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ZherebtsovaPolina

Report on war crimes in Chechnya in 1994-2004

   

Tšetšenia

 

What happened in Chechnya against civilians of all nationalities.


The report is for all who study history. Many argue: was there an actual genocide of Russians in Chechnya? In which years? Human rights activists can see only one set of “victims”.
But ALL (!) Chechnya’s residents have suffered.

Of course, very few people like the truth. Some people just want to forget, because they bear the blame for the crimes committed. Others experience deep emotional pains from the unsaid, from the sense of duty to those who cannot defend themselves.

I’m going to tell you as a witness what actually happened in the Chechen Republic in 1994-2004. Maybe our descendants will figure out and understand how the government’s criminal actions lead to the bloody events between friendly neighboring nations.

Zherebtsova P. V., an independent expert on the civilians’ plight in the Chechen Republic during military conflicts from 1994 to 2004, author of documentary wartime diaries, a native of Grozny.

Every resident of the Chechen Republic is a victim of war crimes regardless of their ethnicity and religious beliefs.

 

CHAPTER ONE.


A LITTLE LIE

When so-called “time chronicles” are made, is often used one small lie. This tiny little, almost unseen, thing makes the subsequent storytelling to become a one-sided truth. All the storytelling may be true, apart from the edgy insidious little lie that is presented as an undisputed truth.

One-sided truth is a term I have introduced and use in regard to the Russian-Chechen wars 1994-2004. If you want to know the real truth, then with every objective approach to “Chechen military conflict” you will need to watch out for one-sided truth and eliminate it. For this is the lie that makes you wander in the dark.


WITNESS TESTIMONY

I was born in 1985, in central maternity hospital of Grozny in the North Caucasus, in multinational family. All my great-grandparents and grandparents were of different nationalities. In our huge library due to different religious conversions of our ancestors three books always remained on the highest shelf: the Torah, the Bible and the Qur'an. On a shelf below were standing Confucius’s works, tales about Gautama Buddha and The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

From my mother’s side I got the last name Zherebtsova. It was the last name of the Don Cossacks, former nobles who ran away from Tsar’s disgrace to free lands of Don, a huge green river, that was hallowed by Scythes and Khazars. Relying on this exact surname, any not quite educated person could easily state that people with this certain surname are Russians.

A long time ago, in the year of my birth this statement was not offensive and we didn’t feel hurt, and sometimes we would retell our lineage, that had joined in a whimsical pattern genetic codes of Spanish, French, Jews, Chechen, Russians, Tatars, Ukrainians, Polish, etc.

In several four-storey and one five-storey buildings our multinational neighbors were living: Russians, Avars, Ingush, Chechen, Armenians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Dargin, Gypsies, etc. There were a few Chechen families. In all our four-storey brick house with three staircases (overall 46 flats*) – only 10 flats were owned by Chechen families. Most of them even didn’t live there and turned up rarely. Chechens were mostly living in countryside – closer to the mountains – engaged with construction and raising livestock.

Before the First Chechen war neighbors in Grozny had good relationships between each other and I don’t remember any conflicts on a national basis. I remember something else: in some families children had a mother who was Russian or Ukrainian and a father, who was Chechen or Ingush.

In the years 1992-1994 big tensions came into the republic, related to the sharp decline of standard of living, food shortages, local government has been stealing everything. First, salaries have been delayed, then we have stopped receiving it, as well as pensions and benefits. Perestroika was in its peak...


Extract from my Diary (1994-1999)
“21st May 1994. We cooked and ate a soup out of chicken paws. We used to cook whole chicken before, but now it’s only feet. They are sold per kilogram. Chicken was more delicious. Much more delicious.”

Bread and butter we got by tickets. People were standing in a queue during nighttime. They were freezing. In the morning only the strongest and the toughest would win a fight over a loaf of bread. My mother and I often went home empty-handed.

However, these difficulties didn’t change people's relations to each other. They helped as much as they could and all lived peacefully together. On Christian Orthodox Easter all children in our neighborhood were eating cakes and eggs and on Muslim – Eid al-Fitr, kids were knocking on doors, asking for sweets and biscuits. Also, everyone celebrated New Year altogether!

In autumn 1994 for the civilians war in Chechen Republic was something far and impossible to happen, although tanks were heading towards us in a dreadful line and planes were “spilling” bombs and missiles.

First people who died were elderly Russian veterans, who fought against fascism in WWII. They were living in Grozny on Rose Luxemburg Street, only one block from the central street Mira Street. They died because a Russian military aircraft dropped a bomb on their house late at night. Neighbors who lived on lower floors, managed to escape, but old men didn’t make it. They lived on the top floor.

