans in memory of Alikhan.
All the worries and troubles of the previous day and night were left far behind, as well as all the worries that had lasted for nearly a quarter of a century. Zaurbek and his family saw the world around them differently, the world where they could live without fear and anxiety for each other and what is more important, for Zaurbek. The peace between them and their “blood enemies” gave freedom to all of them and a possibility to return from the steppe to their father’s home in the foothills of the Caucasus. Now Zaurbek would be able to live in it and light the hearth that died out on the day of the deportation and which had never been kindled since then. His relatives looked after the house but the fire was not lighted until there would be peace with the “blood enemies”. What can be more valuable than a man’s life? Only honor, health and freedom! Now Zaurbek felt the caressing sunrays that bring warmth to people differently. It seemed to him that they warmed him more tenderly. His perception of the mountains that could be seen in the distance was also different, as well as his perception of the earth that gave its harvest in exchange for a peasant’s care. The world was beautiful and it was worth love, sacrifice and suffering for it. Zaurbek firmly believed that a happy life with his children and grandchildren awaited him.
He knew that he would do everything in his power to keep his family away from evil. He believed that starting from that day when he finally relieved from the burden of guilt for a murder, his family and especially his sons would also see the world differently. Five times a day he asked the Most High in his prayers to forgive him this sin, because even in the next world he will have to answer for it.
The same evening, considering the importance of what had happened, they went through the ceremony of sacrifice according to Moslem custom. Young men took big cuts of meat to the neighbors inviting them to share their happiness. After a moulid, (a prayer during which some special verses for the Koran were read) took place in their home. The guests left. Women shed a lot of tears of joy. The light in Zaurbek’s house was on till late at night. Since one has to get used to happiness, one has to realize it. They went to sleep late but with deep faith in a happy future. That night only two men of all relatives and guests didn’t sleep – Zaurbek and Ibragim, his youngest son.
Chechens used to pay two mens’
lifes for a woman’s one
Each nation has its own traditions, customs and mind patterns – unwritten laws. The Chechens call it adat – "the code of laws – the rules of life, ethics, morality – the code of honor and the dignity of mountain people".
Ibrahim's sister, Zargan, asked him to go with her to the neighboring village as she wanted to visit her school friend, who was preparing to her marriage. Zargan's husband, Movsar, being very busy, could not accompany her himself, and Ibrahim responded favourably to sister's request. The brother understood how badly his beloved sister wanted to join the pre-wedding party with their other classmates. Ibrahim didn’t dare to take the car given him by his father because he had no driver license.
They were waiting at the bus stop, when a passing by dark-blue "Volga" stopped and the driver suggested to pick them up. There was a man sitting next to the driver, who looked like a person who serves in a high post. Ibrahim gave way to his sister, took his place and only then saw another passenger sitting near the opposite window. But the car got moving and it seemed to be inappropriate to ask for stop and changing places, so Ibrahim dealed with the fact his sister was sitting that close to a stranger. Zargan huddled to her brother trying to take as small space as possible. The reasons of foregoing gesture stay unclear: it could be Zargan’s shyness, immature appearance of her companion, senior position of the driver’s neighbor, which let him feel unpunishable, or just an extra doze of alcohol. Suddenly, the man turned back and grabbed Zargan’s hands. Shocked and confused, the girl exclaimed and took her hands away.
(“The most terrible insult for a Chechen, is an insult given to his mother, sister, wife. It is enough disrespectful to touch to a woman to inflict a mortal insult. The Chechens always shone with pride and never trembled before the demonic essence of fear and horror. The adat of the Chechens is the most precious internal property of the people, which leads makes them feel pride, and if the law is broken - unbearable shame. Chechens have never been poor with a sense of pride, being conscious of the responsibility for their name - Chechens. This is a totally national historical value that awakens in the people a sense of ethical and aesthetic reverence, along with its religious consistency. It is necessary to have a stable state before responsibility - NOHCHALLA (Chechen). Once we blissfully say what we are - Nokhchi (Chechens), we never go back - not like Nokhchi. Two-facedness is like a double-dealing, and does not correspond to the image of a righteous, one-sided Chechen. The onslaught of the demonic forces on our way of life, culture, religion, adats, traditions, of course, stagger our foundations, the value of which is the same "emblematic" image - NOHCHALLA (Chechen). Every nation, every nation in its metaculture has its own unique identity, that sometimes goes beyond the limits of understanding by other peoples. "Hand" that violates, destroys the ethical morality of our identity must be defiantly punished and stopped. And the act of the middle-aged man was not easy outrageously indecent, but so monstrous and shameful, that it was possible to wash off such a resentment with blood only”).
At the first moment, Ibrahim was lost, as he did not expect such a disgraceful act from seemingly well-mannered people. As a wild beast, he attacked the offender and clinged his teeth tightly to the hand he hated, he covered his sister with his body from further insults and touches. He struggled to find the scalpel, which he always carried in his pocket. Ibrahim liked the laconic shape and illusory fragility of his weapon, which was sharp as a razor and strong as a dagger. He usually used it for cutting his nails or other purposes. This time his scalpel was not with him. Perhaps Zargan has found it when she was ironing her brother’s suit. If so, she saved her offender’s life by taking this weapon out of harm’s way.
The car stopped and the opponents unclenched their arms. Ibrahim jumped out of the car, pulled his sister out and opened the front door. He grabbed the scoundrel and started pulling him outside.
He was ready to strangle the offender with his bare hands, gnawing at his throat. Blind fury overwhelmed him, eclipsed the mind, and if he managed to pull the enemy out of the car, no power would free himself from Ibrahim’s dead grasp, who suddenly felt an inhuman power. But he was hampered by his sister, who was frightened for her dear brother, kind and shy, but at the same time strong-willed and fearless, raised in the harsh traditions of his people, who was ready to commit the most terrible sin – to kill a human being. She huddled to her brother, trying to confound him, to explain that she was fine, to calm him down. At the same time the second passenger was pulling his companion back to the car, screaming to the driver:
- Go, go, forward! He will kill Ahmed! Go faster!
Ibrahim did not want to listen or to understand a thing. He roughly pushed his sister away and got free, grabbed his enemy with new strength, striking his face with one hand. He almost managed to pull him out of the car when the car jerked. Up to the very last second tried to struggle, but the forces finally left him, unclenched his fists and fell heavily onto the road, miraculously rescued from getting hit by a car. He raised his head and saw the car’s number – 90-44 CHIS, such numbers usually belonged to state officials.
It was painful and humiliating. It was hurting for the sister and it was humiliating to admit that the scoundrel went unpunished. How will he now look into the eyes of his father, mother, brother, relatives, sister's husband??? Suddenly a car, a truck, braked nearby. A young driver, five years older than Ibrahim, shouted through the open door:
- Quickly, quickly, get in!
And then, on the way, he explained that he involuntarily witnessed the last scene, clearly understood that something was wrong, and how a true Chechen offered his help. Ibrahim was infinitely happy and grateful for the support. He briefly explained what happened. After hearing it, the driver said from the bottom of his heart:
- When I arrived, I saw you trying to get someone out of the car, I saw this young lady’s hysteric. Now you have a reliable man standing besides you, I will do everything to help you. We will catch them.
Ibrahim thanked him for his help, but he still didn’t want to involve a non-relative in such an unpleasant business, so he asked only to catch up with the car and not interfere. Even in such situation, Ibrahim did not want strangers to interfere in order to protect the offerer from unforeseen consequences. Turned out that the truck driver knew the parents of Ibrahim and Zargan and deeply respected them. The driver, gritting his teeth, tried to reach the maximum speed.
Soon a familiar car, which was driving the scoundrel away, appeared. A railway crossed the road. The red lanterns of the semaphore lit up, as the freight train was crossing the highway. The fugitives had to stop, and after a while the truck of the pursuers braked next to them, almost ramming their car. The sister, in hysteric, was trying to stop her brother, but Ibrahim was already running towards the bastard's car, and a truck driver with a mount in his hands jumped after him punish the offender. Ibrahim opened the front right door, punched Ahmed's face with his fist and began pulling him out. Ahmed was a 40-45 years old man, who wore an expensive suit and a tie.
Another passenger jumped out to help his fellow traveller, only the driver remained behind the wheel. The second one called himself Rahim and asked not to do anything wrong with his colleague: «Otherwise you will get to jail», - he repeated to Ibrahim, trying to calm him down. Ibrahim, holding the bastard's breasts, asked the second:
- Who are you? His relative? If not, get out, don’t bother me. He should get what he deserved.
- No, I'm not a relative, I'm his colleague, working with him. We're sorry, he is just drunk, talk later, I'll give you an address ...
- What? Address? Stand aside, out of harm’s way, otherwise you will be cripple, colleague, - Ibrahim scathingly yelled at him. He noticed the lorry driver with a tire to stab a sneak behind him. Immediately, another car drove up and stopped, from which Ali, neighbor and former classmate of Ibrahim, came out. The situation was accumulated to "impossible." In one jump Ibrahim blocked the way to the driver so he couldn’t strike these scum. Ibrahim had no right to Involve outsiders in the personal drama of the Tasuyev family.
He remembered the words of Zaurbek, his father: "Remember! Anger pushes a person to a rash step, about which he will regret later. In the struggle between the heart and the brain, the sanity of the mind wins. " Ibrahim felt responsible for the truck driver, who offered his help disinterestedly, and for a classmate who was ready to follow him to the end. The fury has passed, on its change the real understanding of an event has come. Yes, he insulted his sister, insulted him and his family, the husband of his sister and their relatives. The offender must take the merited punishment, but not now and not here. Nobility and reasonableness have won a victory over the momentary wrath. He could not push innocent people into the crucible of blood revenge. As if shaking off his last doubts, he said, looking into the eyes of his opponent, who, from the fear of what was happening, was mumbling something incomprehensible:
"If you are a man, you understand what you did. How can I find you? And then fate decides who will live with shame or will not live at all. I do not want people of other families to interfere in this matter - mine and yours. But I know who you are, I'll find you! Remember, I'm Ibrahim, son of Tasuev Zaurbek, and you can not hide, you, dog”.
His opponent paled, blushed, his jaw jerked, he could not utter a word. Hemothomas have already appeared under his eyes. Again, his companion, the colleague, intervened. He pulled out a notebook, wrote down some address and held out his hand to Ibrahim saying: “This is a misunderstanding, you will necessarily negotiate...”. “Maybe you want to negotiate with me?", - Ibrahim interrupted him, -" if so, come aside and I'll show you how to negotiate with me! And if not, get out of here before I change my mind, critters! I'll find you, sooner or later”.
Ibrahim thanked the truck driver, shook his hand, wished a good journey, and asked his neighbor Ali to take them with his sister home. Of course, the meeting of girlfriends was canceled because of the moral and psychological condition of the brother and sister. The night was "hot", everyone who were relatives to the Tasuyevs were raised to their feet.
From early morning, the search for the blue "Volga" and its passengers began. The elder brother Said and Ibrahim went to the Central State Automobile Inspection of the Republic, but, to their surprise, no Volga 90-44, as the State Auto Inspector on duty explained them.
The scoundrels managed to hide, even the address given by Rahim, was false. The search has continued for four days, until at least Said noticed a “Volga”, which slipped on the opposite direction at one of the intersections of the city of Grozny. Said drew attention to the numbers of the white "Volga", which were almost identical to the numbers of the blue "Volga" with a difference of one digit: 90-45 CHIS. So, there is an auto-number 90-44 CHIS, despite the false assurance of the inspector on duty at the central traffic police of the republic. After two quarters, Said caught up with the Volga at high speed and asked to stop by using the headlights.
The driver of the Volga stopped the car. Said and Ibrahim came to him and Said asked the driver:
- Hey, friend, don’t you know the car with numbers 90-44? He promised me an old battery when we accidentally met at a car wash.
- Yes, of course. My friend Vitalik owns it, we drove the cars from the Gorky Automobile Plant together and work in the same garage, we serve the Rayskomovsky. He made Ahmed the second secretary of the district party committee. The garage is located in Zavodskiy district of Avtokombinat. Vitalik himself lives in Leninsky district, along Livandovskogo street 29. By the evening the driver was found, and the brothers forced him to give the address of his "boss." Ahmed's house was almost in the center of the city.
The solid mansion was surrounded with a high fence and wrought-iron gates, in which Ibrahim was already knocking, followed by a barking dog. Through the high fence Ibrahim saw a very pretty girl in her 17-18 looking out the window: "Who's there?" – “Ibrahim Tasuev. I'm looking for a two-legged dog named Ahmed in this house. Calm the four-legged dog and release the two-legged!”. "Get out of here. No one is home. I'll call the police right now”. "Pass it on to your furious dog, I am stepping on it’s tail."
When the brothers returned home, many people from the Tusuyev family were at home, as well as relatives from Zargan's husband. More authoritative people from among relatives, including several people from the family of Zargan's husband, gathered in Zaurbek's room, and the discussion of further actions in relation to Ahmed began.
This kind of insult to the girl or woman was punishable under the laws of the adat: forcibly removing pants from the offender, or, if he voluntarily admits his guilt, he should publicly take off his pants. That is considered to be a recognition of his own shame, which spreads on seven generations of his descendants. Another way was to inflict an equal resentment to one of the female relatives of the offender. The last option was blood revenge.
The relatives of Zargan's husband firmly insisted on bringing revenge themselves - since Zargan is a member of their family, being married to a man of their teip. Ibrahim replied: “That happened when my sister was next to me, and I was responsible for her. And you are responsible for her when she is near you in your family. I do not try to disgrace your pride. But I can not transfer this revenge to your responsibility, although you have this right no less than my family. The main thing is, we found the scoundrel and we know where he is and who he is, and if he expects to hide behind secular laws of Soviet power, he will not succeed. My sister will stay in our house, until my family completes its duty. My father, the head of my family, agrees with this decision. And if the husband's side believes that my sister, who has experienced such shame, does not deserve to be a member of your family, then we will gladly take her back to our family, because she is and she will always be a member of our family - daughter, sister”.
Zaurbek thanked everyone and asked them to go home and gather again in the morning. Zargan closed in her mother’s room. She almost didn’t eat or drink for a day. Her mother, Heda, was exhausted, inconsolable, suffering because of this endure for her children, her husband. Late at night the lights in Zaurbek house went out, but only two persons in the house were not sleeping...
Early in the morning Ibrahim was woken by an unusual noise in the yard. He was very tired these days. He looked out of the window and saw several elder people emotionally arguing with his father, brother Said and relatives. Ibrahim quickly got ready and went out into the courtyard, but by this time the visitors, Zaurbek, Said and several seniors from the Tasuyevs' family went to the second house where Zaurbek's room and the living room were. In the courtyard Ibrahim was informed that Ahmed's senior relatives had arrived.
It was quite a while before Ibrahim was summoned to his father. In the living room gathered his father and closest relatives, those strangers he saw in the yard and several people from the family of Zargan's husband.
Both his father and Said did not hide their frown. It became clear that the conversation was serious and ended not in Ibrahim’s favor. The father began the conversation with the face like thunder:
- Well, how do you explain your behavior? Can you explain what you've done these days? You beat a man, you pursued him, everybody is up in all corners of the world, - his father looked at him sternly.
- I can once again explain everything ... - Ibrahim began, as his father interrupted him.
- No, that’s enough. We have already explained everything to people wiser and more authoritative than you. The boy! Did you decide to play the knight? And did you think about sister's honor? He did not understand, did not understand, and there he wanted revenge! Do you know what that is?
- Do not scold him so severely, Zaurbek, - one of the visiting representatives of the Ahmed family intervened. It's a young boy with a hot heart. Well, he made a mistake, but who never did mistakes? The main thing is that everything is clear now, thank Lord. After all, such a tragedy could happen because of simple misunderstanding.
Ibrahim was looking at the window, turning away his face from those present in the room, lowering his head slightly. In the courtyard of their house a lot of people gathered, mostly they were relatives of the Tasuyevs. Even those who lived outside the republic, relatives of Ibrahim, came considering it to be their duty to protect the honor of their kind and relatives. There were many men, senior and middle-aged. It was too crowded, so they decided to go all out to the yard to end the discussion as they have reached mutual agreement.
Ibrahim was separated from all the others and brought to the center of the crowd. He stood surrounded by everyone as a guilty boy. His face showed that he was suffering from a storm of raging emotions. He preserved his decorum and "patriarchal" sedateness before his elders, before his father, before his relatives, before his "guests" - Akhmed's relatives, who violated the patriarchal chastity of the adats of their fathers and descendants. The blood was boiling, emotions grew, his eyes reddened with treachery, the flow of blood in his head pressed a tear, which he was shy about as if his helplessness would be given to everyone.
According to the rules of adat, he had to show maximum subordination and respect in front of the gathered people. And what was surprising! Those who came from the opposite side brought with them a man named Abu-Haji who once influenced the outcome of the reconciliation of Father Ibrahim with the bloodshed. This highly respected "old man" again involuntarily entered the reconciliation of the Zaurbek family, as he was asked by "noble" people, and Zaurbek's family could not refuse this benefactor, the great diplomat-humanist. He and all the people gathered here regarded the whole episode as a misunderstanding: "Because of his young naivety, Ibrahim took a mere coincidence for a terrible insult" said the guest from Ahmed's side. "You see, the man in the front seat was drunk, he sat with his hand on the back of the next seat behind the driver, and when on the bump, his hand involuntarily slipped from the back and accidentally touched the girl's hand a little, which was interpreted by Ibrahim as an attempt to direct insult and violence against her sister. But, even if Ibrahim believes that he was insulted, which happened accidentally without intent, then we are ready to pay a ransom for the offense”- in the crowd there was a rumble of discontent. The guest went on: "We respect the youthfulness of the guy's pride and are ready to take the first step towards reconciliation, to pay ransom. Secondly, we agree to negotiate on this matter with the side of the girl's husband, since she is a member of her husband's family. And we will bring an oath of allegiance on the Qur'an, supporters of the husband's family, that it was not a mismanagement to defame the honor of the girl. Therefore you take off all the questions of this misunderstanding. Thirdly, we, on our part, will not bring this case to the Court: remember, you’ve beat an official who holds a high post in the Communist Party. We have a confirming medical report given at a traumatological medical station. And besides, there are two witnesses: the driver and colleague of our person's work”.
There was a pause, then the father of Zargan's husband said: "It's been several years since Zaurbek's daughter crossed the threshold of my house as my daughter-in-law. Thus, our families became related, Zargan became me a true daughter, and I know her purity of goodness. I would give much for this would never happened to her. Perhaps you think, that if Zaurbek transfers the solution of this issue to the reins of my power, it will become easier for you, but you are wrong.
Any decision taken in Zaurbek’s house be kind enough to take it as a decision of my family”.
- Then let Zaurbek say his word, - said a man, who represented Ahmed’s family.
- No! - Abu-Hajji retorted. - It will be fair if we listen to a witness of this situation, and the other witnesses, as I understand it, are only ready to give testimony of Ibrahim's abasement, insulting his sister, - that sounded like a sign of Ahmed’s loyalty and support od Zaurbek, despite the fact that Abu-Haji was brought by Ahmed's people. People always heard good rumors about Abu-Haji’s incorruptibility and justice in the proceedings of complicated cases concerning the laws of Sharia and Adat.
Said still believed in his brother’s correctness. He quietly went to his younger brother from behind and stood beside him. It was a sign: hold on, I'm with you. Ibrahim furtively looked toward his father, trying to catch his gaze, and at that moment Zaurbek looked at his son. In Father's view, Ibrahim read the question: "What should we do, what should we do now?".
- Good. Thank you for the opportunity to speak ...
- Speak on the merits, and only the truth! - interrupted Ibrahim Abu-Haji.
- Then I speak to the Ahmed’s elders, first of all. Why are you here, if you do not see any guilt in the act of your relative? Who invited you here? Why did you wait until we find you? Although, have already found. But, you came with explanations and excuses, that’s not what innocent do. In addition, you have found and brought with you a nationally respected Abu-Haji, to whom my family owes very much. So, you came prepared. Perhaps, you know only what your relative told you. Allah is a witness, I know what my eyes saw, what saw my sister's eyes, the eyes of two other witnesses who were with us. Unlike you, I do not have to justify myself or other members of my family, besides, I don’t have to disturb so much respected Abu-Haji. Obviously, you have a reason to worry for your man and his family. But if, as you think, Ahmed is innocent and you are ready to confirm the lie of Ahmed on the Quran, we are ready to take this oath in another context: as it is customary for us, Ahmed’s closest relatives will swear on the Quran with the following words: "We swear on this Quran, if a girl or a woman of our family was treated like that, we would not regard it as an insult”. After this vow, me and my family will bring you their apologies and moral costs. And if with such a condition you do not agree, then your Ahmed should publicly put off his pants, assuming a reciprocal shame. If this option does not suit you, then you must give us to scold Akhmed's daughter or another woman of your family. But if you are not satisfied with these three options, then we reserve the right to force you to take the last two options. And I swear by Allah, besides these three options, there are no any other compromises between us. Use your money in a different place, but not here. We do not sell for money the honor of our women and the honor of our women is more precious than the lives of our men. The right to make final decision belongs to our father, but I am sure that he will never condemn his descendants to eternal dishonor.
When Ibrahim finished speaking, cheers were heard in the crowd, and for a moment, there was a silence about the gathering. The elder of Ahmed's clan violated her:
- If here are no more serious and wise people, who actually know life, I consider it my duty to say that there is nothing further to talk about with this young man who has become so embarrassed. But keep in mind, we will not tolerate this kind of statements. We live in a Soviet country where there are laws and the right to protection.
- Then you, Saidbek, needed to come here with the representatives of the Soviet government, and not with me, - expressed his disagreement Abu-Haji, - the young man quite rightly and fairly expressed his demands on behalf of this whole decent family. But believe me and my experience, this is not a brazen arrogant young man, he tells the truth. You should listen to it, so that no blood is spilled. You, Saidbek, should understand why Zaurbek, the head of the family, was cilent. As we all know, there were blood on Zaurbek, as he participated in blood revenge. According to the etiquette of our traditions, he should not take part in these discussions after that case. And I now began to respect him even more, because he did not allow himself to object to your attack, Saidbek. Saidbek, return the debt of honor the family of Zaurbek. Chechens used to pay two mens’ lifes for a woman’s one. You have three options. But I'm sure that the first option -the vow on the Qur'an- will not be given to the use by worthy people of your family as it will mean that it would be possible to encroach on the honor of your women. Consider this tip to be my gift. And now, I want to tell the youth gathered here a story for edification: "Once upon a time in the mountains there lived a poor, lonely youth who met a very nice girl, raised in a well-bred family. The girl had already promised this young man to marry him. There was another, young jigit, self-assured, bold and selfish, from a well-to-do family who repeatedly sent matchmakers to the girl's parents, but they were refused, because the girl had already been struck by another. One day, while hunting, the poor guy fell off the cliff, rolled into the abyss under the rockfall. The young man was crushed by stones on the bottom of the cliff. To escape, he had to cut himself his arm and his leg. He climbed out and stayed a ringer, but changed his mind about marrying that girl so that she would not become a victim of his burden. And he sent her a messenger, who told the girl that she could marry another man. The girl replied that she would become his wife, that would not have happened. And somehow the young woman returning from the spring barred that rich young man's way. He grabbed her by the hand and said: "Now you have nowhere to go, I took your hand and you can not now marry another but me, I dishonored you!" The girl snatched the dagger weighed on the scoundrel’s belt, cut off her hand with his dagger and sait: "I do not have a hand which a nonentity touched”. People, remember! Verily, as one sage said, the heaviness of obedience to the righteous life will pass away, but there will remain a reward for it. And verily, the sweetness of sin will pass away, but the punishment for it will remain. And now, Saidbek, I appeal to you, tomorrow by noon pray you must finish this unpleasant incident in our people. Be reasonable. - Abu-Haji finished his speech.
By the night everyone dispersed, except the family of Zaurbek. There was a hard day ahead. Everybody went to sleep, but only two were not sleeping in the house. Zaurbek was reading Ibrahim Qur'an and preaching. Only late, in the dead of night, Zaurbek let Ibrahim go.
Ibrahim was laying down on the bed in his clothes on, the cool night breeze sometimes flew into the room through the open window, and he gurgled Ibrahim's wavy hair playfully, chilled and gently caressed his face. Ibrahim substituted his burning face and closed his eyes peacefully, yielding to some extraordinary feeling. He already understood, felt that he shoulded do tomorrow, and he was now ready for this ... Night conversations with his father, reading the Koran and father's wise stories about the life of the righteous, gave him new powers. Before he left, his father told him a few words:
- Ibrahim! You looked like a wounded beast. "People are like animals. They turn into people-foxes, when they meet people-wolves. And to not become an animal - remain a man. In order to not be afraid to live, do not be afraid to die!”.
In the morning, in the yard of Zaurbek, gathered dozens of relatives. Mother Heda, trying to occupy herself with something, was busy in the kitchen, treated her guests with food. Sometimes, forgetting what she was doing, she aimlessly entered and exited the room. Zargan was hiding in her mother's bedroom, trying to calm herself, but that was not easy for her because she became she was the main reason of this incident.
On the broad street in front of Zaurbek's court, many relatives and fellow-villagers gathered. The rumor went round all neighborhood. Soon, the big courtyard and street were full of people who were waiting to see what’s going happen next. Women stayed in their houses, they were not allowed to visit "ceremonies" of this kind. Many people were angry because of the offense put to their honor.
In front of the house, opposite the road, the space remained free, like an empty scene awaiting the main characters. In case of the arrival of the opponents, this place was intended to occupy it. Ibrahim came to his peers and stood a little apart with his hands behind his back and his head down. He was pale and calm, slender, smart, young - almost a boy, and only his eyes could give out his true feelings. For these days, the inquisitive, his eyes, usually full of joy, have become thoughtful and serious - the eyes of an adult man, a man, experiencing his personal drama.
Ibrahim stood in the same position when several cars stopped near them. Out of them came unfamiliar men, they were those who were so eagerly awaited, but it was not known with what they came. There was a dead silence! Suddenly, those who arrived opened the back door of one of the cars and brought out a very young and very beautiful girl whom Ibrahim saw in Ahmed's house.
Ibrahim was standing in the same position when several cars stopped near them. Out of them exited a few strangers, they were those who were so eagerly awaited. There was a dead silence! Suddenly, those who arrived opened the back door of one of the cars and pulled out a very young and very beautiful girl whom Ibrahim saw in Ahmed's house.
Zaurbek’s family gathered in the courtyard as a team, standing in a semicircle, looking towards the visitors. One of the accompanying girls showed her a place where she should go and should become, the rest remained at their cars, not daring to raise their heads with shame.
In the crowd was heard a surprised exclamation: "What are they doing?".
Meanwhile, the girl went to the place indicated to her. Without looking back at her attendants, she reached the center of the free space and stopped. Dressed in a black robe, as if in mourning, she stood, biting her gurgling tears that choked her. Suddenly, a middle-aged woman jumped out of the same car with which the girl came out, not submitting to the calls of her companions, pale and trembling, but with firm determination in her eyes she pointed towards the girl.
The woman was beautiful in her determination and outwardly, and although her face was distorted by inhuman mental anguish, it was not difficult to find out from her resemblance the mother of a poor girl in it. In the most painful, in the most difficult moments of her daughter's life, the mother became next to her, so that if not even take her, then at least on an equal footing with her accept the disgrace that fell to her child's share and at least give her support.
Zargan, looked out the window, saw the girl and rushed to her mother:
"Mom, help me! Mom, I am begging you, help! This girl that was brought, don’t let her to be touched by ours ... Mom, I'll kill myself, Mom, I’ll do something, "Zargan shouted in hysterics.
Heda embraced her daughter, looked into her eyes and said to her daughter:
"My silly little daughter, there are no such vile men in this house, and your father will not tolerate with such abuse of an innocent person, especially a girl. I know your father and your brothers very well”.
A whisper swept through the courtyard and the girl lowered her head even lower. She could no longer restrain herself and tears streamed down her cheeks, lips trembled, hands trembled, as she was fingering the corner of her shawl. And the boys were whispering around, the old men shook their heads disapprovingly. Young guys whispered with each other about the daughter, the mother, then yielding to each other, arguing to get right to them, but so that they are not heard by the elders. It was terrible and scary ... A single Zaurbek’s glare was enough for everyone to calm down the hotheads, who were whispering among the crowd.
Zaurbek turned to face the crowd, pushed aside the hem of his beshmet and grabbed the dagger hidden under the hem:
- I swear, I’ll cut off the head of anyone who dares to approach the girl. In spite of everything, I will kill anyone who at least in one movement dares to scold women in my house. Men are born to protect the honor of women, and not to insult them violently.
Ibrahim's mother, Heda, came out of the house, went up to the poor girl and wept, hugging her, holding her to him, as though hiding herself from curious gazes, from misfortune, from this evil. And that chocked and already crying sobbed, kept repeating:
- Oh please, let them do what they want with me, but do not touch my father. I agree to everything, just do not touch my dad ...
- Do not worry, my daughter, nobody will hurt you here, do not cry, and your father will not be touched. Everything will be fine. I accept you as my guest, and my guest is protected by the men of my family, if they remain the men who ate from my hands...
In this space, before the gaze of men, gathered in a thirst for vengeance, there stood two mothers and one girl, trying to keep sobs and tears. In the domain opposite, another girl sobbed, hiding her face in the pillow. Their tears, their pain are known only to them and to the Almighty. The hardest moments came for all the visitors with women here, men did not know what to do with shame, they were ashamed to raise their heads, embarrassed to meet the eyes of those opposite. But the men from the Tasuyevs felt the bitterness of what was happening in front of them. Many, especially the elders, had tears of regret in their eyes.
Everyone in his mind went through all his actions in life, and thanked God that they did not have to experience such humiliation. The lesson was instructive for everyone, for those who saw it and for those who hear about it. The man, who voluntary surrended his daughter to be shamed and tortured, the girl's father still found herself in disgrace. But alas, the stricter the law, the less immorality among the people. It would be better for the girl's father to pay his debts with his own blood than to find her daughter in disgrace – the witnesses of this drama thought.
Courage, nobility, power, mercy and wisdom of the family Zaurbek won a victory over anger. They did not touch the girl, having the right to revenge, because the revenge over the defenseless girl did not raise them in her own eyes. But this humiliation of the girl did not become less, her own father humiliated her himself.
Zaurbek gave a sign to the elder from some kind of Betersolta, so that he let visitors come to the women and free them. Betersolt went to the women and told them to follow him. He led them to the men standing near their cars and said:
- You are free, and we are free."We have no more questions for you, your way is free.
Less than a half-minute, as the guests disappeared around the corner at the end of the street, taking with them shame and humiliation. At some time, silence continued, many old men and young people wiped their damp eyes with their hands. This tears came from the depths of their hearts, the moisture of grief is insane, and on the other hand the courage of nobility. There were no words to describe the situation, the participants dispersed in silence, at first the old men moved from their places. And one by one the young began to disperse silently. Ibrahim stood in the same pose and looked in the "nowhere", as if he wanted to see something shorthand in a misty veil.
His brother Said approached him, embraced him and thanked him:
"Thank you for your patience. I was sure that you are noble and sensible.
Ibrahim went to his room and slept until deep night, and when he woke up, he went to his father's house. Everyone was sleeping, except Zaurbek and Ibrahim. They had something to talk about.
It was the time when the Soviet Empire was fighting for “peace in the whole world” extending its “steel arms” to all corners of the globe. It was a seesaw struggle – NATO countries stood in the way, especially The USA. Nevertheless, the struggle didn’t fade away because of failures; on the contrary it was always on the rise.
Fraternal assistance to Africa, Asia and America was a continuous flow mainly in the form of arms, which were produced in enormous quantity, participation of military advisors in conflicts and financial aid. The allies accepted fraternal assistant of the USSR with gratitude and did their best to struggle against the “bloody imperialism” represented by their domestic enemies. The struggle went on until there was another opportunity to ask the USSR for the next part of aid because the struggle was so intense that they ran short of the aid. Until the flow of the soviet fraternal aid was gone the regimes that cooperated with the USSR struggled zealously under the Soviet slogan of the “struggle for peace in the whole world”. But as soon as the aid stopped, the yesterday’s allies of the Soviet Union became its enemies and moved to the capitalists’ camp.
There were even more unfortunate “failures” in the USSR’s foreign policy. Those were revolutions in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and other socialist states. In case of these countries, the Soviet Union was not alone to render the “fraternal aid” to the shaken regimes, but did it together with other countries, participants of the Warsaw treaty. Revolt or revolution, to be more exact, in a socialist country was brutally suppressed.
In 1978 it was Afghanistan which became the next victim of the peacemaking efforts of the Soviet Empire. It was declared all over the world that the situation in Afghanistan threatened southern borders of the Soviet Union and that our country was obliged to help in any way to the “poor” Afghans to get rid of anti-popular regime. At the party congresses and meetings the statement of the party and the government was taken with enthusiasm by the broad masses of the working people. The intelligentsia with the gentleness only it possesses was modestly keeping silence and the grumble of the dissenting individuals was not and could not be heard in the massive choir of the nationwide approval.
In 1979, under the noisy approval and almost unheard whisper of the opponents the USSR descended upon anti-popular regime of Afghanistan with all its might. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans as well as thousands of soldiers-internationalists were killed and wounded during the war, but the aggression against Afghanistan ended up ingloriously for the Soviet policy and for the Soviet arms. The cause of the defeat of the USSR in the war against Afghanistan, which was on the stage of feudalism, is a complicated subject that needs a thorough study.
It’s worth noting here that first of all it is Afghanistan itself and the countries that helped him during ten years of war who are “to blame” for the victory. But all of this would be later. At that time the war was just starting.
On the territory of 1/6 of the earth called the USSR the informational propaganda started. Powerful, well-tuned propaganda machine of the USSR began to work with all its might influencing the conscience of Soviet people. And it has to be given justice, it performed its task brilliantly excluding the silent minority amounting to about 5-10 percent of Soviet population, people took black for white and supported the aggression of the USSR against Afghanistan. This support went so far that even mothers of the soldiers who died during the war accepted that s war as something unavoidable.
No wonder that Ibragim’s inexperienced and weak mind took for granted all that was written in the Soviet newspapers and magazines about the situation in Afghanistan. Brought up on Communist ideas, Ibragim, who believed piously in the infallibility of the Soviet system couldn’t even think that the Soviet Union was waging a brutal and unjust war in Afghanistan. When his elder brother Said tried to explain it to him he didn’t believe him, he thought that his brother was trying to protect him from a danger. Although he didn’t agree with his brother inwardly, Ibragim pretended he accepted his reasons and would follow them. But for himself he decided that he would never refuse to do his duty byñòðàíîé and would surely go to the army, not to kill anybody but to defend his great Motherland – the USSR.
That autumn Ibragim was supposed to go to the army. He didn’t want to go to the University right after school. He explained his unwillingness to the parents by the fact that the graduates from institutes of higher education are drafted anyway and by that time he would be 22-23 already. But at his age it was much easier to endure the difficulties of the army life. Moreover one could quickly give a good account of himself in the army and join the CPSU ranks.
Ibragim’s arguments were quite reasonable and though they were not unshakable, his parents and his brother Said decided not to stand in his way.
Ibragim finished secondary school cum laude. During his last five years at school he attended several circles, went in for judo wrestling and was already a candidate master at it. But he attended a literature circle with a special interest. Beyond all doubts Maria Vladimirovna was «to blame» for his love for Russian literature.
Once when he was in the fifth grade the school principal entered their classroom with a Russian girl who seemed to be hiding behind his back. The principal introduced to the class Maria Vladimirovna, their new class master and teacher of Russian language and literature. Maria Vladimirovna was sent to work here after graduation from an institute in Astrakhan. Since then her life has been tied up with this school and this stanitsa. Ibragim studied here living at the boarding school because there was only an elementary school in the village. When he was in the fifth grade his parents put him into the boarding school where he and other children could get by a special bus. Children lived at the hostel, studied at the local school and went home on weekends.
With years, for Maria Vadimirovna Chechnya became her new Motherland, which she loved with all her heart. Although she had some knowledge of Chechen traditions and their way of life from works by Tolstoy, Pushkin, Lermontov and other writers, at the beginning Maria Vladimirovna had certain difficulties to mix with Chechen life. The stanitsa of Ishcherskaya in Naursky district was situated on the left bank of the Terek river. Picturesque and vast spaces attracted everyone who came here at least once. Both Russians and Chechens lived there, lived friendly, sharing all their joys and sorrows. Isherskay is one hundred kilometers from Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. During school holidays the administration of school arranged trips to Grozny for good pupils and Ibragim was always among them. Pupils were taken to the Grozny reservoir to bathe, to parks and museums of arts and regional studies.
Maria Vladimirovna was renting a room at a house owned by a good-natured Tagibat, a Chechen woman where they both shared coziness and warmth of this small house. Tagibat’s family - her husband and two children lived in the same house. Her children studied at the school where Maria Vladimirovna worked. The boy was in the second grade and the girl – in the seventh. Maria’s work and life were getting normal. Her colleagues respected her, her children loved her very much.
She got good education and loved her work and her subject. She told the children with enthusiasm about writers, their works, about the immortal characters of Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Walter Scott, Fenimore Cooper, Alexandre Dumas. It seemed that her knowledge was endless. There was time and place for everyone in her stories – for Karamazov brothers, for Chatsky, for Pierre Bezukhov, for Robin Hood and Jack London. Children were sitting with their mouths open when listening to her endless stories from the lives of literature characters. Silence was interrupted only when some pupil splashed out the held back emotions. From time to time one could hear: Oh, well done! Oh, well said!” For Maria Vladimirovna these exclamations were the best reward for her work.
Thanks to Maria Vladimirovna Ibragim came to love literature and having loved reading he got better and better command of the Russian language. It should be noted that although the Chechen language and literature were among the obligatory subjects at schools, but in the schools on the left bank of the Terek River the Chechen language was excluded from the obligatory program. In the mountain and foothill areas of the republic it was taught as an optional subject since most of the Chechen population lived there.
Ibragim started to read a lot. By the ninth grade he had already had his own library which had about three hundred books. Ibragim’s mother with all the tenderness, which she was capable of, told everyone whenever she had a chance how she took him to the market when he was five. She gave him twenty kopecks for an ice cream. Ibragim rushed to a kiosk and bought two children’s books: “Dyada Styopa” by Mikhalkov and “Moidodyr” by Kornei Chukovsky. Despite their shabby condition Kheda still keeps them.
Teachers at school held Ibragim up as an example to the pupils. They were sure that the fact that he studied at a village school would not prevent him from entering a teacher’s training college.
And all of a sudden such a turn of events. Instead of going on with the studies he goes to the army.
When Ibragim finished school and received his school-leaving certificate his family moved to their village at foothills. He turned 18 and in several months he was to go to the army. His father bought him a car thinking that it would distract him from his plans. But Ibragim was inexorable. He was persistently preparing himself for the army spending most of the time on sports.
The day of leaving for the army came. Ibragim as other draftees had already passed the military-medical commission and listened to the instructions of the military commissar. Every draftee after passing the final medical commission in Grozny was a given subpoena which obliged him to come to the district military commissariat for a call-over the next morning at 8 a.m. and get military identification card. The subpoena was dated November 02, 1979. Every year the Chechen-Ingushetia always exceeded the planned targets during autumn and spring drafts. In the Caucasus, evasion from the army service was considered a disgrace among youth. Every autumn and spring trains with draftees were leaving on schedule.
On the first of November the farewell ceremony for the youth was held at Zaurbek’s house. In the evening, the elders had a moulid prayer after sacrifice of a ram. Those who couldn’t come on the next day to say good-bye to Ibragim did it today. Everyone wished him luck and told parting words. The elders advised him not to panic or lose his reason under any circumstances; they wished him a happy journey and a happy return home after the end of the service.
At night the family stayed on their own. A lot of people promised to come back in the morning to say good-bye to Ibragim. They went to sleep late at night. But as usual, on alarming nights, only two of them didn’t sleep. Kheda’s sleep was also troubled.
Early in the morning, Zaurbek after a Morning Prayer went to the courtyard to meet people from his village who wanted to say good-bye to his son. People were coming to Zaurbek’s house, women were bringing presents and food – it was usual among Chechens. Ibragim made a joke in reply: “You’ve prepared food for the two years’ service. It will be enough for the whole army, how am I going to carry all this? We should ask the Defense Minister to order the whole train”.
Ibragim’s mother, his elder brother Said and his sister Zargan some of boys – his relatives went to see him off to the assembly point. When they all came out to the courtyard and were about to set off on two cars, Zaurbek stayed in the house. He knew that his son would come to his room to say good-bye in private, secretly from others. It’s not common among Chechens to express their feelings towards their children openly, especially towards their sons.
When Ibragim came to his father he was sitting on a wooden trestle-bed saying a prayer, asking the Most High to give his son a happy journey. Ibragim stood silently waiting when his father to finish the prayer. Zaurbek stood up and told his son: “Ibragim! I hope that everything will be all right with you. Don’t forget to write to your mother about yourself. You know that she loves you very much and worries about you.” “I know it and I will always remember it”, said Ibragim. Zaurbek made a step toward the exit. Ibragim stepped aside immediately to let his father pass toward the exit. He was brought up this way – to give way to elders.
When Zaurbek came out to the courtyard he thanked everybody who had come and told his elder son Said: “Go slowly, be careful on the road, don’t drive hard, let your way be free (marsha goila, in Chechen)”. It meant that Ibragim and those who were going to see him off could get into the cars and set off. With these words Zaurbek turned back and went into the house.
At the district military commissariat where the draftees of the Urus-Martan region had arrived, the military commissar of the region formed them up in front of the building. He took their subpoenas presented their military identification cards to them and delivered a traditional farewell speech about the high duty of serving the socialist Motherland and about the noble mission of Soviet soldiers in the world. Then as if with a wave of a conductor’s baton a military brass band which stood at some distance began to thunder, the trumpets played the famous “Slav’s Farewell” march to drums accompaniment
A high brick fence with a barbed wire on top surrounded the assembly point. It was made so that the drunken locals who had come to see the draftees off would not be able to get to the territory belonging to the Ministry of Defense. Soldiers and sergeants of interior troops guarded the entrance to the territory of the assembly point. That was a border between the civil world and the world of the military. Along the perimeter of the assembly point there were high poplars. In front of the main entrance there was a well-groomed garden where those who came to see the newly drafted off were sitting on the blankets and newspapers. There was sorrow and worries in the eyes of the adults: what if their child will be sent to Afghanistan? And the young ones enjoyed themselves. The youth does not know the feeling of fear and their sorrow does not live long. For the youth life seems to be a constant holiday with singing and dancing, with jokes and funny stories. Maturity and old age grown wise with experience know that the life is not a bed of roses, that one comes across thorns as well, and sometimes there are more thorns than roses. At last all the necessary formalities were done with and those who had come to see the young boys off were given a chance to say good-bye to the draftees on the territory of the assembly point. A crowd rushed inside. Everyone tried to tell his son, brother, relative or friend the most important, necessary and innermost before the long parting. Everybody, laughing and crying, make an effort in vain hope to recall and say the most important, the most necessary words. Ibragim’s beautiful, tender and already gray mother stuck to him before parting. No, she wouldn’t recall and wouldn't tell her son those innermost words and during long days and long nights for the following two years she would be sorting them out not finding the ones she needed. She would tenderly touch and stroke all his clothes he used to wear at home. Only mothers can truly love, but her tongue is not capable of rendering the trepidation of her heart, her soul’s outcry, her pangs and worries of every cell of her weak feminine being. It is beyond her power. But her attentive and loving son can read in her eyes everything that she couldn’t express by words. Her eyes ranges over the crowd and stops at Ibragim. She sees several mothers crying embracing their sons. She promised herself that she won't let her son, her drop of blood, see her tears on such a difficult day for him; it will be hard for him to see them. He has always been kind and tender with her and if she doesn’t hide her sorrow, he will reprove himself for being guilty of her tears and sorrows. She won’t upset him, she will show herself strong and then it will be easier for him to serve. Though it will be hard to conceal anguish from his shrewd eyes. Suddenly she roused herself and her strained eyes stopped at something. She saw a familiar figure. Kheda recognizes Khava, a black-browed beauty, daughter of Akhmed from their village. Slender as a doe, with a swanneck and a beautiful face with blushes on her cheeks. She was a real beauty. Kheda has always dreamt she would become Ibragim’s wife. But when she made hints to him he laughed the matter off. Khava was seeing her brother off to the army.
Having noticed that Kheda was looking at her, Khava, like frightened bird, flew away and mixed with the crowd. Kheda smiles and tells Ibragim: “Did you see that prude that was looking at you till we noticed her? Poor girl, she got confused and flew away”. Ibragim flushes and makes a weak effort to justify himself, but not being able to control himself under the laughing eyes of his mother, Zargan and Said he turns away. Kheda noticed aloud: “Khava is a beautiful and a smart girl from a good family and a respected clan”.
When choosing a fianc;e it was very important which clan she was from, and it wasn’t just a caprice, it was a tradition formed on the basis of life experience. Life confirmed the rule, which says “like father like son”. And age-old observations by people not acquainted even with the fundamentals of genetics led them to a conclusion that only a good seed can provide a good harvest.
The form-up of the draftees was announced. Ibragim embraced his mother tenderly, embraced his brother and kissed his sister on the cheek, took his bag and ran to the formation.
People who had come to see the draftees off were asked to leave the territory of the assembly point. The clock began to count time of Ibragim’s army service. And all other people who knew that the draftees would be taken to the railway station rushed there. Ibragim, together with hundreds of other draftees, was taken to the railway station. They were put to the railway cars, a call-over was held in each car and a command to the locomotive driver was given. People were running after the train waving hands to the boys who were looking out of the windows, putting parcels with sweets, cigarettes and food to the draftee’s hands reaching out of the windows. And the train, gaining speed, began its endless wheels' clicking on the endless rails leaving behind, kilometer after kilometer, the boundless spaces of the land of Soviets. Landscapes were changing. Trees were delivering themselves from summer attire; yellow leaves were falling one by one on the ground covering it with their golden blanket. The train running into the gloaming dusk was going and going, outrunning fields and rivers, sometimes stopping at small stations to let other trains pass on red signal posts.
According to the instructions of the Ministry of Defense a draftee was to be taken away from his native places as far as possible. Thus, youths from the Caucasus served in remote and border areas of the USSR whereas the contingent of soldiers that served in the Caucasus consisted mostly of Siberians and Ukrainians. At first sight there was no logic in such an expensive “castling”. Only many years later Ibragim understood that it was a thoroughly thought over and tested by experience policy. This understanding came to Ibragim when he started watching on television the events that preceded the fall of the Soviet Empire. Those were the events in Baku, Tbilisi, and Vilnius, where clashes between the army and local population took place. There were only locals among the defenders and there were only soldiers from other regions of the Soviet Union in the ranks of the offensive army.
This understanding began to get stronger when Ibragim saw what was happening in Russia during the formation and strengthening of Boris Yeltsin’s power. He was sure that a Muscovite couldn’t be behind the controls of a tank, which was roaring along Moscow streets, and a Muscovite couldn’t aim the muzzle of the tank at the snow-white building of Parliament and shoot at it. This understanding strengthened at last in his consciousness when he witnessed the “murder” of Grozny, the capital of his republic. The malicious intent of the military command was not to send a draftee as far as possible from his small motherland. Having studied and knowing the psychology they foresaw the possibility of an unordinary situation, the settlement of which demanded use of military force. In this case material expenditures of the Ministry of Defense on transportation of the draftees from one end of the country to another one, from one republic to another one were compensated immediately. A soldier, if he, or course, is not crazy, won’t shoot at houses and streets, trees and monuments of the town where he used to run about in his childhood, where he was born, where his relatives and friends live. No, Grozny was not shot at by people from Chechen-Ingushetia and even if there were such people among these butchers then the name to them is not “people” but some other, unknown.
