EURASIA LIFT

Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Russian Spetsnaz Officer`s 120-page Diary On The Chechen War

Posted by Info on 12/11/2010

The Sunday Times magazine in London, which published translated excerpts from the diary of a Russian spetsnaz officer who served for more than a decade as one of the Kremlin’s shadowy fighters in the Chechen wars.

The two Chechen wars,
fought since the Soviet Union disintegrated between Russian federal forces and shifting bands of rebels who have carried the banners of separatism, jihad and revenge, have seen waves of violence as chilling as most any accounts of war. Fueled by racism and an urge to settle bloody scores, both sides have joined in a descent to the bottom, engaging in unsparing campaigns against each others’ civilian populations. Untold thousands of civilians have vanished or been killed. A wave of emigration followed, and criminality took hold. The tiny Chechen republic was leveled in the process, only to be rebuilt in recent years as a new police state controlled by a megalomaniacal young Kremlin proxy, Ramzan Kadyrov, who rules the land by collective punishment and fear.

If the paired words — insurgency and counterinsurgency — conjure dark associations, Chechnya is the example that summons some of the most severe forms of political violence of our time: hostage-taking in a theater, a public school and a hospital to leverage political demands; suicide bombings; indiscriminate shelling of rebel strongholds; assassinations; beheadings of captured combatants and suspected informants; mass arrests and incarcerations; public displays of the dead as warnings to others; systemic use of torture, and more.

The diary as available now is a complex offering.
Mr. Franchetti’s source appears, variously … as vicious, grim, bitter, alcoholic, criminal, angry at his country but deeply faithful to his fellow fighters, many of whom were killed and whom he feels he has let down….
For those trying to understand the slippery new counterinsurgency doctrine, which has swept like a religion through the Pentagon in the past five years, this abbreviated diary also carries insights into how Russia’s forces have pursued their own Eastern brand of counterinsurgent tactics, unapologetically matching brutality with brutality, seeking less to win, as the tin-eared slogan says, Chechnya’s “hearts and minds” than to exhaust the Chechen population.

“The War in Chechnya: Diary of a Killer,” prepared by The Times’s long-serving Moscow correspondent, Mark Franchetti, marks a valuable step toward gathering participants’ accounts. In a series of first-person vignettes from an anonymous officer’s diary, it offers a front-line account of characteristic forms of Russian-Chechen campaigns — roundups, torture, extrajudicial executions of detained rebels and the almost casual killing of civilians who happen to be in the way. The result is a portrait of confused dehumanization, of both relishing in fighting and agonizing over the results.

Soldiers’ memoirs are basic artifacts from which any given war can be further understood. They are also potentially risky to rely on, especially in wars for which a large body of individual accounts are not available. As any veteran knows from listening to fellow soldiers’ bar stool accounts, survivors of war sometimes veer into cartoonish description, and accounts of events can be laden with exaggeration. ...more here

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