On the eleventh day the train with the draftees arrived to the Far East, to the city of Khabarovsk. Right from the railway station the draftees were put on the trucks that had come to meet them and were taken to a blank unit.
Ibragim got to sergeants’ school. After finishing it he was going to be sent to serve as a sergeant to some other unit. The study in this school took six months of the army’s two-years’ service.
Ibragim’s soldier’s life flew monotonously as it usually flows in peacetime in the army. He communicated with his commanders and comrades as much as his army duties demanded it excluding the conflicts among soldiers of different periods of service that happen in any army. Everything happened, but Ibragim had dignity and courage to stand up for himself and for his friends.
Sometimes senior soldiers beat them but they were given as good as one gets. Once during tactical exercises one of the senior soldiers, a sergeant, decided to show everybody his superiority above Ibragim. But having received a strong punch in the jaw he lost immediately his snobbism and contemptuous attitude toward young students.
Permanent exercises, studying of military service regulations, physical training – military service was not easy. Ibragim who received good training before the army and excellent knowledge at school, could stand all the difficulties of military life with dignity. Neither strict day’s routine nor exhausting military exercises could shake his will, on the contrary they only tempered him. He tried not to take too close to heart cavils of commanders and sergeants of the school, painful for his pride. It seemed that these commanders and sergeant watched the students waking or sleeping caviling to different trifles. And the students tempered themselves more and more, repeating to themselves: “What does not kill us, will make us stronger”.
At first Ibragim couldn’t understand why commanders are interested in such trifles as, for instance, if the soldier’s blouse is all buttoned up, what student do in their leisure time, who he mixes with, what this or that students talks about. There were people of different nationalities in the sergeants’ school. Ibragim was the only Chechen. Students divided into groups according to the area they were from and together they defended each other’s interests. Ibragim understood the importance of it when there was a fight between Azerbaijanis and Armenians.
The cause of a dispute that led to the fight was the refusal of an Azerbaijani named Arsen to clean a toilet. He motivated his refusal with the fact that sergeant Samvel, an Armenian, was biased towards him and trying to humiliate him sent him, and not an Armenian from his platoon which was on duty and had to clean the toilet. Because of this Samvel punched Arsen in the face and his countrymen stood up for him and beat Samvel. Armenians stood up for Samvel and the incident developed into an inter-ethnic group fight. After the interference of an officer the fight was held up but only for the time being because both sides threatened to revenge upon each other till final victory. Thus the conflict could run into bloodshed. Ibragim was the one who found a way out, he suggested that opposing sides should have an honest man’s duel, face to face. Culprits of the conflict - Armenian Samvel and Azerbaijani Arsen had to take part in the duel.
Despite the fact that sergeant Samvel had already served for a year and three months and Arsen – only three months, Ibragim saw the rightness of Arsen and his readiness to defend it at any price.
Arsen, like an animal driven to a corner, posed a real danger for Samvel but the latter couldn’t conjecture it and felt himself protected as a senior. He counted upon the unwritten laws of “dedovshchina” – phenomenon common in the Soviet and Russian army, which means hazing of the newly drafted soldiers by the senior soldiers.
Moreover, Arsen was very frightened by that offer of Ibragim. And that made him stronger, which could not escape the eye of such an experienced fighter like Ibragim. Resolution in Arsen’s eyes and fastidiousness on Samvel’s face evoked sympathy for Arsen among many people. After the evening retreat when many were already sleeping, four people – Ibragim, Arsen’s “second” and Samvel with his “second” Tolgat who was an Uzbek entered the washing room, the size of which gave much space for the both fighter, almost like on a boxing ring. They agreed to fight only with hand and legs. The blows could be delivered with both feasts and legs all over the body, with only one condition – not to beat the one who fell down. If not consider this case mystical, in five or six seconds after the beginning of the duel, Samvel was knocked out by Arsen’s punch in the jaw.
On the next day the unit’s officers, strange as it may seem, pretended not to know anything about the night duel. However, they always shut their eyes to the shadow side of the army life.
Only at political studies the deputy commander for political work said, as a matter of fact: “If everybody could solve international conflicts the way Ibragim Tasueyev does, then there would be peace all over the world.” It was obviously said with sarcasm but Ibragim pretended not to understand what it was all about. Unfortunately, the incident was not over at this point for Ibragim and many others. Samvel again set his countrymen against Arsen and they ambushed him in a dark corridor of the barracks after which a group fight started between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. As a result almost all the participants of the fight got injuries. The investigation of this incident was conducted by a military investigator during one month. Samvel, Arsen and Ibragim were considered culprits and instigators. The commander of the office of the head of studies being afraid of publicity confined himself to a light punishment of Samvel, Arsen and Ibragim, who were put in the guardroom for several days.
Despite the fact that Ibragim kept aloof, his independent temper and his ability to stand for himself when it is necessary were noticed not only by his colleagues but also by commanders and officers.
Only those can be relatively independent who is either very rich or who has great power. Ibragim was convinced of truth of these axioms “on his own back”, as the saying goes.
Everybody, who served in the army, the more so in the Soviet army, knows that officers do not like independent soldiers. Commanders’ task is to “subdue” a young man, to place him under the command, as they say themselves “to break them of civil life” and turn him into an obedient creature who implicitly and blindly carries out all the demands of the regulation and of the commander.
The deputy commander for political work of the companies, Captain Litvinov undertook Ibragim’s “re-education”. He caviled at him in every way possible. The youth was about to break down and his colleagues noticed it and prevented a coming drama.
Sergeant Anatoly Luzgin by the time of the draft to the Soviet Army had expelled from from the Moscow Road-transport University after the third year. Anatoly didn’t like to speak about the reasons for his expulsion and nobody knew the details. Anatoly stood out for his refinement and smart appearance. He was called up for military service six months before Ibragim and had already finished that school. But the commanders asked him to stay there and train young students. He was an interesting interlocutor, could play guitar and joke wittily. In other words, he was “one of the lads” in any company or situation. A non-incidental conversation between Anatoly and Ismail was a long one. Anatoly opened Ibragim’s eyes on many things, offered his support and friendship which was taken by the latter with pleasure and gratitude. Starting from that day they communicated a lot, it turned out that they had many common interests.
Six months passed in students’ work and troubles, in monotonous life, which was sometimes varied by minor squabbles among students. The last week passed in preparations of the unit’s territory for à gala event devoted to the students’ graduation ceremony. From morning till retreat students were rushing about the unit’s territory whitewashing borders, painting fences, sweeping. Everything was shining even without it but those were the rules of the “game” among military.
What if military inspection from the region’s headquarters comes unexpectedly and this is why there should be no limit to cleanness and order. At last everything is ready. The military settlement is decorated with different transparencies, banners, everything around is clean and neat. Sergeants’ school’s command and students are ready for May Day holidays. All the exams on all rules and points are taken under strict eyes of examiners. The promotions and decoration of the students with different chest hardware for merits in the service, encouragement of sergeants and officers with various presents, promotions, leafs with a chance to go to Motherland are scheduled for the next day - for the 1st of May, the day of the World solidarity of working people. At 10 in the morning, a military parade and working people’s demonstration will take place in the central square named after Lenin.
All over the USSR similar parades took place in each major town of the country, all capitals of Soviet republics and not only on the first and the ninth of May but also on the 23rd of February, the Day of the Soviet Army and the Navy.
The parade took place in the morning of May 1 despite the drizzling rain. In the evening a gala event with all the pomposity which servicemen are capable of was held at the officers’ House of culture on the territory study unit. After the official part of the evening a gala concert with the participation of the unit’s ensemble and local variety actors was to take place.
The concert is going on with verve. The graduates and officers’ families enjoy the event very much. The graduates are the happiest of all because they will become commanders in a few days. They are going to have an independent service, people’s fates will depend on them and maybe even their subordinate’s lives. And now they must relax a bit after a six months’ military studies. And the concert gives them a great relaxation, a charge of energy and an influx of fresh forces.
Attendance of similar entertainment became a tradition for the families of the military. Like other members of officers’ families, the wife, Vera Stepanovna and the daughter Olga of the deputy commander for political work of the unit came here. The company’s deputy commander for political work officiously thrust himself upon them. Unlike other junior officers, platoons’ commanders and companies’ commanders, Litvinov was a single. He liked the daughter of the Lt-Col Tarasov, the unit’s deputy commander for political work; he tried to please her and her parents in any way possible.
Litvinov was a noticeable personality. He finished military college with honors two years ago. His father held a ranking position at the headquarters and Litvinov graduated from the college in the rank of a senior lieutenant and in two years already he was promoted to the rank of captain. It should be noted that nature didn’t deprive him either with height or with beauty and vanity. Prestigious Moscow schools, high-ranking parents apart from noticeable knowledge developed in him such qualities as high self-conceit, arrogance, vainly hidden under the mask of the call of duty. The captain looked down on everybody and it seemed to him that everybody around – students, sergeants and officers must implicitly fulfill his whims.
Despite his intellect and attractiveness the captain had few friends among colleagues. But those who called themselves his friends didn't do it disinterestedly. Litvinov saw himself with general's shoulder straps at the General Staff surrounded by complaisant subordinates ready to fulfill his immediate wish. To be completely happy Litvinov needed a beautiful fianc;e like Olga Tarasova.
Being the only child in the family, from the very childhood Olga was surrounded by all-round care, attention and love of parents. As they say, her parents doted on their child. They did everything that depended on them for Olga to have plenty to live upon. Thanks to her parents she received musical education, went in for swimming and tennis with enthusiasm. The problems in school education were solved with the help of tutors. It helped this clever and talented by nature girl to enter the economy department of the Khabarovsk University without any pull or backing. Though Olga wasn’t strikingly beautiful, her well-knit figure, her eyes shining with life and youth didn’t let men pass her by without paying attention to her. Besides after a few minutes’ talk one couldn’t but notice that she had a sensible and responsive soul, which was hidden behind the mask of an everlasting scoffer and a jolly girl. Usually, the excessive love of parents spoils most of the children, makes them egoistic, but Olga, on the contrary, managed to borrow all the good, so that in the future she would embrace her chosen one and her future children with it and would reciprocate her parents’ feelings.
The “superman” Litvinov couldn’t deceive Olga’s sensible and tender soul. This is why she declined all captain’s efforts to have a corner in her heart.
Captain’s courting were not a secret for Olga’s mother. She saw the brilliant career of the captain; she countenanced and urged her on being closer to him. This time only Olga’s unwillingness to hurt her mother made her come to that event. It’s not that she was bored but she didn’t feel extremely enthusiastic over the military ceremony. At that moment a sergeant to whom she paid attention at the very beginning of the ceremonial event preoccupied all her imagination. When looking at him Olga thought that she had never seen such a handsome man. She paid attention to his spontaneity, to the fact that he didn’t plum himself at all and that he didn’t even feel his attractiveness. Olga made her involuntary comparison between Captain Litvinov and the stranger sergeant and it wasn’t in Captain’s favor. Of course, their height and figure were alike, Olga thought, but in the rest they were completely different. The Captain was a fair-haired blue-eyed handsome man, but there was some incompleteness in his face, some negligence of the nature whereas in sergeant’s face everything was perfect, a fine aristocratic face, sensible harmony and completeness in all his appearance. He, all from black wavy hair and brown eyes to refined hands with long fingers, was a real perfection. “It can’t be so that the sergeant doesn’t realize how richly he was endowed by nature”, Olga thought. But he behaves himself so simply. The new object of her attention was taking the girl’s imagination for a long time and only the end of the concert interrupted her dreams. Accompanied by her mother and the Captain, Olga went home. The Captain politely forced his company on them at the moment when the lieutenant colonel told his wife and daughter that he had to stay behind at the unit for one more hour. At the entrance of their house Litvinov gallantly bowed out with the ladies and went back to the unit. Standing close to her mother Olga was listening absently to the Captains’ flow of words and sighed with relief and when he left and showed his back.
The next week of Olga’s life passed in dreams and fantasies connected with the sergeant.
The image that began to fade away emerged again as unexpectedly as it happened first time. Later when the parting came Olga understood that it was fate that guided her, the only desired and the happiest one, which a woman can have, the fate which is a dream of any woman. Unfortunately, the real happiness can’t be a long-lived one.
The study unit’s command offered Ibragim to stay at school to train new draftees. Anatoly also wanted his friend to be with him. Ibragim agreed and in fact he was glad to stay. He became a deputy commander of the platoon in the rank of sergeant. Anatoly was already a sergeant major of the company, which included Ibragim’s platoon. Service was going on – thank God a day has passed, as soldiers say.
The acquaintance of Olga and Ibragim took place soon and it was a romantic one in the best meaning of this word.
It was August. For several days there was not a single cloud in the sky, the sun shone unbearably and warm wind was blowing since morning. Grass and trees in the town were covered with a thin layer of dust. One could save himself only in town parks near to beautiful ponds and flower beds where mighty trees protected from hot sunrays giving shadow and coolness to people.
In the afternoon, after a long sleep Olga and her friend Galina after a phone call decided to meet and take a walk together in the park. Few hours later they got quite hungry and dropped into Caf; “Uyut” . During holidays when there was nothing to do the friend often spent their leisure time there. However, they didn’t manage to rest and have a snack there. It was troublesome attention of two drunken youths that hindered them. The girls decided to leave. After coming out of the caf; and going for a considerable distance away from it they sat on a bench. But it did not work. The drunken youths followed them immediately offering to get acquainted and to have a smoke together. The girls didn’t know what to do. The retreat was cut off. The only thing left was to call for help but they didn’t know how their persecutors would react. They could hit or offend. These anxious thought were interrupted by new characters that put an end if not to the coming drama then, beyond any doubt, to a big trouble for the girls.
Those who came up were in military uniform. Their strong athletic figures didn’t make the hooligans want to dispute with them. They quickly retreated. Having recovered from the shock Olga recognized in one of the saviors “her” sergeant. It was Ibragim.
Being on a leave, Ibragim and Anatoly were looking for a place in the town to have a good time. They didn’t want to go to discos or concerts. Nor did they want to go to some town movie theater because of unbearable heat. They decided to go to the park where they could walk quietly, talk and have rest.
However the meeting with hooligans made considerable changes in the friends’ plans. After the drunken youths retreated Olga and Galya sincerely thanked their saviors. For such an experienced young man as Anatoly it was obvious that the girls didn’t mind getting acquainted with them. But Ibragim who wasn’t experienced in such affairs thought that their mission was over and was ready, with all his modesty, to accept gratitude from the girls and go on with the walk with Anatoly. The latter with the help of different signs and a push in Ibragim’s back, unnoticeable to the girls, let him understand that he intended to continue their conversation. Ibragim assented to his friend’s wish. Anatoly in a proper way offered his company to the girls. The girls accepted the offer, they all introduced to each other. Anatoly began his attack on the girls’ hearts and he was perfectly coping with this role, using erudition and experience in his tactics. Ibragim shyly kept silent and it discontented his friend but excited Olga’s interest. Anatoly expressed his discontent with a joke: “Don’t be angry with him, girls, he has recently come down from the mountains to fetch some kerosene and someone forgot to lift him with a rope this is why he is a bit savage. But he’s a good guy and to understand this he needs to be stirred up”. Olga who was interested in Ibragim began to take up the running and began to put him out of his abstract state. At first Ibragim confined himself to one-word answers but slowly he became more sociable and open. The conversation with Olga began to interest him. It turned out that Ibragim was a Chechen. Olga told that she knew almost nothing about Chechens. She had an idea of them only through works by Tolstoy, Pushkin, Lermontov and from her father’s stories she knew that they had been deported. He told about it when all the family was watching a TV program about the great master of dance Makhmud Esambayev.
She asked Ibragim to tell her about his motherland. At first Ibragim didn’t know what to say and wanted to confine himself to a few words. But then he was carried away and couldn’t stop. Memories that had been slumbering in Ibragim and had been tormenting his heart with anguish woke up, started to boil and demanded a way out. He started to tell Olga about the fantastic feeling that he had always had when he was meeting morning in mountains. Despite his getting up early every morning during all his short life and seeing the same picture every morning he couldn’t stop adoring this beauty. “The morning in the mountains is always clear, fresh with the wind tenderly filling your lungs. When you inhale morning coolness it seems tangible. If you look up above the roofs of the houses of our village, - Ibragim continued, - first you see green foothills with thick tender grass and rare trees amidst this green “sea”, then the picture gradually changes for the wooded high mountains. The green kingdom of mountain forests is woken up by birds singing and bright sunrays. When you look at the forest it seems the sun greets every tree, every human being, as the sunrays one by one fall on this endless number of trees. Behind the wooded mountains, over the clouds you can see contours of snow-white mountains, which seem to float in the sky next to the clouds. It seems that these clouds left their faraway and endless sky to play their eternal game with their beloved mountains”. While telling all this Ibragim seemed to fly away on the wings of his memories to his hearth and home and standing on the porch of his house he seemed to contemplate this picture and adore the enchanting beauty of his native land. In his story one could feel the bewitching music in which joy gave place to sadness and sadness – to the solemn ode to nature. That music charmed and excited as if it was composed by the mighty mountains themselves. The genius of nature is immeasurably higher than the genius of a man. And probably no great composer can render in his music the sounds of air or the endless rustle of leaves, the sound of a creek and the tender coolness of a mountain spring. Or the roar of the boiling avalanche of the Argun river rushing down from the mountains in the Argun gorge for which there was not a single barrier to reunite in the mouth with the turbulent Terek and flowing into the blue Caspian Sea. Even a painter is not capable of rendering this despite the abundance of colors and rich fantasy. Though Ibragim’s words began their path at the bottom of his romantic soul and flew off his lips with solemnity he lacked words to describe all the beauty of his native mountains. Having realized that he couldn’t fully render in words all bright rhythmic of the mountains worth poetry, Ibragim stopped and fell into thinking.
The story thrilled Olga, it seemed to her that he sang a solemn ode to his native land and that song was wonderful. The conversation of the young men was long. They were learning each other’s world and that meant that they were learning each other. Ibragim’s and Anatoly’s leave was coming to an end, but by the young men’s eyes one could feel for sure that their meeting is not interrupted forever but until the nearest convenient time. The guys had to return to the unit but before that they offered to see the girls home.
Having seen Olga and Galya to the corner of their house Ibragim and Anatoly asked for their telephone numbers and promised to give them a call as soon as they could. The young men didn’t know when they would get the next leave and so they couldn’t set the exact time of the date.
The sun was shining brightly through the window. It was struggling its way through the thick jalousie on the windows. The ventilator was slowly buzzing spreading some coolness in the room. Olga unwillingly half-rose in bed. If it were not for the heat she would have slept for another hour or two but the heat made her get up. The girl’s fantasies and a sultry night prevented her from sleeping for a long time. Only several hours before dawn were given to sleep. Olga wasn’t in a good mood because she didn’t sleep well and moreover she didn’t know what she was going to do in the daytime. She took her usual morning shower, brushed up and went to the kitchen. Having finished her simple breakfast she went to the living room turned on TV and sat on the couch. Programs were flat as usual. They showed the annoying to death struggle for fish in their region, struggle for coal on the threshold of the cold season and other rather boring things. She switched the TV off, languished a little, sat at the telephone and called Galina. The conversation that started with weather and boredom gradually turned to yesterday’s acquaintances. The subject turned out to be interesting both for Olga and Galina. The phone call took more than an hour and by the end they decided to meet. Having met in the evening the girls walked a little and then sat on a bench and began to discuss their new acquaintances. Each of them thought that her choice was better and more perfect. Both of them obviously enjoyed the subject. They began to guess when the guys might call them and whether they would call at all. The girls decided that the guys would surely give them a call and would try to meet them during their next leave. Galina suggested Olga that they should go to the unit if they didn’t appear on Sunday. There could be any pretext – either visiting Olga’s father for urgent need or a simple visit to Captain Litvinov.
The poor guys couldn’t even imagine that one of the girls, Olga, was the daughter of the deputy commander for political work of the unit, Lieutenant Colonel Tarasov. Absolutely nothing was said about it at their meeting.
The sin of Love
The adeltury is punished with the power of prohibition
Olga didn’t want to go to the unit and told her friend: “I can’t go there, I am sure my father won’t like it”.
A week passed but nothing was heard from the guys. The second Sunday passed in lingering waiting for the call. At last Anatoly called Galina and said that that on Saturday they would come to the same place in the park where they first met. Galya was in the seventh heaven with happiness and seemed to be looking for a step to the “eighth”. She decided not to call Olga but ran to her place with happy news. Galina rang the doorbell but Olga didn’t open for a long time. Galina was so impatient that she kept pressing the button. Suddenly she heard the noise of the lifting elevator and thought that it was Olga coming home. She was right. Olga and her mother came out of the elevator. Galina started kissing and embracing her friend as if her mother was not there. Olga guessed the reason of her visit and joy. The mother was standing silently looking surprisingly at the girls. But then she couldn’t contain herself and said: “Well, behave yourself or I will take the father’s belt and whip both of you.” Despite the strict expression on mother’s face the girls couldn’t stop laughing opening the door to Tarasovs’ apartment.
The date was on Saturday as they had agreed. The young men came with flowers and such attention filled the girls with admiration. They nicely smiled to the young men as if they had always known each other. They went to a caf;. They ate some ice cream and had a bottle of champagne. After that they walked in the park and talked about everything and about nothing as it usually happens among people to whom the feeling of love is approaching inexorably. This pleasant companionship went on till evening. There were several more dates like that, which were non-committal. Ibragim and Anatoly while discussing an upcoming date came to a unanimous conclusion that it was more romantic to walk in pairs than when there were four of them.
That is why having met for the next time at the agreed place they went for a walk in pairs. Ibragim and Olga decided to sit on a bench at an isolated place. It’s in the youth’s way to hurry in their feelings. Intimate conversations about the past and the present, talks about the films they had and books they had read couldn’t satisfy the wakening hunger of lovers. They were taken by the whirlwind of desire that inexorably demanded a way out, first shyly but then stronger and more persistently. Ibragim took Olga’s hand then he put his arms round her shoulders and pulled towards him. Olga put her head on his shoulder and looked into his eyes. These eyes were calling, caressing, there was love and tenderness in them. Their lips moved towards each other and met in a tender kiss. For the first time in his life Ibragim’s lips touched a girl’s lips, inflaming all his body with the ardor of unknown sensation. He avidly swallowed her hot breath. The first kiss intoxicated, burnt and drove mad. She shuddered from passionate touches of Ibragim’s lips. He was so tender with her, with this sweet, fragile girl who awakened in him the feelings he never knew.
The force of love is a divine capability to understand, to feel each other without words. Love always brightens with the light of tears, hopes, passion, egoism and offences. Love penetrates lovers from bones to brains, from toes to the hairs’ tips. Lovers float over an abyss, give everything and do not demand anything, beg each other to be and not to disappear, not to leave, not to abandon. And everyone, who has ever felt it sinks in these feelings, gives his soul, his tears, and his heart. Love and death are incompatible. And only the overpowering love makes death speak the language of love and only love like this is called human love. And only a man endowed with this divine gift is capable of high love. Only a man with a kind soul can treat every human being with love.
Relations between Olga and Ibragim became stronger with each day. They were preoccupied with their feelings and didn’t notice anything around. The met whenever it was possible and used all the free time they had for meetings. Despite different native languages, different religions and different social status of Olga and Ibragim they unrestrainedly loved each other.
The thunder broke out after Ibragim had visited Olga’s home. Her parents went to the south on holiday. She stayed alone.
Olga couldn’t bring herself to inviting Ibragim to her home at once, she was afraid to cross the line that distinguished a noble girl from a frivolous woman, despite the fact that she loved him madly. But passion prevailed. In the morning she bought all necessary food. She prepared a good dinner. She laid the table. Her efforts were not left unnoticed or unappreciated by Ibragim.
He enjoyed the meal, especially the apple-pie. Quiet and tender music was playing. They were sitting on the sofa enjoying music and each other’s company. Ibragim reached out for Olga and at this moment she put her arms around his neck and his hands clinched behind her back. Their lips met. Her lips, lively, warm and so desirable answered his kiss. She threw her arms around him as if she would never let him go.
It seemed to Ibragim that she was like wax in his arms and all his desires are interlaced in her. The exhausting inner struggle, futile efforts to save the soul pure and suppress desire with the help of the willpower were in vain. The time ceased counting the seconds, it just overwhelmed him. It lost its sense.
He felt her, but not like a separate being but something united and integral with him. He would never in his life forget the responsive impulse of these lips, all secret wrinkles of her body as though made by a sculptor. He got to know what it is to be a man and what it means to possess a woman. She felt herself immeasurably happy. She didn’t regret anything. For the first time in her life she had minutes of such complete immeasurable happiness that she had just received with him, beloved by her.
Happiness is like a dream, happiness is like a lightning. The time of its possession fleets. The time of separation came. And there was pain of separation in the lovers’ eyes. She saw him to the door. Holding her by the waist he lifted her high up to the ceiling and said: “You are the most tender and wonderful creature that I have ever seen and touched. You are my tenderness”. He put her back on the floor, kissed in the lips and left.
The day when Olga’s parents returned from holiday “compassionate” neighbors told Vera Stepanovna, Olga’s mother, about her dates with some Caucasian. Vera Stepanovna knew her daughter’s character and secretly learnt everything about this Caucasian. Further investigation led her to a conclusion that that affair could go too far and she decided to share it with her husband. Nikolay Petrovich thought that the easiest way out of the situation was to send Ibragim Tasuyev as far as possible away from Khabarovsk. Lieutenant Colonel Nikolai Petrovich Tarasov, deputy commander of the unit for political work, was a tough person, demanding towards himself and his subordinates. However he valued his daughter more than the CPSU membership card and was ready to do anything for her well-being and happiness. But sometimes blind jealousy towards one’s relatives, “excessive’ love for children spoils all life of one’s nearest and dearest.
Tarasov knew Ibragim in person as the best of his soldiers but could never imagine that her daughter may like this Chechen. His daughter, his Olechka, fell in love with some Caucasian that had no prospects and moreover his predecessors were deported for collaboration with the Hitlerite Germany. He couldn’t allow that.
In two weeks, staff sergeant Tasuyev, in accordance with an order, was included in a list of volunteers who were preparing to leave for Afghanistan. Ibragim learnt about it two hours before the departure and it deprived him of a possibility to say goodbye to Olga.
Having told Anatoly about his grief he asked to tell Olga the parting words and assure her that he would sure come back to her or for her. Anatoly looked in his eyes with regret and said: “I’m sorry, I can’t fulfil your request as I’m also going with you. We’ll ask Sergeant Yuri Krutov from Moscow, he will do it at any cost”.
Ibragim took off an amulet from his neck, a silver coin. He cut it into two parts, each looking like a half-moon. He made a hole in the second half, hung it on a thin string and put it in the envelope with the letter and hung the first half on his neck. He gave the letter to Krutov and thanked in advance for the favor. His mother gave the amulet to him the day he was leaving for the army. She kept it from her youth up and even retained it through the deportation to Kazakhstan. Ibragim’s mother Kheda got the coin from her mother. Ibragim’s grandmother, Kheda’s mother pawned it many times for a bottle of milk in foreign land. But every time she got it out of pawn as soon as it was possible.
Anatoly and Ibragim left for Afghanistan. After receiving the letter with the amulet Olga suffered a lot and cried despite the consolation of her parents. They told here: “You see, if he loved you he wouldn’t have gone as a volunteer to this hell”. Olga never knew that it was her mother and father who separated her from Ibragim. Olga was hoping and waiting rereading his letter sent before the departure to Afghanistan. She couldn’t understand many things. Nevertheless she believed, believed and loved. She read in some book that ancient Greeks thought that vehement love was a sin against Gods, that Gods become jealous and separate lovers. Olga was inclined to blame herself for this separation as she thought that she was vehemently in love with Ibragim.
Some time later she began to realize that some processes were taking place in her body that told that she was about to have a child. She firmly decided that she would keep it. Olga was determined to protect, to keep the child, her and Ibragim’s son. For some reason she was sure that she would have a son, whom she wanted to have so much from Ibragim. No matter how life turns, she knew what and whom she would live for. Her son would certainly become a teacher or a doctor, just as Ibragim dreamed of becoming a teacher. She believed that everything would be fine. Ibragim, her son’s father would surely come back. She was absolutely certain of that.
Olga was sitting on the couch reading a book, Ibragim’s present – “Caucasian poems” by M.Lermontov. She was reading the poem “Ismail-Bey”.
And those wild gorges tribes
Their God is freedom and their law is war,
They grow covered by the brigandage,
The cruel and extraordinary acts.
And even their mothers’ lullabies
Frighten them with the names of Russian children.
The envy wouldn’t be impressed by any harmful act:
Their friendship’s strong,
But their revenge is stronger.
There good’s for good and blood’s for blood,
And their hatred is as strong as love.
Olga’s eyes filled with tears and suddenly she began crying because of resentment, injustice of her fate. “What for, why the fate separated me from my sweet-heart?”- she was wailing.
Olga had Ibragim’s picture, which was taken during his oath of allegiance with a machine-gun the unit’s banner in the background. She kept it as a bookmark. She looked at the picture and went on reading, tears falling down on the pages. She liked an extract from this poem and she copied it in her diary where she made some important notes. The extract said:
Oh, my beloved, be brave
Put faith in fate
Be prophet’s eager son
And I will love the one.
The one who bares
Love to death
Can’t suffer from envy
Can’t ever regret.
The one who betrays
Will die as a slave
He’s weaker than birds
And beasts are more brave.
Afghanistan is not a friendly country. And who is going to welcome you if you came to sow the seeds of strife and death. Ibragim remembered his dispute with Said and understood that the latter was right. Talks about the international duty, about aid to Afghans at their request were aimed at middlebrows. It became obvious in just a few days. Carpet-bombing of Afghan towns and villages, killing of civilian population had nothing to do with the propagandized noble mission of the Soviet soldiers. Medieval towns and villages, poor life, wild nature, all this was native to Afghans and foreign to the Soviet warriors. That explained the fact, which seemed incredible at first sight that all Afghans, peaceful in the daytime, became not peaceful at night and went to fight against their enemies. Of course there were those who welcomed and supported the Soviet Army but they were in considerable minority of all population.
Vague and not yet completely realized feeling of injustice of what he was doing didn’t prevent Ibragim from showing himself as a good soldier. He courageously faced the danger, easily endured the difficulties of the military service at war. As a Caucasian, he more easily endured many-days marches in the mountains and heat.
In a severe battle Near Kandahar the squad under Ibragim’s command distinguished itself. They didn’t lose a single soldier while defending a height for six hours. Ibragim was decorated with an order for courage and granted a short-term leave for eight days. It was a high award. Ibragim declined the leave as his best friend and brother-in-arms was wounded. Anatoly served in the same battalion as Ibragim but in the reconnaissance company. His platoon got into an ambush, Anatoly was wounded in the chest by a bullet, which went right through the back and hit his left lung. He lost much blood and only a miracle saved him. His brothers-in-arms took him out of the ambush. After Anatoly’s injury Ibragim was appointed to his post as the deputy commander of the reconnaissance platoon.
During the year spent by Ibragim in Afghanistan much happened. There was pain of loss when brothers-in-arms died in battles. There was joy of finding new friends. There was blood and death. All of this was more than enough. It seemed that this hell would never end. Ibragim wrote letters home and received answers. But there was not a single answer to his letters to Olga and he suffered a lot about that. Moreover, there were no answers to the letters that he sent to his friend who stayed at the study unit. Ibragim didn’t understand what was going on. There were no replies to Anatoly’s letters to Galina either. Anatoly, when talking on the subject tried to calm down Ibragim explaining that the deputy commander for political work of the unit Tarasov did his best to isolate his daughter from the undesirable company of a Chechen. They decided to check that on Civvy Street. After wounding and treatment Anatoly was demobilized at once for health reasons.
Ibragim was decorated with one more reward – “Medal for Bravery” after a light wounding in a battle. Having spent one month at a hospital he was checked out. Then the end of the service came and he was demobilized in the rank of sergeant-major. He flew to Moscow from a military airfield near Kabul with officers, sergeants, soldiers and the wounded. This military cargo plane was flying hard as if it was carrying a death load. People on board were gloomy as if they had left something important for them on the foreign land, maybe part of human kindness and maybe many of them left there all their humanness having retained only spite and callousness for themselves. Each one of them thought how he would meet his nearest and dearest. What he would tell those who had been waiting for him so long. They had been waiting so long for the moment when they would be able to leave that foreign land where they sowed the seeds of spite and death. And some of the officers would have to return there at duty’s call to loose their lives there. They were flying to their motherland devastated despite the fact that before the departure they were told on the parade-ground that they had fulfilled their international duty with dignity and nobleness and that their Motherland – the USSR – would never be in debt to her heroes, the warriors who fulfilled their noble duty. At that time they all felt pride. But as soon as their plane took up in the sky and they saw accompanying fighter planes, people on board stopped looking into each other’s eyes. Almost all of them hung their heads, dropped their eyes, and started to think coldly about something. Some of the officers took vodka and snacks out of their bags and tried to dissipate the atmosphere of alienation, warm up the steel-like coolness by jokes. But everyone stayed reserved and cold.
Having come off the “Mosow-Grozny” train to the platform of the Grozny railway station, Ibragim came up to a taxi driver and told him where to go. It seemed that there was no end to his joy of seeing Motherland. He was going in a taxi in autumn-morning Grozny and was looking around with wide-open eyes. He seemed to see for the first time these streets, houses, people hurrying to do what they planned for morning. They passed the town. Along the road there were fields and in front as if blocking the way there were mountains. The closer they came to the village the more clear was the panorama created by nature that was opening up. Woody mountains covered by golden-yellow autumn nap began to be seen more clearly. Behind them towered snowy rocky mountains. Quiet peaceful Chechnya was meeting Ibragim in all its beauty. His family didn’t know exactly that he would come that day but they were waiting.
Ibragim was going home and rejoicing that he would finally see his parents, his brother and sister, his friends and relatives, but accompanied with sadness that hadn’t left him since Anatoly’s Moscow apartment. After and enthusiastic and joyful meeting with the friend he told him very sad news that he had learnt from Galina’s letter. Galina wrote terrible news. She and Olga didn’t get Ibragim’s and Anatoly’s letters, apparently thanks to Olga’s father and the girls themselves didn’t know where to write. In despair they even applied to Capatin Litvinov and his firm promises fell short their expectations. Olga was expecting a baby, Ibragim’s baby. No persuasions or threats could make her get rid of the baby. During childbirth she died and doctors couldn’t even save the baby. Olga’s parents moved to Leningrad for the new place of service.
While reading the letter Anatoly was crying but not a single tear fell out of Ibragim’s eyes. He was gazing into space, into nowhere. The pain was piercing though all his body, from head to toes, his heart was breaking. He was whining, moaning, but there were no tears. He was sure that it was him who killed her, he blamed only himself. Protecting the interests of rotten policy of the USSR, his state, he couldn’t protect his love, his child. Why is he alive, why does he have to live, why wasn’t he killed and why does life punish him so severely? Suddenly he broke down. He started to tear off his rewards, shoulder-straps, he tore off his military jacket and began to trample down on it. Anatoly hit him in the face to stop this stress, shock and anger. He pushed him in the breast to make him sit down in the armchair, poured him a glass of water. Ibragim made several sips. Anatoly took a bottle of vodka from the fridge and suggested they have a drink, remember Olga and the baby. Ibragim said that they, Chechens, do not remember the dead with alcohol. Anatoly told Ibragim that Galina was to come those days and that they decided to get married and would be glad to see him on their wedding. Telling this news to his friend Anatoly tried to conceal his feelings and told it as a matter of fact, letting him know that they would be together all their life in sorrow and in happiness.
On the next day they bought some civil clothes for Ibragim - he had decided that he would never again put on military uniform and he left the rewards to Anatoly to keep them as a remembrance. Then they went to Kursky railway station, said goodbye to each other and promised to write, visit each other and then they parted.
The car came up to the village. The new and the old village had already woken up and lived its morning life. Hens were running about the courtyard cackling anxiously, geese were walking with the air of importance looking for food, sheep, bleating plaintively were hurrying to meadows, where despite late autumn they could nibble some dried grass. Indefatigable kiddies rejoicing life were running about with sticks tilted forwards playing games that only kids understand. Discussing eternal women’s problems while walking with buckets on yokes women were going to the spring and returning from there. Admiring the idyll of village life Ibragim almost missed his street. The car drove in Beregovaya Street where Ibragim lived. The taxi driver, being of cheerful character and having a certain enterprise, decided to squeeze out the maximum benefit from that drive becoming at the same time the messenger of good news. He was driving slowly along the streets pushing hard the honk of the car. Surprised people were looking out of their houses and kids having received a new game instead of theirs’ were welcoming roulades made by the honk.
They drove up to Ibragim’s house. All his relatives ran out to the street. In front – the most close and beautiful in the world – his mother. Only his father didn’t come out. A man must stay a man even in such moments. He has to meet sadness and joy with dignity concealing emotions to the best of his abilities and not showing them to people and even to his household. The taxi driver screened the door of the car where Ibragim was sitting and told for all to hear: “From very Grozny I brought treasure safe to you in the form of a stately handsome man that you had been waiting for the whole two years. He claims that he is your son and is coming home from the army. Although he is not in the military uniform I’m inclined to believe him judging by your eyes. But I need proof for full confidence.” Although Kheda couldn’t wait to embrace her son, she had to support the driver’s playful tone. She declared that she was ready to give everything from her property in order that the cruel driver freed her son. The driver agrees in exchange to a ram. The bargain took place. The ram was in the car trunk. The taxi driver was lucky because Zaurbek’s sheep were not let out to the pasture. The merry taxi driver didn’t want to stay any longer despite all persuasions. He opened the door of the car and Ibragim jumped out with a happy smile and threw himself to his mother’s arms. The taxi driver took Ibragim’s suitcase out of the car, swung the car around and left in a cloud of dust leaving Ibragim and his relatives t;te-;-t;te with their happiness. Rejoicing noisily over the meeting the family enters the house, then the room were Zaurbek is sitting vainly concealing his feelings. Ibragim with impulsiveness and lack of restraint allowable to his age threw himself to his father and embraces him. A tear-truth, a tear-traitor appears in Zaurbek’s eyes.
There was a holiday in Zaurbek’s house. The gates were wide open, in grief and in happiness the Chechens open wide their gates. Open gates are the symbol of happiness and grief. When seeing open gates friends go to the house to share with the family grief and happiness. And not only friends – neighbors, fellow-villagers, passers-by, everybody who wants to participate in sharing both happiness and grief. On that day there was happiness in Zaurbek’s house and neighbors, fellow-villagers and friends were coming to his place. Almost all of them were bringing presents. But what can these presents mean to Zaurbek and his family when fate had already made the biggest present – Ibragim, safe and sound, who had returned from the Afghan war. The tradition demanded having the thanksgiving prayer – moulid, in honor of Ibragim and then – entertainment. Paying a tribute to religion the moulid was held on the first evening slaughtering a sacrificial bull-calf. On the next day having sent messengers to all places where relatives and friends lived, they gathered everyone to a party.
All preparations to the holiday were over. For those who wished to refresh themselves before and after head spinning dances there were tables overladen with rich food, appetizers, fruit, there were strong drinks on some tables for those who wished. Despite the abundance of alcohol no one from those who had come would not allow himself to have one too many, otherwise it would be a disgrace for the whole life.
The youth began to gather in Zaurbek’s house by evening. Boys and girls were going in separate companies. The girls are sitting on chairs, those who were younger and those who haven’t become of age of fianc;es, are standing behind them; potential bridegrooms line up on the opposite. Men settle down at some distance but within girls’ eyesight. Some of them are married and this is a place to have some good time, others are widowers and men who missed their youth. For these hope has not evaporated yet and their greedy eyes looking in the girls’ direction is an evidence of this. Who knows who’s going to find his or her only one at this feast? But somebody is sure to find it.
Jaunty harmonica spreads its bellows. The drummer begins to rat-tat-tat his drums. The dance starts. In the beginning, the feast-master has to appoint pairs for dancing. Everybody is modest, and the dancers are not in the state of heat yet. Couple of dances later the feast-master has to curb those who want to show their skill and prowess in a fiery lezginka and stand in a line – a rule which only a guest from other village or town who has just come was allowed to violate. Each newly arrived guest is given a preference – a sign of respect. Having jumped to the middle of the circle, the dancer performs several pas, trying to show his skill and prowess in dancing and at the last pas he slowly stops in front of a girl with whom he would like to dance. The girl sweeps into the circle like a swan. The cavalier is making circles around her like a kite, then flies up over her like an eagle, the dancing game goes on, the jaunty lezginka goes on. The party is getting livelier with every dance. Those who want to sit at the table and have a drink go to the tables, those who want to dance, return to the dance circle and all this goes on till almost late night.
The holidays devoted to Ibragim’s return are over. The next week was devoted to visits to his mother and father’s relatives who couldn’t come to the holiday for some reason. There are sick and disabled among them; there are those who were obliged, according to the rules of etiquette, to wait for Ibragim to come to their place. These were the respected elders and old people.
The days of Ibragim’s civil life began. During three days after his return he had to go to his district military commissariat to be registered as a demobilized to the reserve and visit a passport office for registration.
At the military commissariat the military commissar reprimanded him for not wearing the military uniform. He was given a card of a war veteran who had performed an international duty in Afghanistan that entitled him to some privileges. He put it somewhere and never saw it since; it seemed to vanish into thin air though he didn’t even look for it. Many times he was called to the society of the Afghan war veterans but he never went there. He was also called to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic and offered a job in law enforcement bodies with a perspective to enter the law department or to militia school. They had been persuading him for a long time but he refused referring to poor health though he was physically healthy and strong. His refusal surprised everybody at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. People were giving big bribes in order to get a job there and he refused even when they asked and even persuaded him promising great future and a career in this path of life. He was inexorable. He knew exactly what he wanted. He wanted to be a teacher of Russian language and literature. There were a little more than six months before the entrance exams. All winter and spring he was busy preparing for entrance exams to the philological department of the Chechen-Ingush State University.
In summer Ibragim entered the University. He didn’t make use of his certificate of the soldier-internationalist, which was supposed to give him privileges, and although this information was in his personal file he did draw the examiners’ attention to it which inspired respect to him. However he couldn’t conceal that he was a member of the Communist Party, as he had to be registered and pay membership fees. In this country people were afraid of communists and any illegal acts towards them were severely punished by supreme authorities.
Student years began. Thanks to his active participation in the University life and also thanks to his life activity and participation in social life, the ice in Ibragim’s heart began to melt. He went in for judo and martial arts, he was a group leader, was among the active members of the party organization.
The comprehension of the elements of his profession came easily to him without special efforts from his side. This happened thanks to the fact that Ibragim made his choice quite early and that is why he received profound school knowledge on that subject.
The University life was very interesting and substantial. New acquaintance with the classics of world literature happened almost every day. Ibragim persistently studied the richness of the Russian language in order to give his knowledge to people. When he was the second year student he got married assenting to his parents’ pressing desires. His parents’ choice was Khava, the girl who was seeing her brother off to the army several years ago when Ibragim was leaving for the army service. Ibragim’s mother Kheda had been persuading him to marry for a long time – at last he gave in and the wedding took place.
The fianc;e had already graduated from the medical university in Ordzhonikidze, Ossetia by that time. She was quite beautiful and nice. During the period of their acquaintance and the first years of their matrimonial life he didn’t have the feelings towards her that are called love. His attitude towards her had a flat, balanced character. Only after their first son Islam was born, Ibragim started to look at his wife Khava differently. He began to notice many positive qualities in her, and the most important one is her self-sacrifice toward him. This realization multiplied by Islam’s sweet and tender baby talk began to give positive shoots. As a result a good family formed, for the enemies to envy and as an example to their friends.
After the graduation from the university Ibragim was sent to work at a secondary school in Grozny. The school was new and modern. The staff warmly received him probably thanks to Ibragim’s ability to get on easily with people and that he was a responsive person.
Giving his knowledge to pupils he knew that one of the pillars on which a state is based is education. The other three components – health, culture and economy – depend on it. The realization of the role of his profession in the further growth of a person as a personality didn’t allow him any indulgence in his work. He treated every trifle seriously and responsively. His zeal for work didn’t stay unnoticeable by the school management. Three years after he came to work to school he was appointed the vice-principal in charge of the study process. He didn’t want to be liberated from teacher's work and combined these posts. During the first two years his family lived in a rented apartment. But then at the application of the municipal department of public education he was given a plot of land and began to build a house. Most of the Ibragim and Khava’s budget was spent on the construction of the house. But despite it the family didn’t live in poverty. Both Ibragim’s and Khava’s parents helped. This is how that common Soviet family lived: Ibragim taught children, Khava treated people. Only Islam wasn’t burdened with any obligations to the society. He had his own child’s troubles. Surrounded by love of parents and grandparents, he was growing a healthy and curious boy. Very often, when there was a “rush” in Ibragim’s house his grandmother and grandfather took him to the village. Three years after the beginning of the construction the house was built. It was well built and had all conveniences. The house-warming party and the birth of a daughter Liza were celebrated.
There was a bright and happy life ahead but suddenly events incomprehensible not only to an average man but also to intelligent Ibragim, gushed out as an avalanche on soviet people. Every day brought new shocks. It seemed that the inviolable giant called the USSR built at the cost of lives and efforts of millions of people began to fall apart with incomprehensive acceleration and finally collapsed.
People were in a state close to a shock. There were gloomy and anxious faces everywhere and only children stayed merry and careless.
The events of August 18, 1991 brought new troubles to the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. The armchair under Zavgayev, the Secretary of the regional party committee, the first Chechen that was appointed to this post in the entire history of the USSR, began to rock. Moscow accused Zavgayev in a wait-and-see position in respect to the State Emergency Committee. Obviously he fell out of favor with Moscow.
The Vaynakh democratic party which was born in May 1990 played the role of a catalyst of political processes that took place later in the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Unknown General Dzhokhar Dudayev appeared on the political stage of the republic in June 1991. The only thing that people knew about him was that Dudayev is one of the few Chechen generals, that he had a Russian wife, that he was from the Yalkharoi teip and that his relatives lived in the Katayama settlement. Of course, this was not enough to nominate Dudayev to the role of the leader. Dzhokhar Dudayev was elected the head of the United Congress of Chechen People in Grozny.
After the disgraceful collapse of the State Emergency Committee the time of the United Congress of Chechen People came. At first small and then bigger rallies were held in the streets of Grozny. These groups small in numbers managed to carry out actions that only divisions seemed to be able to perform. The Ministry of the Interior and the KGB are seized by a strange at first sight coincidence of events. The officers who guarded those pillars of statehood did not even have guns. The seizure happens bloodlessly. The military units do not take any part in the suppression of this bacchanalia of anarchy.
Ibragim witnessed the devastation of the House of Political Education he saw the crowd heated up by hysteric slogans gushing out to the building. There were guards along the perimeter of the building consisting of the officers of the Ministry of Interior Affairs but armed officers of the Ministry gave in to the absolutely unarmed crowd. The guard didn’t even make a weak effort to calm down the crowd. In September 1991, in accordance with the newly adopted constitution the Chechen-Ingush Republic was proclaimed an independent state. On September 15, 1991 after the self-disbandment of the Supreme Soviet of the Chechen-Ingush Republic a Provisional Council was formed which Moscow recognized as a legal power body until the next elections. According to the agreement between the Provisional Council of the executive committee of the Union Congress of Chechen People and the council of deputies of all levels of Ingushetia the division of the Chechen-Ingush Republic into the Chechen Republic and the Republic of Ingushetia took place. On October 27, 1991 the elections of the president and parliament were held in the Chechen Republic which finished the formation of a new state. Ingushi people by means of the national referendum returned to the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. The federal center was silent. Only in November 1991 the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic announced that it didn’t recognize the elections in Chechen Republic.
There are many wide and narrow paths in the mountains. Animals, sometimes people mostly hunters walk on them. These paths are called animals' ones. There are paths on which walk or ride mountaineers from one village to another, from one district to another, from one country to another. When the path disappears from sight the mountaineer has to look back first of all, look around to find out with the help of signs and direction of the covered trail where he has to go. But the root of all good and all evil is education and the more fundamental it is the more profound is this education and the deeper are the roots of the good. Educated people unite in educated groups and educated groups unite in educated society. Society is people. The more educated people the less they are sensitive to evil and the more strength they have to create the good. From the high Olympus from which sometimes the good sometimes the evil came for the Chechen people, from the high Olympus referred to as the bearer and the guarantor of the Russian statehood, the Chechen people were offered the idea of freedom and independence which was desired, unrealizable and remote. Offer a thirsty person in a desert a draught of water. Will he refuse? But isn't the captivity of love dangerous? Isn't it ruinous, this captivity?
Intelligentsia means reasonable people. They always see ghosts, the ghosts of the past. This past is not quite clear and distinct in its contours. This intelligentsia remembers how these contours of the past, these live witnesses of history were destroyed. During the years of deportation of Chechens and Ingush, pages of the past, books, dzhainy and teptary, sacred and historical books, were destroyed in bonfires that were becoming brighter and stronger. It was the murder of people’s memory. It was the evil, more deep than deportation. The history of Chechen people’s past is scrappy.
Not every theory is an axiom. Chechen historians work with a strong desire to find the truth, with a strong desire to bring truth to the world about their people. It is important to know one’s own history. People have a guide that allows them to go along the path of its development as a society, as a civilization, find a path without destructive revolutions, with lesser social cataclysms, and join the path of development and creation. Epochs of revolutions, epochs of transformations from one social political formation to another one are most dangerous for small nations. In these conditions small nations need peace of mind that allows them to see the world and life clearly and stay firm in all traverses. In the world, as well as in life the strong one tramples on the weak one, the strong one makes use of the weakness of the weak one.
Intelligentsia, according to the classical definition, is an element of the society. On account of objective reasons the Chechen intelligentsia was small in numbers. On account of objective and subjective reasons it wasn’t homogenous in its views on historical realia. It is impossible to keep the lucidity of thought, the ability of the profound analysis of what is happening during the epoch of great changes when the usual social way of living which existed for dozens of years is breaking. Having made a timid effort to influence the processes in Chechnya through mass media and the same timid effort to influence masses by speeches at rallies, the opposition part of intelligentsia went to the shadow. Its other part became an invisible catalyst of these processes, their invisible spring.
It stood invisibly behind the emerged and nominated leaders and directed them, corrected their moves and thoughts, worked out perspective projects of the building of the new Chechen state. It was it and not leaders that guided Chechen people, but where to?
With growing acceleration Chechen people throw themselves in pursuit of the countries that went away from colonial oppression, the countries where people managed to move from barbarous forms of society to the forms of civilized society. But would these people be able to move to the next level of social development and build their statehood with such a small potential, with lack of experience of the state building, with their weak economy and deep dependence on Russia both politically and economically. If it were able to do this it would be great merit of Russia because processes that take place in Chechnya depend on Russia’s goodwill. If it were not able to do this, it would be Russia’s great guilt. It means that the great historical moment of Russia’s cleansing hasn’t come yet, it means that a disgraceful fate of a country bearing only evil is awaiting her.
Belovezhskaya pushcha events sank into the past. At the end of 1991 the USSR collapsed, split into Union republics. The Russian Federation made use of the right to self-determination (though this right was formal since the legal mechanism of withdrawal of a Union republic from the USSR was not regulated in the constitution of the USSR) and seceded from the USSR despite the results of the national referendum, and in October the supreme organs of the new state were formed. The declaration of the sovereignty of the Chechen republic took place in 1990. In September 1991 its independence was declared. Time span between the proclamation of independence of the Chechen Republic and the Russian Federation is obvious. From the point of view of the Constitution of the USSR, The Chechen Republic and the Russian Federation had equal rights to a sovereign state system. But the federal center refused to recognize this right of the Chechen Republic. In order to understand all hidden motives of this problem one should see how the formation of the Russian Federation as an independent state was going. It was going on in extraordinary circumstances, under conditions of tough war for the sovereignty against the Union center. This couldn’t but have an effect on the character of the relations between the Russian Federation and its subjects. At first the Russian administration had to make concessions to subjects of the federation to ensure itself their support in the struggle against the Union Center. Encouraged by Yeltsin’s appeal to “take as much sovereignty as you can” many autonomous republics hoped to sign the Union treaty already with the Russian Federation and of course in these circumstances the pragmatic view on the future of the USSR prompted to regional leaders to stand aside from the Russian administration.
The events that took place in the following years showed that the federal center was deliberately delaying the regulation of the relations with the Chechen Republic in order to use Chechnya and its people in its dirty political games. At the same time in mass media there was forming an image of the enemy – the image of a “vicious Chechen” who is guilty of all misfortunes of Russian people. Each crime with participation of a Chechen or Chechens was widely covered by the press and television. an image of a monster nation was enforced, a nation which is pathologically inclined to banditry. The entire nation, which not long ago was building the bright future together with other USSR nations, has overnight turned into the nation of criminals. And nobody wanted to recall that according to the Interior Ministry’s accounts the Chechen-Ingush Republic was one of the quietest areas in terms of crime. Nobody wanted to recall that the Chechen warriors fought shoulder to shoulder with warriors of other nationalities during both the years of the Second World War and in local wars, like, for example, in Afghanistan. The history of these wars does not know a case when a Chechen became a traitor. Nobody wanted to recall that the Chechens worked at the major All-Union shock-work construction sites and many of them became the exemplary workers. About something positive – not a word or just a little, exactly as much as it guarantees that the public won’t notice it in a stream of negative information.
And in Chechnya itself, along with some negative trends in the society’s life, some negative ones could be seen.
In autumn 1991, two blocs formed inside the Chechen elite, which in this or that way seemed to unite its active part. The first bloc, a so-called “old guard” consisted of the representatives of the Soviet party-economic nomenclature and the second bloc – “the new Chechens”. The latter managed to gain support of the marginal layers of Chechen society. The representatives of “the old guard” had an invaluable experience of work in both political and economic spheres of the society’s life. The “new Chechens” possessed a number of contradictory qualities. Activity, initiative, high adaptability to the changing conditions got along with a disposition to engage in ventures and maximum unscrupulousness in means. Among the “new Chechens” there were many people with low level of education, little experience of practical work. A process of gradual ousting of the “old guard” by the new Chechens from all spheres of social-political life of the society began. Of course, it couldn’t but have an effect on the state sector of the economy and on political processes that were taking place in the republic. In Chechnya, as well as all over Russia there was a process of re-division of power, of property and in this process creative forces couldn’t find a proper outlet for themselves. The ban on privatization of state property was officially preserved but the process of breakup of state economy sector had already begun.
At the same time the number of private trade enterprises and enterprises in service sphere were growing day by day. Thanks to the development of transport, air, water and automobile networks, trade was rapidly growing. It should be noted that all North-Caucasian republics bordering Chechnya filled up their shortage in food and manufactured goods on Chechen markets.
The budget financing of the Chechen Republic was carried out from the Federal center (despite the fact that Chechnya had proclaimed itself an independent state). It is logical that in this situation all negative processes that took place in Russia’s economy had an impact on the economic life in Chechnya. The so-called young Russian reformers made up their mind to overcome the economic crises in Russia at the expense of people engaged in the state sector of economy. All over Russian wage arrears began, as well as in Chechnya, of course, which was fully dependent on it. In these conditions hardly had the situation aggravated when immediately as if by flick of magic stick the money was found and wage arrears were liquidated. It also was true of payment of allowances and pensions.
After the election of Dzhokhar Dudayev the President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, Said came home gloomy. The next day he went to the Leninsky district Department of Interior Affairs of the where he served as senior investigator of criminal cases. Having turned in his resignation, he dropped in the room of the head of the district Department of Interior Affairs with whom he was on friendly terms. The boss was an old-school professional and he immediately understood Said’s state and motives that had made him do this. He was also considering resignation and without many signed Said’s resignation request. Without delay Said received his documents at the Ministry of Interior Affairs of the republic. The Ministry of Interior Affairs needed vacancies since there were more than enough people longing for power. Moneybags and hagglers were ready to pay any money for posts, only to have power and they got it despite professional unfitness. Sorrow filled Said’s chest. He made a very painful decision for himself – to leave his motherland. Although he was born in Kazakhstan it was the land of his ancestors that was his Motherland. He didn’t know and he couldn’t know if he would ever return to his motherland. But he made a decision, a firm one. Let it be at the expense of his own life, but he would leave, he would take away his family – his wife and children – for their sake. He would go away from this chaos, this disturbance. He would go away from these endlessly long and infinitely gloomy pictures appearing in his mind, which his rich life experience and knowledge draws him.
He doubted that real democracy could be established in Russia. He doubted that Dudayev’s regime would bring independence and freedom to his little motherland. Watching Yeltsin, Dudayev and their surrounding he came to a conclusion and the conclusion was not a comforting one. He is sure that these people can’t bring anything but evil to their nations. Reading newspapers he made a conclusion that something terrible was being prepared for his people. For the sake of his children’s future he decided to leave for Germany – for the country with established democracy. Let it be difficult, let it be far from the motherland, let it mean living among strangers and in an alien society with a different way of life but he was not going to take part in a doubtful experiment in a country with doubtful past any more.
Having arrived to his parent’s village Said tells them about the doubts that tormented him. He tells them about his decision. He offers his father to go abroad with the whole family. Zaurbek refused downright this offer but agreed with Said’s reasons and advised him to talk about it with Ibragim and Zargan. They might want to follow his example. They agreed to gather the enitire family in Zaurbek’s house on Sunday.
This is how Zaurbek explained his refusal to Said: “Nostalgia for motherland appears almost from the first days of separation with it. This longing for home grows and becomes stronger with each day, with each month and each year and then increases to enormous proportions. It exceeds in its proportions the mountain Kazbek, the mountain Elbrus, Caspian and Black Seas. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years fly at the speed of a comet and you are afraid to die without seeing your motherland. And sometimes time stops and you are getting as cold as a corpse. And it’s not clear why and how a space is found for all this in a small man’s chest. You want to cry out” Heart, collapse and break my chest, let the depascent poison of nostalgia flow out and flood the globe with the nostalgia, with this depascent poison”. Nostalgia is an incurable disease. The explosion takes place inside of you and you are dying slowly and for a long time. After death, in the grave your remains are in a stage of infinite nostalgia and your soul cannot find pacification and also wanders in nostalgia. Here is what nostalgia is!” Mother Kheda was listening to her husband, sitting aside looking into space and didn’t notice tears running on her cheeks. Even Said’s children were standing still with their mother who was crying silently hiding her eyes. To understand Zaurbek’s love for his Motherland one should live through thirteen long years of deportation, a quarter of a century of wanderings far from home, hiding from blood revenge, to spend thousands sleepless nights longing for native home. And now that he is back from this long-lasting hell, no other hell will be able to make him leave this place. He suffered so much and gave so much in order to die here, to be buried here. He wanted so much to bring his mother’s remains and rebury them on the Motherland. It is a sacred duty and his son’s duty. Ibragim promised him that he would surely do it at the first opportunity. Unfortunately there was only a “killed in battle” notice from his father, that came from the Brest Fortress and no one knew and would never know where to look for his remains.
“You know, Said - continued Zaurbek, - Ramzan’s relative from Jordan, Khusein, came to see him. He was a Chechen born in Jordan. His ancestors went there to avoid Tsar’s tyranny in the Caucasus. He grew up there and got education both there and in Europe. He admired the beauty of his ancestors’ motherland and he realized that Chechnya was his motherland. He cried when he set foot on this land. He told that every Chechen who lived in Jordan makes his will on the last length of his life path before closing his eyes forever, the eyes in which there is an enormous longing for motherland. He asks them if it is possible to visit their ancestors’ motherland. For them it is as important as for us to make a hadj to Mecca following the laws of Islam and maybe even more important. It’s not the laws of Islam that make them come here but some force unknown to other nations. We are tied to our land as no other nation in the world. In 1957 I saw Chechens at Kazakhstan’s cemeteries collecting the bones of the relatives and packing them solicitously in their suitcases to take them to the motherland. Said, you know it yourself with what difficulties Chechens surmounting thousands kilometers, surmounting seas and oceans, bring the remains of the relatives who died on foreign land. Wherever they live they want to have their last shelter on the cemetery of their ancestors, on their motherland. I can’t explain it to you, it is beyond my strength. I don’t know what is it in us, what magnet is there in this long-suffering land that we long so much for it. Sometimes I envy Gypsies, Jews, Russians – they feel at home everywhere, they live everywhere as if at home. They live for centuries although nothing keeps them in foreign land except for conveniences. We are not cosmopolitans. Whatever happens in the future, no matter what thunderstorms break out over my motherland, I will stay here. You know that I swore on Koran not to put arms against people. I will keep my word. But if there is a dilemma - another deportation or death – I will accept death without any deliberation. Your mother and I, we lived a difficult life but we also had our happy minutes, days, months and maybe years. I never counted. Sharing joy and sorrow, need and hardship we lived this life on earth shoulder to shoulder, in harmony and I think that we will be together for the rest of it. We gave you life with Allah’s permission. We gave you part of ourselves; we didn't grudge anything of what we had for you. We tried to bring you up so that you could be called a Man, to bring you up in faith, kindness, and decency. Now you are grown-ups. You have your own families, the choice is yours. Make up your mind yourselves. We will agree with any decision because we know that it is dictated by good intentions”. This is how Zaurbek finished his speech.
Said went to Grozny. He dropped in at Ibragim’s school. They arranged to meet in the evening at Ibragim’s place. In the evening he told Ibragim about his decision and about his conversation with their father.
Ibragim didn’t have so radical views on the problem of love to motherland as his father had but he loved his native land very much. He didn’t want to leave either. Ibragim explained his unwillingness to leave by the existence of one sound reason – one of the sons had to stay with their father and moreover, he was a younger son and according to the law of adat the younger son always must always stay with the parents. He didn’t go into all the details, he was afraid to hurt Said. Having called Zargan, they agreed to meet on the next day in Zaurbek’s house to have a farewell party on the occasion of Said’s departure to Germany.
On the next evening all family gathered in Zaurbek’s house – his children, grandsons, and daughters-in-law. The grown-ups’ joy had a tinge of sadness, which they tried to conceal from each other. According to Zaurbek’s wish a two-year bull-calf which he kept for an unforeseen celebration or grief was slaughtered. In both cases there should be a lot of boiled meat so that tables should be overladen with its abundance, so that any guest could share happiness or sorrow with Zaurbek’s home. Half of the bull in two or three kilos’ pieces was taken to neighbors’ houses. Let them have good remembrance of Zaurbek and his family during evening repast tasting this meat, let them wish a happy journey and a happy life on the foreign land to Said and his family. From the second part of the bull women prepared different dishes for the guests and for those who could come for an evening moulid prayer. Everybody tried his best and the farewell evening was cordial. Relatives, friends, Said’s and Ibragim’s colleagues, they all came.
For a long time after the guests and relatives had left nobody went to bed at Zaurbek’s house. When long after midnight the lights went out in the house and everybody was asleep, only two were awake – Zaurbek and Ibragim.
Said left for Germany, settled down in Dresden and found a job of a gas station attendant. His children went to a German school. Said didn’t lose connection with home. He often called, told that everything was fine, that he missed home.
At that time in Russia and Chechnya it was a time of unrest and disturbance. Political discords inside and around them didn’t calm but on the contrary they picked up.
The meeting of the anti-Dudayev opposition, organized in 1992 had no success on account of the fact that Moscow was making certain money injections into the Chechen economy. However, Dudayev’s regime wasn’t popular among wide layers of Chechen population, as it is common to say now. And beyond all doubts it was doomed to failure. One couldn’t help noticing a strange succession of events in Chechnya and Russia. Thus, in 1992 Dudayev’s allies suppressed opposition with force. During suppression they used armored troops (shooting at the city council). There were killed and wounded. Opposition was accused of all this. In 1993 in Moscow the parliament was dissolved with the use of force. Armored troops were used during the shooting at the White House. There were killed and wounded. Parliament was accused of all this.
Not everything was clear to Ibragim in the events that were taking place in Russia’s newest history. But he couldn’t help noticing the most obvious, lying on the surface. He couldn’t help noticing the re-division of property of military units stationed in Chechnya. Along with this there were many questions on which there were no answers. Why efficient troops are withdrawn from the unrecognized republic without any conditions, and along with this sixty percent of the weapons of these units is given to Chechnya. And no claims for buildings, armament on the from Russia’s side, everything is given for free.
All of this showed that these events had a planned character. The biggest part of the Leninsky district of Grozny was occupied by Jews. There have never been any inter-ethnic conflicts between them and the Chechens. However, their families began to leave Chechnya since 1989. In 1991 Ibragim’s friend Sasha advised him in a confident conversation to sell all his movable and immovable property and leave Chechnya somewhere for a new place of living. He explained that in two or thee years a war would start in Chechnya. Ibragim didn’t believe in such a monstrous possibility, but soon he saw he was right.
An extremely incompetent offensive of the opposition headed by Umar Avturkhanov served as a prelude to the beginning of war. Just like in all cases, when Russia tried to conceal its presence, the representatives of the opposition were the main characters in this drama that took place on November 26, 1994. Officers, soldiers, tank sub-units of the Russian Army were sent to help them.
Probably according to the drama’s producers’ plans their presence had to remain unnoticed. However when their participation became evident, Russian military command renounced their soldiers and officers that were held prisoners by Dudayev’s people. More than one thousand two hundred people, fifty tanks, eighty APCs, and six SU-27 planes took part in the operation from the opposition side. Not having a clear task and not knowing the position of the enemy, acting almost blindly, the opposition was doomed to failure.
The majority of the population of Chechnya didn't participate in the conflict. By that time the Chechen society wasn't prepared to kill each other yet. The institution of blood revenge made itself felt. Moreover the opposition as well as Dudayev’s regime were taken negatively by the majority of the population. “Dudayev’s jerks confront the opposition’s jerks” – they said and thought. Despite the small numbers of the first, under the conditions of street fights they managed at the expense of little blood (two or three killed and the same number of wounded) to fully defeat the opposition troops that had entered Grozny. The operation failed, the opposition troops lost about five hundred people killed, more than twenty tanks were destroyed, twenty tanks were captured by Dudayevites and two hundred servicemen were taken prisoners. On November 28 in honor of the victory over the opposition forces a column of captives was taken along the streets of Grozny. All Chechens that took part in this operation were set free after they swore on Koran not to participate in any actions (including military) on the opposition side. At the same time Chechen leadership showed a list of fourteen captive soldiers and officers that were Russian servicemen. The captives confessed in front of the cameras that they mostly served in units 43162 and 01451, located in districts near Moscow. The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation renounced these servicemen. According to their words all of them were deserters. Father of soldier Yevgeny Zhukov was the one who unmasked the Ministry in an interview to RIA-News. According to his words his son was sent to Nizhny Tagil for ten days. He learnt that his son was held prisoner from the NTV program. In some time all captives were set free. Only a little later Russians and Chechens learnt that they were recruited by the FSB on this or that pretext.
Could Dzhokhar Dudayev avoid war? Was he one of those politicians who were preparing a tragedy of Chechen people? The world will probably receive sometimes univocal and true answers to these questions. However it is doubtful, on a simple reason that history has always been written and is written to please conquerors, to please the ruling regime and historical facts are garbled to please ideology and conjuncture. Primarily this is connected with the fact that there are many gaps in the history of Russia and it has never happened that it started with complete purification of the nation for the sins of previous generations. Whatever it is, Dudayev made public efforts to set a dialogue with the Russian leadership aimed at avoiding a war.
On Septemver 7, 1994 Dudayev meets with the Defense Minister Grachev. Grachev declared at the press conference: “We, generals, came to an agreement. Now everything depends on politicians. There will be no war.” On December 8, the Chechen side announced that according to the information it possessed, Russia was preparing invasion of troops on the territory of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and the beginning of the full-scale land war. On November 9, the working commission on negotiations on the regulation of the conflict in the Chechen Republic reached an agreement between the representatives of Dudayev and the opposition.
Twelve people from federal authorities headed by deputy Minister for national affairs and regional policy of Russian Federation Vyacheslav Mikhaylov were to take part in the negotiations. Nine people from the side of Grozny headed by the Minister of economy and finance of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria Taimaz Abubakarov. Three people from opposition headed by the prosecutor Bek Baskhanov. The subject of the negotiations was the establishment of normal interrelations between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. The negotiations had to start on December 12, and on December 11 Russian troops crossed the administrative border of the Chechen Republic. Two infantry divisions of the North-Caucasian military district were moving towards Grozny as well as airborne troops represented by two airborne brigades in full strength, regiments from Pskov, Vitebsk, Tula, Ulyanovsk, and Kostroma divisions of airborne troops and also units of the Ministry of Interior. All this armada was moving to Grozny from Ingushetiya (civilian population of Ingushetia tried to stop them but in vain), from Mozdok, from Dagestan. There were about thirteen – fourteen thousand armed people from the Chechen side according to data of the Federal Counter-intelligence Service and the Ministry of Interior. According to Soskovets’ data, during the first week the operation cost Russia two hundred and sixty billion rubles (sixty billion – to the Ministry of Interior and two hundred – to the Ministry of Defense) taking into account that troops were going without almost any resistance. The war began on December 11, 1994. But only on December 17 the Security Council of Russian Federation gathered under leadership of Boris Yeltsin and the plan of the “implementation of measures to restore the constitutional legality, law and order and peace in the Chechen Republic” was considered. The Security Council obliged the Defense Ministry (Minister P. Grachev), the Ministry of Interior (Minister V. Yerin), the Federal Counter-intelligence Service (Head S. Stepashin) and the Federal Border Service (Head A. Nikolayev) to draw all forces for the extermination of illegal armed formations in Chechnya and for a reliable closing of state and administrative borders of the Chechen Republic. The Defense Minister Pavel Grachev had to control the implementation of this work.
On December 17 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation made an announcement that on December 18, at 12 a.m. the subdivision of the Ministry of Interior and the Defense Ministry would be forced to take drastic measures with the use of all means for the restoration constitutional legality, and law and order on the Territory of Chechnya. The gangs were to be destroyed or disarmed. The statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs mentioned that civil population of Chechnya was informed about the necessity to urgently leave Grozny and other populated areas where the gangs were deployed. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs insistently recommended foreigners and journalists who were in the conflict area to leave Grozny and move to safer areas. All this was declared a week after fierce battles.
On December 17, O. Soskovets said that Dudayev was summoned to Mozdok to meet with the delegation of the government of the Russian Federation headed by vice Prime Minister N. Yegorov and Head of the Federal Couter-intelligence Service S. Stepashin. Soskovets noticed that if Dudayev didn’t come to Mozdok then the troops would act in accordance with the previously accepted plan of the extermination of illegal armed formations.
Four hours before the expiry of the ultimatum, that is at 8 p.m. on November 17, Dudayev made the last effort to prevent the war and telegraphed the Russian leadership that he was ready to start negotiations without preliminary conditions on a proper level and be at the head of the governmental delegation of the Chechen Republic. But no one heard Dudayev in the Kremlin. The war machine was on and no one was going to stop it. On December 18 at 9 a.m., Russian troops began to storm Grozny.
It is worth considering a na;ve version that supposedly in the beginning of his activity Dudayev worked together with the Russian leadership and then because of some misunderstanding he fell out of Moscow’s favor. Starting from November 27-28, 1994, big crowds from Grozny, neighboring villages and towns began to gather on the Svoboda (freedom) square in Grozny. There was a hard, distressing waiting for trouble; there was anxiety for families, anxiety for the republic. It was clear to everybody that small Chechnya would not be able to take the upper hand over a monster like Russia. Everybody saw senselessness and monstrosity of that war, but it was beyond their forces to prevent it.
The coming catastrophe was considered to be an uncalled-for aggression. Because of its senselessness and monstrosity, because of its aggression and injustice this war evoked estrangement and opposition from people’s side. One could say with certainty that if Dudayev’s regime had pursued more flexible and more cunning policy there would have been much more people under his banners, than in reality. At a time when the weapons had to be given out to the volunteers the Dudayevites began selling it. Mainly because of this the war people nicknamed that war the “commercial” one. Because of that the alienation of major part of volunteers from the broad ranks of resistance movement took place. They increased the number of refugees and observers, on the side but not indifferent.
Those who were not present at the rally were watching it on TV. During 10-15 minutes breaks between news Grozny television ran one and the same excerpt from “Mowgli” cartoon in which the head gathers his wolves’ pack and says that huge numbers of yellow dogs are invading from the North in order to seize their land. And he asks: “What will we do, surrender or fight?” “We will fight”, says the pack. “Yes, we are going to have a great hunt but few will come back alive from this hunt”- says the head to the pack before accepting the fight. Some smart TV guy, at his or somebody else’s initiative launched that cartoon. For people the wolf was a Chechen and the yellow dog from the North – a Russian soldier. Consciously or unconsciously, but it was taken as Dudayev’s appeal to people. At least that was how Ibragim understood it.
In republican newspapers articles about Russian-Chechen relations since the beginning of the 18th century appeared. Although these articles didn’t tell anything new and were not a revelation for many people, their perception was totally different compared to the one before.
The articles touched upon the conquering of Chechnya by Russian Empire at the beginning of February 1708. They told that the process was begun by the most progressive emperor Peter I who “cut a window through to Europe”, built a fleet and an army, brought European culture to patriarchal Russia. Formally the conquering of Chechnya finished in 1859.
The aim of the czarism was the “subjugation of mountain people or extermination of the refractory”. Some scrappy information about the armed struggle of mountain people (Chechens, Avars, Ingushes and others) from 1780 to 1859 survived. This historical period lasted for eighty years.
It was one of the longest and cruel colonial wars in human history. The period from 1817 to 1959 was the culmination of the war. The enormous quantity of troops was sent to suppress mountain people headed by imam Shamil. It is obvious from V.Potto’s book “Caucasian Wars” how the Caucasus looked to contemporaries of those events: “The wild unknown country with permanent wars, where troops after troops were sent seemed to people to be the country of some darkness and murders, from where nobody returned and people characterized it with the name “Disastrous Caucasus”.
In the course of conquering of Chechnya, the Chechens were ousted from fertile land to the mountains. They were deported to Turkey, Syria and Jordan; their settlements were destroyed and plundered by Russians. Grozny, the capital of the Chechen Republic was built on the place of four villages that were destroyed in 1818. It was the tsar’s General A.Yermolov who laid the fortress “Groznaya”. Chechen people remember him as one of the cruelest conqueror of the Caucasus.
The czarist army used the so-called “scorched earth” policy in order to subdue the persistent resistance of the Chechens. Settlements, crops, forests were all burnt down. In the 18th century the village of Aldy was completely destroyed. It is known that only one boy survived. This boy has taken his place in history as General Aleksandr Chechensky, the hero of the patriotic war of 1812. In the 19th century the village of Dada-Yurt was completely destroyed. It seems that even the Russian czar Aleksandr I denounced the cruelty that was displayed by chastisers in this war. A boy was taken out of that village, who also has taken his place in history as an academician of the Russian Academy of Arts, painter Zakharov. At the same time, along with forced ousting of Chechens from their territory, a rather widespread and intensified agitation to leave for Moslem countries began. Along with this, families that wanted to leave were given allowances (of course, this money could not solve all the problems of refugees – it wasn’t the aim, but the money was enough for the journey).
Democratic forces all over the world hailed the anti-imperialist resistance in the Caucasus as part of the worldwide liberation struggle. K.Marx and F.Engels wrote in their days that people of Europe should learn by example of heroic war of mountain people against Russian czarism. But forces were too unequal. After decades of bloody war czarism managed to suppress the resistance of Caucasian people and incorporate them forcefully into the Russian Empire. It was the beginning of history of a small nation that got in the millstone of a colonial war. A lot is spoken about the role of imam Shamil in the history of Chechen people, but his role hasn’t been studied completely and is still a subject of a long study for historians. Along with this in order not to make another historical fraud they have to get materials of state archives, which is a sealed book beyond all doubts a good will. It is quote possible that there was collusion between him and Russia czarist regime. However there are no known historical facts confirming it.
One hundred and thirty years passed since the Caucasian war. Czarism gave place to a new, so-called socialist regime. Several generations of Chechens changed, who were brought up in traditions of Russian, Soviet culture. Studying Russian language and literature at schools and universities, Chechens penetrated into Russian culture and speaking figuratively, a new type of Chechens began to form. When war started in 1994 and even when it was already over, there still was some delusive hope that someone has to correct somebody’s mistake, that all this was done in hot blood, that this madness must end in a little while. There was so much unexpected and unreal in that war that it was hard to grasp it. It was hard to admit that a so-called elder brother attacked a small nation that considered itself a member of an international family. And people began to realize that Russia in not their “elder brother” but a “vicious step-mother”.
There was still much of unknown in this war and the real enemy could not be seen yet despite the widespread propaganda campaign. There was more resentment, more feeling that all that was started in someone’s interests, that it was a conspiracy of some groups. Although the war was called “Russian-Chechen”, it wasn’t taken like that.
The weather was unusually fine for this season. Beautiful airplanes were circling in the cloudless sky of Grozny. They were stunting just like at a parade and this show kept people spellbound. Although residents of Grozny found nothing unusual about the airplanes (there were two aerodromes - a civil one and a military one – in Grozny outskirts) a show was not commonplace. However the demonstration flights were not simply a show but also a demonstration of force, although it was hard to believe that these planes can bring death and destruction.
Nevertheless they began to bring death and destruction as early as the beginning of December, before the declaration of the beginning of “the restoration of the constitutional order in Chechnya”. The Grozny’s civil airport and the military airfield in Khankala village where the aviation of Dudayev’s regime was based were the objects of their air raid. Those were training airplanes that were left after the division of the Soviet military equipment. In couple of days the Chechen aviation was completely destroyed. The next step in the “restoration of constitutional order in Chechnya” was bringing troops into republic. The troops didn’t face much resistance and were moving to Grozny. The city with almost two-century history, with rich infrastructure, with population about five or six hundred thousand people became a target for these troops.
Grozny was justifiably considered one of the most beautiful cities in the North Caucasus. Work of thousands and thousands of builders of many nationalities was invested into its creation. Russians who were in majority in the seventies also put much work in its construction. However, the presence of Russian population in the city didn’t stop executioners. When destroying the city and its residents almost all kinds of weapons of the Russian Army were used except for weapon of mass destruction. What was going on in Grozny was explicitly rendered by the written with red letters at the entrance to Grozny: “Welcome to hell!” And it was hell, made by insane human hands and heads. Columns of cars packed with people with their belongings or without them moved one after another from the city, which was being executed. Refugees also came under fire. Everything was a target for an attack. Silver and khaki-colored helicopters were buzzing; they looked like dragonflies in the bright blue sky. But at some moment the helicopters would lean forward and fiery flashes appeared which were followed by terrible thunder and horror froze people’s souls. If a car with refugees had a misfortune of getting into a pilot’ field of vision, he would shot at it immediately. None of the military seemed to care about human life.
The value of human life was lost; servicemen seemed to be full of devilment. There was an impression that they had an aim to exterminate and kill as many people as possible. Houses, plants and factories, schools, hospitals, children facilities – everything was ablaze. Dead bodies were lying here and there. There were many dead bodies of Russian servicemen and civilians over which tanks drove in that mess, trying to get out of the maze of the city’s streets, spooling the remains of own soldiers and civilians on their tracks. Those who were still alive took little care of their brothers-in-arms. It was a used human material for them. They were of interest only to crows, dogs and cats. Isn't it hell?
For many centuries in Russia life of an ordinary mortal was a valueless matter. Representatives of power set it at nought. Maybe it is because of this that notions like “state” and “people” have never been identified in Russia. It led to alienation of power from people. The alienation of power from people, incapability of Russian society to create statehood, which it could influence, is the source or all Russians’ troubles.
Risking their lives Chechens tried to bury the bodies of their relatives. Crowds of people at the cemeteries served as a good target to pilots. Sheep, cows and other animals also became a good target for airplanes. This is how the “restoration of the constitutional order in Chechnya” was carried out.
There were many wars in the history of Chechen people but there were no aggressive wars. All wars were of defensive character. Although there were some moments in history when neighboring Caucasian countries fought against each other, Chechnya has never gone beyond its borders. Chechens knew very well where Chechnya started and where ended. This fact tells a lot about the Chechen character. But who is interested in it? One should behave according to the principle “best defense is offence”.
The history of Chechen people doesn’t know a single case of obligatory draft to its army. The defensive army was formed on a voluntary basis. Democracy of the Chechen society gave each citizen the right of choice; the right to defend the motherland was a voluntary right but not a duty. The right to live or to die with the name of defender of motherland was voluntary, it couldn’t be otherwise. Only the profound realization of one’s high mission, the mission of the defender of motherland can make a warrior ready to sacrifice himself for the sake of high ideals. A soldier can’t be considered a real one without these qualities. There are many examples to this.
Everyone had a possibility to evade the army service. It wasn’t difficult to find a reason for that. A person was left to himself. It should be noted that after wars the deviationists and volunteers continued to live side by side without displaying hostility.
......... Snowfall ..........
The blood was black in the snow,
The snow was black from blood,
From soot and dirt,
From gunpowder and poison
The air poisoned us.
A bullet? Bullets only whistled,
We wanted snow so much,
And our children too ...
Here the snow fell and fell,
And with it lead.
Snow dreamed of whirling -
Circling your waltz is flying;
He was hindered by bombs,
Go to the fields.
He circled like a bird -
Nest is not found.
And he fell down heartlessly,
As if he was dead.
At the bottom of the earth is burning,
And the snow in tears is coming
In the military new year.
Here the snow fell, sobbing in a groan,
In the fire whirling - snowflakes in the blood,
And snow fell and tears poured ...
If the snow cried so,
Did we cry?
If you were afraid of dying,
Were we afraid to live?
And snow fell and he cried,
Bodies and snow, fire and blood,
Lead flight - mixed everything ...
(translated from Chechen
By Ismail Akaev)
From the first day of Russian aggression Ibragim made a firm decision that he would defend his motherland. There was no doubt in the rightness of his choice and there couldn’t be. The propaganda campaign in the Russian official mass media couldn’t shake his confidence in the fact that inoffensive, at first sight, words “restoration of constitutional order in Chechnya” were a form of aggression, a form of state terror, which was a real war. One could only guess and dispute about its reasons and culprits. Nevertheless it didn’t change anything in its essence. From the point of view of human morale this unjustified war should have sparked protest among all normal people. Many former opponents of Dudayev’s regime took up arms to defend their motherland.
Ibragim understood that the war was the continuation of dirty politics carried out by Russian top leadership and the President himself and the Supreme Commander is not more than a puppet in the hands of the party of the war.
War is evil. The most spiteful evil is the aggressive war. One should struggle against evil.
First of all, Ibragim took his family and his most needy belongings out from the town to the village. He gave some of his money to the family and returned to the city. For several days he was preparing himself for the war, for defense of his motherland, himself, his nearest and dearest. He bought equipment, firearms and other military outfit. He knew this army very well, with all its aggression, with its tactics and strategy. There were many people like him in Chechen volunteer corps.
After thorough preparation Ibragim joined the defenders of the city. Although he knew what war was like by experience and not by ear, that war was new to him. He didn’t come across such cruelty on such a small battleground even in Afghanistan, although they didn’t fight in the white gloves in Afghanistan.
Ibragim knew well that unshakable faith in Allah, the Most High, Creator of all on earth, would help him and his friends to stand infernal war conditions. In the first days of war it was already noticed that no dope in the form of drugs or alcohol could serve as panacea from continuous explosions of bombs and shells, from countless bullets so irritatingly and mercilessly whistling, from stinking corpses, from rivers of blood. Those who used dope either deserted or foolishly died after two or three days of fighting. It was also noticed that if a combatant took something from an empty house or apartment he would surely be seriously wounded or killed in the nearest battle. The men of resistance allowed themselves to take only foodstuffs from empty houses and apartments because they knew that according to an oral agreement people when leaving their homes left these foodstuffs in a noticeable place for the resistance fighters.
Ibragim’s father Zaurbek was a deeply God-fearing person. During all years of deportation and all time he spent in prison he followed five pillars of Islam. Zaurbek told his children: “The deeper is the faith of a man, the firmer is his life. A man’s life without faith is a life of an animal”. Since Ibragim was seven he prayed five times a day and only in the army he didn’t have such possibility. Since same he observed fast during the month of Ramadan. Once Ibragim read English historian Thomas Carlyle’s thoughts about Islam: “Hardly had Islam emerged, when the Arabs’ idol worshipping and Christian disputes burned in it.” Everything that was not truth burned in the flames of Islam like dry firewood. Then the fire dwindled. Allah, with the help of Islam, took the Arabs out to light from the darkness, having revived the inert nation and quietly sleeping land on which there had been no sound or motion since the creation of the World. Allah sent a Prophet to them with the words and mission from himself. And all of a sudden – obscurity and inaction turned into fame, illiteracy – into education, low position – into the high one, weakness – into force, spark – into fire, the light of which expanded and embraced the boundaries of the world and the ray of which connected North with South. Hardly had one century passed after that event when the state of the Arabs established itself standing with one foot in India and with the other one in Andalusia. Many centuries were lit by the light of dignity and nobleness, courage and fearlessness, saving and truth and right guidelines on the half of the world”.
Ibragim knew that Islam is an hourly, daily ascension of a man’s soul to reason, kindness, and perfection. Prayer, fasting, charity, sacrifice and hadj to Mecca are the steps to it. Following the canons of Islam a man becomes generous, noble, honest and just. This is when he becomes a real man and no cannons, no bombs or bullets; no shells have power over him. Such a man is not afraid of death. He has only one fear – the fear of the Most High, Creator of all on earth. Only a fool or a man with strong faith who understands that truth is in faith in the Most High Allah is not afraid of death. Thomas Carlyle says: “Every man is judged by his faith and lack of faith”. Rightness of this deeply philosophical thought was best proved at war.
Hopes that his first-born would become the real man made Ibragim give him the name Islam.
Russian occupants – soldiers, officers, mercenaries from unemployed people of Russia, criminals that came here on contract to rob and kill, were fighting against Ibragim and others that defended their motherland. Soldiers and officers implement command’s orders and those who serve on contractual basis implement devil’s will. There must have been those among them who fought side by side with Ibragim in Afghanistan. Ibragim knew that these warriors were not cowards but they were indecisive, constrained. This state of theirs could be easily explained. They didn’t know what they were fighting for. The image of the enemy was forming gradually and with difficulty and only because their brothers-in-arms perished. Partly it explains the fact that the Russian Army despite its significant superiority in military force was below the mark and suffered heavily. Besides that, Russian soldiers were fighting with former servicemen of the same army and moreover with volunteers who were sure of the rightness of their cause.
Not long before the invasion to Chechnya, the Defense Minister Pavel Grachev was boasting that he could take Grozny “by one airborne regiment in two hours”. Probably he could do it with some other town but not Grozny.
Miracles of bravery displayed by Chechen fighters didn’t allow Grachev to perform such a brilliant blitzkrieg. Resistance fighters were called “bandits” in Russian mass media. But who ever heard of a small group of bandits that could defend a town beleaguered, according to Russian data, by hundred thousand troops supported by aviation and armored forces.
They were not bandits, they were real patriots that sacrificed themselves for the sake of their motherland. And to the greatest disgrace for humanity their names and their feats of arms will sink into oblivion. History won’t write a brilliant epitaph about them as about three hundred Spartans though their feat was immeasurably higher. Roar of bombs, shells’ explosions, whine of trench mortars and bullets, flames of fire, grinding of tanks’ tracks, heat of napalm, snipers’ shots in the heart, disparaging statements in mass media, hunger and cold, lack of medicine and doctors, aching wounds, filtration camps, beatings, tortures, refined methods of humiliation, shooting, dogs at filtration points – can it be compared to what happened during the Battle of Thermopylae?
In Russian, as well as in foreign mass media with the help of Russian propagandists a statement began to dominate that it was the eighteen-year-old boys from the Russian provinces who took part in the seizure of Grozny. But those who saw what was happening in Grozny from December 1994 till February 1995 cannot agree with this statement. There were different people there including young boys from the Russian provinces. But the basis consisted of mature killers-vandals for whom murder was a goal in itself. For them a Russian old man, a seventy-year-old pensioner or a Chechen boy who had just seen the world – they all were the same targets.
A long column of armored forces supported from air and land entered the center of Grozny. Evidently, Russian generals didn’t draw a lesson from World War II – the battle of Stalingrad and the battle of Berlin showed that a tank in a big city is a useless thing but a good target. Every ruined multi-story house turned to such a strong bunker that a bomb couldn’t destroy it, not speaking about “Grad” or “Uragan” surface to surface missiles. Chechen fighters split into small groups of five-ten people fired at tanks and infantry from windows, balconies and ruins of apartment houses. The tactics was simple but at the same time original: first they destroyed the first tank, then – the last one and only then – those in the middle. What the grenade launchers didn’t do was completed by the ammunition inside the tank. Russian soldiers were mostly burnt alive in tanks and APC’s and those who managed to jump out were shot at from machine-guns. Ibragim’s group took part in a fight against a tank column near railway station. Not many aggressors stayed alive and even they were captured.
Almost every house, every street was taken by Russian troops only after cruel and exhausting battles. Persistence of the defenders was suppressed not by force but by catastrophic lack of foodstuffs and ammunition
The command of the Chechen army made a decision to retreat with fighting from the town. This is how Grozny was turned it and taken. Fighting moved to mountain areas in the South of Chechnya.
Russian military command in Chechnya and the pro-Moscow government of Chechnya headed by D.Zavgayev made a cynically unique decision. This or that village would be blocked. Then the administration and residents were given an ultimatum: either you give in a certain amount of shooting weapons, ammunition and sign a peace treaty with the military or the village will be destroyed. The treaty was called “The treaty of peace and accord”. The aim of this action obviously was a desire to set civilian population’s mind against the fighters of the Chechen resistance, to bring discord into the movement. Along with this basic task generals pursued their own mercantile everyday interests. Direct blackmail in the form of the threat to remove from the face of earth was accompanied with cynical statements of generals about payment that was in effect terror, blackmail and extortion from those who were bringing “constitutional order” in respect of the residents of the republic. They didn’t dare and couldn’t speak with rebels this way because they always responded adequately.
Generals explained their demand of payments by the distress in the army, non-payments or wage arrears. Soldiers were wandering among the destroyed houses and marauding. Top officers made soldiers load furniture and other belongings of inhabitants to the trucks and APC’s and all this was taken to Russia.
Thus, Sernovodskoye village paid off with two hundred thousand US dollars. The neighboring village Samashki which tragedy became known all over the world was an obvious example to those who didn’t want to be compliant.
Depending on the number of residents the quantity of shooting weapons, which had to be handed in, was fixed up. Nobody wanted to know whether they had this amount of arms or not. No sooner said than done, otherwise everything that you have acquired by backbreaking labor during many years will be put to fire and sward, and you will be lucky if you stay alive. People found an easy way out of this situation. Everyone brought as much money as he could and bought arms secretly from the same military. In the morning in front of bright floodlights of TV crews they went to turn the weapons in to the agreed place to the military from who they had bought it the day before. These shots accompanied by enthusiastic statements by various Dorenkos, Leontyevs and others were shown on TV. If one puts together all the weapons that were turned in it would turn out that each resident of Chechnya had, as a minimum, two or three machine –guns and two grenade-launchers not to talk about grenades.
In the end of March 1995 troops coming from all sides approached three villages of the Urus-Martan region: Alkhazurovo, Komsomolskoye and Goyskoye. Borders between these villages are relative. They are all situated in the foothill part of Chechnya and are a good place for the exit to the mountain part, to Shatoyevsky, Itum-Kalinsky and Cheberloyevsky regions.
Russian general Kondratyev was in command of the group of troops that occupied these villages. Having set up his bivouac in the outskirts of these villages he started to negotiate with their representatives.
Kondratyev immediately made it clear to unarmed parliamentarians, who is the master in the house. His speech was full of threats. To make his words, unworthy of a combat general, more convincing he gave a command to hold an imitation of an attack by combat helicopters at the village of Goyskoye. Also he issued an order to open for effect if there was a single shot from the village. The village of Goyskoye was the aim because the sub-units of the Chechen resistance under the command of field commanders Ruslan Gelayev and Akhmed Zakayev were located there. The fighters of the resistance chose that village because it was strategically advantageous. In case of retreat there were numerous paths which led to the mountains. It was clear that one of the three villages would be destroyed just for show despite all efforts of its residents. A decision to accept a fight was made. Most of the residents understood correctly the decision of Zakayev and Gelayev although there were, of course, those who did not agree with them. The fate of Goyskoye was determined.
For several days the reconnaissance offensive was held. The Russian troops checked the defenses of the resistance fighters. For this purpose they used helicopters, airplanes, self-propelled artillery, “Grad”, “Uragan” surface to surface missiles and anti-tank missiles. Massive attacks by armored forces were supported by special-service troops and troops of the Ministry of Interior.
Ibragim’s group managed to destroy a heavy tank and two APC’s during the first attack of the enemy. During the next attacks several more armored vehicles were put out of action.
The troops obviously failed to parade through Goyskoye. The resistance fighters repelled all the attacks of the enemy one by one. Russian troops had to retreat after each attack. Kondratyev made an effort to come to terms with the elders of the village and with the defenders. He heard a firm “no” in reply. The answer of the elders of the village to the General was significant: “Why did you, daring fellow, who boasted with your force in the beginning and declined our offers to come to terms peacefully, decide to solicit a truce today? Since you started it, you should finish your dirty business. We have nothing left here to worry about. You, barbarians, even bombed our cemeteries”, heard Kondratyev, a brave general.
The dirty business was continued. Heavy bombers were used, long-ranged weapons began to roar with renewed energy, vacuum bombs and missiles were falling from the sky, and earth shuddered and was burning. The resistance fighters could stand all those insane, unrestrained and endless bursts of bombs and shells only thanks to trenches that were dug several days before the beginning of the assault. The whole village was covered by trenches that were connected with each other by underground tunnels. During air attacks fighters took cover in well-equipped dugouts adjacent to the trenches. From the villages of Komsomolskoye and Alkhazurovo the panorama of the battle was in full view because Goyskoye was situated a little bit lower. The villagers were watching what was happening in Goyskoye with unflagging attention. In impotent spite, clenching their fists women and teenagers were standing; bent under the weight of what they saw the olds were standing not ashamed of their helpless and traitorous tears. Everybody was watching the “great triumph” of the action called “the restoration of constitutional order” Russian style in the village of Goyskoye. Everybody was waiting for a miracle from the resistance fighters; everybody was worrying whether ammunition hadn’t ended, whether manpower resources and courage had been depleted. They saw well from their height what an armada of troops took aim at that village. All that might like tsunami rolled on the village. Flashes of explosions and dark spouts of smoke appeared here and there. One more weapon of death found its death in the village’s streets but there was no end to them. Another helicopter catches fire in the sky, falls down and explodes in the outskirts of Goyskoye. Mighty waves roll back not being able to overcome resistance. A new wave comes and in a village that seems dead, voices are heard on the radio and shouts:
“Ibragim, three APC’s are moving in your direction. Can you meet them?”
“No problem”, Ibragim answers calmly, “had they come with peace, I would have met them with bread and salt. In this case we have to meet them with a grenade launcher.”
And he fulfilled his task of destroying the APS’s and infantry. Ibragim had a terrible, hard but necessary work. Instead of a piece chalk he had a grenade launcher and a machine gun in his hands. But what he can do, God knows, he didn’t want that war, he didn’t want human blood. The war had been forced upon him and he had to defend himself to the best of his abilities.
Ibragim heard immortal “Allah Akbar” on his radio and nothing could deaden that voice. During the next assault the armored forces managed to enter the village. Ibragim and his group were in a house that happened to be under crossfire of the enemy. A tank stopped twenty meters from him and its bareel began to go down to shoot point-blank at the house where Ibragim and his fighters were. There were only few seconds left before the shot. There was no possibility to shoot at the tank from the grenade launcher through the window – window frames were knocked out long before. The enemy was shooting at the house from small arms. The seconds were needed to look out of the window and aim at the tank, but there was no time left at all. Few more seconds and Ibragim and his group would be buried alive. Ibragim took a desperate step. He grabbed a loaded grenade-launcher, took a short run and jumped out of the window. When in the air Ibragim performed a somersault holding the grenade-launcher. At the moment of landing he managed to raise the grenade-launcher and aimed at the tank. Having landed on the leg-split he made a shot a fraction of a second before the tank shot. The grenade hit the tank’s turret and the turret went off the tank’s body flying away. Ibragim having thrown away his “labor tool” dove back into the first floor’s basement window.
The resistance fighters saw much at this war but this they saw for the first time. Abilities and incredible force of a person become fantastically high at moments of despair.
According to different data during a single day of the storm of Goyskoye on April 4 the Russian troops lost about two hundred people not counting the wounded; as far as the military vehicles are concerned they lost three tanks, one plane, eleven APC’s, one helicopter. There were losses among the defenders, the notorious bandit formations as well. However, comparing to Russian troops they were insignificant. The same General Kondratyev had to know that defending forces have significant advantage over the attackers.
On the next day Ibragim was wounded in a battle. Lightly injured fighters took him out of the battlefield on hastily made stretchers – those who hadn’t been wounded didn’t want to leave the combat field. Ibragim was taken to the village of Alkhazurovo where a nurse Madina with all medicine and knowledge she possessed applied first aid to Ibragim, treated the wound on his leg and dressed it. The wound was serious – the cannon bone was splintered. Urgent qualified help was needed. An attempt to take Ibragim to the hospital of the neighboring village Stariye-Atagi, ten kilometers from Alkhazurovo, was dangerous – here, there and everywhere were federal troops that checked everything and everybody on their way. Nevertheless, despite that, several people volunteered to risk it and take Ibragim to Stariye-Atagi even at the cost of their lives.
With all possible precautions the volunteers with Ibragim on stretchers left in the direction of Stariye-Atagi at 2 a.m. Even at night the deserted outskirts of the village were shelled. The so-called lanterns (illuminating missiles on parachutes that were shot from cannons over villages or fields) hovered one after another in the sky. The group of volunteers-rescuers covered that risky path in three hours. In that situation it was a record time. In the hospital Ibragim was surrounded by attention. Despite the risk of arrest doctors were doing everything possible to save his leg. However, because of the seriousness of the wound and the fact that medical assistance wasn’t provided in time an abscess began. The doctors had to amputate his leg in order to save Ibragim’s life. They got the consent of Khava, Ibragim’s wife who had been brought to the hospital by friends on the second day. She, in her turn, asked the permission from Ibragim’s father. Zaurbek understood all the hopelessness of the situation and agreed. His son’s pain was carried to his body, to his heart, to his consciousness. Zaurbek would have given everything – his legs, his arms, even his life – so that no harm would come to his dearest son. He understood everything what was happening at war. He understood that those who came with war to this land die and suffer just like Chechen people. He understood that Russian mothers and fathers suffer just like him when their sons die. Zaurbek didn’t want Ibragim to go to war. He didn’t even know that he went to fight. The only thing that Ibragim did when leaving was that he secretly asked his mother Kheda to give him her blessing. He said firmly that he had to go and would go anyway. But she had to give him a blessing in case something would happen – then he wouldn’t be cursed by fate. Ibragim let her understand that after Allah he belonged not to himself but to his parents while they are alive. Only after his parents’ death he would belong to his children. Children must value their parents more than their own children.
Ibragim was lying on an operation table. He felt that it was difficult for him to breathe. He wanted to turn to his side but suddenly he had a sharp, unknown stitch in his side and his consciousness began to blur. At the same time somewhere far away and at the same time very closely he could distinctly hear voices: “Pulse, heart, oxygen, electroshock...”
Soon he felt a sense of relief. What is this? He sees himself! He is floating over himself! He is separated from his body and is rising up slowly above it! He sees doctors fussing around his body. Oh, my God, he thought, who is that close to my body? Next to the operation-table at its head there was Olga sitting, beautiful and white. Her golden hair was falling loosely on her shoulders, her hand was on his. She was smiling gently touching his dirty fingers with one hand and in the other hand she was holding a half of a coin in the form of the half-moon that he had given her through his colleague Yury Krutov, its second half, hanging on the chain, was lying on his chest.
A doctor in a doctor’s gown, with a mask on his face and gray and white cap was cutting, sawing something at his feet but Ibragim’s thoughts were concentrated on Olga. Olga was silent; she was caressing his hand. At last she began to talk. She said: “Ibragim, I keep our world that we created together in my heart. I am and will be faithful to our love forever. As a token of faithfulness of our love I left on earth and didn’t take this half with me”, she showed the piece of the silver coin that she was holding in her hands. “This piece stayed on earth. Find it and put together with your half. And till you do it it’s not time for you to leave this world”. With these words she stood up, rose her arm, took Ibragim’s hand, pulled down bringing him back to his body and disappeared.
Some time later, after having regained consciousness Ibragim clearly remembered everything that he had seen in a dream. He went hot and cold all over. He was in fever and was shivering
At the prime of his life and life force Ibragim became a cripple. For the post-operative rehabilitation doctors advised his relatives to put him to some hospital in a peaceful region outside Chechnya where there was everything which doctors didn’t have on the territory enveloped in flames of war. With the help of bribes to soldiers at checkpoints, using bypasses they reached Nalchik. Ibragim’s treatment took six long months. For six long months they had to give the personnel of the hospital bribes and presents in order that they would not say too much about Ibragim. His wife Khava, sister Zargan and brother Said came from Germany when he learnt about the tragedy nursed him. They presented his wound as received in peaceful circumstances. There was much to be afraid of. There was little hope that the FSB wouldn’t find out that he was there.
When in hospital Ibragim was watching with anxiety the events that were taking place in Chechnya on a TV which was in his ward. From newspapers and news that were brought from Chechnya he was making conclusions and worried a lot about his motherland, his nearest and dearest who were at the crossroads of that inglorious war which was forced upon them. From the information that was brought to him from his motherland he learnt that many fearless fighters, who were a striking example for imitation and pride of people, died. He also learned about the raid of a group headed by Shamil Basayev, one of the leading field commanders, to the Russian city of Budyonnovsk. Many mass media wrote that he transported his fighters in KamAZ trucks, that his group consisting of several dozens of men managed to pass through multiple checkpoints both in Chechnya and on the territory of Russia. They gave bribes at the checkpoints in so that their trucks would not be inspected. According to Basayev, they planned to reach Mineralniye Vody but the militiamen’s greediness and lack of money prevented them from doing this. This is why they managed to get as far as Budyonnovsk. There, they seized the building of the city Soviet and militia station, took about 2,000 people hostages and “entrenched” at the city hospital. The number of hostages and victims varied depending of the situation. If the power structures announced their plan to storm the hospital the number of the hostages became smaller and the number of the killed increased. If they talked about Basayev’s atrocities, the number of hostages became bigger and the number of the killed increased as well. Many special troops’ units were brought to the hospital – “Alfa”, “Beta”, “Omega”. They made several unsuccessful attempts to storm the hospital. And this time, like in Grozny, the authorities showed that they don’t value human life at all – many hostages suffered during the storm. The Basayev’s team demands were to immediately stop the war and withdraw the troops from |Chechnya. The Basayevites killed several prisoners among who were pilots, military, militiamen. Their act could not be justified either by human, heavenly or moral laws. They did not hurt other hostages.
For somebody, who is more or less acquainted with the situation in Chechnya, where there is a military on almost every square meter, and also with the situation in the area abutting Chechnya, where the checkpoints were on almost every kilometer, Basayev’s raid was something fantastic. Even assumptions appeared that it was a joint operation with Russia’s special services, that the Basayevaites were taken out by federal military helicopters and then were put on KamAZ trucks. There were many assumptions and inventions. And all of them had a right to be true, since it was not a secret to anybody that at some point Basayev took part in the events in Abkhazia on Russian side agaainst Russia. There were even rumours that he was a GRU officer. I. Bunich mentioned that in his book about the events in Budyonnovsk.
Five days later when the events in Budyonnovsk got a broad resonance both in Russia and abroad, V. Chernomyrdin, the Chairman of the Russian Government, accepted Basayev’s conditions. Yeltsin, as usual, was “sleeping”. Basayev’s group was given several buses, about ten volunteers-hostages and journalists who offered to accompany them to Chechnya. Everybody was afraid of provocations on the Russian side. The fears were warmed up by the fact that the military asked the hostages to write receipts saying that they themselves volunteered to go, without any enforcement from the authorities. But everything went OK. The column was allowed to go through Dagestan and it reached Vedeno (Chechen Republic) and from there the buses with hostages and journalists came back.
Scapegoats were found in the course of investigation of Basayev’s group’s incursion to Budyonnovsk. They were several militiamen. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin didn’t keep his word. There was noticeable decrease of hotilities for some period of time, but then everything returned to its usual level. Such was the cost of a promise made by the premiere of the Russian government before all the world.
After Basayev’s incursion there was a raid to Kizlyar and Pervomaiskoye (Dagestan Republic) by notorious Salman Raduyev. Obviously, Shamil Basyev’s glory was haunting him. But his raid did not have such resonance and was almost unnoticeable and, as Barsukov, the FSB director said: “the Raduyevites, to my surprise, escaped barefooted. I could not even imagine that and this is why it was impossible to catch them. We did not foresee such strategy and tactics of the enemy”.
Murders continued in Chechnya. In 1995, the so-called restoration of the Chechen Republic began. Huge sums of money gushed to Chechnya. It was declared that that year 7.4 trillion rubles were spent for restoration. But in fact, there was practically no restoration at all. Those who suffered from that war were given dribs and drabs from the amount they were entitled to. Upward distortions in construction sphere amounted to seventy-eighty percent. Control from the part of local authorities was absent. The main bulk of money that was allegedly spent on restoration was in fact spent on the disposition of the rubble resulting from firing and bombings of buildings. In this sphere the upward distortions went up to two hundred percent and more. Most construction companies that were engaged in the restoration of the republic’s infrastructure belonged to the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry for Emergency Situations.
The situation was quite interesting. The Special construction directorate of the Ministry of Defense was preparing an act on completion of restoration and repair of an object (that is allegedly restored). And almost at once another act on writing that object off was prepared. In the evening, right after its restoration, that object was allegedly occupied by gang formations and servicemen leveled it. The money was written off. This is how businessmen, frauds and military fed themselves on people blood. In these conditions the war for them was the good for their enrichment, career and new stars on epaulettes and awards for allegedly displayed bravery and heroism. For them the war was an endless source of profit and people from the party of war didn’t want that war to be over under any pretext. The only one who wanted peace was General Romanov. He was heavily contused several dozens meters from a checkpoint. This terrorist act was ascribed to Chechens. It is a kind of a paradox! Chechens blew up a man who wished them only good and peace. Romanov is still in coma. Many Chechens who knew General Romanov pray for him and in their prayers ask The Most High for health and well-being for the General.
Besides this, it should be noted that during all the war in Chechnya the loot was taken out from the republic on all kinds of transport. Those were cars, home equipment, household articles up to kitchen utensils, clothes. There was a case when soldiers of federal troops during a mopping-up operation took the washed women’s underwear from the rope not speaking about carpets and curtains. Thousands of sheep, cows and other peasants’ livestock were used as food for soldiers and officers. Servicemen could simply gun down a sheep or a cow and take it for sustenance. And a gunned-down animal is considered carrion according to the Chechen traditions. An animal can’t be eaten if it is not slaughtered with a prayer. Koran says:
Forbidden you is carrion and blood,
And the flesh of the swine,
And whatsoever has been killed
In the name of some other than God,
and whatever has been strangled, or killed
by a blow or a fall….
(Sura 5 The Feast, column 3, Koran )
Honest people in Russia and all over the world timidly at first and then louder and more persistently began to demand to put an end to Russia’s state terror in Chechnya. Soon Western politicians and public figures began to make the same demands.
In these conditions Russian politicians were forced to de-escalate the war in Chechnya, the more so that the presidential elections were close. The process of peaceful settlement began to gain momentum from June 1996 that is from the moment of signing Nazran agreements. Though these agreements were not observed by anybody, it was a positive step. It was the first stone to the foundation of peace.
At the same time rumors began to spread in Grozny that any day the resistance fighters would enter the city and seize it. Exact dates were given but nothing happened. People’s attitude towards rumors was different: some took it seriously, others - skeptically. The military command and Chechen government made declarations that they wouldn’t allow it to happen it and that it couldn’t be true, because there were only small scattered groups of rebels and even they would be completely destroyed or would be taken prisoners.
Chechen population knew the price to declarations of Kvashnins and Zavgayevs but it seemed that in Moscow they were taken seriously. Everybody except for Chechen population somehow forgot that in March 1996 resistance fighters entered Grozny which was fully occupied by federal troops with fights, seized several of its districts and in three days safely left the city themselves. It was the demonstration of force and they warned in advance that they would seize Grozny.
It happened on August 6, 1996. Early in the morning well-armed units of resistance forces entered Grozny suppressing firing points of Russian troops on their way and in one day they took almost all strategic districts. All checkpoints were surrounded in order to cut off supplies of food, ammunition to besieged Russian military. All over the city here and there intensive fights broke out, the administrative buildings where Zavgayev’s government, Ministry of Interior Affairs and Federal Security Service were stormed.
Federal troops suffered considerable losses. Everyone helped resistance fighters. Women, old people, children, teenagers gave all possible help to their liberators.
In essence the ultimatum of Konstantin Pulikovsky, commander of Russian troops in Chechnya on the liberation of the city in forty-eight hours did not bring anything. This time the fighters of Chechen resistance came either to win or to die and did not intend to leave the captured positions.
As a result of long and exhausting negotiations in Moscow with his placemen as well as in Grozny with Russian military command and leaders of the resistance movement Aleksandr Lebed came to Khasavyurt agreements. On the basis of these agreements two documents were signed: a Joint statement and the Principles of determination of the basis of relations between Russian Federation and Chechen Republic.
According to the Joint statement, contracting parties recognized unconditional refusal from use of force and threats as a basis for negotiations and political settlement of conflict to which, according to their opinion and belief, there was no alternative. Along with this, the contracting parties would proceed from the principles of General declaration of human rights of 1949 and International pact of civil and political rights of 1966.
The Principles of determination of basis of relations between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria contained a thesis that envisaged determination of the status of Chechnya not later than August 31, 2001.
It was decided to set up a joint commission of representatives of the state power of the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria not later than October 1, 1996. In particular, its tasks were the implementation of control the fulfillment of the of President B.Yeltsin’s Decree #985 dated June 25, 1996 and preparation of proposals dealing with completion of the troops withdrawal as well as working out of joint measures for struggle against crime, terrorism, ethnic and religious enmity and control of the implementation of these measures. The commission also had to work out a proposal on the restoration of currency-financial and budget relations between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, work out and present to the government of the Russian Federation the programs on restoration of social-economic sphere in the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.
The document envisaged that the legislation of Chechnya had to be based on observance of rights and freedoms of civilians irrespectively of their nationality, confession or other differences. This legislation must be aimed at civic peace. “The end to the war. That’s it, we’ve had enough of war”, declared the Russian Federation Security Council Secretary A.Lebed. Aslan Maskhadov noted that “the war could be stopped much earlier”.
Ibragim was watching all processes that were going on in Chechnya still being in Kabardino-Balkaria. Ibragim, Khava and their eight-year-old daughter Liza (she was brought to Nalchik by Khava as soon as Ibragim got better and checked out from the hospital) took their belongings from the private apartment that they were renting and went home. The owner of the apartment, Nelya, was saying good-bye with sorrow and tears in her eyes. She got used to this kind and attentive young woman Khava who selflessly took care of her husband and daughter Liza and treated her with much respect and gratefulness. Before parting Nelya decided to give back all the rent she got from them while they stayed at her apartment, but as a token of gratefulness for her good-natured hospitality Ibragim and Khava refused to accept the money. Moreover, Khava took off her gold earrings and gave them to Nelya’s daughter Zalina.
The bus on which Ibragim and his family were going home crossed the administrative borders of Ossetia and Ingushetia and entered the territory of Chechnya. The bus was jumping all the time on the bumps of the road destroyed by the war. Ruins of houses, crippled and dead trees, wounded bushes and trees were passing by in the windows. It was a depressing scene, sore view. Ibragim compared himself with those trees, he was a cripple himself like those trees, he thought. It wasn’t a dream, all was real, it was the aftermath of war. The bus was slowly approaching the former city. Former Grozny disappeared having left kind of a ghost after itself. Instead of houses, streets, prospects, parks there were some phantasmagoric combinations of burnt and destroyed buildings, piles of construction debris, crammed roads… Ibragim with his wife and daughter were watching the terrifying and severe reality of today. The whole territory of Grozny was like one big wound. Crippled buildings, dirty markets, garbage and dust everywhere. He was a cripple and his capital was a cripple. It would have been better if he had been killed and would not see his town in ruins today: the town where he used to live, study and work. Ibragim saw the ruins of “Rodina” and “Yubileiny” movie theaters while “Kosmos” movie theater was completely wiped off the face of the earth. And in the past it was so cozy and homely. Ibragim used to go there when he was a student at the Chechen-Ingush State University. He saw that the most popular and sweetest shop in Grozny – “Stolichny” which they visited being students in their spare time to drink coffee and eat the most delicious pastries and cakes was leveled.
Next to “Stolichny” there used to be the building of the oldest hotel “Kavkaz”. It was restored before the war and it was part of a wonderful architectural ensemble together with a pompous presidential palace. Alongside there was an impressive building of the Council of Ministers of the Republic behind which there was a new complex of one of the oldest and one of the best oil institutes of the former USSR – the Grozny Oil Institute.
Ibragim was skipping on crutches like mad along central streets crammed with fragments of bricks and debris and couldn’t recognize the city. Khava and Liza could hardly follow him. Khava understood what was happening with her husband. Without a word, with tears in her eyes she was running after him, hurrying her daughter. Ibragim reached the place where the republican museum of regional studies situated. The museum used to be in the building of the Regional Party Committee. The museum used to have a huge collection of unique objects of mountain people’s everyday life from ancient times. The pride of the museum were richly decorated ancient arms; unique costumes of Makhmud Esambayev, the great dancer, which he presented to the museum; musical instruments which belonged to the grandfather of Muslim Magomayev, the famous singer; home utensils of ancient mountain-dwellers and things found during archeological excavations of ancient settlements of the vainakhs. It was all wiped out. The center of Grozny turned into a huge empty square surrounded by ruins. The art gallery where in small cozy halls there were pictorial canvases of various art schools, original paintings by famous Russian and foreign masters, sculptures and antique crockery was also in ruins. All that stayed only in Ibragim’s memory. He rushed towards the “Kosmos” movie theater as if he had lost something there. On the bank of the Sunzha river behind the cinema, in the park named after A.Chekhov there was a national library named after him. He was going there, no he wasn’t going, he was skipping on his crutches stifling from heat and dust. Having stumbled he fell down, lost his balance, one of the crutches stuck in a bent and dried fur-tree cut by an explosion and he nearly fell down in a shell-hole. Ibragim jumped up and stood up on his single leg leaning on one of the crutches and trying to catch sight of something important for him in all this chaos. But in vain, there was no library. The building, majestic by its architecture, which used to be the temple of books, disappeared from the face of the earth. This temple was the favorite place of students of Chechen-Ingushetia.
During his fussy running about Ibragim also saw tram rails deformed by bombs and shells; trolley-bus wires, which girdled the city before, were no longer there. He found the place where there used to be the shop “Okean” with a restaurant “Okean” on the top floor. Once the breath of the sea and its life could be felt there and one could buy and taste seafood there. The only sixteen-storey apartment house that was built in 1986 according to all rules of seismic stability was also in ruins. But even it could not defend itself from vandals. Devastation was everywhere. Bridges over Sunzha, parks, gardens, fountains – the joy of children and grown-ups in hot summer days – were also destroyed.
Shocked and exhausted Ibragim slowly lowered on the ground, leaning against one of the crutches. Khava came up to her husband, held out the other one and said: “Everything can be built anew and restored, but if you let destroy your spirit than it’s not worth doing”. Despite her feminine fragility she seemed to be stronger and to have more strength of will than Ibragim at that moment. She suffered not less than her husband, but as a mother, as a doctor, as a human being she behaved herself wisely and with dignity in the face of God, in the face of her husband and their child. And along with this she was sure of her husband, father of her children, a man who was sitting droop wiping off tears and sweat from the face with an empty trouser-leg in the face of chaos created by human hands. Ibragim was sitting. Then he rose, stood on his crutches and dragged slowly towards “Minutka” square together with his wife and daughter, pushing off with one leg and two crutches looking to the sides. On their way they came across checkpoints of federal troops with Russian servicemen but already controlled by volunteers and resistance fighters. When passing them Ibragim greeted Chechen fighters who stopped their conversation when they saw him and answered his greetings. The Russian servicemen guiltily cast down their eyes.
Joyful exultant people were walking among those ruins along destroyed streets and bridges. Looking at their faces Ibragim began to believe that the town was not dead, that his wife Khava was right that it would revive with the help of hands of these people. Just give them a chance! He also thought: "They should have made a special firing range as far from towns and settlements as possible for those who want to fight. Let warriors measure their forces there”. He was going along the Lenin Prospect and believed that the town would be even more beautiful, brighter. Grozny was not dead, it was only slightly ill. The city is dead when everybody leaves it and nobody returns there. Ibragim believed that peace had come to his long-suffering, always tortured but still dear and beloved motherland. He hoped that the terror of war would never happen again there.
They were walking for a long time but finally they reached their house. The house represented a sad scene. How much work was put in it, how many hopes were connected with it! The happiest days of Ibragim with Khava passed here. Love and minor family disputes, birth of daughter, sweet baby talk of Islam – all of this was only in memory now. Now in front of crippled one-legged Ibragim stood a crippled house, his dear home. Together with his family – his wife, son, daughter and relatives – Ibragim will restore his wounded house; he will heal its wounds and make it even more beautiful. It would be even more light and warm than before and they would have one more son. It was in Ibragim’s forces, he knew it firmly. But who would return his iron health, his leg to him? Who would return to Russian and Chechen mothers and fathers their perished sons? Who would heal the wounds and souls of crippled children and grown-ups? Who???
One would have to put up with it. One would have to live with it. Time heals. Despite all difficulties and deprivations he would take heart. He has a strong family. He has a firm belief in the future.
The new world
Ibragim and Khava decided to stay in the city for several days to clear the debris of the house and at the same time to look closely at what was happening in town and in the Republic. Ibragim’s parents together with Islam came to see them in Nalchik not long ago.
Their neighbors that lived two houses further on – a former engineer of the plant “Krasny molot” (Red Hammer) Pyotr Sergeyevich, Anna Stepanovna, a teacher of chemistry and their son Boris, of the same age with Islam – came to see Ibragim as soon as they learnt about their arrival. They knew already that Ibragim had had his leg amputated although they hadn’t seen each other for two years. As it is common among women, Khava and Anna began to cry. Pyotr and Ibragim having greeted and embraced each other stood for a long time silently. These two men who often visited each other, shared bread, sorrow and joy, understood that something incredible, terrifying happened in those two years. Anna Stepanovna invited them immediately for a cup of tea and offered to spend the night at their place. Boris pestered with questions when they would bring Islam to town. Women cooked supper. After supper they were sitting in the kitchen for a long time – they had what to talk about.
In the morning after breakfast Ibragim and Khava went to their yard to work on the house. They left Liza who hadn’t woken up yet with their hospitable neighbors. Pyotr and Anna also came to help them despite the fact that Ibragim had politely refused their help.
Anna and Pyotr saved many home belongings of Ibragim from marauders both from Russian side and from local swindlers. “One sofa and bedroom furniture were taken by military men”, said Anna Stepanovna, “and the fridge, the table, chairs and armchairs were taken by Chechen marauders. We managed to save only kitchen furniture and some trifles.
For the whole day they were clearing the debris of Ibragim’s house, half-destroyed, half-burnt, putting separately bricks and boards. While working they learnt more and more about what was happening in the republic.
The reconstruction of the school where Ibragim and Anna Stepanovna worked started. On the forth day after their return, having cleared the debris of the house, Ibragim and Anna went to school. The whole teaching staff and many high-school pupils (those who stayed alive and returned home) were busy with reconstruction work. Although means and materials allotted on the restoration were obviously not enough, the work was going on swimmingly and fast.
In the evening many teachers came to see Ibragim in Pyotr and Anna’s house. First of all they asked him to return to school, they spoke about difficulties which were awaiting them at the restoration of the economy and pillaged property in the republic. The military adventure of Russia in Chechnya was in the center of their attention. Torturous questions arose:
Why about 110 thousand of the Chechen population was killed, fifty percent of which were Russians; twenty thousand people in the Chechen Republic Ichkeria became invalids in Russian filtration points and camps; about twenty thousand Russian servicemen were killed; about four thousand rebels died?
Why Russian troops used kinds of weapons forbidden by international conventions: chemical shells, cluster bombs, bombs with needles inside, bombs stuffed with chemical and biological substances.
Why were barbarous means and methods of people’s elimination used: flame-throwers, napalm, carpet-bombings?
The answers to these questions were far from simple. Many questions stayed unanswered, especially those that concerned the real aims and tasks of the war. It was useless to look for culprits of the tragedy now. Time would judge everybody and everything. They agreed with each other that despite enormous losses and destruction Chechnya stood its ground. It was clear to everybody that the sovereignty was not an end in itself for Chechnya but a guarantee from inevitable genocide. It was clear that for the Chechens Russia was not a Motherland but a spiteful stepmother. And that staying within Russia the Chechens ran the risk of disappearing from the face of the earth as an ethnos, as a nation. It’s good to live with Russia if Russia is abroad. Although the Constitution of the Russian Federation declares that the Russian Federation is a union of equal subjects, the war showed that those were just empty words, empty printed phrases that did not have real force or value.
According to the treaty the withdrawal of troops from Chechnya began. Long columns of Russian troops moved one after the other. It seemed that there was no end to them. Looking at these infinite columns Ibragim had no doubt that in fact during the two years of war one million two hundred soldiers and officers passed through Chechnya, as it was written in some publications of mass media. Now this figure that he heard more than once wasn’t an idle fabrication for him. Many trucks in columns were loaded with used baths, furniture and other home utensils. Servicemen tried to take out what they didn’t manage to take during fights: TV sets, carpets, crockery and other property of the civilians. There were cases when Chechens from commandant companies stopped the cars and confiscated the looted goods from the thieves.
According to the official information the war in Chechnya cost Russia two and a half billion US dollars and according to the estimates of independent experts – it cost five-six billion. Wouldn’t it have been better if this money had been spent on aid to servicemen that were in such need that were not squeamish about used lavatory pans and baths.
The year 1996 passed in withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya and preparations for presidential and parliamentary elections.
Pre-election passions were running high. In the end of October 1996 the Committee of Defense of the Republic of Ichkeria decided that the resistance forces should nominate a single candidate. But nothing came of it. At first two candidates – Aslan Maskhadov and Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev – aspired to the leader’s role of the Chechen society. Yandarbiyev had the following arguments: he held the post of the Vice-president under Dzhokhar Dudayev and after his death acted as the President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. He was not a beginner in politics and that is why it would have been easier for him to negotiate with Moscow. He thought that Maskhadov was a figure convenient for Moscow and in case of his election he would pursue pro-Russian policy.
Maskhadov’s counter-argument was that thanks to him Chechnya managed to defend its sovereignty because he, being the chief of staff of the armed forces of Ichkeria thought over the tactics and strategy and the whole plan of the seizure of Grozny in August. With this he forced the command of the Russian troops and the government of the Russian Federation to withdraw troops from Chechnya.
Maskhadov’s opponents, watching society’s moods change in favor of Maskhadov because only he could build a viable state, eliminate the consequences of war, reproached him of the split of the nation. However, the majority of the Chechen society took the side of Maskhadov.
Following Yandarbiyev and Maskhadov, Shamil Basayev, Akhmed Zakayev and Movladi Udugov declared their wish to become the leaders of the nation.
The society didn’t want this collision and wished the leaders of the nation to nominate a single candidate. Unfortunately, the leaders failed to come to an agreement. This political opposition couldn’t turn to open confrontation. The aspiration to unity was too strong in Chechen society to allow this. Chechens countered that having found legitimate power bodies they would finally become citizens of independent state.
Without any doubt at that time anti-Russian moods dominated among politicians as well as in the society.
The fact that Aslan Maskhadov was more preferable for Moscow was said in all Russia mass media. According to Moscow’s opinion, Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev showed himself as an uncompromising politician. He was unpredictable for Moscow. Nor did Moscow want to see “terrorist #1” Shamil Basayev as the President. The signing in of the Decree of B.Yeltsin on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya and a Temporary Agreement with Prime-minister V.Chernomyrdin in November 1996 in Moscow could be understood as the first step towards Maskhadov as a future President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.
Moscow didn’t want to leave Chechnya but assured everybody it was not going to wage war with Chechnya anymore.
Among Russian military and politicians there were many opponents of the withdrawal of the troops and cessation of the war in Chechnya. It was considered as a military defeat of Russia in Chechnya, as unconditional surrender.
Some politicians openly expressed the thought that it was only a temporary truce with Chechnya, a kind of a time-out for Russia to strengthen and return to finish the begun war with a brilliant victory.
Pre-election campaigns of the main candidates were held on a massive scale. Movladi Udugov,radically disposed at the formation of Islamic State in Ichkeria, distinguished himself. Banners, calendars with his portraits and pre-election slogans could be seen everywhere.
Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev and Aslan Maskhadov didn’t fall far behind from him. Without any doubt, each one of them had rich sponsors, who financed their pre-election campaigns.
For Chechnya, destroyed by war, it was luxury. There were no dirty technologies as such although there were minor, miserable and disgraceful attacks of candidates at each other in mass media of the republic. However, Aslan Maskhadov and Akhmed Zakayev perhaps conducted the most correct pre-election campaigns.
The OSCE and Russian observers were present at the elections. The elections were recognized legitimate within the framework of international requirements. Having received sixty percent of the votes and leaving other candidates far behind Aslan Maskhadov became the President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Without any doubt people made this choice deliberately. Of all the candidates he was the most preferable – he was a more reserved person both as a politician and as a personality. Society pinned big hopes with him.
The election day didn’t pass without humor and sarcasm. Some wag who stayed unknown rode about polling stations with a mask of Yeltsin on his face and a big pre-election poster on his chest with a notice: “Chechens, vote for me! I promise to provide constitutional order in Russia and promise not to drink anymore”. He appeared with this poster and the mask at different polling stations, or he was found sitting on the ruins of destroyed houses. Journalists followed him everywhere asking different questions. To the question of a Turkish journalist “Yeltsin, is it true that you won’t drink?” the wag answered: “What else can I do when Shamil Basayev and Movladi Udugov introduced a dry law and beat forty times with sticks on the back for its violation. By the way, I’ve already made a circumcision”. Everybody around laughed and rebels made pictures with weapons in their hands next to “Yeltsin”.
There was also a gloomy moment when Ruslan Khasbulatov who was nominated candidate to presidency was forced to withdraw his candidature because rebels kidnapped his brother to make him do that.
On the whole the elections passed without any incidents, with maximum attendance of voters to the elections.
In connection with the events in Chechnya the slow restoration of economic infrastructure of the republic by Russia was stopped. At the same time the pro-Zavgayev “builders” were sitting in Moscow implementing this restoration on paper.
Expenses on the restoration of Chechnya were not in the budget (and this is the first sign that the party of war still exists in Russia and the army is likely to come back to finish off Chechnya). There was no money in the budget of Chechnya for the restoration of houses destroyed by war.
In connection with this a decision was made to restore brick factories, quarries, asphalt plants and to help the population with this.
Since October 1996 the Construction Ministry of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria begins to work. It coped with the set task and starting from 1997 the population of the republic began to receive for free the major part of building materials. The lossmaking work of the brick factories, sand and gravel quarries were also planned. The realization of the production of these plants for cash took place only within the limits needed to pay salaries to employees of these enterprises and taxes. Russia’s tax legislation, which was used in the republic, was reviewed. The new, lower scale of tax payments was introduced. Many categories of physical persons were freed from tax payments. The oil industry, the main source of revenues of the Chechen budget, was being restored. Authorities made everything possible in order to establish Chechen statehood. There were intensive negotiations with Russia on legitimization of interstate relations. In May 1997 a significant event took place in life of Chechen people – a meeting between Russian and Chechen presidents. At the negotiations the “Treaty on peace and principles of interrelations between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria” was signed. It was an earthshaking treaty, an unprecedented one in the Chechen history. According to this treaty the contracting parties wishing to stop the centuries-old opposition and trying to establish durable, equal, mutually beneficial relations, came to the following agreement:
- to refuse forever from use of threat or use of force when solving any disputable questions;
- to build their relations in accordance with generally acknowledged principles and norms of international law with both sides interacting in spheres determined by specific agreements;
- the treaty is the basis for signing of further treaties ad agreements on all complex of interrelations;
- the treaty comes into effect on the day of signing.
High was the value of Yeltsin's statement that the 4-year military opposition between The Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria was over and that from now on all questions would be solved politically at the negotiating table.
Shortly before these negotiations there were explosions in Armavir and Pyatigorsk and some journalists were taken hostages in Chechnya. But it didn’t stop the peace process. The good will of the presidents of Russia and of the Chechen Republic was seen in it. This showed that they turned out to be stronger than the party of war.
And what if it was just a window-dressing, which concealed the dirty enormity of politicians of such a rank?
The workday at school finished. Ibragim was about to go home. In the schoolyard Roman Khamidov, a teacher of physics, was starting his car. He saw Ibragim and offered to give him a lift on his “Zhiguli”. When passing Ordzhonikidze street they saw a congestion of cars and a little farther, at the square, they saw demonstrators and people that were listening to them. Ibragim and Roman stopped to listen what they were speaking about. It turned out that it was a meeting organized by Salman Raduyev.
Raduyev is related by marriage to the first president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria Dzhokhar Dudayev. Behind him there was a raid to Kizlyar, battles in Pervomayskoye and a title of a “Terrorist #2”. He successfully organized the so-called Dudayev’s army and at every opportunity he made a statement that Dzhohar Dudayev was alive and was about to come back to Chechnya.
Without any doubt, there were some influential powers behind him. Otherwise how could one explain his monthly trips abroad – to Pakistan or to Saudi Arabia in order to make a hadj to Mecca, as he explained it himself. And in summer 1996 he had a very difficult and expensive operation in Germany.
In terms of equipment “the army of General Dudayev” surpassed the army of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Raduyev wasn’t at government service. He didn’t have any visible sources of income. He assumed responsibility for the terrorist acts in Armavir and Pyatigorsk, having declared that he organized them in revenge to the intractability of Russia in the decision of the Chechen question. As response to his statement two Chechen girls were detained in Pyatigorsk. Their guilt wasn’t proved. There was no evidence against them. Having arranged a big political show around their trial the Russian court sentenced two poor girls to long terms of imprisonment.
Rumors circulated in Grozny that these girls were victims of dirty politics. They were shuttle traders. The relatives of the “terrorists” said the same. The representatives of special services having demonstrated the book by I.Bunich about the events in Budyonnovsk in which there was a picture of a girl from Basayev’s unit, claimed that it was she who was to blame for explosions in Pyatigorsk. But this girl from Basayev’s unit was in Chechnya at that time and had nothing to do with the one who was in Russian prison. All these facts were demonstrated to the Security Council Secretary I.Rybkin. However the process of conviction had already passed and no one stopped it. The result was just that two more victims were added to the victims of war.
Acts of sabotages on transport, which the FSB servicemen ascribed to Chechens, began in about half a year after the seizure of the village of Pervomayskoye by Raduyev and his unit. At first there were explosions in Moscow metro and two trolleybuses, a little later – at a railway station in Armavir and then there were two more acts of terrorism on the “Volgograd-Astrakhan” train. Later there was a statement that there was an attempt to set up an explosion at the railway station in Voronezh. And in December 1996 a car in Saint Petersburg’s metro was blown up. And now – an explosion at the railway station in Pyatigorsk. Of all these crimes only the act of terrorism in Pyatigorsk is considered discovered. Chechens were allegedly involved in all these acts. Raduyev took responsibility for all these acts of terrorism with pleasure. However, official Chechnya tried its best to dissociate itself from these groundless statements of Salman Raduyev.
Raduyev with readiness took the responsibility for any cataclysm in Russia and was ready to take responsibility even for the Tungus meteorite that fell down in 1908 in Eastern Siberia. He was ready to take responsibility, to accept as the creation of his hands a volcanic eruption, earthquakes, floods, if his masters demanded it. And the fact that he had a master or masters was certain. His statements were accepted with visual pleasure by Russian special services and were published in mass media. It was beneficial for them if a “Chechen trace” was seen in it. They didn't seem to care mush about such trifles as presumption of innocence, absence of any information that proved the presence of the “Chechen trace”. The main thing was to publish, and then someone might swallow it, someone might eat it. The main thing was to maintain the image of a “spiteful Chechen sharpening his dagger”, the image created during years, decades. What if this image may be of use in the future?
The formation of “Dudayev’s army” had a clearly seen goal. Thus it was stressed that there was a “Dzhokhar’s way” and “Maskhadov’s way”, that is Maskhadov went aside, departed from goals and tasks that Dudayev set forth, was pursuing capitulatory policy and was about to renounce the idea of the sovereignty, which Dudayev was propagating. It gave opportunity to Raduyev and his proteges to divert active layers of the society from Maskhadov. Salman Raduyev's rallies were attended by those who yesterday spoke against Russian occupation of Chechnya. The “Dudayev’s army” was joined by those who yesterday fought shoulder to shoulder against the occupants. Thus, the split became obvious in the ranks of brothers-in-arms.
From the part of Chechen authorities Raduyev got off easy. Later he successfully continued his activity in the form of various political provocations. On the Svoboda Square (former Lenin's Square) continuous meetings organized by Raduyev were taking place. The demonstrators were on his generous allowances. It might seem that he should have been taken to account forcibly, but under the conditions of instability both inside and outside the country it was dangerous. This restrained Maskhadov.
Despite the lack of financing, restoration work began in Chechnya. Car repair shops opened, gas stations were built, parks and gardens were restored, the drama theater was restored, debris which appeared on the place of the destroyed buildings was taken away. Within the limits of their capacity young people began studies in the repaired schools and universities.
On the next day Ibragim went to work. Children, yearning for knowledge gladdened with their eagerness to study. Despite the fact that financing of educational institutions was bad, teachers didn’t leave their work places. They had faith and for the sake of it they were ready for temporary difficulties. The problem of salary of people working in the sphere of education was not left without the attention of the authorities – the gap was covered either by payment in kind or by money. Thanks to efficient help of a construction organization, as a war invalid and thanks to relatives’ help Ibragim managed to quickly restore his house, as they say, one can keep living. Only the political situation around and inside Chechnya worried. It’s impossible to stay beyond politics in Chechnya, which was entirely politicized.
In august 1997 a regular meeting of presidents of Russia and Chechnya took place. Urgent problems of Russian-Chechen relations were discussed at the negotiations. “We must continue further steps as regards to liberty of the Chechen Republic”, declared President B.Yeltsin. Along with this he laid stress that there “would be a mutual economical, defensive and aviation space” on the territory of Chechnya. The statements didn’t meet and couldn’t meet any objections from the side of the Chechen delegation. Neither in the program statements of A.Maskhadov, nor in his acts were there were hints that Chechnya wanted to separate itself from Russia by an iron fence.
Maskhadov always stressed that Chechnya needed sovereignty in order to make itself secure against periodical attacks from the Russian side in the form of various wars and deportations. It would allow Chechnya in the case of the next aggression of Russia to appeal to world powers as a subject of international law. And Chechnya couldn’t fence itself off Russian at least because it is tied with it as with no other country in the world - culturally, economically, ethnically. In these conditions the incomprehension of obvious connecting issues or unwillingness to see and understand them from the part of Russian politics was at least strange.
At the same summit it turned out that from the beginning of 1997 eight hundred forty seven billion rubles were transferred for the restoration of economy and social sphere of Chechnya, and in future it was planned to transfer monthly one hundred and twenty billion rubles.
This statement was a revelation for the Chechen delegation. A.Maskhadov declared that not eight hundred forty seven billion but only one hundred twenty billion rubles had been transferred.
“I have one figure and Aslan Aliyevich has a figure which is six times smaller… Eight billion are allotted and here, in the national bank only one hundred billion were found. Were did the rest of the money go – the deuce knows. “Well, of course, it is necessary to have a profound check of the matter”, remarked Boris Yeltsin on that issue.
The Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin, who held that post then, volunteered to comment on the situation. He explained that “eight hundred forty seven billion rubles have already been transferred, - it is real. The other thing is that apart from the cash, there was circulation of non-cash payments, bills of exchange and guaranteed notes. The amount of cash is of course smaller there”, but he did not give the exact amount. And billions of rubles were embezzled before reaching Chechnya. And man, both military and politicians tried their best to hinder such meeting with the President of the Russian Federation.
Later Russian high-ranking officials would explain where the most part of this money disappeared. They said the money was spent on the payment for Russian electricity and gas, which come to Chechnya from Ossetia, Stavropol and Ingushetia. It should be noted that the majority of the population of the Republic used gas and electricity free of charge.
In Chechnya itself Maskhadov’s opponents didn’t fail to make use of the statement that eight hundred forty seven billion rubles had been allotted to Chechnya. Further statements and the assertion of the Chechen President that only one hundred twenty billion rubles were transferred were not taken into consideration. Intellectual fermentation began. At a Raduyev’s rally Maskhadov’s government was openly accused of the embezzlement of the money. The situation in Chechnya became aggravated. However, Maskadov chose a weighted and wait-and-see policy.
1998 was the year of good harvest. All branches on trees in Ibragim’s garden were bowed down with the abundance of juicy apricots and cherry. Hardly Khava had time to make stewed fruit and preserves from them, give excesses to relatives, when cucumbers, tomatoes and later – apples ripened. Khava made many different pickles and they were a great help in housekeeping. During his free time Ibragim helped his wife as much as he could. A sack or two of flour, a sack of sugar and one can easily live till next spring and summer, they thought. Ibragim and his son often went to the village to help his parents. They stored up firewood, hay and Khava took tinned vegetables and fruit to her mother-in-law Kheda despite the fact that Kheda preserved a lot of jam, stewed fruit and pickles. Diligent Zaurbek stored up meat. He always kept two dozens of sheep, couple of cows, three or four bull-calves and a horse. Kheda often went to the city to see her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren and brought them meat, cheese and butter.
Only at work and household cares Ibragim had some rest from Raduevs, Maskhadovs, Barayevs, Yeltsins and others who were high and low at other time.
It was a distraction. If it were not for it, Ibragim would go crazy. Sometimes he didn’t even want to turn on TV, read newspapers and magazines. The only friends with whom Ibragim didn’t lose friendship, never quarreled, and to whom he always returned were books by Russian and foreign classics. Those were his real friends. Together with the heroes of Jack London he got over the “white, whitest silence” on sledges, rushed along icy waters of Yukon on a boat, extracted gold panning out mountain rock containing golden sand. Together with the heroes of Dostoyevsky he was looking for the meaning of life, tried to find out the depths of human psychology. When reading the Kuprin’s “Garnet Bracelet” he imagined himself in the place of Zheltkov. Together with the heroes of Dumas he made palace revolutions, participated in palace intrigues and fought duels. When reading Homer he was carried away to the ancient world of Greece. Rereading Shakespeare he imagined himself the shadow of Hamlet’s father.
The world of books is enormous and Ibragim was wandering in this enormous world. It was one of his good things of life, which no one could take away. There was nobleness in books; there was sacrifice for the sake of high ideals. In books, the good always defeated the evil and that is why the world of books was so fascinating for Ibragim. When reading Machiavelli and Gustav Lebon he understood how cruel and unpredictable are people longing for power, what psychological influence their works had on tyrants and satraps who plunged their people into the terrors of war and devastation.
Being on war and in exile Ibragim always remembered and worried about his friends - books. Having returned from Nalchik he found out that almost all books were safe and on their place. However, almost all of them were scattered about the rooms and were lying in the yard. But not a single book was taken away. Those that were lying about in the yard swelled from rain and snow, the pages stuck together, were stained with dirt. He had to burn them with regret. About one hundred books suffered from Ibragim’s library, which consisted of more than one thousand volumes. Losses were not big, tolerable. His wife said about it: “Remember, I reproached you that you spend much of your salary on books? Now I regret it. Forgive me for that. It would have been better if we had bought books instead of home stuff. They would have been with you today and would have brought you pleasure and joy”. Fortunately, his son Islam who was fourteen years old followed him and loved books passionately.
Not having other wealth apart from his family and books that he had been collecting all his life, Ibragim in a sentimental outburst made an inscription to his son on all his books. Islam, with adulation, so characteristic of a teenager, highly appreciated his father’s gift.
Only when Islam was lying on a sofa with a book in his hands or when he was watching endless American action movies, horror films or fiction having buried his face into the TV screen, his parent didn’t worry about him. But as soon as he went somewhere with his teenager friends (and his ten-year-old sister rushed to sneak on her dear brother) his parent began to worry and wait impatiently for his return home.
Along the streets of the town the outrageous fighters drove very often –the “saviors of the Fatherland”, the new bosses of life, with arms hanging on them from head to toe. It happened that they opened desultory fire here and there. Citizens were afraid of them.
The so-called “settlements” between these “saviors of the Fatherland” also happened. In this case they did not care for passers-by and didn’t take them into consideration. There were cases when their stray bullets killed or injured innocent people, both children and grown-ups.
After the withdrawal of Russian troops returned those who tailed off and hid themselves at the first sounds of war in numerous Russian towns. Making use of ties of blood, flattery, those who were sitting in Russian prisons or were in criminal business in Russia, having returned to Grozny, with the help of bribes and other fraud declared themselves defenders of motherland – Ichkeria – and used this title imprudently. Many of them had certificates of war participants, medals and orders. These things could be bought any time at the central market of Grozny. Having never tasted the smell of powder, they, having heard the tales from experienced warriors told incredible stories about their war feats. In Chechnya they were called “cooperative warriors-heroes”.
Another group of the “saviors of the Fatherland” consisted of those who were marauding during war. Night and day they were scouring about empty houses and apartments taking away everything which was worth at least something. They took it away to quiet districts and sold it dirt-cheap as their property.
They were buying drugs on the earnings and were constantly in a state of intoxication. When drugs ended they returned to their dirty business. The resistance fighters punished marauders cruelly if they got in their hands. They were shot right where they were caught. That is why marauders were afraid of the resistance fighters more than Russian soldiers whom they could pay off with vodka or money.
Both groups of the “saviors of the Fatherland” comprised the backbones of the gangs that kidnapped people, stole oil, committed contract murders and other crimes. The fight against them was carried on but on the background of the Chechen Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other power bodies they didn’t feel bad.
Mobile and well armed, they didn’t see any threat for themselves from the law enforcement, who needed if not all but much. There were cases when an entire mobile group on new cars packed with well-armed people came to the rescue of a detained bandit. Having automatic weapons, grenade launchers, they declared an ultimatum or stormed a detainment center or a district militia station and freed their friend. They did it quickly. Because of poor mobile communication help didn’t come to militiamen in time.
After each case of liberation of hostages, taken by kidnappers and ransomed by Boris Berezovsky, these “dashing guys” appeared on car markets, they bought wholesale a batch of new cars and having made handwritten inscriptions like “gift from Masyuk”, “gift from Vlasov” whisked away in search of new feats.
The majority of real saviors of the Motherland were engaged in peaceful constructive labor: some were occupied with agriculture, some treated people, some, like Ibragim, taught. Some part of former resistance fighters went to serve in the Ministry of Interior Security and the Department of State Security. Some people served in presidential guard, in the ministers’ or deputies’ guard. There were those who guarded important state objects, in particular – the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline, which was of much political and economical importance. There were those who moved abroad.
However, at the same time the field commanders who took high posts in the post-war Chechnya had their own criminal groups and covered them as well as they could and as well as they could influence governmental structures. Having shown the example of degradation of personality with the help of their life, having lost love and respect of nearest and dearest, they presented and frightful force. They committed any crime at first shyly and then braver and more imprudently feeling their impunity. There was no limit to absurdity, cruelty of their evil deeds. Stupefied by narcotics (the Sharia forbids drinking alcohol), they committed new and new “feats”. For them lives of both Chechens, Russian, Armenians and people of other nationalities did not cost a thing. All were potential victims for them. The main thing for them was to get benefit for themselves in the form of rubles and dollars.
Such groupings using with the banner of the liberation movement, the banner of Islam and the names of famous field commanders and leaders as a cover committed the gravest and the most sinister crimes disgracing Chechen people all over the world.
Truly, they did no draw lessons from the war. Truly, the war turned out to be a profitable and useful business for them. Yesterday’s poor, having surfaced on the wave of a social shock, became the masters of life today. All attributes of dolce vita were at hand. They had no future. As they say, no matter how long is the rope, it has an end. One cannot mock at a nation with impunity.
It was obvious that these “people” were tied up with powerful forces abroad. Without dirty hands and sold-out consciousness it was impossible to get such profit as they did in the republic destroyed by war.
The fact that they rode with impunity about Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kazan and other towns of Russia and all over the world showed that certain forces in Moscow protected them. The fact that they had material possibilities for the fulfillment of all their whims showed the same. It was painful to hear the statements of Shamil Basayev and his father that they received two million dollars from Boris Berezovsky. The man who could go down in history of Chechnya as a hero turned out to be a mercenary. It was painful to hear that Movladi Udugov, who had won the fame of the mouthpiece of the Chechen independence also received money from Boris Berezovsky. The behavior of Barayev, Raduyev, Akhmadov brothers and others who were engaged in dirty kidnapping was sickening. This evil accumulated and it could be responded with the evil not only against the bearers of the evil but against all Chechen people. Was there war against this evil in Chechnya? Yes, there was! But not to the right degree and not that cruelly as it should have been. To struggle effectively with crime, which reached such proportions, the solidarity of the whole society was needed. But development of social consciousness and its consolidation is not happening during one day. This process demands time, especially in the post-war period. But it has started already. The process of counteraction to criminals and their organizations has started.
Watching the events in Chechnya Ibragim without idle curiosity also followed political processes in the world and Russia, especially those that were connected with Chechnya. Thus, on October 14, 1997 the State Duma of the Russian Federation discusses two draft agreements (Russian and Chechen) between the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and Russia. The Russian project was a compilation of Agreements about basic principles of interrelations between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic, signed some time ago by Doku Zavgayev, and an agreement of the Russian Federation with Tatarstan. It ignored not only Khasavyurt agreements of Maskhadov and Lebed but also the Agreement on peace and principles of interrelations between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic signed by Maskhadov and Yeltsin on May 12, 1997. The State Duma of the Russian Federation supported the principles of the territorial integrity of Russia, with this taking the side of the Kremlin. There was no wish to reach consensus on the question of Chechnya’s status at Russian side neither from the Kremlin nor the State Duma.
Demagogy, spread around the problem of the status in all echelons of the Russian power, suppressed all other questions of Chechnya that given Russia’s goodwill, had to be solved separately from the issue of the status.
The statement of the guarantor of the Russian Constitution B.Yeltsin: “We should continue further steps as regards freedom of the Chechen Republic Ichkeria”. Hence, one could have no doubt in the lack of interest of Russia in the decision of economical problems of post-war Chechnya.
The idea “not to give money to Chechnya” became more and more popular. The Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation sabotaged the already accepted agreements, referring to the lack of resources. It meant that there was no money for the restoration of economy and reimbursement of damage, caused to the population during war in the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria from 1994 to 1996.
At the same time beginning from 1997 payment of compensations to the population of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria of all nationalities that had left Chechnya before July 30, 1997 began all over Russia. Along with this the written refusal of all claims for housing that they had or used to have in Chechnya was necessary as well as a refusal from the right to return to Chechnya during the next five years.
However, in order to get the money one had to overcome dozens of bureaucratic obstacles to gather a proper set of documents necessary for getting the compensation for the lost housing and property. It was a tiresome legwork where without bribing it was impossible to get a single document with a signature of attesting bureaucrats. Moreover, when getting the compensation the recipient had to leave half of the sum to the “office” that paid it. As a result, taking into account all expenditures the victim got only a small fraction of it. Bureaucrats enriched themselves on such operations. Thus, many regions that received refugees from Chechnya enriched themselves through compensation payments and other humanitarian aid, which they used for their own needs. On this background the war in Chechnya was profitable for many ruling circles and powerful structures. And they, flinging mud at Chechen people tried to maintain the state of war as long as possible. And what is it if not one of the forms of deportations of Chechen people and genocide?
Almost all Russian mass media ran titles of the articles about acts of terrorism with “Chechen trace”, about taking hostages and so on. When the Chechen side declared its readiness to open a wide front of struggle with terrorists and kidnappers, it turned out that dashing generals and Russian special services that struggle so successfully with terrorists and kidnappers on the Russian territory, could not struggle with them on the Chechen territory because they were afraid to become victims of terrorism and kidnappers.
By the beginning of 1998 only one agreement out of five signed with Moscow was fulfilled. It was the agreement on the transportation of Azerbaijan oil through Chechnya. A special unit to guard it was formed. Thus, several more hundreds of people got jobs. And what should the rest do?
Having analyzed the situation, Ibragim came to a conclusion that the statements of Russian politicians in which they justified the economic blockade of Chechnya were na;ve and provocative. They declared that if they start restoring the economy of the Chechen Republic it would mean that Russia paid contribution. And this means in its turn that Russia admits that it lost war to small Chechnya. But this is a disgrace! It can’t be like that! That is why one should take one’s revenge in order not to admit Chechnya an independent state.
Did Russia win or lose the war? First, why war? Didn’t Russia yesterday when there was war in Chechnya, yelled passionately that there was no war there, there was only the restoration of constitutional order. And in fact no one ever declared war from the Russian side. According to the Russian Constitution of 1993, the procedure of declaring a war is quite complex. The same Constitution stresses Russia’s peace-loving character and only defensive war, a war against aggression from outside is assumed.
Decision about declaring a war must be adopted on the basis agreement among all the verticals of power of Russia. The Decree of the President must be considered and approved by the State Duma as well as by the Federation Council. For Chechnya, within the framework of the Constitution it was acceptable to introduce the state of emergency on its territory. However, this wasn’t done. That meant that constitutional order was being restored in Chechnya! Then there is only one issue left for discussion: was that constitutional order restored or not?
If we follow this logic further, than in Budyonnovsk and Pervomaisk it was also the restoration of constitutional order. And there it was restored for sure. All residents of these districts who suffered received compensations and the infrastructure of those places was restored. De jure Russia has not recognized the status of Chechnya and it is still hanging in the air. It means, that de jure the territory of Chechnya is the same territory of Russia as the territory of Budyonnovsk and Pervomaisk and that means it has the same rights as they. This is why now be good enough to pay all the bills and observe human rights and do not bomb the innocent, do not beat people unmercifully, do not offend people by using different pejorative names, which insult dignity and rights of Chechen people.
If Chechnya is not the territory of the Russian Federation as the 1993 Constitution says (it was done after Chechnya declared itself an independent state in 1991) this means that Russia waged war with Chechnya. In this case the Constitution is infracted in some articles: on the procedure of declaring a war, on the doctrine on the peace-loving character of Russian foreign policy, on waging war only with aggressors. A big number of articles of the Constitution were violated by its guarantor - President Yeltsin.
On the territory of Russia the refugees from Chechnya were considered not refugees but forced migrants, that is interior migrants and that is why they were no subject to the legal acts on the «refugee status» and other laws that would allow them to live on Russian territory with a certain status. It should be noted that getting the status of a forced migrant for people of Chechen nationality was a very difficult thing: they had to pay for the document, which confirmed that status. Formally there were no refugees, there was no declaration of war, and there was no violation of the constitution. In fact there was an undeclared war, there were undeclared refugees. All articles of the Constitution of the Russian Federation of 1993 that deal with Chechnya and its population were infracted. It was this way and only this way!
Culprits in unleashing of this war were not determined, culprits in waging this war were not announced, butchers of Samashki, Serzhen-Yurt, Goyskoye, Chiri-Yurt and many other places and the capital of Chechnya – Grozny were not determined and punished. Butchers of more than one hundred fifty thousand people of the Chechen Republic were not punished. Orders and medals that dashing generals and soldiers received for genocide in Chechnya were not taken away. It turned out that there were too many culprits. Did the Superpower Russia lose war to small Chechnya? Beyond all doubts, yes, it did!
If one understands the word “superpower” or “great Russia” only as Russia possesses a great arsenal weapons of mass destruction and vast territory, if the presence of this weapon gives her the right to trample upon its laws as well as the international law, then, of course, it didn’t lose the war. Then, a victorious “Hurrah” is still ahead and Russia, choking with blood of its own people, will look for victorious ends in blind rage, regardless of its own and other people. Someone will be pushing Russia to murder for the sake of its own mercantile interests and it will continue killing its imaginary enemies. But if Russia claims the status of the great power and wants to consolidate itself in the eyes of the whole world in this quality, than, first of all, no matter how difficult and painful it may be, it should announce the culprits of the Chechen tragedy both on the Chechen and the Russian sides. Punish these culprits according to the norms of civilization. Offer apologies to Chechen people, that is all people living in Chechnya. Settle at the negotiating table all disputable questions with Chechnya and for their quickest settlement contracting parties must work night and day. Restore the infrastructure of Chechnya. Pay compensations to Chechen population for lost housing and property in full scale. Let it be done not immediately, but step by step. The economic situation of Russia is difficult and that is why it should take firm obligations that it will be done to the extent of potential and possibilities. Germany may serve as an example to Russia – it started to pay compensations for the sins of the Hitlerite regime.
Having solved this so-called domestic problem, Russia must make some steps towards the countries of Europe, Asia and America. Only then Russia will be a superpower. Only then Russia will be a Great country. And no one will doubt its greatness even with the presence of economic problems.
Because of political and economical blockade from the Russian side the crime rate grew sharply, despite all efforts of President Maskhadov to fight against criminal groupings. Destroyed houses, unemployment, lack of money in the Republic served as the cause of the fact that people were forced to look for means of existence and they didn’t always do it legally.
Beginning from the middle of 1997 the “condensate” boom began. Yesterday’s boys, devoid of joys of life, not having any opportunity to find work or continue their studies in higher education establishments (the gaps in school education were too big to pass exams to higher education establishments), threw themselves to digging wells. This young generation opposed the injustice of this world as much as they could. They didn’t want to stay on the side of the life, tried to come up to the world, wanted to support their relatives materially. They declared that majority of them didn’t want to march to uncertainty with arms at the ready. And many of them, pure in their yearning to be only creators, became victims of these wells. The point is that at the depth of ten-twelve meters oil condensate appears, which can be pumped out with the help of simple pumps. As a result of primitive refining with use of home-made equipment it is possible to produce low-quality production from it – gasoline and solar oil. It is risky to dig to this depth – at the depth of seven-eight meters evaporation of gas begins and loose walls of the well may collapse any moment.
When digging the wells one of the diggers goes down there in a gas mask, to which air was supplied from a vacuum cleaner working from the mains in the house. Even the strongest managed to do this job for not more than fifteen-twenty minutes. When the digger was at the edge of his forces he pulled at the end of the rope. He was dragged out quickly. Another digger went down to replace him and so on until they found condensate. Thus all ground was dug up in many districts of Grozny. There was some division of labor among the oilmen: some of them dug wells, some pumped out oil condensate, some took it out and others boiled it and distilled gasoline and solar oil from it. Those who were engaged in buying up, took the low-quality gasoline and solar oil to neighboring regions and sold it there dirt-cheap. Later these small groupings united in big groups that began to compete with each other. Struggle for the territories where the oil condensate could be found began.
The labor conditions were hard, but the salary was stable. Apart from making harm to the environment they also damaged their health. Being the whole day near the distilling equipment, maintaining the fire regime they inhaled toxic evaporations of the condensate. Distillers made according to the simplest design, were antediluvian and this is why they often exploded. Many died when condensate barrels exploded or when the wells collapsed or during firefights between the groupings for the redivision of the territory of oil production.
These businessmen became an object of attention of local power bodies, especially Department for struggle against economic crimes of the Ministry of Interior, State Security Department. Many of those who were engaged in this business were under the cover of local criminal authorities and field commanders.
Clergy talked in mosques about the fatality of the “condensate business”, blamed it, and noted that in fact it was a theft of people’s property. Besides, religious figures also drew attention to the high death rate among young people who were engaged in this business and enormous damage, which was, caused to nature and health of people. But no one was going to listen to their admonition.
The attitude of the authority towards the “condensate business” was double. From the economic point of view it was justified and unjustified business, because with time condensate would have come up on the surface, would have flooded the ground and get into rivers. And the Chechen government didn’t have resources to raise the oil production to the extent necessary to take the excess, which accumulated in the ground. However, at the same time it harmed ecology and health of people. The situation was especially intolerable in the southeast part of Chechnya where every village poisoned the atmosphere with toxic discharges in the air from mini-plants for gasoline production. Besides, several large torches were burning in the places where oil derricks used to be and now thousands of tons of oil were splashing out under pressure. It was impossible to put them out without special equipment. It was even impossible to approach them closer than two hundred meters. Some of them were burning from the first war of 1994. Suffocating smog spread out its ominous wings all over Chechnya. The death rate of the population grew sharply, lung diseases, especially tuberculosis became a common, population growth dropped by half. In Shalinsky region, the center of domestic production of gasoline, more than thirty thousand children a year were born before war; in 1997 less than fifteen thousand children were born, part of them – with birth defects. Of course, this misfortune didn’t justify the fact that the cost of gasoline in the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria was the lowest on the entire territory of the former USSR. Nothing from this business came to the Republic’s treasury. All these pluses and minuses of the “condensate business” were taken into account by the government of the Republic and it was decided to struggle it in a slipshod manner for the time being and this struggle did not have a systematic character but a periodical one. However, during one year one thousand two hundred of those self-made plants for oil processing were destroyed.
There was even a moment when Shamil Basayev, at that time prime minister of the Chechen government, spoke on local television and admitted the usefulness of this business. The “condensate business” flourishes in Chechnya until now but with arrival of Russian troops, mostly the military are engaged in it and the scale of this murderous business is enormous. It’s millions of dollars of unaccounted cash flowing into the pockets of generals and their prot;g;s.
In rural districts apart from farming, people also sell firewood. Trees that could be used for construction and in various industries are cut for firewood even now. The population of five mountain regions of Chechnya – Vedensky, Nozhai-Yurtovsky, Shatoisky, Itum-Kalinsky, Galanchursky varies depending on political and economic components of the life of the society, within three hundred thousand people. In this case the situation is aggravated by the fact that Russian side cut the gas supply to Chechnya and thus the number of consumers of firewood in the plains adjacent to the foothills added to consumers of gas and coal. By a modest computation of the forestry workers of the republic, it was necessary to produce up to three hundred thousand cubic meters of firewood a year for the heating of houses, schools, hospitals and other establishments. Moreover, up to three hundred thousand cubic meters were deforested for the building of broken and destroyed houses. Forest became a profitable item. A truck of firewood cost five hundred rubles. A woodcutter didn’t care what he was cutting – a beech or an ash. Valuable trees were also cut down. Thus, the republic lost from eight hundred to a thousand US dollars on each cubic meter of valuable trees deforested for heating and building. It was barbarism. But nothing could be changed because everybody in Chechnya destroyed by the war was in need of warmth. It was the result of Russian purposeful policy – taming of a rebellious republic. It was a vivid lesson to potential mutineers from the subjects of the Russian Federation – this is where a sore eagerness to independence can lead. First it razed all economy and housing in the republic, then set it adrift, then hindered all positive initiatives, thus undermining creative processes. It was clear that Russia was preparing itself for a new variant of taming of Chechnya.
In the afternoon, Bagauddin Didigov, chief of district administration came to the school where Ibragim worked. He and Ibragim were friends since studentship. Bagauddin studied at the Oil Institute. They got acquainted at the library named after A.P.Chekhov and since then maintained friendly relations. Bagauddin went through the war from the beginning to the end. He was wounded in the stomach during the storm of Grozny in August 1996 and decorated with an order. He was loyal to Russia in his political views but thought that Chechnya must be a subject of international law.
Bagauddin appealed to the school leadership to send one of the teachers to the television center to speak on the local channel.
During the break the teachers’ council was convened and the chief of administration appealed to everybody who could cope with this task. Someone referred to the lack of time, someone felt shy to appear on the screen and almost everybody refused. Then Bagauddin looked pleadingly at Ibragim and asked him to come to help, having explained that it was difficult to get some air time out and one should speak today. At first Ibragim decided to reject the friend’s request but having remembered how Bagauddin helped him to restore the destroyed house after the war by giving part of construction materials free of charge, he agreed. Moreover, Ibragim had a lot to share not only with his parents but also with many compatriots.
“Five minutes are not enough for me. I need not less than half an hour. This is my first condition. Secondly, no one should hinder me unless I finish my appeal”, said Ibragim to his friend and added, “The time of my appearance must be appointed not earlier than 8p.m., when the majority of people in the republic are at home and turn on their televisions”.
Bagauddin agreed and left for the television center to set the time of the appearance at 8:30p.m.
Ibragim went to his study to prepare for the coming appearance. His friend and colleague, Roman, a teacher of physics, dropped in and offered to take Ibragim to the television center and then – home. “I’ll only take my wife home before that and will be back to take you from school”, said Roman to Ibragim. And they agreed.
At half past seven they arrived to the television center where they were already expected. Roman stayed in the car and Ibragim with television men entered the building of the television center where he had to speak. He was glad that his speech would be broadcast live. They could erase some things he wanted to say, if they recorded it in advance. The editor of the program, an elderly woman about fifty began to explain to Ibragim, what he could say and what he couldn’t. The main thing, she warned, not to accentuate his speech on politics, economy or religion.
- Are you offering me to dance a lezginka on one leg here? – said Ibragim rapping with a crutch at the artificial leg and added frowned: - The text is coordinated with the town administration and the Ministry of Culture. If you interfere, I’ll go home and you look for somebody else for your show.
- No, no. I have nothing against you. It’s just that when somebody comes to speak, many of them tell some unnecessary and antistate things… May I look at your text? – she asked, lowering her tone of the mistress of the situation.
- I don’t see any state here so far and as to my text – it is in my stupid head, which agreed to this spectacle.
- All right, all right. I’m sorry. Let’s go to the make-up room, we must make you up.
- You have been powdering my brains and now you’re going to powder my face? – said Ibragim with a grin baffling the woman completely and asked: - And where is your cameraman? I want to ask him to show me better to people. What if some beauty among spectators will like me? It’s in fashion now to have three-four wives.
- He is busy now. He's on the program. But he'll be here soon.
When the cameraman came, Ibragim took him aside and asked:
- What's your name?
- Dzhamaika, - he answered.
- Dzhamaika, Jamaica… Dzhamal! Is this your name? Listen to me…
- No, my name is Dzhamaika…
- Don't interrupt me. Your name is Dzhamal, - said Ibragim pulling up the cameraman and continued: - I have half an hour. If you switch off your camera or prevent me from finishing my monologue, you don't work here anymore! Got me?
- Yes, I see. Didigov has already told me to shoot you well.
- Not to shoot but to show me! It's the sniper who shoots and your are a cameraman with big future and send somewhere this woman in glasses.
- Zainap? She’s a managing editor. She’ll go home soon – her son has stolen a fianc;e.
- That’s good, we understood each other, - Ibragim patted Dzhamaika on the shoulder.
Zainap dropped in the make-up room where Ibragim was. Having renounced the make-up he was sitting on a chair reading some magazine without cover with the description of techniques of shooting and showing in 1982 of the film “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez” on paid cable television Embassy Home Entertainment and also about its creators Robert Young, Montesuma Esparza and Michael Housman. Having noticed Zainap, Ibragim raised his eyes from the magazine and asked her showing it:
- Learning from American professionals?
- Well, we are still legging behind! They have millions of dollars in circulation and we cannot even afford ourselves to buy tapes to make a recording, so we have to work live. I hope everything will be wonderful. I have to hurry home, so I ask you to excuse me, otherwise I would have stayed and helped you, - said Zainap at the same time trying to find out what Ibragim would speak about during his appearance.
- No, don't worry… You’ve helped a lot, thank you and good bye, Ibragim helped her to make her bow.
In the room behind the steel door with a sign “Quiet! Live broadcast”, there were two more people besides the cameraman: a sound technician and light technician.
Ibragim began his speech with a greeting of all people of the republic. He said that he would speak Russian because the republic was considered multinational, moreover, according to the Russian military leadership, it was satiated with Arabs, Africans, Ukrainians and representatives from all over the world, up to Indians, Chinese, Papuans, not speaking about Baltic people.
“Of course, it’s good that representatives of different nationalities come to our republic. But I wonder, what have they come here with?
I work as vice-principal for studies and also teach Russian language and literature at school #41 of the Leninsky district of Grozny. But I never noticed in our or other schools children of these foreigners, the number of which is reported higher than ourselves. Apparently, their wives and children are in more peaceful and comfortable country or countries. And those who have come here and walk with arms in their hands must understand or the leadership of our republic must explain to them that if I’m not mistaken we are building a peaceful state and not a firing ground.
Then, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we, Chechens, the original inhabitants of this republic, our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and children, although two years have passed after the end of the war, we cannot fully realize what has happened to us, and what continues to happen. They either annihilate us in a moment by bombs, bullets, rockets, or they take us to Siberia, Kazakh steppes and leave us to the mercy of fate, or implant invisible enemies to us, inspire our souls with evil and we keep on dying slowly.
The aggression of Russia with its empire ambitions has a muscular-demonstrational character to show us and others that it can treat us as it likes because we are its subjects and live on “its” territory. Russia considers that sheltered us out of its humanity so that we would not “eat” each other. The ensuing consequences manifest themselves in social and ethical degradation of society and leadership of the Russian Federation. Pseudo-Russian patriots like Yeltsin, Chernomyrdin, Shakhrai, Kulikov, Lobov and others threw the great Russia into the chaos – mythical democracy. These people not having a notion of honest policy finally fell greedily upon the reins of control of the masses.
The mass media of the Russian Federation are an inexhaustible source of myths. The materials of Russian press, mostly custom-made, serve as the “weapon” for blinding the masses. Journalists are steeped in continuous lies. One cannot but notice their two-facedness, the easiness with which they cater for the whims of these or those rulers, the verisimilitude with which they give their lies – the «truth» of the policy of violence. They create myth after myth, tale after tale. And the military and political elite is behind them.
And so is the whole viscous circle - round loaf in the person of Yeltsin which is supposedly rolling in the opposite direction from the disaster of the «wolf's jaws» of Dudayevites-Ichkerians. And this viscous “round loaf” is rolling in the unknown direction, stumbling on poisonous thorns placed by the creators of the “round loaf” themselves. After this there are yells, screams from pain which have nothing in common with the reality. In this situation all military strength and all power bodies of the Russian Federation fall on the small, innocent Chechnya to liquidate the imaginary causes of the “sufferings of the poor round loaf”. And an average man has already been told that all splinters, tumors, sores, ulcers on the healthy body of the crystal-clear “round loaf” – are consequences of the bites of the “wolf’s jaws”. On the basis of such myths the image of a Chechen, the image of the enemy in the person of the Chechen nation was formed to fit a logical chain: gang formation, separatism, terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, Chechen trace, beastly essence.
Thus, Russia considers us as an object but not as a subject, at the same time fouling our name through mass media.
In this case we are guilty of only one thing! As incompatibility of different blood groups in one organism, so is this union that leads to death. And our inner world, just like the immune system in an organism, struggles for its genetic freedom of development without tyranny. We are all people. But we are similar only because we are different. The difference of thinking is also a category of similarity. The hypothesis of such kind of “identity” shouldn’t aggrieve anyone. In Chechnya there is such a tendency that some people often cannot tell an old man from an elder. Yes, we imbibe with mother’s milk to respect age, but one shouldn’t confuse wisdom with old age.
Russia, which has gotten used to feudalism, principality, boyarhood and bond slavery, which began to get out of pincers of its own tyranny only yesterday, must respect the principles and foundations of Chechen people, who have roots rejecting tyranny and slave dependency since ancient times.
Returning to the “round loaf”, I want to note that wherever it rolls it can’t roll from himself. Everything is a matter of time and Russian people will have time to clear themselves of their heroes-pseudo-patriots and only after that they will serve as an example to others.
Any nation, just like Russians, has the right for its own way of life, language, culture, religion, history, independence and its destiny given by God.
Empire ambitions of some Russian politicians envelop Chechnya with its ascribed language by means of mass media. What does the persecution of our nation begin with, what are the constitutional laws that give a right to kill and destroy made for? While creating myths about the belonging of Chechnya and its inhabitants to its property, Russia tries to become the mother of everything alive and dead, appropriating the right to decide to be or not to be and what to be. It all flows out of feelings, passions but not of reason and conscience. These passions heat up the situation around every living thing. What different good-natured “pastors” and “apostles” negotiating for peace we had a chance to see during the war! After them all military strength of the empire and its spiteful hatred because of its own weakness to subjugate disobedient Chechens, who never in their history allowed to have and didn’t have princes above them, attacked again galley-west the distorted souls and land of the Chechens. And all of them rushed to us with only one goal – to look for benefit for themselves, political dividends.
And only disinterested sons of Vainakhs defended the interests and honor of long-suffering land of Vainakhs, or rather Chechens with the help of the Most High Allah. I’m not speaking of terrorists and murderers. They could have been liquidated without destroying towns and villages with their residents.
The world community was misguided by sinister propaganda.
Russia created a springboard of instability for itself in our republic and used many of us to bring our people on their knees. But our nation never stood on the knees no matter if somebody wanted it. The choice of many Chechen defenders of motherland and freedom who preferred death to oppression shows it. The question is not only in physical freedom, but also in spiritual and cultural freedom. Chechens were free and freedom is in the past for us so far. The nostalgia is incurable. There is only one alternative – return to its sources, deliverance from empire pincers and it doesn’t mean deliverance from good-neighborliness.
Whatever ordeals Allah sends to humanity, He is on the side of the righteous. But God and devil are two opposites.
Chechens! God sent many ordeals to us and helped to overcome them seeing our inclination and faith in Him. But now He left us alone with the “invisible devil” for some time that secretly obsesses the souls of many of us. And if we reject the devil God will have mercy on us and will always be with us rendering help, giving us righteousness, saintliness, humaneness in all our deeds.
I assure you, it won’t be a breakthrough to the endless boon. It will only be an approach to laws of God, to the sphere of pure manifestations of soul. Otherwise we will bring ourselves to more infernal ordeals and will be prostrated by God’s anger. Now, after long ordeals we must peacefully prepare ourselves to appear in front of Him innocent, without sinful deeds. But one shouldn’t hurry to Him. He will call us Himself and I assure you that no one will fall behind one’s “voyage”. With the help of the Most High this accursed war, which was imposed on us, ended and now all we have to do is to create and not try to revenge. We must be noble in all our deeds. The way to purification lies through heavy ordeals. Believe! Only heavenly thoughts lead to the good. Don’t forget that we are an ancient nation. We have all right for self-determination, for our way of life, culture, language, country, and history just like all other nations. We are a freedom-loving, hard-working, hospitable, civilized, believing Nation. We are the first inhabitants of the land where we live now and no one has the right to deprive us of our land. We are those whom they want to exterminate because of our Holy Land in order to appropriate this land. We are those whose history was stolen. We are those whose nobleness they want to kill, whose culture they want to take away.
Friends! It’s impossible for us to realize yet what they have done with us and what they are still trying to do. Be vigilant! Be worthy of human beneficence! There are many of those that speak our language among us, but devil has obsessed their souls and they throw our merits to abomination. Be stronger and superior to vile bents! Allah is with us and may He help us! The completion of war is not its end, it’s the new problems and they should be solved with the help of the good. It’s not a moral admonition – it’s a cry from the depths. It’s not just a war – it’s gangrene, an ulcer, a tumor whose metastases sprawled in many callous souls. In one word, Chechnya – is not simply Chechnya. Many struggle for its true image but many are against it. So much effort was made in order to conceal positive truth of its sources. We are not allowed to know them. We are told that we are savages and Russia took us under its careful guardianship out of humane reasons in order that we would not eat each other. And our historians, ethnologists look like intellectual decadents that can tell us not more than how our forests were cut down during Russian-Caucasian war.
I’m not trying to accuse our respected compatriots-scientists of incapacity. In due time they had more possibilities to get deeper into the history than our generation can today. And it is not known what for they were given science degrees and awards. It means that there was an order “from there” and the awards came “from there”, from where today all misfortunes of our people come. Along with this, there were few obstacles to this kind of description of history which said that Islam began to take root with the Chechens only at the end of the 18th – beginning of 19th centuries and that before that Chechens were Christians. I personally think and many will agree with me that real Chechens have never been Christians and before Islam were pagans. Islam came to the souls of our ancestors together with its appearance on Earth many centuries before. I think one should respect other religions. No one is allowed to commit sacrilege, attempt or defile own or others’ faith. To tell the truth, we know that there also was the reverse of the medal in the Russian Orthodoxy when Chechens were closer to Islam.
Besides, there’s a question that bothers me – why do some Russian politicians try to revive the myth about the Islamic fundamentalism in Chechnya? What is it? An attempt to unleash a religious war? Is the Chechen war not enough? Is the Afghan war not enough? Is the Great Patriotic War not enough? Is the World War I not enough? And in general, how many wars have been, haven’t they had fought enough? Russia seems to have one thing to do - to unleash a religious war! I’m far from trying to seem educated, but I’m not far from logical thinking and understand theology not worse than those who threaten to break the spine of Chechen people with one regiment in two hours. Their neck is too thin and smells moonshine. The other question is if a person is beaten only because he is a Chechen and is killed because for the same reason, it means that this Chechen has his own history, roots, language, faith and there is only one reason of his misfortunes - it’s competition. Or is it the right of a Russian as a stronger one? This is how it has to be understood? But muscles do not mean strength! Strength is in spirit, faith, and nobleness! Even a weed has a sense of existence on fertile soil at least for soil not to slide away that God invented and created it. But in spirit, humaneness, will, nobleness, reason we differ greatly from a weed and from those who have come to kill us. The thing is not that we, Chechens, are bad. The thing is that those who have come to kill us are worse. Even a personality living beyond reasonable self-consciousness and self-control has the right to live. So, who is given the right to rationalize the world? God? Or a “superior race”, which tries to expand the sphere of its influence and domination over a minority according to the right of a strong one? Just like in the jungle, only in human jungle! So, it turns out it is not a human world but an animal one? And the history of humanity shows how often criminal deeds were justified and forgiven – according to the right of a strong one because a man comes from God and God forgives. Nevertheless, a small nation will always remember everything because it also gets used to continuous wars and this is bad for a big nation because with time it starts losing vigilance. And killing small nations it kills itself. One should never forget that God not only forgives but also punishes. Not people created God, God created people. One should look for errors in himself looking into himself. What and how they didn’t call us? A gang, derelicts, medieval savagery, although they haven’t become better with centuries themselves. It’s a good example of an axiomatic language. The choice of disparaging words serves them as the right to kill, calling themselves with civilized words – Federation Council, Security Council, federal bodies, Constitutional Court, Parliament.
We must differentiate between colonial politics and politics presented in the form of constitutional order. In the 19th century Russia didn’t conquer Chechnya with the force of arms. It was fate that joined them. That fate was declared inseparable by one of the sides – the one for which it is profitable to dominate and enslave mystifying both liberty and democracy depriving the other side of the possibility of self-determination oppressing its way of life and culture, humiliating honor and pride. Nothing unnatural happens when one of the sides, because of its disappointed ambitions decides to regain social and spiritual freedom using its own genetic and natural resources for the purpose of its own development. And one shouldn’t mask reality under different covers like “Federal agreement”, Tatar, Bashkir and other variants. Without any myth there must be either one thing or the other: either there is independence or there is no independence. The rest is rhetoric masking reality trying to send the quality of existence to oblivion.
Let’s return to mass media behind which Russian power structures stand, the famous weapon of blinding, capable of presenting the desired for the reality, the mass media watched with interest by all world community. As soon as on the territory of Russia any unpleasant sound is heard they immediately rouse a nasty smell ascribing these sounds and smells to the mythical “Chechen trace”. Along with this they strum the famous march “The Slav’s Farewell”, calling on all the world community for the mortal combat against Chechens. On the one hand, it is a universal, widespread method of colonial policy and on the other hand, it is a ground for political persecution of people of the Chechen nationality with the use of refined methods up to physical depopulation, arrests, inspections, confiscation of property and valuables, extortion. During war they sank as low as selling us corpses of our relatives knowing that we value remains of our relatives not less than those alive. Even the representatives of neighboring Caucasian republics didn’t disdain to do it acting on the principle: “if you are a Chechen, it means you are rich and armed” thus humiliating themselves. We will always remember and won’t forget all good and all bad. We will pay for the good and God will punish for the bad. This is how it will be, should be and it has always been like that. The tragedy of our nation has taught us to see the true “brotherhood of Caucasian people”. For some people the time when one neighbor came to another one to offer condolences on the death of a cow, has passed not speaking about human losses. It is sad to see how a neighbor becomes an enemy, a brother becomes a neighbor. The Russia “civilization” cost us a lot. Now everything depends on the style in which we will regenerate. Renaissance? Baroque?
Whatever style we are inclined to, we must return our history that was taken away and revive it. No matter whether we like it or not, but there is no nation without history. We will perish only after our culture is dead. We have it and we must be proud of it. If our nation were savage, it wouldn’t be the nation believers. My attempt to talk about all this may seem irrelevant, however, in my view, not only me but also hundreds of thousands of my compatriots experience this .
We will remember for a long time television shots shown all over the world when Boris Yeltsin, President of the Russian Federation while being in Chechnya inspired the soldiers of federal troops to extermination of Chechen people. This is their history. Our history mustn’t be an accomplice of our extermination. Interests of the Russian state have never coincided with the interests of nations incorporated to it and people in Russia have always been oppressed and deprived of civil rights.
In the near future an artificial stereotype – the image of a Chechen enemy will collapse. But before that the Chechen people will have to go through a lot. Yeltsin and his “family” needed security for their crimes before humanity. And in order to justify their deeds they will take any steps. Horrors are ahead because we allow ourselves to lose the most sacred laws of our ancestors. There’s a split, ramification in religion. According to adat, a guest for the Chechens has always been sacred. And according to the rules of hospitality our ancestors and even our generation have always given the best place and the best slice of bread to the guest.
Remember that horrible time when federal troops detained our young men at the checkpoints and took them from homes and sent to filtration camps to torture. Then relatives ransomed them for big money, dead or alive. The boys were crippled there; sometimes they died of cruel tortures. But no matter what, we should not be like them. This is one of the forms of terror, which was imposed on us. And now what? Among us there appeared such people that kidnap guests of our republic. People are kidnapped in order to get ransom for them. This is the most ignominious and disgraceful thing, which has come into fashion among present-day young people. Where will it lead us? We are losing culture, customs and traditions. Yesterday they tried to impose socialism with force on us, then – democracy in the Russian way, the so-called constitutional order. Today they impose new ideas on us in the form of radical Islamism, fundamentalism, Arabization, Wahhabizm, using us as guinea pigs again.
We’ll be able to rise to our feet and be a united creating nation only when we remain a Chechen nation with its beautiful traditions. I have nothing against the holy language of Koran. But I am against the universal Arabization of Chechen people. Many nations profess the world religion Islam without losing their traditions and culture. But Arabs are not only Moslems but also profess Judaism and Christianity. Professing different religions people shouldn’t kill each other. No religion in the world has the right to draw in another society to its confession with use of force.
Chechens have always had control of grown-ups over the young in the families. Now few can boast this. Few can say where their adolescents are and what they are doing. Dear compatriots! Bring our youth back under your control! Pay attention to the level of their nurture and education! Now, in the time of disturbance, you must have control over your children and worthy influence on their future. Without education your children won’t be able to rise to their feet. Bring them back to school; take weapons away from them!
The war is over and now we have to build the future of our nation, build a Chechen state where Constitution and Order will rule. If we don’t do it today, tomorrow we’ll bring disaster upon ourselves and no world community will help us. A simple example! Let’s remember imam Shamil from Dagestan, ousted by compatriots from his Motherland. Our ancestors accepted him and raised him high. He had been leading our people for the mortal war for twenty five years, then he betrayed his best warriors-murids and rendered himself prisoner. And there, receiving Tsar’s gifts he was living the rest of his days in a wonderful country estate in Kaluga region surrounded by his relatives. Why do we accept somebody from outside, who obviously leads us to death, when there are deserving leaders among our people?
Today we have a legally elected president Aslan Maskhadov. Let’s better help him to lead us to creation without letting anyone to split us up. If we don’t start building a normal civilized state, we will plunge ourselves into another Russian-Chechen war and what is worse, into a religious war. And many want this both there and among us. Be vigilant! Do not let them provoke you and your relatives for adventurous actions! Take care of what you have today in order not to lose it tomorrow! My compatriots, be happy and reasonable!
Today a wild outburst of crime has taken an alarming character. Look around! Drug selling grows; kidnapping of our compatriots as well as our guests, inhabitants of neighboring republics and foreigners has acquired massive scale. The world community turns its back upon us although the infection came from outside. The passivity of the population and the President towards crime today will lead to big trouble tomorrow.
I would like to speak about one more thing. Someone, both in Russia and here has not had enough of war. Such people are simply making money on it. Don't yield to their bellicose calls and adventurous appeals! We didn’t win victory over Russia with the force of arms. It just understood it's wrong position and now is preparing for a new war and is doing it with our hands. Adventurers will escape and our houses will burn and be destroyed under bombs and it’s you who will suffer and die but not the culprits of this dirty criminal policy and not those who assist them.
Let the good and peace be in your homes. Good bye!” – with these words Ibragim finished his speech and went home with Roman who was waiting for him in the car near the television center.
At home guests were waiting for them: Roman’s wife, Ibragim’s neighbors – Anna, Pyotr and Boris. They all heard Ibragim’s speech. Khava said with anxiety in her voice: “Ibragim, you affect the interests of dishonest people and don’t think about your family. The time is too dangerous now for such speeches”. Pyotr Sergeyevich interrupted her. He said jokingly that the television star was up to the mark today and he liked his speech very much and that Ibragim had to work on television as a political reviewer. They stayed up late, talking and having tea. Only after midnight they decided to go. Roman and his wife went home. Boris asked his parents to let him spend the night in Ibragim’s house, to watch a thriller to the end together with Islam. Despite Anna’s objections, Pyotr allowed his son to stay on condition that he wouldn’t disturb them. Despite Islam’s strict discipline, Ibragim didn’t object Boris’ wish knowing that boys were attached to each other.
Behind the garden gate Pyotr, shaking Ibragim’s hand and wishing him good night, noted: “Ibragim, be careful, many won’t like your speech on television today. Don’t raise up enemies”. Ibragim answered: “Pyotr! I didn’t want to go to television but I couldn’t act differently. The head of the administration of the region appealed to the school in order that on of the teachers appears on TV and addresses parents of the pupils, but no one wanted. So, I decided… don’t know… how it happened, but I couldn’t act differently… I’m sorry, if something was wrong”.
- Leave it, Ibragim. I have nothing to do with. Look how much abomination has propagated around us. Just give them a small cause. Your son is growing up…
Anna Stepanovna suddenly interfered.
- Curse that tongue of yours! What nonsense are you talking… son… Heaven forbid! Pyotr! Don’t say such things!
- Don’t interfere! – Pyotr brought his wife to reason. – I’m not speaking only about local bandits. In Russia they won’t like it either. Islam will have to study and there are too many fools and scoundrels around. I just worry, that’s it, - said Pyotr and went home. Having excused herself, Anna followed her husband.
At home Ibragim couldn’t fall asleep for a long time. Before going to sleep Khava told him “Tomorrow you can watch and listen to your appearance. Islam recorded it. May be then you will estimate seriously what you have said there.” – “What? What have I said wrong? Wasn’t I right? – flared up Ibragim. – Leave me alone!”
Khava went to the room where Liza was sleeping. And Ibragim couldn’t fall asleep for a long time and heard the television working for a long behind the wall where Islam and Boris were. He finally fell asleep with the thoughts about his son. And Ibragim had a dream.
He saw himself sitting on a riverbank. He is sitting and thinking, watching the rush of the river. The water in the river is so clear that he could see every stone on the bottom. Suddenly he notices Olga. Still very beautiful and young, in a semitransparent white dress, she is carefully going into water. On her neck he clearly sees the half of the medallion that he had given her as a keepsake. He sees her getting into the river and enjoying the clear cool water. Suddenly Ibragim notices that the thread on which the medallion is pending is breaking and it is falling into the water. Olga tries to seize the medallion but the stream of the river is so rapid that she fails to catch it. Olga makes efforts but in vain.
Early in the morning Khava woke Ibragim and said: “Get up! Your father has come. He is very anxious and criticizes you severely for your yesterday’s appearance. He says he’ll take Islam with him to the village”.
- Why are all so startled! I can’t even open my mouth? Go, I’ll be soon, - said Ibragim and began to dress.
Zaurbek was sitting in the kitchen having tea when Ibragim came in and said good morning to his father.
- The times of the good morning have passed, son. Of course, I understand what’s going on in your heart. But have you thought about your family before allowing yourself to open eyes to people? Are they closing them themselves? Why there was no one else brave, or stupid, to be more exact, apart from you?
Ibragim was standing silently at the door, with his head down like a child who behaved badly. He had never allowed himself to come athwart his father.
- Yesterday your first cousin once removed Bilal Osmayev visited me, - continued Zaurbek. – Despite his courage and resolution he told me that you allowed yourself to give away too much. He left in the morning and told me to reprimand you. He is the only person among our relatives who has been worried about us during all his life. You’ve lost a leg, you have become an invalid…
- Father! I’m sorry but there are many people who buried several people at this war, - Ibragim tried to calm down his father.
- Let Allah bless them! But we are not speaking about them. The time is difficult now and you don’t know who you can trust. Leave your job, take a holiday and urgently go home, to the village. Bilal asked me to tell you this. I take Islam and Liza with me today. They can go to school there. And you and Khava quickly move to the village, we’ll find work for you there, - with these words Zaurbek let him know that he finished conversation on the subject and resolutely told Khava to pack children’s things.
At that time somebody knocked at the gate. Ibragim went out to look who was there. Behind the gate there stood the head of the administration Bagauddin Didigov. After the greeting he began to speak on the same matter as Zaurbek. He began with the fact that in the morning Aslan Maskhadov in person called him and reprimanded him for letting Ibragim tell such things, because now that the relations between Chechnya and Russia seem to be getting better, statements of this kind will inevitably have an effect on them. Moreover, there are also malcontents among Vahhabi leaders. Having said it, Bagauddin added: “I didn’t ask you to speak about it. I managed to get time on television so that a respectable school worker would address parents of the pupils urging them to draw attention to education of their children and their upbringing”.
- Bagauddin! We’ve known each other for a long time. You knew I can’t show a false face. Did I tell lies? Or something terrible? Then you should have asked to speak Maskhadov, or his wife Kusami, or Raduyev, Udugov, Akhmadov, Basayev or the Minister of Culture Zakayev himself, - answered Ibragim, tapping with the crunch on the artificial leg.
- Keep your shirt on! By the way, the only person who approved of your appearance was Akhmed Zakayev and he wanted to meet with you with my help. And you know each other. But be careful, I’ll try to settle the matter. May be you’d better go to the village? – asked Bagauddin.
- I won’t go anywhere! Father takes away my children and, of course, told me to go as well. But I’ll try to persuade him.
- Why haven’t you told me at once that Zaurbek is here? I haven’t seen him for a long time, - -said Bagauddin and entered Ibragim’s house.
Having greeted Zaurbek, he asked him about his health, about Kheda and, referring to an important appointment, left, having said good bye to everyone.
Ibragim tried to persuade his father. But Zaurbek was inexorable and said in a command voice: “I want you and your wife to be in the village in two days!..”
At school Ibragim’s colleagues met him with applause. And his pupils said: “Ibragim Zaurbekovich, we saw you on TV yesterday. We liked your words very much although some do not like them but we’ll be with you. They say that they paid you a lot, but we don’t believe these lies…”
Listening to children, Ibragim understood that they were those who needed his appearance on TV most of all. And the majority of them understood them correctly. It was the best reward for him. These children improved his mood spoilt since last night. The most important for him was today’s meeting with pupils, and this meeting proved the rightness of his speech.
Working at school with children Ibragim devoted himself to them, opening wide scope of knowledge in front of them. He often told his pupils about his teachers, friends, and brothers-in-arms.
What was awaiting them in future? Each of them had his own dream. Someone wanted to become a doctor, someone – a lawyer, someone – a teacher, an economist. On Ibragim’s instructions teachers quizzed classes on the subject: “what profession I will choose”. It turned out that among one hundred twenty pupils only two showed a desire to become military men, others chose civil occupations. The fact that young men in their majority showed obvious preference to the profession of a doctor was pleasant. It was the reaction of children who were deprived of real childhood, children who experienced the horror of war. It was good that children hadn’t become hardened in heart and aspired for creative life. The majority of them were going to enter humanitarian universities. From conversations it was clear that pupils understood that one can learn to shoot and destroy in one day, but it takes long to learn to build, treat, make useful discoveries.
The friendly international school collective, despite all difficulties of the post-war life, despite continuous wage arrears worked to educate the rising generation with enthusiasm, characteristic, probably, of only teachers and doctors. Helping each other, sharing the last, the school collective, which consisted of people of different nationalities, worked up to the collar. In Ibragim’s opinion, the Russian teachers that had great work experience at school did their best for their pupils so that they would receive profound knowledge in their subjects. And this is why his attitude towards them, against jealous views of some people, was especially warm. It was impossible to estimate the feat of these women, gray-haired from age and captured by old age. Many of them at the dawn of their youth were sent to work in the republic and stayed here forever. There were different reasons, but Chechnya became the Motherland for them and even war couldn’t make them leave this place.
The school collective was dear to Ibragim’s heart. His father’s decision about leaving town and moving to the village haunted him. Of course, Ibragim understood that his father worried a lot about his fate and the fate of his family. But what should he do now? He cannot contradict his father. How will he explain to his colleagues and children his leaving the school where they love him, believe what he tells them? And those nightmares that he has in the difficult moments in his life when he sees Olga in his dreams? He tried so hard to forget everything! He never went to the place where he had served, didn’t find out what had happened to Olga. Why did he believe Galina’s letter written to Anatoly? All these thoughts haunted him. Ibragim decided to go to Khabarovsk during summer vacations. But now he has to do something, he must ask his father to let him work at school till the end of the school year. The only way out was probably to take Didigov Bagauddin and go to the village to his father to persuade him together to change his mind.
Ibragim acted accordingly. He and Bagauddin went to the village and persuaded Zaurbek to let Ibragim stay in town. Father agreed with some difficulty but left children with him.
The examination period passed imperceptibly. The night of graduation party came, agitating hours for school-graduates, not less agitating for teachers. Starting from tomorrow a new life will begin for the school-graduates and they will get marks from life itself. If the unsatisfactory mark in a pupil’s ark book or a class register as pupils say can be corrected by getting a satisfactory mark, it is much more difficult in life; here for the “two” you will have to pay with tears, either with yours or with somebody else’s. Life doesn’t forgive mistakes. “What will you become, our boys and girls? What is awaiting you in future?” – teachers are thinking. School-graduates are preoccupied with other troubles and thoughts. They face the future with confidence. The future without mistakes, without spite, without war. The future in which there is only good. They still believe that their hope, this young wave, which is coming to replace the leaving one, will be more tolerate to each other, more progressive and viable than the previous generation. The cruel war, the witnesses and victims of which they became, guaranteed this.
School-graduates differ in clothes in which they came to the ball, surroundings, but hopes and dreams unite them.
In this sense a graduate of an elite Moscow school and a graduate of a half-destroyed Grozny school are absolutely similar. Later they will become politicians, military, doctors, economists, terrorists and militiamen. Later they will become different, but at the graduation party they are all optimists.
…School is closed till September. Some teachers went somewhere for rest, some – to the village to their relatives, some were busy with house cares. Only school director and and Ibragim, his deputy for studies, had more things to take care of. Paint, cement, bricks, glass were needed for school repair and all that had to be obtained, gotten at any cost so that children would be able to start a new school year in normal conditions. They spent a lot of time on the thresholds of different departments – of social security, of education, building organizations. The fact that many knew Ibragim helped a lot; they knew the circumstance how he was wounded and that is why they didn’t refuse to help. Senior pupils and many parents also helped to fix and prepare the school for the new school year.
In 1998, libraries, the Fine Arts Museum, where “fragments” of the past splendor were presented to the visitors’ attention were opened.
In August the Chechen drama theater was opened. It was a great event in the life of the Chechen society. Amidst the ruins of the town destroyed by troops the restored theater was like an oasis in the middle of the desert for the people thirsting for entertainment. Before the beginning of the performance several well-known officials came out, then - the minister of culture Akhmed Zakayev, the former field commander. He spoke about the difficulties, which the theatrical company to faced during the war. He also noted that in the post-war conditions the role of the theater grows as never before and that the government would do its best for the theater to become a place of the spiritual education of people. “Our theater will be just like the balm for our society. It will struggle with the vices in our society, - said Zakayev and continued: - Our theater will serve as a social institution”.
Ibragim came to the opening of the theater together with his wife Khava. He liked Akhmed Zakayev’s speech. There were many people at the opening of the theater although there was no hope that all of them will get to the performance. But it was not as important for them as the opening of the theater. After the performance (“Come free”) Ibragim met with Zakayev in the foyer. They spoke about many things. Zakayev offered Ibragim to work at the State University where he used to study. Although the offer was tempting, he refused, referring to the fact that the school needed him more.
Competition to enter specialized secondary and higher educational establishments increased sharply. And it was also pleasant to see – the young ones preferred knowledge to arms and war. But crime was flourishing. Local power structures tried to struggle with it but they couldn’t eradicate evils completely. Even state of emergency was declared. Of course, it was useful. According to official data during the time of the state of emergency crime rate dropped by 30 per cent and the share of the cracked crimes reached 40 per cent. Thus, during the second half of 1998 one thousand six hundred thirty nine crimes were committed, and more than fifty percent of the crimes were cracked. More than five hundred criminal cases were closed. Self-evident progress in the process of creation couldn’t stay unnoticed in Chechnya as well as in Russia. But instead of gladness these successes arose spite both here and in Russia. In Chechnya it could be noticed by the activization of the opponents of Maskhadov’s regime; in Russia – by paper articles, TV and radio programs, statements of politicians at different levels.
For some reason no one wanted to notice positive phenomena in the republic’s life. Everybody noticed only negative sides, although they didn’t help Chechens to struggle with this evil in word and in deed.
The negotiating process between Yeltsin and Maskhadov took the form of meetings of delegations of different levels. As the results of the meetings there were different agreements and protocols of intentions, but in most of the cases the Russian side did not implement them.
Many inhabitants of the Republic of Ichkeria had no doubt that the negotiating process was dragged on intentionally by people not interested in the existence of Russia and Chechnya within civilized framework. The state of “neither peace nor war” served for many Russian politicians as a peculiar tool for smoothening of problems inside Russia.
In 1998 an attempt at the life of Aslan Maskhadov was made. There was an open clash between government forces and Wahhabis. The conflict was stopped in time.
The town of Urus-Martan became the center of radical Islam after the Wahhabis left Gudermes and Grozny.
Hostage taking continued. However, despite all these negative processes, that took place in Chechnya, and despite many attacks on each other by Russian and Chechen politicians, peace was maintained despite desires of many to stir up civil war in the republic. It was the most positive result of 1998.
In Nazran, the capital of Ingushetia, a meeting between the Russian Prime-minister S.Kiriyenko and Aslan Maskhadov took place. Maskhadov came to the meeting with vice Prime-minister Turpal-Ali Atgireyev, and the Presidents of Ingushetia and Ossetia R.Aushev and A.Dzasokhov were present at the meeting.
At the same time the situation around Chechnya was worsening. The scenario of the war of 1994 was unwinding with inexorable succession. One couldn’t help paying attention to the strange logic at first sight. In 1994 the war in Chechnya began half a year before presidential elections in Russia and it was stopped before the next election of Yeltsin. Now it was as if repeating the same way.
However it may be, but the fact that Chechnya was a key factor, determining political processes in Russia during the last ten years was unquestionable. The end of Yeltsin’s era was approaching and it was an uneasy fact. In case a person not loyal to Yeltsin comes to replace him, the new president may call culprits of the economical disorder in Russia, of criminal war in Chechnya to account. It was fraught with catastrophic consequences for Yeltsin and his coalition.
The fact that Yeltsin as a political figure had exhausted himself completely was obvious. Moreover, stronger, younger, more cunning and crafty embezzlers approached to the state property – it was also obvious. They needed a younger leader. This explains the feverish search for Yeltsin’s “successor”. It was difficult not only for ordinary people but also for experienced politicians to follow endless reshuffles in the top echelons of the Russian Federation. First Chernomyrdin, then Kiriyenko, then Primakov, then Stepashin – names were changing and the goal still couldn’t be achieved. Most probably, neither Primakov, nor Kiriyenko, not even Stepashin wanted to be participants of the dirty game called “war in Chechnya”.
Apart from the smooth transition of power from one hand to other reliable hands, one more task not less important, if not the main one - the reforming of the state structure of the Russian Federation with the totalitarian regime was pursued. It is doubtful whether the federative system of Russia with its eighty-nine subjects of the federation that was inherited from the USSR was convenient for the “young reformers”. Of course, they had to sort it out and it was necessary to do it with Chechnya as a sad example. With all its pluses and minuses Chechnya was the Kremlin’s “child”. Its separatism had to be dressed in the toga of international terrorism.
Against the background of all these political disorder and problems, Ibragim who was going to go to Khabarovsk during vacation had a disaster. Somebody kidnapped his son who was staying in the village with his grandparents and took him away in the unknown direction. Nobody knew or saw how it happened. Islam took his grandfather’s horse and went to the field. In a couple of hours the horse returned home but without Islam. In the saddle Zaurbek found a note from the kidnappers said the following: “Your son is in safe hands. Wait for further instructions on his releasing. If you value the life of this boy, let Ibragim not set the republic’s population against Jihad supporters and the builders of the Islamic state. Otherwise you’ll receive his head”.
Every day all relatives of the Tasuyev clan, friends and those who fought shoulder to shoulder with Ibragim against federal troops gathered on that matter in Zaurbek’s house. Zaurbek blamed himself in Islam’s kidnapping. But they didn’t talk about it – everyone was busy with looking for the ways to bring Islam back from the barbarous captivity. Ibragim was sure that whoever the kidnappers of his son were, they would pay with their blood. Everybody was engaged in search of Islam. People were sent all over the republic, who were looking for any trace of Islam and his kidnappers. There was no limit to indignation on the matter of those who knew Zaurbek’s family. They were ready to tear to pieces those impudent bandits no matter what goal they pursued. Time was passing, but there was no news or demands from kidnappers. Ibragim declared those who had done it his blood enemies. And those dregs surely knew that if the Tasuyev clan learns about them, they wouldn’t be able to escape punishment. Ibragim’s relatives declared all over the republic that they are ready to pay a hundred thousand dollars to those who would give any information about the kidnappers and that they guaranteed anonymity. All those who empathized Ibragim were ready to gather the money. They also announced that if the kidnappers decided to set ransom, Tasuyev wouldn’t give a penny for their man.
From time eternal among the Chechens as well as among other Caucasian nations only fianc;es were abducted for respected kinship and abductors had to swear on Koran that the abduction of a fianc;e was accomplished only with the aim to intermarry but not to offend. And then elders arranged a peace settlement between the two clans. But if a man was kidnapped, there could be no alternative, they started to speak on the language of arms, force, on the language of a dagger and bloodshed.
Kidnappers of journalists, workers or any other person with the aim of ransom or for dictation of their conditions deserved only death. This scum, which has spread in Chechnya, deserved only extermination.
Unlike kidnapped politicians and journalists, Islam wasn’t kidnapped with the aim of ransom. More likely, it was done by the kidnappers for demonstration of force and impunity, according to the principle: “who is not with us is against us”. Besides, they wanted to make it clear that it is dangerous to appear in mass media against their ideology and against their brotherhood. Nothing of the sort! This time they faced the firmness of will and spirit. The Tasuyev clan didn’t forgive offends in such cases. And the character of their actions showed that that time bandits faced courageous and firm people. Atonement for what they had done was awaiting them. The Tasuyev clan was ready to die to the last man washing off the insult. Yes, they considered it the insult from the kidnappers. The Tasuyev clan made a firm decision not to pay the ransom if it was set, but they were ready to buy for any money information about kidnappers and the customers. The elders of the Tasuyev clan made a decision to announce at all markets and squares that they wouldn’t agree to any conditions even if kidnappers ate Islam. They declared everyone who was directly or indirectly involved in the kidnapping, their blood enemies and that they would revenge on them by killing them or members of their families, that bred this scum, if they didn’t let Islam home safe and sound in three days. If they let him go they wouldn’t pursue Islam’s kidnappers. The elders declared revenge on the customer, whoever he was, announced that they wouldn’t forgive the insult under any circumstances.
On the third day after this statement the kidnappers set Islam free. With blindfolded eyes he was brought to town at night and released. Islam returned home on the taxi taken on the “Minutka” square. Although it was already late at night, many were not sleeping in Zaurbek’s house when Islam knocked at the gate…
A month later after the return of Islam, a man came to Ibragim and offered to give away the customers of the kidnapping on the condition of anonymity and for a reward of one hundred thousand dollars. Having coordinated his decision with the relatives, Ibragim agreed. They gathered eighty five thousand dollars in return for the names of the customers and those who made this decision to punish Ibragim by kidnapping his son. There were three men.
Two weeks later having traced one of them, Ibragim’s people captured him and took him to a forest. This man, realizing that he was doomed, confirmed the names of the two others who made the decision with him to kidnap Islam in return for preservation of his life. These names coincided with those that were given by the witness. Ibragim’s people made him dig a grave for himself and shot him at its edge. Having buried him they exterminated the rest during one week by tracing and capturing them. Each one of them asked for mercy while digging the grave. But Ibragim’s people were inexorable – they knew that this scum had to be exterminated. Zaurbek was against killing of these people and forbade Ibragim make any decision without his knowledge. Nevertheless Ibragim decided to exterminate these villains who had assaulted the honor of his family and his clan, breaking his father’s order for the first time in his life.
The Second War
After kidnapping of the plenipotentiary representative of the Ministry of the Interior of Russia in Chechnya Major-General Gennady Shpigun, the “bandit’s fame” of the republic of Ichkeria became even more reverberating. On March 9, 1999 the term of the ultimatum with demands of his release expired. Russia threatened to inflict a missile and bomb strike on Chechnya if the bandits did not release the hostage. It meant that there was a cause to start a new war in Chechnya.
Aslan Maskhadov stated the necessity of explanation – what were motives behind appointing a man that had participated in warfare against Chechen people the representative of the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation in Chechnya. In Maskhadov’s words Shpigun was in the lists of enemies of Chechen people made when Dudayev was alive and he was among the first in the list as he used to be a military commandant of Grozny during war. He was in charge of filtration camps where rebels and civillians were kept, where they were treated most cruelly. Moreover, if we believe President Maskhadov, he became aware about the possible kidnapping of General Shpigun in the end of February, about which he allegedly informed S.Stepashin, Minister of the Interior of the Russian Federation. However, the Minister didn’t recall the general from Grozny, he didn’t even take any measures to strengthen his security. It turned out that there were people in Moscow who were interested in his kidnap.
The situation in Chechnya, according to Maskhadov, “was created by some Russian politicians (particularly by Boris Berezovsky) who counted on outcasts, scoundrels and criminals in Chechnya for destabilization of the situation in the republic”. “If somebody takes into his head to scare us by clanging weapons, - said the Chechen President about the ultimatum, - then it’s a disbelief of unskilled politicians”.
Sergei Stepashin, the head of the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation, declared that Russia wasn’t going to put up with such insults. In 1998 Anatoly Kulikov, being the Minister of the Interior, made the same statement but on a different matter. It turned out that it became normal in Russia for an official in the rank of a minister to solve problems of war and peace. There is nothing here to be surprised at. In the words of Viktor Shenderovich, “Yeltsin was sleeping and Stepashin was duping his voice”. In order to add some reality to the threat of Stepashin the troops were brought in to the border of Chechnya and deployed along its perimeter. The republic found itself in actual blockade. Aerial communication was stopped, railway communication was about to be closed. The representatives of the federal power started out from Grozny to Moscow. Another group was sent by bus, which was accompanied by a column with Maskhadov’s confidants. It seemed that at the last moment the Chechen President decided to demonstrate his loyalty to Russian power. The situation inside and outside Chechnya was heating up. Maskhadov tried to reduce the heat to a minimum but in vain. In the regions neighboring with Chechnya, militarized sub-units started to form from civil population. In particular, in Kursk district of the Stavropol krai the officials of the Department of the Interior gathered more than five hundred applications from local residents for purchase of fire-arms for self-defense. It was purchased at the guns factory. At the same time troops on armored units began to penetrate into the territory of the republic from the abutting territories of Stavropolsky krai and Dagestan and terrorize local population; they killed and took away sheep, cows and other livestock. Statements on the matter were ignored by without attention from the Russian side. The criminal restoration of constitutional order with use of lawlessness was beginning again.
Answering questions of journalists Igor Sergeyev, the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation declared that there was no escalation of tension on the border with Chechnya. He also denied a possibility of a military operation against Chechnya. From his words one could understand that they decided to scare the Chechens a little bit. At the same time Stepashin, at first in the rank of the Minister of the Interior and then – as the Prime Minister, worked out a plan of bombing of training camps of “Chechen terrorists”. He also decided to create a safety zone, for what he had to occupy the whole territory of Chechnya on the border with Terek river. (Being the chairman of the Auditing Chamber of Russia, Stepashin confessed that the invasion of Chechnya was planned in March 1999.) No doubt, the war didn’t start then only thanks to the Prime Minister of the Russian government Yevgeny Primakov, who is quoted in an article in “Kommersant-Daily” on March 13, 1999: “There will be no large-scale military operations or bombings of terrorism schools and rebels’ camps in Chechnya. For that to happen the Chechen terrorists must blow up the Kremlin or the White House”, - he said in the interview. All actions of Primakov at the post of the leader of the Russian government proved that he was a supporter of peaceful settlement of disputes between Russia and Chechnya. The fact that he abolished the “sabotage” by the Russian Ministry of Finance of the agreements between Yeltsin and Maskhadov in economical sphere also proved it. His weighted and peace-loving policy despite all its merits, led to his dismissal. It was decided to replace Primakov with a more amenable Premier and to postpone the operation of the invasion of Chechnya until August-September 1999. That was exactly what was done.
There were only two “small” problems that had yet to be solved.
First of all, to give the hostilities the status of “ a sacred war of Russians against the aggression of Chechnya” which could help to win support of Russian population and the world community at least for some period. It gave a possibility to avoid massive anti-military actions that could undermine the efforts of the military. From their experience of the first Chechen war of 1994-1996, the military realized that it was a force that couldn’t be ignored.
Secondly, it was necessary to assure the West that it was not the separatists that “rule” in Chechnya, but real terrorists with, moreover, an international shade.
Thirdly, in order to control the situation in Russia in the future and guarantee impunity to all high-ranking criminals, it was necessary to bring a controllable person to power. For that purpose it was necessary to create a non-standard situation, which could distract the attention of the Russian society.
The solution of these problems in complex helped to set the public opinion against Chechens in both in Russia and all over the world. The republic was turning from a separatist's one to the bandit's one. And who in the civilized world would object to an operation aimed at extermination of terrorism in a subject of the Russian Federation? Nobody. Moreover, they will know very little about the methods of this struggle against terrorism.
As time showed, this calculation was a success thanks to shock-work of mass media. They managed to deceive not only public opinion but also organizations like PACE and The United Nations. There were no problems with the search of the Chechen aggressors. At first sight, the problem seemed to solve on its own, although the preparatory period took much time. In the beginning of August 1999, the units under the command of Basayev and Khattab, personalities well known all over the world, invaded the territory of Dagestan. That invasion left the Russian government free to act. Now it became possible to start the genocide of Chechen people named as a “counter-terrorist operation”. The fact that the units of Basayev and Khattab were not part of the Chechen Armed Forces was not so important. It was important to launch the flywheel of war. It was important that that unit penetrated into Dagestan, implemented the order of the party of war there and successfully returned to Chechnya through numerous cordons of the army of the Russian Federation. Although Russia had a possibility and means for the extermination of that unit on the territory of Dagestan, they preferred to exterminate them in their own den and necessarily in the “outhouses”. It was a brilliant staging of a new vaudeville.
On September 9th, one of the series of explosions timed to the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya took place in Moscow. The series of explosions took away more than three hundred lives and destroyed several houses. But these people were not terrorists but ordinary Russian people. What did they die for? Was it for the implementation of the general like of the beloved president and the government? However it may be, it was cruel, blasphemous and immoral. And ascribing the authorship of the explosions to the Chechens was groundless, since they couldn’t have any benefit from it, neither political, nor moral as they already had too many labels on themselves.
These explosions changed the political situation in Russia. Russians were terrified by what had happened. Horror grew into deep hatred of the Chechens.
Very few pondered over the words: “The Russian state is not going to let the situation drop”. But it had to be done! One cannot help remembering the words of V.O.Klyuchevsky, the great son of Russian people: “I feel sorry for you, the Russian thought and for you, the Russian people! You are a bare creature without a name, without heritage, without future, without experience after thousands of years of life. You are like a dowerless frivolous bride, doomed to a disgraceful fate of sitting at the sea and waiting for a wholesome bridegroom who would take you in his arms, otherwise you will have to give yourself up to the first buyer, who after having dressed you up and having robbed you will leave you as a needless, well-worn rag. And now that they yell “God, save the Tsar” at the top of the voice in every church and any tavern, I want to sing to myself with a bitter, tense voice “God, save the poor people, poor Russia!”
This is how the bloody war in Chechnya was planned, bloodshed, in which all previous crimes of retiring Yeltsin could be buried. It was Putin’s advance payment for president’s chair. Having become the President of Russia he granted Yeltsin and his “family” all possible guarantees of safety.
Stepashin’s plan, which envisaged limited warfare, gave way as an imperfect one to a strategy of full-scale warfare in Chechnya. The Russian military machine started to work at full swing. In several weeks the great armada, armed from head to toes crossed the Terek river and surrounded Grozny. Like in 1994, it met almost no resistance up to approaches to the town. Just like then, promiscuous crowd of people armed from head to toes, in and on top of the armored vehicles, in the air and on the ground was moving towards Chechnya. This company consisted of troops of the Ministry of Defense, troops of the Ministry of the Interior and the latter, in their turn divided into different chastises like OMON, GRU and the FSB.
When looking at them a question emerged automatically: who were they, ragged and not, dirty and clean, shaven and unshaven, some in uniforms, some in shirts, some in T-shirts, some with bare torso, some in boots, some in jogging shoes, some in gumshoes, some in high boots, some in trousers, some in shorts, some in shoes, some in sandals, some in Panama hats, some in headscarves, some with hungry impudent eyes, some with clear look, some with unhealthy face, some with full, fattened mug, some with a Russian flag, some with a Soviet flag, some sweeping all before themselves, some stepping carefully, some not valuing neither their nor others’ lives, some treating carefully their and others’ lives are walking on the Chechen land?
Who are you, Russian soldier?
- You, who was fighting against Mongol-Tartar yoke.
- You, who was fighting with German crusaders.
- You, who was fighting for unification of Russia.
- You, who was conquering Kazan, Astrakhan khanate, Siberia.
- You, who lost the war against the Livinian Order.
- You, who was conquering Crimea, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Baltic states.
- You, who was conquering Finland.
- You, who lost the Crimean War.
- You, who lost the Russian-Japanese War.
- You, who lost World War I
- You, who was waging fratricidal civil war.
- You, who played the main part in the defeat of the fascist Germany and brought liberation to the world.
- You, who helped to liberate Vietnam.
- You, who was engaged in forcible, total, repressive deportation of people of the USSR.
- You, who was conquering Afghanistan.
- You, who shed blood of peaceful civilians in the streets and squares of Baku, Tbilisi, Vilnius and Moscow.
- You, who was conquering the Caucasus.
- You, who has come to the thousandth time to burn our houses and destroy them, killing Chechen children, women and old people.
Has your nation become greater and richer from your feat of arms or will it? Only a just warrior deserves fame and immortality, but not a conqueror! Do you know that?
From the first days of Russian aggression the Chechen government was sending desperate telegrams to international organizations, world communities and informational agencies. These telegrams said that from the first days of September 1999 populated areas, industrial objects and objects of social sphere were subjected to gunfire and attacks from the air. That there was huge destruction, many wounded and killed. That all international norms dealing with human rights protection were broken. That the Chechen leadership resolutely denied any relation of Chechens to acts of terrorism in Russia. That the government of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria appealed to the world community to protect civil population of the republic from another wave of physical extermination and stop the aggression of the Russian Federation against Chechen people. But nobody heard the Chechen government. The bloodshed began. The Moloch of war in Chechnya demanded more and more victims. Its appetite was growing every day.
The official version of the Kremlin of what was happening was the following: “it was the response of Russia to the aggression of Chechnya against Dagestan”. This version was voiced all over the world and accepted by many people. According to article 87, clause 2, 3 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation of December 12, 1993, “In case of an aggression against the Russian Federation or in case or a direct threat of aggression, the President of the Russian Federation introduces martial law on the territory of the Russian Federation or on individual territories with immediate notification of the Federation Council and the State Duma”.
The Federation Council and the State Duma had to approve the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation on introduction of the martial law. If we take into account the fact that there was an aggression of Chechnya against Russia, then the question arises: “Where is the subject of international law, that is the sovereign state?” None of the countries of the world, including Russia, recognized Chechnya as the subject of international law, except for the Taliban in Afghanistan (on hearsay of Russian mass media and Z.Yandarbiyev’s statements). Again, there is no document proving it. It follows as a logical consequence that there was no aggression against Russia, as there was no threat of this aggression from the part of a foreign state or a subject of international law.
If we treat article 87 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation so that actions of the subject of Federation (according to article 65 of the Constitution of 1993, the Chechen Republic is a subject of the Russian Federation) can be considered an aggression against Russia, then many questions arise. Firstly, where is the Decree “on introduction of martial law in Chechnya”? When was it coordinated with the Federation Council and the State Duma of the Russian Federation and where is the document proving the coordination? Secondly, how can the armed sally of Basayev and Khattab to Dagestan be linked with actions of official Chechnya?
It’s true, there is no war in Chechnya. And there is no aggression of Chechnya against Russia. There is no war in Chechnya despite the fact that even according to modest estimations of experts, there are more servicemen here than there used to be in Afghanistan. All kinds of weapons except for nuclear weapons are used here, including bacteriologic and chemical weapons.
We admit that there was inadequate use of force. The official version of today’s war – “anti-terrorist operation” – at best provokes bewilderment. Chechen armed formations amount to a couple of tens of thousands people; even if some of them took part in the invasion of Dagestan, those were just individuals. By the time of the invasion of Dagestan Basayev didn’t hold any office.
The Chechen President Aslan Makhadov in person and through his people informed the Kremlin about the operation against Dagestan planned by Basayev. All right, they didn’t believe Maskhadov and his people. But any old woman selling sunflower seeds at a market could tell any FSB officer or anyone that invasion to Dagestan was being prepared. In Dagestan itself many were also waiting for this invasion in order to overthrow together the federal power and announce Dagestan an independent state. There is only one conclusion – they didn’t want to avert Basayev’s invasion.
Russia didn’t want to start the war against Dagestan’s Wahhabism just on its own. It was necessary for that nest of Wahhabism to revolt first, with the help of Khattab and Basayev and later Russia would defeat the Dagestan’s Wahhabies. Then it would let out Khattab and Basayev from the Dagestan territory to Chechnya and then there would appear a motive to invade Chechnya in order to conduct the anti-terrorist operation by the hand of Yeltsin’s successor, thus raising his rating at presidential elections. After seizure of the whole territory of Chechnya, they only had to expel Chechens, kill them and destroy their houses thus depriving them of their wish for self-determination forever.
It could be understood, if the guerillas were let into Dagestan with an intention to exterminate them there. There were forces for that. In March 1999 the Russian press wrote that several elite divisions – the so-called units of permanent readiness – were located around Chechnya. Motorized-rifle divisions in Volgograd and Vladikavkaz (19th and 20th), brigades in Dagestan (136th and 205th) were fully staffed with manpower and equipment, including modern equipment and were ready to mobilize in one day and start combat. The 21st Stavropol and the 7th Novorossiysk airborne divisions can be added to them. These units are the pride of the new Russian army, leaving alone the troops of the Ministry of Interior Affairs. The number of troops of the Ministry of Interior Affairs and the Ministry of Defense pulled in by the beginning and during the operation still remains a secret. They must have been in deficiency since they couldn’t knock off Basayev’s and Khattab’s brigade with the help of Dagestan policemen, and there were many of them, but gave them an opportunity to leave for Chechnya.
If we exclude a plot, one could assume that Basayev made it clear to Russian generals that he would leave Dagestan without a struggle, leaving them all victorious palms. The generals had to do very little for that – provide a corridor to his unit for retreat to Chechnya. It was a practical offer. One could get awards and people’s respect for successful extrusion of guerillas. So that it would look convincing the Russian artillery and aviation was “ironing” empty trenches and houses in Dagestan after Basayev’s leave. The absence of guerillas’ bodies was explained very simply: they took them away with them, this is their law. When Russian generals needed to show that guerillas were scums and nonentities, they said that guerillas did not feel sorry for their wounded comrades and shot them. Now that they had nothing to say about the absence of bodies in the quantity, which they announced in mass media, they referred to the fact that that time guerillas valuing the remains of their comrades, took them away with them. But how hundreds of bodies could be taken away under bombings and artillery shelling in the mountains hardly disappearing into the woodwork?! Generals were obviously withholding something and there weren’t any good journalists there at that moment. The world community was deceived again.
One more supposition is possible – at night, Basayev with the rebels bypassed the Russian checkpoints unnoticed and the checkpoints were not reinforced because of lack of time and that is why it became possible. However in any case the small victorious war in Dagestan was completeds for Russian generals and the “coward” Basayev left the battlefield and hid himself in Chechnya. There were rumors, which were reflected in the mass media, that this victorious war was planned in advance. the result of it was that the generals received stars, politicians received ratings and Basayev, what did he receive from it? They say, he received big money either from Voloshin or from Berezovsky.
There was a remarkable article in the newspaper “Versiya” (“Version”) ¹4 of February 1-7, 2000, which mentioned the real culprits of the invasion of Dagestan and explosions in Russia: “…however, money is coming to the end and in order to replenish its supplies, Basayev’s plan of attack at Dasgestan emerged. The Chechen President Aslan Makhadov in person and through his people informed the Kremlin about the planned operation. In autumn of 1999, on the eve of Basayev’s invasion of Dagestan, Aleksandr Voloshin, head of administration of President B.Yeltsin, met with Basayev according to some information at the villa of the Arab arms dealer Adan Khashogi in the outskirts of Nice. However, Khashogi having addressed the newspaper “Versiya” by a letter rushed to deny the fact that it took place at his villa without denying the very fact of the meeting. To organize the meeting Voloshin resorted to the help of Anton Surikov, who got him into a contact with the rebel No.1. Why did Voloshin need secret negotiations with Basayev? The Kremlin was seriously concerned that the hostilities in Dagestan would blow up the Caucasus and it would lead to unpredictable consequences for Russia. Voloshin tried to persuade Basayev not to unleash active hostilities in Dagestan though couldn’t offer anything in exchange. The negotiations failed. As it was already reported in press, not long before the invasion a brigade of the Ministry of Interior Affairs was withdrawn from the Botlikhsky region of Dagestan. Basayev invaded the deserted place. He left Dagestan without hindrance. Actually, it was Dagestan people who didn’t follow their Wahhabies who saved the Kremlin and the whole Russia. Shamil Basayev suffered a defeat in Dagestan, however, he received money for the war. The war had to be continued. This is why his younger brother, Shirvani Basayev, who went through special training at the GRU is alerting his rebels that have been on standby in Russia so far. Basayev’s rebels organized explosions in Moscow, Buynaksk and Volgodonsk. Then – another spiral of the anti-Chechen operation, appeals to revenge on silly Chechens, a new war”.
The main question is why they blew up the apartment houses in non-prestigious districts where mostly workers and pensioners live. Why didn’t they blow up millionaires’ buildings? Why didn’t they blow up ministers’ buildings? Why didn’t they blow up prestigious houses of the Moscow elite? Explosions in Moscow, Buynaksk, Volgodonsk thundered against oral laws of international terrorism. Without announcing one’s authorship. Until now the notorious “Chechen” trace stays on the level of declarative statements of press-services of power bodies. If at first they presented some evidence of the involvement of Chechen rebels into the acts of terrorism, which, by the way, didn’t hold water, then later a woeful silence hung over, which is hanging till now. Western politicians were wary of the version about the “Chechen trace”. All news agencies noted that there is no evidence of the involvement of the Chechens into acts of terrorism.
Politicians definitely didn’t want to go into detail about who in fact organized explosions in Moscow; only one question concerned them: what would follow them. Discussion of a possibility to inflict a nuclear strike at the rebellious Chechens at the Duma was taken as ravings of a madman. Papers wrote that even theoretically that was hardly possible. At the same time a TV program “Vremechko” carried out an opinion poll: “Who should be deported from Moscow?” There were three variants: “all Chechens”, “all bandits” and “all Caucasians”. Muscovites liked the third variant most of all. The conclusion is: “Moscow is only for Russians, although it is the capital of the multi-national state”. What is it if not an obvious manifestation of fascism! Fascists also said: “Germany is for Germans”.
There was an interesting opinion of journalists of the newspaper “Arfumenty I fakty”, Boris Muradov, Aleksandr Batyru and Lyudmila Proshchak, expressed by them in the article “What are the Chechen rebels kept for…”: “Local residents call this was “commercial” and Basayev’s actions – “jackal’s one” by the quite obvious analogy. And death of peaceful civilians in Buynaksk is another proof of it. In such a war all federal planes, helicopters, tanks, cannons, and machine-guns are powerless. They still most often hit the houses of civilians, their own troops and anything but not the rebels or their positions that stay intact – and all this despite exact reconnaissance information! If in the beginning of hostilities in Botlikhinsky region of Dagestan it was taken as a disappointing incident, now completely different thoughts came to the head – either they simply cannot shoot, or … somebody doesn’t want it. The latter is more likely, otherwise how can rebels surrounded by a tight ring of federal troops receive every day new arms and ammunition according to information of our officers and soldiers?” (Argumenty I facty, 1999, #36)
On October 19, 1999 in Grozny Vakha Ibragimov, head of the press center of the armed forces of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria told journalists that the officers of the Main Intelligence Directorate who had gone over to the Chechens on their initiative got into contact with Chechen servicemen and manifested a desire to cooperate with the Chechen authorities. Ibragimov declared that the officers of the Main Intelligence Directorate and their agents are ready to give information about the organizers of explosions in Buynaksk, Volgodonsk and Moscow. There were three officers of the Main Intelligence Directorate: Colonel Z.Ivanov, Major V.Pakhomov, senior lieutenant A.Galkin and the Main Intelligence Directorate’s officer, a Chechen, V.Abdulayev was also with them. Later V.Ibragimov promised to give information directly from the Main Intelligence Directorate’s officers.
On January 6, 2000 one of London newspapers published Helen Womack’s article “Russian agents blew up houses in Moscow”. This article said that the papers had received a videotape where a Main Intelligence Directorate’s officer taken prisoner by Chechens “confessed” that Russian special services organized the explosions of houses in Moscow, that instigated the present war in Chechnya and brought Vladimir Putin to Kremlin. On the tape shot by a Turkish journalist Redat Aral before Grozny was completely cut off by Russian troops, the captive calls himself the Main Intelligence Directorate’s officer Aleksei Galkin. Overgrown with beard the captive admits, ant it is proved by his own documents, demonstrated by Chechens, that he was the senior lieutenant of the special troops of the General Staff of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation). Zdanovich, the press secretary of the FSB, confirmed the fact of existence of this group and its death later. The head of the group, as the Chechen side declared, was Z.Ivanov, Colonel of the Main Intelligence Directorate. This subject was followed by many European newspapers and by “Radio Liberty”, “Deutsche Welle”. The ministry of Defense called the statement of Vakha Ibragimov a provocation, aimed at discrediting Russian domestic policy and actions of federal forces in Chechnya. As to A.Galkin’s evidence, they said that being in captivity he could declare anything. One can say anything under tortures. In this case it is interesting, whether the series of articles in the “Versiya” newspaper under the heading “Who blew up Russia” was also written by its correspondents under tortures? If it was so, then who was torturing them?
As is generally known, nobody tortured them. The journalists were doing their job. So, the authors of the articles proved that special services were involved in explosions in Moscow, Volgodonsk and the attempt of the explosion of a dwelling house in Ryazan was not without their participation. If that was a lie, then why nobody has been brought to justice for slander and the paper hasn’t been closed. It means that it could have taken place.
On September 22, 1999 there was an attempt of the explosion of a dwelling house in Ryazan. In the morning on September 23 this sensation was announced by all news agencies of Russia. Starting from 8 a.m. TV channels were talking about the averted act of terrorism. The whole point was that an act of terrorism was staved off in Ryazan and that there was hexogen in bags found in the basement of the house and that the detonating fuse was set on 5:30 a.m. It was said that sappers of the Ryazan municipal police confirmed presence of hexogen in the bags. The “interception” plan on detention of the car on which hexogen was brought was declared. The tenants of the house where the explosion was planned described the car. Frightened dwellers of the three thousand residential district Dashkovo-Pesochnaya didn’t sleep almost all night. Indeed, who will fall asleep in such a situation? The country learnt that the residents of Ryazan were avenged on the same day from the “Vesti” TV news program at 7 p.m. A correspondent made an announcement: “Today Russian Premier Vladimir Putin was speaking about aerial blows upon Grozny airport. It turned out that while they were looking for terrorists in Ryazan, Russian planes were bombing Grozny. The residents of Rayzan are avenged! Their sleepless night and spoilt day came very expensive to the organizers of this act of terrorism. Putin expressed his gratitude for vigilance in tracking of cruel terrorists.
On September 25, speaking at the first All-Russian conference on struggle against organized crime, Rushailo said about the averted act of terrorism: “Prevention of new acts of terrorism and punishment of culprits in already committed crimes are the main tasks of the Ministry of the Interior of Russia at this stage”. The version about the act of terrorism lived until September 24 and everything proved that it was an attempt of the act of terrorism, that there was hexogen in the bags and not sugar, but in virtue of objective reasons Patrushev made a statement that it was training that took place in Ryazan.
“Moskovsky Komsomolets” wrote: “On September 27, 1999 Nikolai Patrushev, head of the FSB appeared with a sensational statement: the attempt of the explosion in Ryazan wasn’t it, it was exercises”. The same day Vladimir Rushailo, Minister of the Interior congratulated his employees with the successful “saving of the house in Ryazan from inevitable explosion”. N.Nikolayev returned to events in Chechnya in his TV program “Independent investigations” on March 24, 2000. The participants of the program came to a conclusion that in fact it was an attempt of explosion and not exercises as leaders of different power bodies explained to the society. But for poor Chechens it was not so important whether it was an attempt of explosion or exercises. They had been bombed, shot, tortured, expelled for a long time already.
Having estimated the situation Ibragim went to the village to his father. Zaurbek was in dismal mood. “Is it true, son, that they are going to act as the previous time?” – he asked Ibragim. “I don’t know, father, but I think we all should better leave the republic”, he answered.
But Zaurbek was inexorable, he firmly decided not to leave the village no matter what it costs him.
“If it were not for your wound I wouldn’t insist, but now I insist: take your family and go to Ingushetia. We’ll stay home with your mother, maybe they don’t get here, and if they come, I don’t care”, said Zaurbek.
In the evening villagers gathered in Zaurbek’s house. There was no end to questions: “Why? How could it happen? Will there be another cruel war?” And so on, till late at night. Far from the village in the direction of Grozny came the sounds of explosions, they echoed in the village and earth was trembling from these explosions. When guests left silence fell over the house. Kheda and Khava, having put children to bed, went to sleep. Only Zaurbek and Ibragim couldn’t fall asleep, even when all oil lamps were put out and complete darkness came over the house which makes human brain feel sleepy.
Early in the morning, after the Morning Prayer Zaurbek’s family began to farewell. Zaurbek denied categorically Ibragim’s offer to leave at least Islam in the village. “I’ll cope with housework. We have firewood. We have hay for the cattle. We have foodstuff. We don’t need anything else. Most important is that you should take care. The most terrible for me and for your mother is not the war, we are afraid for your fate. If we know that you are in safety, it’s the best consolation for us. It’s good that Said with his family left this accursed country long ago. But we’ll hope that peace will come some time and Russia hotheads will leave us alone”, said Zaurbek in the end. Having said good-bye to the parents, Ibragim and his family went towards Ingushetia on the car of his second cousin that offered to help them to move.
There was a flow of hundreds and hundreds of cars with refugees moving in the direction of Ingushetia. At the Chechen border federal posts were thoroughly checking all those who were leaving the republic. Columns of cars with refugees were standing all over the road. Women and children were crying but servicemen didn’t let them pass by creating artificial jams, referring to some governmental decree. The tail of the column stretched out for many kilometers. Ibragim’s family had to spend the night in Zelimkhan’s car. He had to return after his family to take it out from Grozny, but he stayed because he understood that at night Ibragim and his family wouldn’t find accommodation. They spent the whole night in the car. By the next evening they could move only two hundred meters closer to the post and they had to spend the night on the road again. Many people couldn’t stand it; they left their cars and crossed the border of Igushetia on foot, bypassing the checkpoints.
At the “Kavkaz-1” checkpoint the representatives of special services made big money by having set up such system of passage. They were not interested who was crossing the border; they were interested only who and how much would pay for not standing in line. Apparently for the Chechens to be more amenable and part with their money more willingly and to speed up the border crossing, they began to shell and bomb the tail of the column from helicopters. Wounded and killed appeared. In this panic people gave all their money, women took off gold and gave to servicemen and representative of special services only to get out of this hell. But more difficult problems were awaiting them – they had to settle and find accommodation. Ingushes rented housing very expensively.
At the checkpoint Ibragim met his neighbors who were also leaving Chechnya. They were going to the village Psedakh that was situated in the Malgobek district of Ingushetia. Their acquaintances lived there and having learnt that Ibragim had no place to go, they offered to join them. They managed to cross the border and reach Psedakh only on the third day. Twelve thousand refugees gushed to the village with three thousand people. Absolutely all houses were occupied. In some big houses a hundred and more people lived. The village council, cultural center, car repair stations, sovkhoz offices, empty cowhouses – refugees occupied all of them. Ibragim couldn’t find lodging for his family. Compassionate people advised him to find out whether there is free space in the deserted building of the department store. They came up to the department store. From the outside it looked horrible – broken windows, shabby plaster (later Ibragim learnt that that department store belonged to a resident, who had bought it from the administration of the village and since then it has been standing deserted).
Ibragim went to the backyard and entered an open door. He greeted everybody. On long plank-beds in the large room of the utility room about thirty people were sitting: five or six grown-ups and the rest were children of different age from two to twelve-thirteen years old. The appearance of the room, which used to be storeroom or a utility room, was far from neat. There were no glasses, window frames were covered by PVC film through which the light was coming from the street. Shabby walls that haven’t been whitewashed for a long time were dirty. There was no heating, no water, and no toilet. To Ibragim’s question if there was any vacant space there, they showed him an empty room two by three meters in size in which there was neither film on the window, nor door. Ibragim decided to stay there with the family. Those who lived there said that the owner had promised to supply electricity, heating, put a toilet in the yard in a week. Women whitewashed the walls, took away garbage from the yard, and cleaned the lot adjacent to the department store from weeds. Later the owner built the fence. And it became livable. Said was in Germany, his sister Zargan lived with her family and worked in Nalchik. But Ibragim didn’t want to go to her place and didn’t want to burden his brother-in-law. Moreover Chechen traditions didn’t allow a brother-in-law live at his wife’s relatives and vice versa. One can visit them for a day or two but it is considered indecent to live under the same roof.
A month later Ibragim learnt that his colleague, Roman Khamidov teacher of physics and his family lived in the village of Karabulak in a railroad passenger car. He took a taxi and he went to see him. On the railway between the villages of Karabulak and Pliyevo, blocked by foundation plates, a long train consisting of passenger cars was standing, where more than four thousand six hundred refugees from Chechnya had lived from the beginning of the “counter-terrorist operation”. These were passenger cars. It was the sign that counter to Stalin’s regime that considered that freight cars were enough for deported Chechens, the government of Yeltsin-Putin respected Chechens. Every person irrespectively of age, was given a seat. There were several Russian families in the cars, the rest were Chechens. Everything was clean – inhabitants kept it clean and tidy. Blankets curtained the berths’ compartments. Families marked their territory this way. It was winter and it was bitter cold in the cars. In front of the cars there were wooden sheds and tents; behind them, opposite every carriage there was a toilet. There were neither shower stalls nor bathhouse. In the sheds there were kitchens where they cooked food. Half-houses served as a dining place, there were wooden tables under them along which stood long benches. It was strictly forbidden to take food to the carriages. There were three meals a day. The quality of food was non est disputandum. “If you don’t want – don’t eat, if you want – here, take what you are given” – this was the indisputable slogan of the catering employees, consisting exclusively of local Ingushi population. They didn’t employ anyone from refugees even as a wiper or a dishwasher.
Roman and his wife and son had lived here since the camp was set up. He and his wife Tamara had also two daughters, who finished school with honors – one with a gold medal, the other with a silver medal – and were studying at the Astrakhan state medical university. Their son Zelimkhan, a sixteen-year-old schoolboy, who was living with them, didn’t study because of the situation that had taken shape.
In the bare field across the road from the railroad cars a camp for refugees stretched. Concerned people were walking among the tents in mud, numerous kids, freezing from cold, were running about. The inhabitants of cars envied those in the camp – their living conditions were more or less better than in a car. Every family had its own tent. But neither of them envied those who had to live in the village of Troitskoye, not far from them, in cow-houses at a former milk farm.
Roman’s family tried its best to welcome Ibragim, putting all their meager provisions on the table.
Having stayed at Roman’s place until evening, Ibragim went to the department store, to his refuge. On the way there the driver of the car, which Ibragim had taken, an Ingush, told him that there were similar camps in the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya (Sleptsovsk), that there is a camp and railroad cars with refugees. According to some information about four hundred thousand refugees left Chechnya for Ingushetiya, settling not only in these camps but also in private houses.
In the beginning, the humanitarian aid was not given to the refugees. At first the administration of the village had to register them there and then refugees had to get registered in Malgobek. After that, on the basis of the lists, the administration of the village wrote applications for humanitarian aid. Then refugees were put on allowances and only then they began to receive humanitarian aid. All these preparations took weeks. Finally the long-awaited bread was brought – five hundred loafs for twelve thousand people.
Suleiman, Ibragim’s neighbor in the department store, volunteered to distribute bread. That was done on a voluntary basis. This compassionate guy decided to help somehow his fellows in misery. However, he couldn’t even imagine what difficulties he would have to face. Every morning a bus arrived to the department store on which Suleiman went to Nazran to the bakery to receive bread. Having stood in a long line he received the allotted five hundred loaves, loaded them in the bus and returned to Psedakh. At the entrance to the village a crowd of women was waiting for Suleiman. He went directly to the center of the village and stopped the bus at a visible place.
A huge line gathered. Everybody was yelling, expressing discontent, everyone tried to jump the line, get into the bus and grasp the bread. And it had to be given strictly according to the register with the signature of the recipient. According to the norm two people were supposed to get one loaf of bread. There was not enough bread for everybody. Everyone wanted bread and no one wanted to concede. Having distributed it with difficulty, Suleiman returned “home” to the department store late at night. Then he agreed with people so that they didn’t crowd and began to deliver bread in the streets where refugees lived in private houses. Thus, everyone had at least some bread during a week. A month later Suleiman left this work and a week later the bread ration was reduced to three thousand loaves for twelve thousand refugees. By that time humanitarian aid from the International Red Cross, Danish Committee and from the International Red Crescent began to come in. Now it was easier for the refugees to make both ends meet.
The unemployment rate in the Malgobek region was about eighty percent. In these conditions it was impossible to find work. Besides, there were secret instructions of the government of the Russian Federation not to take refugees to any work. It was abolished two months later. But the bans to issue new passports as well as pasting in new photographs at certain age according to the age system requirements were not lifted; it was also prohibited to give the Chechens passports for traveling abroad. On the other hand any document could be bought. This practice was widespread in all North Caucasian republics, not speaking about Russia on the whole.
The situation with medical services wasn’t better. Once a week, on Tuesday, representative of the international organization “Medicines Sans Frontieres” came to the hospital of the village of Psedakh. Having listened to complaints of patients they gave them medicines they had and wrote orders to hospitals – their possibilities were limited to this. Without a refugee status, people couldn’t receive either social unemployment benefit or free medical service. Without certain payment Chechens were not given any social or medical services either in Kabarda, or in Dagestan or other Russian regions. Everybody demanded money openly, assuming that if you are a Chechen, that means that you are rich and outlawed, and this is why you should pay.
Russia expelled Chechens under different pretexts from their native houses, from their Motherland, set them adrift. It brought military formations to their territory headed by greedy and cruel generals. They stuck different labels to Chechens: “bandit formations”, “bandits”, “terrorists”, “fundamentalists”, “islamists”. Covering themselves with these accusations, militant politicians of different kind and generals enriched themselves, dividing among themselves money received from sales of arms to the same Chechen armed formations, and profits from Chechen oil.
And till this accursed war ends, till there are people in Russia who can overstep hundreds of thousands of dead bodies of innocent people to gain their ends, the Chechen problem will exist. And only when the Chechen Republic becomes a subject of international law, it will be able to sigh with relief. But till this happens, Chechens will die from Russian arbitrary rule. And it’s a fact, which no one in the world will be able to deny. And those who are interested in killing and pillaging of Chechen people will always find those who will automatically implement their orders in the interests of some bloodthirsty and greedy barbarians that have come to power.
Almost every day refugees were dying in camps of Ingushetia. Far from all could take the remains of their relatives to their motherland, fifty or one hundred kilometers away and bury humanly. Funeral processions going from Ingushetia to Chechnya were constantly shot at both from air and land. To take the body of the deceased to the patrimonial cemetery, Chechens had to pay at every checkpoint.
Old men were dying in foreign land, old men who were forced to leave their houses and motherland, some of them went through the Great Patriotic war, deportation, Stalin’s camps, went through the first Chechen war with Russia not participating in it. They were dying from sorrow, from offence, from illnesses, from malnutrition, from cold; women and children were also sick and were suffering with them; children that didn’t have possibility even to study at school. And no one cared about them in Russia.
Why only foreign humanitarian and human rights organizations tried to help them within the limits of their capacities? And why Russia tried to hinder and hindered them?
Why you, Russia, decorated with gold stars those generals who had leveled the capital of the Chechen Republic to the ground as well as other towns and other places, where more than twenty percent of the population were killed under their command? They received golden stars, general’s epaulettes, gubernatorial posts for tens of thousands people who became cripples in filtration camps, who were crippled under bombs and shells explosions. How will you, the Great Russia look into the eyes of tens of thousands of orphans? No material values will console them. You will ask me, why then you were blowing up houses in Moscow, Buynaksk, Volgodonsk. Yes, I can answer this question. Neither during the first war, when Russian troops killed about a hundred thousand Chechens and destroyed towns and villages Chechens didn’t blow up Russia; nor now, when the Russian army destroys the remains of our houses and kills tens of thousands of innocent people, cripples, tortures. Why don’t Chechens out of revenge blow up Russia houses now? It’s because they have never done it! Even if there was a Chechen among them, he was only an executor of somebody’s devilish order. Why have you, Russia, never pondered on what reason the houses in Russia and other towns were blown up in peacetime but not in wartime? And could these explosions bring any profit to Chechens? In history books and in your wonderful literature you, Russia, don’t seem that cruel to us, Chechens. But in real life you are different towards us, Chechens. The matter is not that we, Chechens, are bad, the thing is that you turn to be worse than we, Chechens, are in our interrelations. How much evil have you brought us during the last four hundred years?! You even don’t like it when we try to resist genocide. You have the “button” which you can press and get done with us in a flash. We are so tired of this endless horror! For God’s sake, make a gift for us! Make one terrible end for us – we will be grateful to you for it! Don’t you, mother Russia, try to put us on our knees, by calling us your subject. You are just like a cruel stepmother: you can’t and don’t want to caress us. This painful operation that you are performing on us for the thousandth time under different names has driven many to despair.
A year from the beginning of the second Russian-Chechen war called “anti-terrorist” operation passed. There was so much in this war! Blood, cruelty, death, birth. But there seemed no end to it. Generals kept on declaring in mass media that all bands were destroyed, that only some groupings not capable of resistance left, and they would be soon caught and finished off. However, war continued all this time. There were shootings of old men and women by servicemen in suburban villages of Aldy, Ivanovo, Michurin; the village of Komsomolskoye was leveled to the ground. In all regions of the republic mopping-up operations were held, which were accompanied with looting and violence towards civilian population, but there was no end to the war. Some people, having lost hope, became kamikaze, blowing up themselves and servicemen, who in their turn in retaliation conducted mopping-ups and artillery shelling.
Some Chechens, who could, went abroad because living as refugees in Russia was equal to being in Chechnya itself in the heat of the war. Unemployment, constant persecution from the part of Russian law-enforcement bodies, absence of any material aid from the government forced many Chechens to leave the country named the Great Russia, brotherly Russia, multinational Russia. But in this Russia Chechens couldn’t find their niche, neither in their motherland, nor in Russia itself. Russia kept on burning with the help of missiles the remains of houses, gardens, forests and fields of Chechnya, killing along with this those who stayed at home, in their republic because they believed in Russian justice. The war didn’t end despite the fact that mass media often reported that peaceful time had set in the republic, schools and other social institutions were working, that refugees were coming back to peaceful Chechnya. It was obvious that servicemen themselves didn’t want the war to end, because their presence here brought them big profits.
Against all the odds Ibragim decided to return home. He was tired of idleness, he was tired of this hovel-communal apartment, he was tired of lies, told by Russian mass media. He missed his home, his father and mother, though his parents, Zaurbek and Kheda, visited them several times. He was ashamed to sit snug here like a mouse in shelter from a hungry cat. His parents didn’t want him and his family to return home. Federal servicemen could arrest him for participation in the first war, although amnesty was proclaimed for those who didn’t take part in acts of terrorism and terrorist organizations. Danger also overhung Islam who was sixteen already. He could be taken to a filtration camp for elucidation of his belonging to “bandit formations”. There they could ascribe anything, accuse of anything and then cripple or kill and sell his body for a substantial sum of money to his relatives. It often happened in the republic and as a result – thousands of killed and crippled and thousands of ransomed innocent young men.
Anyway Ibragim decided to come back. If it is marked to die it is better to die at home and quickly than to die slowly here watching what was happening in motherland from aside without taking part in it. At least he could teach at school or at a university. Forced idleness aggrieved him; it was terrible to think that he is not needed anymore, that he is not fit for anything. He was physically healthy, he just had only one leg. But people live without both legs and bring much benefit to society.
Ibragim’s family returned to Grozny from Malgobek of a “Rafik” mini-bus. Starting from the Chechen border after the first checkpoint of Russian troops the panorama around also changed. Although the same fields and hills were running behind the window, the atmosphere became more stifling and tense. From the border of Ingushetia to the central market of Grozny over a distance of seventy kilometers there were eighteen checkpoints and they were stopped at each of them. The driver knew already what kind of “pass” had to be enclosed in the documents at what post. It took almost three hours to get to Grozny by bus whereas in peacetime it usually took not more than an hour. There they changed the bus, which followed to the Ibragim’s patrimonial village. Going along streets Ibragim noticed that the remains of the town that survived the first war were leveled to the ground. While watching the ruins he realized that he orientated himself badly. The “Minutka” square became unrecognizable. Servicemen might be afraid that there could be snipers in high-rise buildings and decided to demolish them. All rumors that reached Ibragim’s ears in Ingushetia were true. There was not a single intact high-rise building on the “Minutka” square. On the exit from the town, at a checkpoint, a serviceman without insignia on uniform stopped the bus. He ordered everybody to come out and show passports unfolded. Everybody came out. Ibragim also had to come out although he was on crutches. He could hardly control himself, he was afraid to lose his temper. Other passengers were in the same state. Later the serviceman ordered everybody to line up and hold documents in extended hands. After that he sent everybody along a corridor, lined with barbed wire on both sides. In the beginning of the corridor a mercenary was sitting in a good leather armchair holding a machine-gun in one hand. He cut short any conversation in Chechen language with a rude shout: “Knock it off! You dare! If you keep on babbling – you will lie in a hole under machine-gun!”
Ibragim made a movement towards the mercenary, Islam darted after him but the tenacious hand of a man standing next to him stopped Ibragim. The man whispered to him: “Are you crazy? Don’t you understand that this scoundrel wants somebody to react to his actions and is awaiting it? Don’t yield to provocation, otherwise you will ruin everybody”. Khava was standing next to Ibragim clasping her daughter Liza to herself and was looking pleadingly at her husband and son. The driver who came up to the mercenary solved the problem by paying him a hundred rubles. In such a way they reached the village. Their return home, to the family hearth and meeting with parents was especially moving in this difficult time. As if knowing about their arrival, Khava’s parents were visiting Zaurbek and Kheda. On this occasion a ram turned up in Zaurbek’s homestead which was sacrificed to regale such welcome visitors – their son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. Their neighbors and relatives were also invited to their place so the ram was hardly enough for everybody.
Ibragim was looking at his parents and thought: “My dear, you’ve become so old during this year of the times of trouble”.
They stayed up late at night. They were regaling themselves, associating with each other, sharing news and rumors. However the conversation on peaceful topics was flagging both among men and women. Everything was revolving around war. The roar of guns, planes, frequent gunshots reached them and prevented from thinking about anything else. Life seemed to stop here. It came to a standstill waiting for death. There was only one question – who would be the next one?
The guests left. Khava put children to bed, cleared the table, washed the dishes and floors and went to sleep to Kheda’s room. However, as usual in these hours in the house only two didn’t sleep.
When having learned about Ibragim’s arrival the principal of the local school Salman came to see him. Having embraced they began to question each other about life, about health of relatives. Having finished the obligatory part of the conversation, Salman got down to the aim of his visit.
- We have a sharp shortage of personnel. Many teachers didn’t come back home. I know that for such a specialist as you are our school cannot be a temptation, and in this situation they will seize you with arms and legs to the university or to the town administration. But this is your native village. Here, at this school many children from your teip and clan study. May be you’ll decide to work at our school at least for some time, and life is more calm here than in town. We need you very much here, children need good teachers.
- First of all, not with legs, but with a leg, - noted Ibragim jokingly.
- I’m sorry, it was by the way
- It’s O.K. Give me some time, I have to think. I’ll go to the city, look around and tell you about my decision, whatever it will be.
They parted on this. Ibragim returned to the house. For several days he and his family were cleaning up father’s house. Some time after their return Zargan with her children came from Nalchik. Her children, Akhmed, Luiza, and Khava, were very glad to see their grandparents. They were especially glad to see Islam and Liza.
Zargan told that she had called Said in Germany, that his children, Bashta, Magomed, and Mansur, were studying at a German school. She also brought money sent by him to the parents and Ibragim’s family. After Zargan’s departure to Nalchik Ibragim and Khava went to the city leaving Islam and Liza with grandparents. Their house as well as the majority of houses in their street was completely destroyed. The only thing that remained after the first war was a part of books that Islam had hidden carefully in the basement, the other part he took to the village before the beginning of the second war, soon after his kidnapping.
Pyotr Sergeyevich who had approached quietly called Ibragim. Having greeted each other in Chechen, they embraced and began to ask each other about what had happened to them for these two years that they hadn’t seen each other. Pyotr invited Ibragim to his place. Their house was also twice destroyed during the war but not seriously and he restored it every time borrowing materials and means from neighbors. Anna Stepanovna and their son Boris who was aching to learn about Islam welcomed them warmly. Boris was sixteen. He had grown up a lot since they met last time.
At tea Anna and Pyotr told how they survived in this hell. “The first war was nothing compared to this one, - Pyotr was telling. The army didn’t spare anyone this time. They didn’t even spare us, Russians. They reproached us of living among you. They pillaged everybody and everything. They nearly shot me for my interceding for my neighbor Musa”. And till evening they were talking tirelessly about the bygone misfortunes. They explained that they hadn’t left the place as refugees because they thought that federal troops would be loyal to them and besides that there was no place to go. Pyotr was dissuading Ibragim from returning to town. “You can’t stay here, - he said. – Nor should you bring Islam here. Mercenaries are hunting for the young. If you only knew how much horror we have gone through because of him. If there were a possibility to send him to Russia, we would do it long ago. But we don’t have any relatives there; and there are no means to leave this place all together. But if you’ve firmly decided to stay in town, then y ou and Khava should stay, leave children in the village”. Anna joined her husband’s opinion.
Anna and Pyotr’s reasons and their tender care about Islam convinced Ibragim and Khava of insecurity of returning to the city so far.
In the morning Ibragim woke up knowing already what to do next. Having said a morning prayer and having had breakfast he announced hid decision. He explained to Pyotr’s family that he decided to stay in the village with his father and to go to work at school there. Ibragim offered Pyotr and Anna to move to their village until better times come. He promised them work at school and lodging. Pyotr and Anna exited by Ibragim’s offer were sitting silently looking at each other. It was Boris who broke their silence almost crying out: “I don’t know how about you but I will surely go to Islam with uncle Ibragim”. Then came a pause again, which was broken, in its turn, by Khava: “Silence gives consent”, she said and clapped her hands.
Pyotr tried to object referring to the fact that lodging problem confused him and that he didn’t want to be a burden for them and to be a burden to Zaurbek. “There is no problem, - said Ibragim, - You will live in father’s empty house that was built before the deportation to Kazakhstan. It is big and durable. It’s a house where my father was born and this is why we don’t knock it down but it will stand a hundred more years if federals don’t destroy it. And our parents and we will live in the new big house in the same yard. Settled? Pack all necessary things and I’m going to find a small truck to take everything there. We’ll lock the house and ask neighbors to keep an eye on it and everything will be fine”.
After moving to the village Anna, Khava, Liza, Islam and Boris began at once to remove old stuff in the house putting it in one of the rooms. Thus, they cleared up three rooms, kitchen and corridor. They lighted fire and became warm and cozy in the house. There was no limit to Islam and Boris’ joy.
Late in the evening, at supper, after settling all matters, Zaurbek expressed his gratitude to Pyotr and Anna for making a wise choice and letting share his hearth with them. He was also glad that his son and grandchildren would be with him despite anything.
On the next day Ibragim and Anna went to school. Having entered the principal’s office they greeted him and after greeting words Ibragim addressed Salman: “You agitation convinced me so much that under its influence I managed to agitate Anna Stepanovna. Here is Anna Stepanovna, a teacher of chemistry. We used to work at the same school in better times. You will judge about her professional skills after some time”.
Salman was so happy that couldn’t conceal his admiring emotions. He came up to Anna, shook her hand and said: “I bow my head in front of your courageous choice and hope very much that your professional skills will bring appreciable shoots on the field of our common cause of teaching children and setting them on the right path. I want to draw your attention at once that in our school (there are two of them a new one and an old one; our school is considered a new one because of time of its construction) children are very calm and polite. Of course they fall behind in terms of knowledge for understandable reasons – because of war and lack of stability which has existed for ten years already. I want to say that we don’t have either drug addicts or inveterate hooligans. Children want to study in normal conditions. Of course, they’ve seen a lot for the past years and are yearning for knowledge. On the whole I wanted to say that the majority of children are controllable and polite. In this village we don’t have this radical youth as in some places in the republic and I hope that you, Ibragim and Anna, will find a common language not only with them but also with all school stuff. Welcome!”
These words were obviously said for Anna Stepanovna since she was a new person both for pupils and villagers. Salman didn’t ask Anna unnecessary questions. During one hour all necessary documents were drawn up, applications for the job were written, other formalities were also settled. Salman promised to go to the district center next Monday to have their employment approved.
On the same day they were introduced to teachers and pupils in whose classes they would teach starting from next Monday. The same day at the teachers’ meeting it was decided to change the schedule in senior classes. And the same day they made a decision to appoint Ibragim the vice-principal of the school in charge of studies and a teacher of Russian language and literature. Anna Stepanovna was approved as a teacher of chemistry in senior grades.
Islam and Boris were sent to the tenth grade. Liza went to the fifth grade. Pyotr Sergeyevich in two weeks was taken to work as a stoker at the boiler – they couldn’t find him any other job so far. The former stoker was appointed to the post of an assistant manager and a guard. This turn of the situation was convenient to everybody and everybody was glad. During that time Pyotr, Anna and Boris registered themselves at the administration of the village and the temporary department of the Ministry of Interior Affairs as persons who came to a new place of living. Everything, little by little, was beginning to return to normal and spring was about to come. Suddenly Zaurbek began to feel bad. His nervousness must have had an effect upon his health. Ibragim decided to send him to Kabardino-Balkaria, to Nalchik, to a hospital. He asked Salman to call Zargan next time when he goes to the district center (there was a commercial satellite communication there) and ask her to come home. Three days later Zargan was home. Salman’s call frightened her – she decided that something had happened. Zaurbek resolutely refused to go anywhere and Ibragim had to go to town to uncle Bilal so that he would persuade him to go to the hospital in Nalchik. Bilal was the only person who could more or less influence his father in such situation. There was some special relationship between the two cousins and they highly estimated each other’s opinion. Zaurbek had to go with Zargan to Nalchik. They decided to send Kheda together with Zaurbek. Kheda had weakened lately although she tried to stand firm and not to show her senile weak spots. She had to suffer a lot in this life. As a mother, she loved equally all her three children, unlike her husband who treated Ibragim with a special feeling. She missed Said and his children very much and was afraid to die without seeing them again. So, when they offered her to go to Nalchik, she agreed eagerly because she knew that she would have an opportunity to get in touch with Said and his children in Germany.
Zargan who worked in one of the republican hospitals could easily put Zaurbek and Kheda together in one ward for two. Having examined them thoroughly she and her friends-doctors began to restore their health.
With everyday the event that Ibragim and Khava were dreaming of for so long was approaching more and more distinctly, and now this dream seemed to be not far off. Almost twelve years passed after Liza was born but they couldn’t give birth to the third child, about which they dreamt so much. Khava undertook everything but in vain and now that she put up with it, the miracle occurred. Moreover, pregnancy was proceeding without any complications and she felt wonderful.
When Anna Stepanovna was free from school she tried her best to help Khava with her housework – to cook, to wash and Khava was very grateful to her for that.
Time was passing by. A letter from Zargan came from Nalchik. She was writing that parents felt wonderful, that they checked out of the hospital and that she put them in a sanatorium “Blue Fir-trees” in Nalchik. Parents liked it there very much and they were prescribed a sanative complex with medical baths. She also wrote that Said called and that he was going to come in summer during school vacations.
Spring came. The school year was coming to an end and teachers were preparing for final exams. Since the heating season at school was over with spring, Pyotr was at home all days and helped with Zaurbek’s household.
In the morning, when Ibragim was about to go to work, he learnt from the neighbors that the village was blocked and surrounded by troops and armored vehicles. Everybody was ordered to stay at home as there was going to be a “mopping-up” and passports’ check. It was the second mopping-up since Ibragim’s returning home. Their village was guarded by local policemen who didn’t allow either rebels or other dubious people to enter the village. Servicemen knew it, but nevertheless they didn’t trust local administration. However, other things moved them. During mopping-ups they could maraud or even simply pillage openly, detain innocent young people and them demand a ransom for them threatening to send the detained to filtration camps.
The village stood still waiting for troubles. From several sides by foot and on armored cars servicemen armed to teeth began to move deep into the village. Every group had a dog trained for search of arms and ammunition.
Explosions and burst of machine-gun fire were heard in different places. Everybody had already got used to them – they were heard day and night on the outskirts of the village and in the forest. Russian servicemen shelled the forest every night from artillery and airplanes referring to presence of rebels there. If they happened to hit a house and there were victims, servicemen sometimes just apologized: “We are sorry, we simply missed”.
Everybody was worried in Zaurbek’s house although everything was all right with the documents. But who knows what can come to their head? This time they were lucky, they didn't take anyone from the house although one of the servicemen insistently tried to find out from Pyotr Sergeyevich and his family how they had gotten here, asking at the same time if they were slaves-hostages in the house. After the thorough examination of their documents, certificates from school, local administration and temporary police department the servicemen finally made certain that they were not slaves. He wanted very much to find slaves and hostages in the Chechen houses who according to the statement of General Maniliv were almost in every house in Chechnya and this is why it wasn’t difficult to understand the serviceman.
However they took several young men, eighteen-nineteen years old, from the village. Servicemen without any grounds identified them with rebels and took them away with them to the place of their deployment in the field not far from the village.
Now big troubles were awaiting the relatives of the so-called rebels. They were offered to bring one thousand dollars, one machine-gun and one grenade launcher for each person. They didn’t have money neither for ransom nor for buying weapons. Having understood their position, fellow-villagers helped them to gather the needed sum of money. Having bought from the same servicemen five machine-guns, four grenade launchers, the relatives of hostages took these weapons and the money and hid them in the agreed place. Having taken the money beforehand, servicemen made a performance with discovering of a cache with guerillas' arms. All this was recorded on a videotape which was later shown on Russia TV channels.
In the beginning of war Putin promised that all servicemen will be paid in Chechnya the same amount of money as in Kosovo, that is approximately a thousand rubles a day or a thousand US dollars a month. In Chechnya, according to the most modest calculations of the Russian top brass there were not less than one hundred or one hundred and fifty thousand soldiers, not speaking about officers and other servicemen. We should also add military pilots performing daily tactical missions to Chechnya from Russian towns. Russian budget couldn’t afford to spend one hundred and fifty million dollars a month as a minimum for the salary of servicemen not speaking about other material expenditures. Promises were left on paper. It seemed that behind the Kremlin walls they had found a witty way out – to award military men serving in Chechnya with orders and medals on occasion and without it.
Those orders and medals which were earned by their fathers on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War, which were earned by blood and often by own life, here seemed to be given freely – take as many as you want. But there turned to be few of those who wanted them. Moral incentive is good but the material one is better, moreover, for an obviously unrighteous affair. The new type of Russian war machine, which seemed to be supported by everybody, began to take shape. The contractors appeared in the army. They went to the army not because of great love to war art but because of money for they didn’t have any other opportunity to earn. So, it happened that about a half of servicemen in Chechnya were there on contract, about one third of them had a criminal record. Instead of promised money from the budget Russian soldiers were given the entire Chechnya. Pillage, kill, exterminate, do everything you consider necessary, and we will ascribe everything to the Chechens.
This is how oil thefts appeared. This is how marauding appeared. This is how numerous filtration camps appeared about which the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya wrote: “The whole Chechnya today at the places of troops deployment is spotted with hand-made dreadful pits where everybody who is thought to be not right is kept: Chechens, soldiers, contractors, disagreeable… If we use more or less decent legal language, then these pits are illegal detention centers. If we talk straight and frankly, then they are real torturing “cells” of medieval manner. The modern Gestapo under the command of Russian officers-Draculas of the 21st century. And this is why because of inactivity of prosecutor’s office, they keep on killing Chechens and torture and humiliate … and also kill soldiers?! Today, after such a long time of the army’s cruelty and depravity in Chechnya no one can tell exactly how, from whose bullet that guy died, about whom they wrote briefly to mother: “In a battle!”
Checkpoints and filtration points apart from purely mercantile tasks of butchers there (extorting of money) are implementing a global task in Chechnya. This global task consists of breaking the spirit of Chechen people, driving this nation to the state of a slave without honor, dignity, courage, and future. A slave that will tolerate the most cruel usurpation from Russia”.
No! Anna Politkovskaya while describing events in Chechnya didn’t try to defend honor and dignity of the Chechen nation. She went to Chechnya, obtained objective information, risked her life and freedom when she fell into the arms of special services that were in Chechnya and that threatened her with execution, to defend honor and dignity of Russian people. And only the enemies of the Russian nation could reproach her with it. The journalist defended democratic reforms, which only began to give shoots on the territory of Russia from its annihilation by pseudo-Russian patriots.
Final exams began at school. Ibragim and Anna Stepanovna worked until late at night. Anna was very worried for Khava who was about to give birth. Ibragim’s parents were to come back from Nalchik. Once the head of the administration came to the school and gave notice that in the outskirts of the village drunk servicemen began to appear, who had already robbed several houses with the use of force. He advised teachers to be careful and not to walk in the streets in the evening.
The offspring of sin
…The unit where Igor and Viktor were at their obligatory military service, who had already served a year and a half in the army with six months of them – in Chechnya, was stationed in the forest not far from the village of Chishki where there governmental dachas in Soviet times were located. It was three or four kilometers to Zaurbek’s patrimonial village, if to go through the forest. Without a doubt, the place was strategically advantageous.
That evening the soldiers – Viktor, Igor, and Anton - who had stayed after dinner, were discussing Viktor’s coming birthday. To celebrate it properly they had to get some alcohol and sweets. They decided to go to search for it or for the money to buy them to some village on an APC driven by their friend Kirill.
Having taken two more people from their platoon, they went “hunting”. For their sally they chose the village which was situated a little bit farther from the place of their deployment. The choice had been made out of possibility of some problems – they could be recognized in the nearest village, and if they go a little farther, suspicion may fall on others.
They started off planning to come back at dawn. Having reached the outskirts of the village they divided: three of them stayed to guard the APC, others went towards the houses on the village’s edge. Having chosen the most solid-looking one, Anton, Viktor and Igor climbed over the fence and came up to the window where behind the curtain a candle-end was burning down twinkling dimly. Viktor told Anton to go round the corner of the house and to stay on guard just in case. In the old house where Pyotr lived with his family, in one of the rooms Islam and Boris were sleeping and in the other – Pyotr and Anna. In the house where in one of the rooms the candle was burning down Ibragim, Khava and Liza were sleeping. Khava and Liza were sleeping in one bed and Ibragim who was working by candlelight, had recently fallen asleep and didn’t even put it out. He had a lot of work – it was time of exams.
No one woke up when Viktor and Igor having torn off the door-latch penetrated the house. In semi-darkness they passed the corridor to the room where Ibragim, Khava and Liza were sleeping. On the table where the candle was burning down there were many notebooks and books, Ibragim’s crutches were next to it. At Khava and Liza’s bed on a mirror table there were a golden chain and a couple of Khava’s golden but not very expensive rings. Viktor took them carefully and put into his pocket. At the same time Igor was disconnecting the videotape recorder from the television, having put his machine-gun in the corner. Despite rarity of electricity in the village, television and VCR were objects of civilization. When Igor was carrying the VCR videotape recorder to give it to Anton and return for the television Viktor was fumbling in the pockets of Ibragim’s jacket and trousers that were hanging on a chair.
Khava’s tumultuous dream because of the nine-month pregnancy was interrupted by rustle in the corridor. She raised her head thinking that it was Ibragim who got up to go out. The first thing she saw was the machine-gun left by Igor. Having noticed it she turned in fright to Ibragim’s bed. He was sleeping snoring and next to him with his back to Khava there stood a stranger. She held her breath for a second and then she cried wildly with fear. At first this cry frightened Viktor but then he threw himself to Khava trying to close her mouth with his hand. She bit his hand and he hit her with a gun-butt on the head. The woman fell from the bed overturning on the stomach. Ibragim and Liza simultaneously woke up from Khava’s cry. Having noticed a man in the military uniform above her bed Liza began to cry: “Dada (father)!.. Dada!.. Dada!..” Viktor, as if he had forgotten that there was a man in the house apart from the girl, lashed out at Liza to close her mouth. Everything was happening in seconds. Khava was lying unconscious. Ibragim brought down his crutch on Viktor’s head. The latter rebounded from Liza and fell on his back. Almost immediately Igor rushed into the room and took his machine-gun but didn’t manage to shoot as Ibragim fell on him. He hit him with his fist in the face and they both fell on the floor and began to fight to the finish. Liza ran out to the street. “They have fed you well, scoundrel”, - flashed across Ibragim’s mind. Although the strength of youth was on Igor’s side, Ibragim gave him no quarter. In the heat of the struggle the soldier’s blouse on Igor’s breast gaped open and Ibragim saw something that stunned him. He began to fall slowly on the floor not tearing his eyes off his breast. On Igor’s neck there was a cross and a crescent, a talisman given to Olga through Yura Krutov. The similar half of the silver coin of Czar’s stamping was hanging on his breast under the shirt. Even in semi-darkness of the room he recognized the flashed piece, which he once cut off from his whole, and couldn’t take his eyes off it. Ibragim constrained himself to say: “Who are you?” This fraction of a second was enough for Igor to aim his gun at Ibragim and pull the trigger. Vigorous strength hidden in the gun by the designer sprang out with a burst and hit Ibragim in the breast. The question arisen on Ibragim’s lips was muffled by the crackle of the machine-gun. Perplexed by Ibragim’s behavior for a moment Igor thought that he just didn’t sustain the pressure of his young force. Ibragim fell on his back and the medallion-half-moon appeared from under the shirt. Ibragim’s eyes, which were becoming glassy, stared at Igor. The latter having thrown the gun fell on his knees and grasped the medallion that was hanging on Ibragim’s breast. “God, what’s this?” – this time the question arose in Igor’s mind when Islam who had approached him from behind fired a burst on him from his machine-gun. Having thrown the gun on the floor Islam threw himself to the breathless corpse of his father. At the same time Boris rushed into the room and saw one of the soldiers, Viktor, recovering consciousness and raising a little. Boris grasped the gun and put him to the floor by a blow with the gun-butt. Islam jumped up and saw his mother lying prone. He whipped out the gun from Boris and fired a burst on Viktor squirming on the floor.
Anton who was standing in the street ran for help as soon as first shots were heard in the house. During this time Pyotr and Anna managed to take out Khava behind the house and hide in the garden. Islam put his father’s body on his bed, covered him with a white sheet, put a chair in the bed-head and began to read a requiem – yasin. Boris dragged the bodies of the killed soldiers out of the house and left in the yard. The soldiers that had run up began to fire at the house from machine-guns and under the barrel grenade-launchers. Boris and Islam jumped out of the back door to the garden where Pyotr, Anna, Liza and Khava who hadn’t yet regain consciousness were. Pyotr advised Islam to go to the mountains. Anna said that she could feel Khava’s pulse and that she would soon come to herself but Islam saw blood on his mother’s face coming from under her hair and was very worried about her. Servicemen having run out of cartridges in confused shooting, having taken the bodies of their comrades ran towards the APC.
Pyotr insisted that Islam went to the mountains, he was convincing that soon servicemen would turn up here and may kill everybody or take to a filtration camp. “All right, - agreed Islam. – But explain everything to my mother when she comes to herself”. – “Father, I’m going with Islam”, - said Boris squeezing the gun. The difficult decision came surprisingly easily to Pyotr. “All right, son, go together”. Anna and Liza were crying quietly. Islam dropped down on his knees, embraced his mother and Anna and Liza bent over her. The boys ran through the gardens. Boris didn’t fall behind Islam and Islam knew where their way was going. It was leading to the mountains; to the place where there were many people like them and where it was their place now. Having sent a sign of the cross after the boys quickly moving away Pyotr ran to the house. Everything was on fire. Having jumped inside the burning house he dragged out Ibragim’s breathless body and pulled it away from fire. People came running. The fire was raging. It became light around because of the fire. There was no question of putting it out. People didn’t have means for that and they were standing there, watching Zaurbek’s house burning.
Islam and Boris stopped and looked back at the glow in the village and the red predawn horizon. At that time a penetrating cry of a baby arose from the village and went through it as a lightning. It was a birth of a new life. Who knows what was this cry annunciating, what was in it? May be it was a cry for the burning house? May be it was a cry for the good, which humankind lacked so much and to which the author of the cry belonged from that moment? Who knows what the newly born child was crying about; the child that has come into the world, which is so imperfect, so unjust; the world where people cannot get on with each other; the world in which there is war and blood; the world in which there is so little happiness?
Khava gave a new life to this world and left it having given the name Isa to her son.
But it this world worth of such a gift?
The core of war
Fear dies where irrevocability begins
Is this world worth of such a gift as a birth of a child; the world that surrounds Chechen people and that very world that they have created? The question is extremely agonizing first of all for the Chechens themselves.
Because of the situation around them the Chechens began to consider birth of children almost a crime under the aegis of Russian Empire which treats a person as a tool – a “raw material” for mercantile interests of the powers that be.
The righteousness of this kind of reasoning is proved by numerous examples from the national policy of Russia, which show that interests of national minorities has never coincided with the interests of the Russian state policy at least with the interests of those who came to power on misfortune of citizens of these countries.
Today Chechens are convinced of that as never before. They know one thing! They have been killed and they are still killed and are assigned different humiliating labels up to absurd ones.
From the time being, from the birthday till death Chechens hear from the lips of their nearest and dearest, from respected and authoritative people the word “sobar”, in which such principles as patience, self-control and restraint are laid, and maybe this word has always been and is now the most repeated word at the moment of advice and instructions. Chechens have always found truth in “sobar” and those who followed it reached the heights in noble deeds. Truth is in “sobar” and it is the greatest gift given to us from above by the Most High together with life and faith in Him.
Will they find the words or will there be what to say to this child, born the day when his mother was dying in torments; the day when his father died from the hands of his own son, this child’s brother; the day a brother killed a brother. Born at the time of a cruel fratricidal war, where “rose the stars” of politicians who were nor squeamish about ascending to the Olympus through slaughter of their brothers and sisters, through slaughter of their nation.
What will people, who have chosen the force of diplomacy for achieving their goals as the basis of their philosophy, say tomorrow to this child? What? What is awaiting this child in future? Today he received only orphanhood, poverty, and obscurity – a tragic obscurity where by his origin he is already a bandit and an instrument in the hands of politicians.
At a certain moment necessary for something, they will simply shoot him or “kill him in an outhouse” without a word.
That is not the question whether he is the first Chechen child born in a similar situation or the last one. The question is what does Russia, integrating the Chechen Republic by force, promise him. What label will they stick to this person tomorrow and will he live till this tomorrow with the new Russian slogan “a good Chechen is a dead Chechen”.
The national policy pursued by Russia in Chechnya against the background of Caucasian wars, then – by a monster called the USSR and again by the Russian Federation but in its modern “democratic manifestation” has always carried out a ruinous policy regarding the Chechen society on the principle: “divide and rule”, “he that is not with us is against us”. Such enforced policy has always been accompanied with annihilation of Chechen people and attempts of splitting the Chechen society into social groups. By trying to create intra-teip quarreling layers they pursued a goal of stirring up anti-national and anti-Chechen moods in the society. Such enforced principle in Chechnya by Russia could allow one teip dominate over the others which radically contradicts the Chechen originality and kindred inside the Chechen society.
However, age-long tribal traditions didn’t allow such monolith as the Chechen nation consisting of teip groups to cleave and split and to lead to inter-teip war as they dreamed of in the Kremlin. This is why they added to their armory some new forms of the search of culprits of all their misfortunes that in reality originate from Russia itself. Motivating it by skillfully invented forms Russia assumed the right to conduct genocide of Chechen people with all its power. (The word “Russia” means not all Russian people but those from the party of war and other individuals who confused the principle of nationalism with nazism.)
They found the culprit in Chechen people by ascribing to them different clich;s like bandit formations, Wahhabism, Chechen separatists, terrorists.
Illusions which many Russians have - that all misfortunes that allegedly come from the Chechens will stop with the end of the notorious antiterrorist operation and then they will live just like in the Garden of Eden are as erroneous as the guilt of the Chechens in the misfortunes of Russians. Truly, Chechens have always wished and wish only good and prosperity to Russian people. Truly, Chechens want only guarantees from the Russian leadership, to regard rights and freedom for self-determination and neighboring relations. And intrigues of Russian pseudo-patriots will be exposed with time and may be then peace will be established between Russia and the Chechen Republic, which will lead our nations to the process of mutual patience and consent.
Islam’s thoughts when he was standing and staring at the glow of their burning house were interrupted by Boris.
- Here, take it, - he held out a half-moon talisman on a chain. – I took it from the killed soldier when I was carrying his body out his body out of the house. This is your father’s talisman. The soldier must have taken it off from uncle Ibragim.
- What’s this? – Ibragim roused himself. – Where did you get it? Father’s talisman was hanging on his neck when I was reading the prayer-yasin. And the chain is different here…
- Islam, I don’t know. Maybe it only seemed to you… I know exactly that I took it off the body of the serviceman when carrying him out of the house. The first one who you shot near uncle Ibragim.
- It can’t be true… - Islam continued examining the talisman: - It looks like it but it was written “de” above and “rub” below on Father’s talisman and her there is “syat” above and “ley” below. Something’s wrong with it. It seems to be a different talisman… Keep it and we’ll try to figure it out later. We have to go now, it’s getting light… - and they went further to the forest, having taken the guns of the killed soldiers. They went to meet obscurity, taking away with them pain and bitterness not realizing yet what had happened in reality.
Said came from Germany when funerals of his brother and sister-in-law were already over. The death of Ibragim and Khava shocked not only the villagers but the entire republic despite the fact that people had already got used to murders and this case was not an exception. Despite the pain of those who grieved one could see that they seemed to get used to it. It was terrible to look at them: indelible, cold expression of their faces in front of irrevocability of evil, death, arbitrary rule stressed the absence of the feeling of fear. Only those, who don’t know this state, who have never known the feeling of pain, loss, despair from everyday arbitrary rule, when in every yard, every house in the streets of villages and towns the outrageous death was walking could be shocked by expression of their faces. This terrible amnesia was brought by the war and this war was going on. Pillaging, mopping-ups, murders, arrests, disappearances of people were going on. Those whose bodies were found and buried were considered happy.
Here, at the funeral of Ibragim and Khava some old men were speaking about the favor of the Most High, that these victims had an opportunity to be buried by faith, by traditions. They were speaking about how many unfortunate wretches were missing or were lying not buried according the traditions but buried like a cattle not known where and by whom.
Said found his father unrecognizable and sick. Mother Kheda was trying to stand firm but betraying pain was eating her with every hour. She tried to console her husband, son and daughter but Zaurbek despite his firm spirit and strong body had weakened and was inconsolable. He hadn’t talked to anyone for more than a month. He didn’t eat and he didn’t drink. He was only praying and asking the Most High for the repose of the soul of Ibragim and Khava. Zaurbek loved his daughter-in-law, mother of his grand-children, not less than his so; Khava who had become a daughter to him, who had never allowed herself to upset her in-laws even with a word. Zaurbek loved her even more than their daughter Zargan. And Zaurbek couldn’t understand why God always takes the best and scum is still around and is in good health.
Said didn’t know what to do. He took his father’s silence for the offence caused by his emigration to Germany. But he was wrong. Zaurbek was even glad that Said was far from the rampancy of death. He blamed himself for the death of his son. If he hadn’t left Chechnya then, Ibragim would have been alive. He understood that his son stayed in the village because of them, his parents. He also thought that the excusable homicide that he committed when he was young echoed on him.
Inconsolable Zaurbek was fading away day by day. He was dreaming of only one thing: to join his Ibragim. But when Kheda was bringing Isa to his bed he asked to unfold diapers, picked him up in his arms, and played with him. Or he left him with him for the night and lulled him. Like in the past, Zaurbek, when he stayed alone with Ibragim and talked with him for along time about human values, about the highest gift of life to a person, now when staying with his grand-son he was whispering the inmost words to the one-month-old grandson and told him about his father. Isa, as if understanding his grandfather’s words was blinking in response and fell asleep closing his black beady-eyes. When they took away his grandson to feed or bathe him, Zaurbek’s thoughts went again back to Ibragim and to prayers.
One evening Zaurbek called Said for help – he couldn’t get up from the bed himself. When Said entered, Zaurbek livened up, vivacity appeared on his face which overjoyed Said. Zaurbek asked:
- Have you found out anything about Islam and Boris?
- People promise to find them soon.
- You must do immediately everything possible to bring him back home. When you bury me, take everybody to some neighboring republic: they don’t let us live and die properly here. Don’t leave Anna and Pyotr. if you can, set up everybody together. Islam and Boris have to study. I want Islam to be a teacher and Isa – a scientist-theologian. Repair the house – Islam must live here after studies. When he becomes independent he will be able to take care of Isa. And you should come back closer to your motherland. You should have hearth on your land. Find the boys, they are still kids. Spite creates spite, revenge creates revenge, hatred creates hatred, and hostility creates hostility. Streamlets form a brook, brooks form rivers and rivers form an ocean. Ocean is a natural element. A river of blood creates an ocean of spite, which will drown humanness in itself. A man must be strong so that spite doesn’t overbear him. God created a man innocent and wants to see him without vices; for this he gave everything to a man but blindness absorbs everything with darkness. Spite and hatred is the darkness of godlessness. Ordeals that are sent to a man are sent only for appeasement and prevention that only He creates and chastises. It’s necessary to fight the evil but without spite that takes toll of common good. You should always remember that only good thoughts gain a victory sooner or later… I’m tired… don’t say anything… go have a rest and call your mother.
- Father, I’ll do everything as you say but please, you have to eat at least something.
- All right, son. Now go and call your mother. I need to make an ablution. I feel good. Go, go…
Said left the room and called his mother.
Zaurbek made an ablution, then he prayed and asked to bring Isa. This time Zaurbek didn’t nurse the child long: he pulled his hands, kissed him and told to take him to Anna and Pyotr’s room. They all lived in the old half-burnt house now because the new house had burnt to the ground that sinister night.
Zaurbek told Kheda to lay the table for supper in his room and call everybody to what Kheda reacted willingly and gladly. “At last you are yourself again”, she said to her husband and went to the kitchen.
The supper and tea lasted long. At the table there were Pyotr, Anna, Said, Kheda, Liza, Zargan who was still at her father’s after that tragic night, and Zaurbek, cheerful and a little jovial. When watching his behavior Pyotr was alarmed and Kheda was also looking at her husband from time to time. Zaurbek remembered how he with Pyotr, Boris and Islam went to the fields for hay. Pyotr, on the cart, was spreading hay, which the others were giving to him with hay-forks from the ground. It turned out that wasps had made a nest in the stack and being disturbed they began to fly around them and sting. Pyotr rode the horse with the cart hard across the field. For some reason almost all wasps left the others alone and attacked only him. Pyotr turned out to be stung most of all. The boys and Zaurbek fired a wisp of hay and were fanning away the rest of wasps and this saved them. Pyotr never came back for them and they went home on foot and returned for the hay the next day but without Pyotr.
They broke up late…
That night Zaurbek passed away. Sorrow, depression, pain of loss have done their part. Only God knows how much he would have lived if the tragedy with Ibragim and Khava had not happened. But the main reason was in it, of course. Hardly had they buried Ibragim and Khava when ill tongues began to sow discord and spite into his soul hinting that the killers of his son could be recruited by Zaurbek’s blood enemies who didn’t want to put up with it. It was the most foul and absurd thing Zaurbek had ever heard in his life. Alikhan’s clan forgave him his blood and a truce was concluded. Alikhan’s clan, a known, strong, noble, God-fearing clan, would have never done it. Why then conclude a truce and then commit a sin in front of God’s laws and adat? Zaurbek firmly knew and was sure that people of this clan would have never in their life do it – he didn’t even allow himself to doubt it. “Warriors simply came to rob and impaled themselves upon Ibragim”, - he thought, And he died not knowing that Ibragim was killed by his own son.
They say, misfortune always comes in pairs. People that knew Zaurbek and his family, not speaking about relatives, took this grief as a personal one, as their own one.
Funerals passed but the flow of people that were coming to the Zaurbek’s house to express condolences was endless despite the war when everyone moving from one place to another was exposed to danger of death. People moving on transport or by foot from village to village, from town to town, were detained at checkpoints and could be shot any time. However, they have gotten used to it. Even putting themselves in danger they considered it their duty to follow their relatives, acquaintances, friends and friends of their friends to the grave.
Poor Kheda! A beautiful, handsome, nice woman, in two months she turned to a decrepit old woman. She stooped, retired into her shell and only Anna Stepanovna managed sometimes to lead her out a little by bringing her grandson Isa to her. Kheda didn’t cry, she didn’t have tears; she even seemed not to have blood. She dried out as a tree without life-giving water. Anna was telling Kheda embracing her: “You should cry, you should cry…” But there were no tears, there was no will to live.
Said, despite his forty five years, still was a hot brunet. But these two months blanched his hair, he didn’t look any more like the man about whom girls usually say “A handsome young man”. Said turned to an old man in a moment. And when trying to console his mother he told her that everything would be fine and that he would take her with him, he understood deep in his heart that his words meant nothing to her. Nevertheless, he was with her, there was one pain for all and this pain pierced with its sharpness the souls of all people who had some relation to this house. Daughter Zargan was ready to give all her strength, her life to her mother. But it never happens, because our desires almost never coincide with our possibilities.
Hardly two weeks had passed from Zaurbek’s funerals when Kheda died. She left this world, in which she didn’t believe anymore. The world in which she gave all of herself, her faithfulness, her love to her husband, care and endearment to her children and grandchildren, kindness to surrounding people, faith in the Most High and never regretted it. She gave all of herself for the sake of happiness of her children, grandchildren and for the sake of their future.
Before passing away Kheda apologized to Anna. She asked to forgive her family for letting Anna and her family fell affected by their grief that caused Boris’ escape to the mountains. Anna answered that even if she had ten more sons she was ready to send all of them with Islam and that while being next to her, Kheda, her children and her husband she saw real people, the real life, where sorrow and joy, bread and hunger, happiness and hardship were shared among everybody. Kheda fell asleep to the heart-to-heart talk and never woke up.
Some time after Kheda’s funerals Anna and Zargan, having gathered all necessary documents beforehand, went to the administration of the district council for Isa’s birth certificate. They came to the office where newly appointed officials from Russia were sitting and where no document was issued without their knowledge. There, in that office one of minor officials said sarcastically about them: “Look at it, they are killed and they breed like mushrooms after rain”. Another one chorused him: “They breed so fast that we can hardly stamp their birth certificates”. The third one added with sarcasm: “And death certificates”. But as soon as Anna Stepanovna put five hundred rubles on the table, a person in camouflage took a birth certificate out of a drawer and began to fill it in.
Patience in Said’s heart that had been encouraged by his advertent parents was exhausted. Despair forced patience out of his heart and overpowered reason and concatenated spite and hatred towards those who had come to sow death, devastation and discord among his nation.
Once in the evening a boy came running to Said and said that servicemen had arrested his Russian acquaintance that lived at his place. Pyotr went to the village’s center to a small market to buy cigarettes. There he must have came across servicemen who were groping about for victims in order to extort the money from them threatening to take them to a filtration camp. As a rule, such victims usually disappeared if someone from relatives didn’t have enough time to ransom the “arrested”. Said ran to his relative and together with him in his car they rushed to draw upon the servicemen that had taken Pyotr. They were lucky – at the first checkpoint at the exit from the village Said and Akhmed noticed an APC with a number on its side seen by women at the market. When Said approached the servicemen they asked right away: “Have you come for your slave?” Said asked without arguing with them: “How much?” – “A thousand dollars for him and two thousand for you so that we don’t arrest you as a slave-holder. Ha-ha-ha!” – a lanky man with a bandana on his head burst into laughter.
Fortunately at that time a convoy of three cars with the head of administration and his guards approached the checkpoint from the direction of the district center. The head of the village’s administration, who knew Said quite closely, came out of the car to learn what the matter was. Said explained everything and Pyotr was released and let go home with him.
The next day Said made everybody ready for a journey. Pyotr, Anna and Zargan with Liza and Isa went to Nalchik. He gave them some money so that Zargan could provide Pyotr and Anna with lodging and food at first. The money was enough for that. Without saying a word to anyone, Said went to the mountains to look for Islam and Boris. For this, he decided to join a militants’ group in order to find out the boys’ whereabouts.
Two months later Said was already in the unit which was in subordination to Akhmed Zakayev. He was appointed to the post of the deputy chief of reconnaissance. Said kept on searching for Islam and Boris. He learnt that they were in the group of some new-sprung emir called Al-Aziz-Khakim and that the unit was preparing kamikazes for committing acts of terrorism against federal troops.
The experience of operative work it the bodies of the Ministry of Interior gave Said an opportunity to quickly and tactically process any information and estimate the situation properly. Despite the fact that some commanders in the unit received Said with incredulity, Akhmed Zakayev when confirming him in this position believed firmly that in any case Said was not a traitor and would never become one. Besides, Said and Zakayev were from one teip – chinkho. People from respected families or clan always express their opinions openly if do not coincide. Mean traitors have always existed and still exist in all nations and families, but they had their own face and were identified and revealed without difficulty.
Autumn came. Akhmed Zakayev returned to the camp after a foreign trip. Before that he met with Aslan Maskhadov, the Republic’s President and Supreme Commander. At the headquarters’ meeting where many field commanders subordinate to Maskhadov were present, people, whom he was sure of and whom he trusted, the issue of acts of terrorism which were being prepared by radicals on Russian territory was discussed. Maskhadov explained that according to reconnaissance some new-sprung emir who did not report on anything and did not coordinate his activity with anyone, had decided to use people as of kamikazes and commit a series of sanguinary cruel acts of terrorism on the territory of Russia, allegedly in Moscow. “We are not terrorists, we defend our independence, - said Maskhadov, - We are not fighting with Russian people we are fighting with the system of tyranny and any actions directed against Russian people are directed against Chechen people and this is why they should be suppressed and chastised. There is no place In our ranks for terrorists killing innocent civilians, - he continued and added: - People who play up to those who try to blacken us in the eyes of the world community and to put us down on our knees, must be revealed and exterminated. I order all special services and field commanders to prevent this sanguinary action, which they try to carry out on our behalf and make it out with those who’s behind it”. Then followed reports and discussions of preparation for the coming winter.
Having returned to his field camp after the meeting with Maskhadov, Zakayev gathered the operative headquarters in a dug-out with confidants and field commanders of all groups subordinate to him directly. They were discussing he reconnaissance reports to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ichkeria on a possible act of terrorism in Moscow or another city and on the fact that this act was being prepared by unknown people that were not subordinate to the command of the Chechen resistance. Zakayev entrusted Tasuyev Said with implementation of this task. He told him that the Chechen delegation was to meet soon the members of the PACE and any provocation on behalf of the Chechen resistance must be suppressed by any means and at any cost. “It’s an order! – said Zakayev. “And the genuine face of the Chechen nation depends on it”. At this moment Said burst out. He jumped from his place and began to talk addressing Zakayev.
- Why only now the President and you, his surrounding, began to think about the complexion of the face of the Chechen nation? Where were you when the first war ended and our Chechen people entrusted you with their fate? Where were you when crime swept over the entire republic, when innocent people were kidnapped and killed? Why? Why neither President nor vice-president or numerous vice-premiers and power bodies thought about the complexion of the face of our nation? Then, when the face of our wonderful nation was defamed by all possible and impossible means?
Field commanders and representatives of Zakayev’s secret services that were sitting at the table looked excitedly at Said shifting their gaze from him to Zakayev and not knowing what to do. Zakayev, in his turn, was sitting silently, looking at Said, thinking about his words. No one of the present tried to interfere with a word or a deed in Said’s lunge unless Zakayev himself reacted to it. Said continued:
- Why are there forces in the republic not subordinate to the President? Who are they? How many of them are there and how much will there be? Why do unknown people always appear in our republic and bring discord, lack of understanding, dissent and uncontrollability? Why hasn’t the President declared war yet to those groupings that keep terrorizing our people laying them open to attacks of federal troops? The face of the Chechen nation has long been in mud and blood. Until we clear ourselves from inside no war against federals will save dignity of the Chechen nation. And if I do something, I will do it not for Maskhadov’s sake and for your sake, Akhmed. I will do it only for those who died innocently, who suffer in hunger and poverty, cold and illness.
- Are you through? – asked Zakayev. – If you are through, then I’ll tell you something else! If I didn’t know you, your family, your brother Ibra…
- Leave my brother alone, he is too pure for such mud.
- Don’t interrupt me when I’m speaking. You are nothing to accuse the President and us. If you’re such a truth-lover and don’t understand a damn what’s going on in reality, clear off whence you came.
People at the table began to speak about the unworthy behavior of the Chechen who was so warmly welcomed in the formation. Zakayev calmed them and went on:
- Said, you have sowed yourself the seeds of distrust to you among the present, I know you and this is why I offer you to leave our ranks. Our community doesn’t need your presence anymore. You are as free as you were in your comfortable Germany. You are expelled from our ranks. We’ll make it up with others without you. Mairbek will see you to a safe place. I have nothing more to say to you.
- Akhmed! I’ll do this work and then you may consider me not in your community. I have some prepositions for this work.
- This is your personal business. If you fail, you’ll be responsible for it and don’t forget that it is a serious warning.
When Said left accompanied by Mairbek who was in personal guard of the chief of the headquarters someone from those who were sitting at the table noticed that they shouldn’t have let him go. But Zakayev said his decisive word again: “He is harmless – he is too ambitious. Many can envy his merits. I knew his family well. And you know what he has suffered lately. However, if something will be wrong, he won’t be able to disappear. I take on responsibility for him”.
When Said and Mairbek went rather far from the camp, the latter said:
- Listen, man, you’ve said too much. We usually punish for that here.
- What do you mean “we”?
- In our circle.
- It’s bad you turned out to be in a circle instead of government’s leadership, parliament and Constitutional Court, - needled Said in response.
- Listen, you, hero. You allow yourself too much! If Zakayev is patronizing you, it doesn’t mean that you can scatter imputations at large.
- Listen yourself, you, brainless chastiser, the President’s blindness and his passivity cast the nation into the hell of a dirty war. How long one can be blind and not see it?
Mairbek got into the pocket for the gun and Said threw himself upon him and they grappled in a fight. Said didn’t have any weapon and Mairbek’s gun fell out of his hands and they were fighting for a long time in wildwood, punching each other with fists and legs. All this continued until they both limpened and were washed out of each other. The results of the fights were Mairbek’s black eye and hurt arm and Said’s cut brow and knocked out tooth. They were lying limpened shoulder to shoulder. The fight begun on political grounds and grew to a personal one. Just like eye for eye, measure for measure, blood for blood. Now they both understood that bearing up the political views of the president, his surrounding and their activity remained behind. Now the matter was in personal honor in person reciprocal offences and defense of personal honor. Having respired they threw themselves upon each other like wounded beasts again. They were fighting for a long time until they limpened again. Their faces and hands turned to a bloody mess and no one wanted to concede. Again and again like unglued they were throwing themselves upon each other, punching each other but not that painful as in the beginning of the fight. Mairbek was ten years younger than Said but in close-handed fight Said, the former investigator, didn’t cede to his enemy. It all ended up with their falling to a small rocky gully where having hit against a rock Said lost conscience and hurt his head. Besides that, they scratched their elbows and knees when hitting against edgy rocks.
Mairbek was pulling unconscious Said out from the gully for a long time, then he dragged him to the mountain creek where he began to bring him to senses. Finally, Said began to come round not realizing what had happened to him and where he was. When he finally got jerry he tried to throw himself upon Mairbek again but fell into water. The latter pulled him out and put on a big rock at the brook and went to look for the gun. Having found it he returned to Said who was washing blood off his hands and face. Mairbek came up to him and offered to finish that senseless fight and shoot each other from the gun. The offer was to toss up and the one to whom the lot comes would shoot first having one cartridge in the gun from a definite distance. And so on in turns. “And the best way, - he offered, - is to cast lots whether to fight a duel or to solicit a truce. I’ll put a cartridge in my hand, or you can do it if you want. If an empty fist comes out, then truce. If a cartridge, then we fight”.
- Isn’t it easier for you to simply shoot me down? – asked Said.
- No, It’s not! You think, I’m a brainless chastiser? No! I’ve seen so much and this is why unlike you I don’t always say out loud what I think. I have a gun and in five seconds you are dead. But I’m not a brainless chastiser as you think and I’m not a coward.
Mairbek clicked the bolt of the gun and came up to Said. He aimed the muzzle at him, then lowered it, put the gun near Said and said: “Now you show what you are capable of. Shoot! Now you have the gun and I’m dead in five seconds. Come on…”
Said turned away and moved to another rock. They were silent for a long time not looking at each other. Then Mairbek came up to Said and said:
- I’m sorry, brother. You don’t know how I feel. It’s hard to a man to be always in a wolfskin. There are culprits and innocent. But there is no sense to talk about it. Especially if the opposite side doesn’t want to talk bout it. I don’t need peace at any price. I need guaranteed peace. And we’ll go through thick and thin, there is no other alternative. Excuse me for your tooth, if you can. If you want I can send you an elder of my clan to you with excuses and asking for peace. Or here, take a stone and hit me in my teeth, - he handed out a stone to Said.
Said took it, threw to the water and said:
- Do you see the stone now? You don’t! So you won’t see spite and dislike for you. I forgive you everything. Forgive me too, please! – he looked interrogatively at Mairbek.
- Thank you! I also forgive you! – with these words Mairbek embraced Said.
They understood that if anyone of them had allowed himself to go further and kill, it wouldn’t have ended like this. And Reason took the upper hand over Spite.
A month later two young men were standing at the fountain in Teatralnaya square opposite to the Bolshoi Theatre, watching well-dressed women pass under the huge high pillars of the fa;ade of the theatre building and disappear in the door showing their tickets. Some people were running up hastily to one person or another asking for a spare ticket.
The young men were obviously nervous and bustling about. A patrol of two militiamen came up to him and asked to show documents. Islam and Boris, it was they, took their passports out of inside pockets of their coats and showed them four tickets for the opera “Boris Godunov”.
- We are waiting for our girlfriends to go to the theatre, - said Boris looking fixedly at the policemen and added: - We’ve come for an excursion with a group.
- And where is your accompanying grown-up or registration? Tickets that prove that you’ve come to an excursion? Registration at a hotel? – asked one of the militiamen.
- The group leader is our tutoress. She has already entered the theatre with the others and we are waiting for our girlfriends – they ran to the drugstore, one of them has a toothache.
- We don’t care, let's go to the militia station, - said one of the militiamen strictly.
- Mister, we'll lose each other! Please, don’t take us! – begged Boris.
- And what about him? Is your friend deaf? - asked the same militiaman pointing at Islam.
- No! I'm not deaf. I just keep silence, - answered Ibragim.
- O.K. then, oyster, let's go to the militia station – we'll make it up there.
- Mister, please, not in the station, our girlfriends will be lost. We told them we'd wait for them here. They'll be here soon, - Boris begged again.
- Here, take a fine, - Islam held out a one hundred rubles note. – Please, otherwise teachers will scold us.
- To hell with them! Leave it! Let's go, they are just kids, - said one militiaman to the other. – And hide your money, brat, you black-assed, are too generous – he added and they went away to look for other lawbreakers.
When the policemen went away the boys had a sigh of relief and began to discuss what they would have done if they hadn’t left them alone. Islam said that they would have had to kill them right there and break into the theatre: there were enough people there already.
- Listen, Islam! How can they listen to this noise? They call it opera! And it’s beautiful there, everything shines with gold.
- That time I went there for reconnaissance but not to gaze at the gold. You’d better listen when the first bell rings, - interrupted Islam.
- It’s good we’ve bought four tickets! As if we are with somebody.
- Oh, yes! You are full of ideas, - Islam complimented Boris.
- Ha-ha! And you are black-assed! – Boris burst out laughing.
- Stop swearing! You’d better read the yasin prayer. In five-ten minutes we’ll appear before Allah, - Islam pulled Boris sharp and added: - Look! Almost everybody is inside already but there was no bell yet. The last time when we were here the first bell rang a quarter to seven. It’s a quarter to seven already, it’s time.
- Islam, gather in your stomach, the vest with the explosives bulges out.
- It’s O.K. The most important is to pass the ticket attendant and then we burst in the stalls. You are running along the right side of the rows and I run along the left one. We run up to the middle, cry “Allah Akbar” and pull the ropes.
- Islam, are you afraid?
- I’m not. If you are afraid, you still have time to go away.
- No! I’m with you. You are my brother and we will be together forever. Forever! Forever! Forever!
- Don’t hinder me! I’m praying, Islam said to Boris in Chechen.
- Dik du (all right), - answered Boris.
The second bell rang and the boys without looking around went towards the theatre pillars. They went up the steps, passed between the pillars and made their way towards the entrance. Having let pass a pair – a man and a woman talking some foreign language – they handed out their tickets to the ticket attendant. The latter took them, looked at them and at that time hands lay down on the shoulders of the boys and a voice sounded:
- Young men! You should ask permission from you parents even if you go to the theatre.
Not understanding who had caught them, embarrassed Islam and Boris tried to break away and run inside the theatre. But Said’s tenacious and Ibragim’s companion in arms from the army Anatoly Luzgin held them and dragged them away before the surprised eyes of the ticket attendant and people who were standing near.
Islam tried to break away but when he recognized his uncle, he went limp and sank at his feet. Boris not knowing how to act was looking at Islam.
- Stand up! – ordered Said and pulled at Islam’s collar. Anatoly was holding Boris.
The boys hadn’t expected such a turn of affairs and it shocked them so much that they couldn’t even move.
Anatoly gave Boris into Said’s hands, took Islam by the shoulders and said:
- There you are Abrek! You do look like your father – a real Dzhigit!
Islam, not understanding who that person was staring puzzled at him. At that time the two policemen that had already met the boys came up to them. The frightened ticket attendant must have directed them here. Having introduced themselves they asked: “What’s going on here?” Anatoly turned back and pulled out of his inside pocket a certificate of the militia major, showed it to the policemen and said quietly: “Everything’s fine. It’s just that the boys decided to have a cultural outing without the parents’ permission and we had to spoil the holiday. You are free. We’ll make it out ourselves”. He turned to Islam and Boris and commanded merrily: “And now go home quickly! We’ll sort out your walkout there”. They went towards the Central Department Store, where Anatoly’s car was parked. Anatoly sat in the driver’s seat and Said sat in the back seat between Islam and Boris. Anatoly Luzgin was driving the car and looking from time to time in the rear-view mirror to watch the boys’ behavior. They were silent. Now and then Anatoly tried to talk away their cold and unpredictable silence.
Said had been in Moscow for two weeks already at the devoted friend of his younger brother about whom he knew only from his stories. Anatoly had also heard a lot about Said from Ibragim.
They didn’t marry Galina because she never came to him having written that she was to marry another man. Without hesitating Anatoly married his former fellow-student, went to work to the Ministry of Interior, graduated from the University of Law. He worked, growing up two children: a boy and a girl. His son studied at the Moscow Automobile-Road University, from which Anatoly was once expelled as it turned out later for a fight in a restaurant for what he got to a militia office. Only the voluntary draft to the army saved him from big trouble.
They drove up to the house where Anatoly lived. They parked the car and went up in the elevator on the sixth floor. His wife, Sofia Leonidovna, son Andrei and daughter Ulyana, twelve years old, were at home. Sofia Leonidovna gave the guests a kind reception, Andrei and Ulyana also came to greet them. Anatoly asked to lay the table in the living room and with Said took Islam and Boris to the bedroom. “All right, show us what do you have under your coats”, - commanded Anatoly. The boys became nervous. While calming them down he was repeating: “Calm down, calm down, boys, calm down, Dzhigits, there’s the right spirit”.
When the coats were taken off them, they saw something terrible: both of them were roped up with TNT and other sophisticated devices. Moreover, they each of them had two TT pistols. Anatoly was shocked by what he saw. He and Said carefully took off the detonators. Then, having taken off the murderous vests, they led them out of the bedroom, took to Andrei's room and asked him to entertain them. No one in Anatoly's family apart from him knew what was going on. And no one was interested in it. Guests are guests.
When Anatoly returned to the bedroom to Said and to the dreadful load, he found him in tears sitting on the bed.
- Come on, sniveler! You should thank God otherwise such things could have happened! You don’t say… look at it… horrible… Bitches! Sending children for murder… bitches… Herods… look at it… - Anatoly was taking hold of his head nervously.
- Thank you, Tolik, thank you…
- Thank you, my dear! Thank you! You cannot imagine how many people you have saved!
- No! It’s you! I wouldn’t have managed without you. Thank you, Tolik! God save you!
- O.K., O.K. Come on, calm down. We have to do something with it. Where shall we put all this? Where? Let’s go, let’s go, - Anatoly took Said by his shoulders, led him out of the room, locked the door and put the key into his pocket. – Let’s go to the kitchen.
In the kitchen Anatoly told his daughter: “Ulechka, please, go to the living room, - and said to his wife: - Honey, sorry, let us have an aperitif. A hard day. Do you understand? Do you understand, dear, eh?
- Oh, come on! It would look as if you always ask me for permission.
- Have you seen what a wife I have! One could expect some warning against danger of drinking. Here, have at lib. she tries to make me an alcoholic - Anatoly tried to joke.
- What's up with you today? You are not yourself today! Said Zaurbekovich, what’s happened with him? And I see you are not yourself today, - Sofia Leonidovna looked at them and was horrified: their pale faces were distorted with fear and horror; incomprehensible expression of their faces frightened her. She sat on the stool and asked:
- What’s up with you, guys? What has happened?
- No, nothing’s happened. Get us some pickled cucumbers,and I am going, going, going ….. to open a bottle - Anatoly tried to smile but couldn’t.
At that moment Andrei entered the kitchen and asked his father:
- Dad, are they both deaf? I tried to talk to them but they don’t seem to hear me…
- Go, go to them, they are deaf-and-dumb. Go, stay with them, - father pulled the son out.
- Tolik, what has happened? – Sofia asked in a loud voice.
- Nothing, nothing has happened, dear. We have just nearly had a car accident and the boys got frightened. That’s it, that’s it, nothing else, that’s it!
- Oh, God! When will you settle down? You’ve already been twice in a car accident! And you sent the son to that automobile institute! I’m gonna get you the pickles.
Anatoly took the glasses from the shelf and filled them brimful.
- What are doing? Take the wineglasses! Who drinks vodka like this? You’ve become abnormal, - sighed Sofia.
- Later, later wineglasses, goblets. And now allow us to slake our “thirst”, - Tolik emptied the glass at a draught, recovered his breath and bit off a half of the cucumber. – Come on, come on, drink it, don’t watch, - he said to Said who was sitting with his head bent.
Said took his glass of vodka and drank it down.
- Guys, you are something! Do you see vodka for the first time? – remarked the hostess.
They had some snacks in silence and having apologized went out of the kitchen. They went to the bedroom where the murderous load was and began to discuss their further actions.
Said stayed with the boys and Anatoly having put the entire murderous load in a backpack went out to get rid of it. Having dismantled the pistol he sank the parts in different places in a river not far from Moscow. Detonators were also thrown into the river in different places. He buried the TNT deep in the ground in a boggy forest. It wasn’t dangerous without the detonators.
He returned home long after midnight, took Said and the boys to one of the city hotels – Said wanted it this way. They took a room there. In the morning Anatoly came to their place and he and Said began a calm conversation with the boys in order to startle them out of their inner state.
In a day Anatoly came to their place again with his son Andrei and they went to the circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard. After the performance he said that Sofia and Ulyana were expecting them for dinner.
During dinner Anatoly was recalling his and Ibragim’s army life, their friendship, and also their brothers in arms. He deliberately didn’t touch upon their service in Afghanistan. After dinner he took Ibragim’s military uniform which he had left in his day. The torn off shoulder straps were sewn back, on the front part of the uniform there were orders, medals and Ibragim’s army badges. “Here, take it and keep it, it’s your father’s uniform. Your father was a real man and friend. One didn’t have to explain to him where’s black and where’s white. He had always been an example of honor, dignity and nobleness. He was generous among stingy, he was honest and magnanimous among grasping and cruel, he was indulgent among faint-hearted, he was straightforward among sly and profane. The nature of his virtue was great and undeviating from his principles. He told me a lot about his father and your grandfather Zaurbek”. (Islam and Boris didn’t know yet that Zaurbek and Kheda had passed away, they learnt about the death of Islam’s mother in the camp in the mountains.)
Islam shed a few tears at the mention of his grandparents. Tears also appeared in Boris’ eyes. Anatoly continued:
- Ibragim’s stories about his parents always thrilled me and I came to love them with all my heart. I lost my parents very early and I envied Ibragim who talked about his parents with such love and respect. I have never had a chance to see them. I have never been to your Motherland. I tried, again and again but couldn’t because of the political turmoil in the country. It’s not our nations that became the cause of discord, the cause of lack of understanding – it’s all the result of dirty politics in which wisdom and long-sightedness are absent. I’m very pleased to see the brother of my wonderful, devoted friend in my house today. I’m very glad to see the son of my brother Ibragim today in my house, at this table. Yes! I call him this way because he was like a brother to me, a brother that I have never had. And I want the son of my friend Ibragim become brother of my children – Andrei and Ulyana.
Sofia was listening to her husband with surprise and couldn’t recognize him. Always strict but at the same time kind and attentive to her and to children, he had never allowed himself such sentiments before. He had never allowed himself to talk with tears in his eyes as today. There were tears in Anatoly’s eyes. They came from the bottom of his heart, but his wife and children couldn’t fully understand what evoked them in reality although they saw that he had been alarmed and agitated. They suspected that today’s behavior was somehow connected with the appearance of the guests, with their problems in which they considered unethical to interfere if they were under a veil of secrecy.
After dinner Anatoly took the guests to the hotel. They agreed with Said not to tell Islam and Boris yet about the death of Zaurbek and Kheda.
The next day Anatoly came with his son to see them off to the airport. The tickets were bought in advance. After a warm good-bye at the airport Said and the boys flew away to Nalchik. Having arrived, they went to Zargan. The latter met them with wild cries, rushed to embrace Islam and Boris. She was kissing the boys - the one and the other - as a mad one. Then she rushed to the telephone and began to call Anna. When she got to her he asked to come together with Pyotr to her place not telling why. Anna said they would be in an hour.
Zargan’s husband Movsar and Said were smoking on the balcony, Zargan together with the children was laying the table when they heard a doorbell. Knowing who it was, Zargan made it clear to Boris with a glance that he can go and open the door to his parents but having noticed his agitation Zargan went to meet Pyotr and Anna herself.
Anna, who was expecting at least some news about Boris and Islam, asked at once when she saw Zargan’s glad eyes after greeting: “Any news from our boys and Said?” At that time Movsar looked out in the corridor and having greeted the guests invited them to the living room. “Aunt Anya, aunt Anya, Boris has come, Islam has come!” – almost crying Movsar and Zargan’s daughter Louisa and Islam’s happy sister Liza rushed towards Anna. As if thunderstruck, she stood still and then threw herself to her son and Islam. The boys ran to her and both of them embraced her. The joy was so great and immeasurable that there was no strength to stand on the feet and she went limp in the arms of her son and Islam so that they seated her in the armchair while holding her with difficulty. Wiping off the tears Anna tried to scan the boys, touching their faces and hands. Tears gushed from her eyes. Tears of immeasurable joy deadened her voice, her sobbing muffled her words. But when she saw Said bent in front of her she recovered strength, embraced him as her brother and began to kiss him in the face, in the cheeks, in his hair…
When eyes of a woman cry, men can restrain their emotions, but when mother’s heart cries, men cannot hold in neither their telltale tears nor their pride and then men become like helpless children and it’s time for women to console them.
The Most High! How much have you put in the word “mother”? If you had gathered together all mothers’ tears there would have been a flood, our entire world would have consisted of one salty ocean – mother’s tears.
Those people who cannot feel the cry of mothers’ hearts, people that enrich themselves on tears and people’s blood do not understand and cannot understand that no matter how much they enrich themselves, no matter how much they pillage, they cannot possess eternally this wealth, power and even that short life that God gave hem.
Whatever power or wealth a man possesses he cannot be happy if a cry of mothers’ hearts cannot evoke pain in his heart. Only a callous and unspiritual person stays indifferent to the cry of a mother’s heart.
The gold of the whole world is not worth of a single tear of a crying mother, when her heart cries. All tears are alike by appearance and taste but it's only a superficial resemblance. Tears that come from the bottom of a mother's heart are second to none. One mother meets her son who returns from war covered with orders and trophy gifts with the tears of joy in her eyes. Another mother laments her son – the named enemy of that conqueror and hero. What can these tears have in common? What can we, people, do so that there are no these tears anymore? May be wives and mothers of those militant politicians and commanders should be obliged to send their sons and husbands to fight in the front line, to go into the assault of the named enemy. Maybe then they'll understand that bad peace is better that a good aggressive war.
Though what can we talk about when the leader of such an enormous state as Russia declares in public that «we cannot but take into account the interests of our state despite the fact that there are such expenses as death of peaceful population, when the process of the state policy and defending its indivisibility is going on even if the question is in enormous human losses». With such policy mothers shouldn’t cry and sob, they should take pitchforks in their hands and attack the hellhound that eats her child.
In Movsar’s apartment tears rained, but these were not only the tears of joy, but also the tears of grief because of what was happening on their motherland. On Pyotr’s question where Said had found them, he answered that the boys were in the mountains at Zaurbek’s relative Khabibulla. He didn’t tell in front of everybody what had happened in reality; he held back the truth even from brother-in-law Movsar and sister Zargan. He lied, having let the boys know beforehand, that he took the boys from Khabibulla and they went to Moscow. There they went to the circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard and to the Bolshoi Theatre to see the “Boris Godunov” opera.
Anna was overjoyed and grateful to Said for taking her son to the circus and, of course, to the Bolshoi Theatre. Boris and Islam were also grateful to him for not telling the relatives about their adventures but were anxiously waiting for his further actions.
Said and Anatoly had chosen the right tactics regarding Islam and Boris. Let them have more questions, they decided, than answers to the estimate of their behavior even out of good intentions – a wish to revenge for Ibragim and Khava.
Nevertheless Said had his own plan about it. He wanted to bring it to its logical end without presence of unnecessary people.
Having secluded themselves on the balcony to have a smoke, Said and Pyotr decided that they would go with the boys to Pyotr’s place to spend the night there and Anna would stay with Zargan. They returned to the others and declared that it was already late and it was time to go home. Said apologized to Anna and said that despite the long separation from her son and her wish to be in her family, she would have to stay with Zargan for the night. Pyotr added that in the morning they would return and see Said to Grozny.
When they came to Pyotr, Said told him the truth about what had happened to Boris and Islam, which shocked him. Then there was a detailed conversation with the boys. Most likely, it wasn’t a simple conversation, it was something like a psychological influence on the boys that had lost reason, that had lost the feeling of self-concept of their actions, that moreover were zombied by a certain Al-Aziz-Khakim. This Dagestani recruited young men from the part of the peaceful Muslim subjugating them because of their psychological state and influenced them presenting himself out as the opener of the will of the Most High, darkening the conscience of the boys that were still young but that had already experienced on themselves and their relatives the “delights of the constitutional order”. He called the young guys on the Holy War, diverting them from the path of a peace-loving Muslem.
Said and Pyotr by turns without interrupting each other attacked the boys trying to influence them, reminding them of the sins and human values, that they nearly killed several thousand innocent people. “Even in the crucible of war killing of a captured armless enemy was considered immoral and inhuman”.
They spoke about many things. From the boys’ words Said determined where the camp where they had been was located and who were their commanders. The boys also told that some Russian came to Al-Aziz Khakim, their commander, and that they recognized him. As they said, that Russian participated in the mopping-up of their village before their departure to the mountains. They saw him with General Gadzhiyev, the commandant of the district. (A Dagestani Major-General Geidar Gadzhiyev was the commandant of the Urus-Martan district and was known among people as one of the cruelest persons, who himself was in command of mopping-ups in the villages under his jurisdiction. Beating unmercifully the detained innocent women, children and old people, he was shouting furiously that all Chechens had to be exterminated. Once during such arbitrariness one woman from the Alkhazurovo village lost her baby by miscarriage. Later this general was blown up by a young Chechen whose husband, brother and uncle were missing and who ran up to him with the words “Do you recognize me?” and exploded herself with him and his guard.)
The boys’ premonition that their affair would not end up with a simple return to the bosom of the family and demonstrative reprehension and even a possible beating, which they didn’t exclude for themselves, was confirmed. They expected everything but this. To complete the moral admonition Said announced: “Boys, my father, Islam’s grandfather, and you, Boris, called him grandfather ordered me and willed you to study…” At this moment the boys became alert, some unknown fear enchained them. They turned their eyes from Said to Pyotr, from Pyotr to Said. Boris stood up, came up to his father and whether said or asked: “It can’t be true?!..” Pyotr dropped his eyes.
- Vosha (uncle)! – cried Islam and ran up to Said, fell down on his knees took him by his arms and cried: - Grandfather!.. What’s with the grandfather?.. Where is he?.. What’s up with him?.. Where’s grandma?..
Looking in his uncle’s eyes Islam understood that something irretrievable had happened. He fell on the floor and lost conscience. Sobbing Boris jumped up to his friend and brother and turned him on the back. Pyotr rushed to the kitchen to bring some water. Said and Borid raised Islam from the floor and put on the sofa. Pyotr poured a glass of water in Islam’s face but the latter didn’t recover conscience.
- Do you have sal ammoniac? – asked Said.
- No. May be we should pour some vodka into his mouth? – asked Pyotr.
- No. Even if he dies, - answered Said.
- Uncle Said! Uncle Said! Why.. why did you stop us? Uncle Said... why… wh… - sobbing Boris began to convulse over Islam.
- Calm down! – Pyotr shouted at Boris and hit him on the back of his head.
- Don’t Pyotr! Leave it, open the window and bring more water, please, - asked Said and began to beat Islam on the cheeks with his hands trying to bring him to senses.
The ambulance took Islam to the hospital where Zargan worked. According to doctors’ conclusion it was a heart attack.
After Islam was checked out of the hospital, Said started to prepare documents for departure of Pyotr, Anna, Islam and Boris to Germany, to his family. All this time Boris stayed with Islam in Movsar and Zargan’s house. Pyotr and Anna were also there from morning till night and went to the apartment they rented only for the night. The baby talk of one-month-old brother Isa and joy of his sister Liza that her brother was with her didn’t console Islam’s heart covered with wounds. In the hospital where he had gotten with the heart attack he saw in the mirror above the washstand a completely different face that even frightened him at first. He opened the tap and began to rub his hair, which turned white not clear why, with wet hands. He thought that doctors had smeared him with something but Boris, who had come up to him from behind, embraced him and joked: “My dear brother, now you’ve become white-assed!” Islam lost his temper and hit him in the face with the fist and Boris started back and said: “I’m sorry, it was very foolish of me. I’m sorry… I’m sorry but if you hit me once again you’ll become the black-assed forever. Begash tsa khuash verg lai vu (only a slave is offended by a joke), - said Boris in Chechen.
- Shut up, or I will shut you up, idiot! A bad joke is a beginning of a good quarrel.
- You are an idiot yourself! You think I’m not hurt? You think I didn’t love grandpa and grandma? You… you are a fool, - Boris began to cry. – Why didn’t you hit that policeman for the black-assed then near the theatre, you had a pistol then…
- You think I was afraid of the cops? You think… you think I… I… - he began to sob, - I… I…
At this moment Zargan and a nurse entered the ward to take him for a cardiogram.
- What’s going on here? – she asked. – Stop mourning over the dead, you should think about those who are alive. Well, and you call yourselves men…
When recalling it Islam rebuked himself for his behavior. No matter how often they jested and joked with Boris, they never were offended by each other. But then, near the mirror, Boris was wrong giving a spiritual offence to him, considered Islam. “I offended him only physically. And not for myself, but for my grandpa and grandma. And on the other hand, the one who doesn’t understand humor is really a slave, a hostage of one's own snobbism”, he pondered.
A month later everybody gathered again at Zargan’s place. Said brought passports for travelling abroad, visas, tickets to Moscow and from Moscow – to Germany for everyone whom he was sending there. He explained to Pyotr and Anna what to do.
He explained that Anatoly Luzgin would meet them in Moscow and on the next day he would send them on a plane to Germany. All problems connected with it were settled. In Germany his friend, Valera Bessel who had lived there since the collapse of the USSR would meet them and take to Dresden to Said’s family. Problems with lodging had already been settled there. Pyotr and Anna would work at Said and Valeriy’s filling station and the shop at the same station. Said’s wife and his friends in Germany would help with overcoming the language barrier and preparing Islam and Boris for an entrance to a higher education establishment. “I’ll try not to be away for a long time. I’ll settle some things and will come to you”, - Said finished his parting speech for his family friends and his nephew, who were leaving not known for how long. They decided to leave Isa and Liza with Zargan. Having listened to Said and having looked at everybody around him, Pyotr asked for a chance to speak and began: “At first wars start in the heads of several people. These people stand on the backstage of the theatre of war and completely innocent people are involved in it and suffer from it. I, as a man, as a Russian, who has lived the whole of my conscious life on the Chechen land, among Chechens, among Russians, Armenians, Jews and other nationalities that lived in the republic, can safely say that neither Chechen people nor Russian people are guilty of what is happening now. It’s not me who should tell you about pain and sufferings that innocent people experience. It’s not me who should tell you about callous and stony souls that unleashed this bloodshed. You see it all yourselves and you experience it all yourselves. I want to say something else. A Man, I underline, a Man with the capital letter must always preserve his human appearance no matter what befalls him. The Most High sends ordeals to us and we, people, must preserve humaneness. Never before this war I have happened to hear about people’s brutality. Who are they? Who gave birth to them and who brought them up? I can’t say. For hundreds of scoundrels and bastards thousands similar to them of Russian origin appeared. The first killed, pillaged and committed violence. The second under the pretext of their suppression came to continue the dirty affair, which is beyond any determination. The first were simply bandits but at the same they were a well-cut reason for the murder of the Chechen nation under the pretext of restoration of the constitutional order. I didn’t leave and didn’t take my family away from Grozny because I thought that this time they would really make order in contrast to the first war. But actions of federal troops are beyond any logical explanation. Unlike Chechen bandits and cutthroats, the Russian official law enforcement bodies turned out to be the most terrible. I’m not saying this only because your family has been helping us; not because today Said takes care of my family. I’m saying this because Chechen people despite everything have preserved their humaneness. There are the same bandits i Russia as in Chechnya, that kill, commit violence, explode, pillage and kidnap people every day. However, for some reason, not a single country bombs it. It’s hard for me to speak and it must be hard for you to listen to me… It’s hard for me to decide to go to the country with which my father had fought. It’s hard for me to leave the Chechen land on which my parents worked, died and where they are buried. It’s hard for me to go to the country in which fascism was born and which is guilty of deaths of tens and tens million of people to look for the future for my child. But today the picture has changed. Once a fascist country, it acquired its human appearance and Russia that had fought with it acquired a fascist appearance. Whatever Yeltsin, Basayev, Putin, Maskhadov and others say, nations will never lose their human face. Now I want to address Boris and Islam because our tomorrow, the future of Russian and Chechen people depends on friendship, mutual consent and mutual understanding among people like them. I want them to promise in front of all who are present here that they will dedicate all that is done and will be done for them to the best of their abilities to the cause of strengthening of friendship between Russian and Chechen people. I will go with them to Germany or anywhere only on this condition. And finally I want to give one thing to Islam, - Pyotr took a small package out of the inside pocket of his jacket and began to unwrap while continuing: - I took this talisman off Ibragim when I carried his body out from the burning house.
Islam and Boris began to look at one another anxiously. Pyotr took the talisman by the chain, showed it to everybody raising his arm high. On the chain there was the half of the silver coin that Ibragim used to wear. The other half was hanging on Boris’s neck – he took it from the killed soldier. Islam and Boris stood up simultaneously and reached out to the talisman. Everybody thought that they just wanted to touch Ibragim’s thing. Suddenly Boris quickly took off a chain on which a medallion that looked like a half-moon was hanging, similar to the one that was in Islam’s hands already. They put both halves on the table, moved them up to each other and it turned out to be a single whole. Said and Zargan asked with one voice: “Where from?” The boys told everything that happened that ill-starred night and about the origin of the second half.
Only Said and Zargan knew the real story of the coin and its division into two. Zargan ran to the bathroom drinking air convulsively. Her sobbing was heard from there. Said told everybody not to bother her and went to the balcony and dropped on a chair. Apart from them no one guessed the real story of the reunification of these two parts of the silver coin but each one felt that there was some secret in here. Each one had his own thoughts. But each one was close to the truth and at the same time far from it. However their intuition told them not to discuss it aloud, this is why suppressing silence hung in the house and this is why they tried not to look into each other’s eyes.
Despite all efforts to preserve self-control, traitorous tears were running from the eyes as if showing their superiority over a man.
What is truth? Truth is when it is shared by all who have something to do with it. If tears run it means that humaneness is not lost. Truth also has a sacrificial aspect and it finds its victims. A man shouldn’t go far to find the truth. It’s simply enough to examine any fact and analyze it. It will allow a man to accept or not to accept it as a component of the origin of what is going on in reality. Said, who was sitting on the balcony mourning his parents, brother and his nephew whom he had never seen and didn’t even know about his existence, determined one of such components of the tragedy of his nation as an aim that has to be annihilated. This aim was clear to him and its name was Al-Aziz-Khakim. He decided that it was his duty before his Motherland, before his nation and everybody whom he loved and valued so much. Tomorrow, after the departure of Pyotr, Anna, Boris and his nephew to Moscow he will go to look for his aim and for its annihilation he would stop at nothing.
Said entered the room. Everybody raised themselves a little from their places according to the Caucasian traditions. He asked Anna to call his sister. When she returned together with Zargan, Said said: “Now Anna, Pyotr and Boris will go to their apartment to pack their things. Try to take only the necessary. Zargan will keep the rest. She will settle everything with the hosts of the apartment. When you pack everything come back here. In the morning we’ll go the airport from here. We’ll spend one night here. The more the merrier. Movsar will take you and bring you back in his car, it will be more convenient. If there are no other proposals, you can go”.
When they left Said took both halves of the coin in his hands, squeezed them in the fist pondering what to do with them. Then he called up Islam, hung Ibragim’s half on his neck and said: “Keep it!” He took the second half to the nursery where Isa was sleeping in a cradle and hang it on his neck with the words: “Have it, my dear! Now it belongs to you”. Watching his actions Zargan said: “I agree with you, Said”.
- That’s good. Let it be like this since it happened this way. There’s nothing to be done. Forgive me, the Most High! Night is falling already, - he added addressing Zargan: - It would be nice if we call mullah, several refugees and local people to read a moulid for the peace of the souls of the dead and killed and for the trip of those who leave.
- No problem. I’ll call my husband’s cousin and he’ll set up everything the right way. He is here, in Nalchik and he is engaged only in this. He has good friends. There is meat and other food in the house, the rest can be bought at the market if you go there with Islam right away.
After the end of moulid the guests left having wished peace, good and rest to the house and its inhabitants. The rest had supper and went to sleep: some on the floor, some in armchairs, some – in bed. Cooking fell to Zargan’s lot. However everybody stayed under the same roof before the long parting. Only God knows when they would share a slice of bread and a corner of the house.
In the morning Movsar and Zargan with the whole family went to see those who were leaving for Germany off to the airport and also Said, who was returning to Chechnya no one knew why. Before leaving his sister’s house Said left imperceptibly a letter for her under a vase on the kitchen table. The letter explained her further actions regarding Isa and Liza that stayed under her guardianship. Together with the letter he left her a big sum of money. Despite the fact that Zargan and Movsar were more or less well off and spare money wouldn’t hinder them, they would have refused it thinking that Said needed it more. He knew it and this is why he left the money in the letter where he asked not to spare money neither for them nor for the children.
At the airport Said took aside Pyotr, Boris and Islam and said: “Pyotr, you’ll be in charge there, in Germany while I’m absent. You know that now our children need attention as never before. Demand equally from everyone, suppress any pranks strictly. I’m sure you’ll cope with it. If Allah allows, we’ll see each other again. Let the Most High be with you!” They embraced each other and said goodbye. Then they came up to the rest. Said embraced Anna, Liza, Movsar, his sister, her children and finally he unwrapped the nappies of Isa and kissed him on the cheek with the words: “Take care of him, sister!” Then he said goodbye to everybody once again and said: “I don’t like long partings. You, …somehow… without me… I have to go”. He turned round and went to the car in which his relative Khasambek was waiting for him at the parking lot near the airport. Before getting into the car he turned back and waved his hand to everybody with whom he had just bid farewell.
Said got into the car, said: “Go ahead!” and began to cite aloud the poet Vyazemsky:
That is your fault that I am broken down
Said once a brick to nail. – And what for is all that?
For I am suffering from the nasty hammer
And life is always just as difficult as that.
- Why didn’t you wait for boarding? We would have time to reach Grozny before dark, - said Khasambek.
- You see, I couldn’t. I couldn’t…
- I see. Mansur and Magomed will await us on Ingush border, - he reminded.
- Do you love Russian poetry? – asked Said.
- I do. The exact one…
- What do you mean by exact?
- Well, you see… No one can be compared with Russians in poetry. For example, Nekrasov, Tyutchev, Pasternak, Dobrolyubov, Bunin. By the way, Ivan Bunin’s prose is very beautiful. I’ve read all five volumes. If you want I can guess whom you were citing. Pyotr Andreyevich Vyazemsky. As far as I remember, Ibragim told me that Vyazemsky lived to a venerable age. Ibragim was strong at literature. If it were not for him, I wouldn’t have read a single book. Have you heard him reciting Pushkin by heart for hours?
- I have, - answered Said and began to cite Nekrasov:
The one, who’s eager to see death,
For suffering brother’s life
Will never manage to return
To any pieceful side.
The enemy of slavery chains
And people’s loving friend
Be brave to drink the freedom wine
And drink it to the end.
- You see? I call such poetry exact.
- Have you written at least anything? – asked Said.
- I can’t, in fact I didn’t even try. It’s beyond me… to write poems…
- On paper! – Said said sarcastically.
- But on the other hand I can play the guitar. I love Vysotsky.
- You play on nerves… Vysotsky… Vysotsky was the only one. Such people are born very seldom. And how can you combine Bunin and Vysotsky?!
- Simply! One is in my head and the other is in my heart…
- You said that Allah has to be in the head and in the heart?!
- Yes, Allah! He is everywhere. In my body, in my soul – everywhere on the first place.
- Of course, because you are omnivorous. A Muslim, an erudite, a polyglot… - Said said sarcastically again.
No, stop it! It’s you who are a polyglot and a tryglot, ein, zwei, drei, fir, chur, pur or, as you Germans say – kaput, bamut, hende hoch - Khasambek let himself go, - bitte, fritte, oi madam, trali-vali, shukher-makher, shumakher…
- Stop playing the fool! By the way, Germans are a cultured nation…
- Sure, sure… They showed the nation in the forties… Nazism, fascism – such are your Germans. My and your grandfathers were killed by Germans in Brest.
- Stop the car! I told you, stop the car…Idiot, imbecile, plebian… stop, you idiot!
- What’s up with you? Calm down! You’ve started it yourself and now you are shouting at me, - said Khasambek while stopping the car at the roadside.
Said jumped out of the car and began to shout at him:
- What do you know? Why are you posing as an idiot?
- We were joking, we were only joking, - Khasambek was justifying himself when going out of the car. – Calm down, lets go. I’m sorry, stop abusing. Let’s go, they are waiting for us there…
Said opened the door and sat on the back seat.
- You can sit even in the trunk, but we’ll be in the same car anyway, - said the driver sitting at the wheel and starting off.
They were going in silence. Said lighted up a cigarette. Khasambek asked:
- Treat me with a Western one.
- Smoke yours! You’ll be healthier…
- O.K., O.K., I’ll smoke mine. And why haven’t you come on your Mercedes? Spared it?
- Mind your own business. If I want – I go, if I don’t, my “donkey” is standing.
- And you think that my “donkey” is the kolkhoz’ one?
- Yours is the kolkhoz’ one…
- You've become embittered among your Germans!
- And you – among your bloody democrats …
- We won’t get there this way.
- Drop me off. I'll get there without you. And I did many times where I wanted without snotty…
- O.K., O.K., Calm down, soothe your malice.
- I'm not malicious, - Said began to cry. – I’m not malicious, do you hear me, I'm not malicious… I'm a mamma's boy, I'm a good child, I'm a ninny. What do you need from me? – Said was crying furiously. – What?
Khasambek stopped the car at the roadside and said:
- O.K., calm down! Tell me, do you need this accursed Aziz-Maziz, or how is it, Al-Aziz-Khakim? If you do, let's go on if not, we go back. I'll take you to Mineralnye Vody. You’ll take the evening flight and catch up with Islam. Tomorrow you’ll fly away with the others.
- No! No! And no! I need him! I need him like air, like water, like… like… - Said began to convulse and he said through clenched teeth: - I need him!
Khasambek started off and having passed several kilometers he began to cite aloud Dobrolyubov’s poem “Newspaper’s Russia”:
I read Russian newspapers
In their modern verses
And philosophical answers
The soldiers just taken from a plough.
I read detailed list of
Various victims of various men;
I read splendid analysis
Of gossips about Russia;
I read reports of the ministry
And reports of the leaders,
Examples of the English atrocity
And Russian line of bogatyrs;
Read about education,
Trade, factories, crafts.
About unselfishness of courts,
Highways, roads and channels,
About prosperity of peasants,
About our marvellous generals,
About feelings of valorous noblemen.
As Russia is great and rich,
And as about many in it (her).
As honour and the truth are honoured by us piously,
As loves Russia the tsars …
Read and thought: My God right!
As Russia is great and strong!
Likely, in light there is no power
Such blessed, as she!
Also I ripened Russia on a field of battle
In shameful flight from enemies,
Among damnations and sobbings
In recruiting to delivery of muzhiks,
In grimaces sour at orders
About free victims for soldiers
And in laughter mature at trite phrases,
That our fight is just and holy;
And in that our voevody
Were able to fill a pocket there,
Where died thousands of people
From bandaging by hay of wounds…
I saw the code of laws in Russia,
Entered by whim of judges,
I heard groans of millions
And a cry of the offended families.
I saw a lot decrepit invalids,
To judge put in the senate,
I saw a lot, as, for imperial kinds,
The syndrome operated the soldier,
I saw a lot schools for footmen
And state thieves,
Saw a lot unfortunate collapses of
State buildings and bridges
And the nobility, brilliant parties
On the account of a dinner of their slaves…
I saw a lot nasty things in court,
And a crime in the stars.
And desecration of maidens obedient
Through Nelidovskiy way,
Saw a lot as an educated person
The soldiers and dreadful hypocrites,
Censorships heavy pressure
And force rough tsars.
Saw many poets forbidden
With a verse truthful on their lips,
In prisons burried alive
Or dying in mines …
And I have hung my soul distraught
And thought: Russia how sad you are!
Why does such a suffering country
Still exists in the world
- Did you like it? – asked Khasambek. – It was written a hundred and fifty years ago. Communists liked this poem very much, as if Dobrolyubov had written it for them, You were a communist, weren’t you! Am I right? – he turned back for a second to look at Said and saw that he bent his head on the shoulder and was dozing. – There you are! You are doing pleasant things for him and he is ungrateful as always. Sleeping, no matter what! And who am I trying my best for? It's always like this! I hate shameless people! I hate them! My father was right when saying: “Speak less and you'll be cleverer.” Wise words. And I said something outrageous! I have been learning it by heart for the whole month! And I am duped! However, repetition is the mother of learning…
- Talk less rubbish, the checkpoint is ahead. And fasten the seatbelt, you erudite…
- You are like Caesar. You sleep, eat, think, see and talk at the same time. May be you can see through centuries?!
At the last checkpoint on Kabardin territory “Nizhny Kurp” the sentries checked their documents, examined the car, registered them and let proceed towards Ingushetia.
Having passed Ingushetia they finally reached the border of the Chechen Republic. Here, at the checkpoint, their close relatives Magomed and Mansur were waiting for them. Having passed the examination procedure and registration they went further in two cars accompanied by those who had met them. They were going to Grozny and from there – to the patrimonial village and on the next day – to the mountains of Vedensky and Nozhai-Yurtovsky districts. The next morning would be the beginning of the operation, which Said called “Spider”.
Said woke up early in the morning. Having lighted the stove he said the Morning Prayer and went to the courtyard of his father’s house. Everything around was white. It must have been snowing till very morning that November night. “It’s for luck, - thought Said picking up a handful of cold snow from the ground and turning his eyes over the roofs of the houses towards snowy mountains, witnesses of milleniums. Who knows how many times they have shuddered watching their inhabitants that treat their mountains with affection and those who came to conquer them. Oh, how much joy, love, laughter and tears, blood and grief they saw in their lifetime! They must be tired of watching and even experiencing the restless and imperfect human world…
TO BE CONTINUED…
SECOND BOOK “ZAURBEK’S MYSTERY
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