I was standing at the place, where they were buried alive. Because of the bombing, house slabs collapsed in such a way, that it was simply impossible to help the injured people get out of there. People, who were not prepared for such events in the homeland, didn’t have any equipment to rake away the broken slabs and clearing of ruins of slabs by hand was unsuccessful…

Three days those elders were screaming and shouting, trapped between crashed slabs, until they died. I was standing there in front of the pile of crashed slabs and bricks. And I testify: people of all nationalities were crying, when they heard groans of those, who were helplessly dying. Everyone was crying: Russians, Chechens, Ingush, Armenians, Gypsies, Kumyks and many others. People brought food and water to the ruins, lit the candles. They cursed Mr Yeltsin’s governance.

In 1994, the Russian government has unleashed a massacre of civilians of ALL nationalities in my homeland. Why did this happen? No matter how new history books crunch their pages, no matter that inquiring minds were looking for the “Russian-imperial vein” and oppression of the Chechens as a nation – as a witness I can explain, people in the streets were talking about different things.

OIL

Oil production and the large amount of money from it, unseen to civilians’ eyes, went into the government’s pockets and was going to unknown direction... Adults and children, elderly with long noses and pug noses from birth were saying: 'Oil. If it wasn’t for this cursed oil, Russia wouldn’t have come here in the first place!' What Dzhokhar Dudayev promised us, when speaking in protest meetings? As a parable passed from mouth to mouth the phrase, that toilet taps would be made of gold and toilet would be encrusted with diamonds – if the money from oil would be divided among the residents of the republic, as is done in the United Arab Emirates.

Dzhokhar himself acted like an Arabian prince, calling for freedom. A green flag with a furry wolf was proudly floating.

In 1995, our family met the New Year’s assault surrounded by refugees, their flats were completely destroyed and they came to our flat on the first floor.

Extract from my Diary (1994-1999)

“1st January 1995. The year of the pig has come! It’s a zodiac sign. All night there were shootings aimed at the house. We were lying on the corridor floor. There were no windows in the corridor. Before that we were sitting on sledges, on the bathroom floor. Our house was shaking. It was burning. Tanks were going down the street and shooting. The rattle was very scary.

Mansur with other boys ran to the street to see how the tanks look like. Planes dropped bombs. Then, a projectile was thrown nearby. It was so shattering that in our kitchen a window grill fell off. It fell on my mom, grandma Nina and aunt Valya.”


THEY WERE BOMBING EVERYONE

All civilians in the Chechen republic, regardless of their nationality and religious beliefs, were hit by massive bombs from the sky, were shot by artillery on the ground. You know, no one asks for your last name or first name before turning your homes into the pile of bricks and slabs. Thousands of children were killed, thousands of elderly people died. They are the most unprotected part of every society. All people, living in those days in the Chechen republic, have become victims of Russian government war crimes. Army men have forgotten about morality and humanness. They used weapons that were forbidden to use in cities full of civilians. It seemed like in seconds all paragraphs in Geneva Conventions were erased under the pressure of violence and cruelty; and Grozny became one of the most destroyed cities in the world.
My maternal grandfather Anatoliy Pavlovich Zherebtsov, who worked 25 years as a documentary cameraman in the head television studios in Grozny, died under the gunfire in the hospital on the Pervomayskaya Street during the first Chechen war.
Participated in WWII, spoke six languages (Chechen and Ingush he spoke fluently), he died because of the Russian army forces gunfire.

On the house of my grandmother Elizabeth (she was a Polish Jew) in one of the Grozny city blocks called “Minutka” Russian air force dropped bombs. Her body was never found, as well as the bodies of her neighbors, all different nationalities.

Everyone, who was financially stable, tried to leave their homeland that became a war zone as soon as possible. But who had these chances? Just look a little earlier in the text: several years without pensions, benefits, salaries and angry fights over a loaf of bread...

The most vulnerable part of the population were lonely old ailing people. Predominantly, they were Russians. In other words, people of European-Slavic background in our multinational lands were called “non-Chechens”. Chechens and Ingush never deserted their seniors and children.

The government didn’t provide any facilities, so that civilians could easily escape the republic. Warm homes and decent benefits for life have not been offered to people. Most of the refugees after a long journey, full of hunger, nuisance, cold nights on benches in city parks, had to return to their bombed lands, as they were simply not accepted in other peaceful regions.

Chechens, who thought one of their main duties is to become related with other people from their teip (tribal clan), have won fight for survival upon other ethnical groups, that were caught in the criminal conflict zone, conducted by the Russian government.

I suppose that was the moment, when the main division of friendly neighboring nations have begun.

Extract from my Diary (1994-1999)

“10th November 1995. When we came back, we wanted to sell our flats. But nobody was buying them. Aunt Valya thought and then decided that if her husband and relatives are buried, then maybe there is no need to leave. Maybe there will be peace one day? Mother loves Grozny. So we stayed.”

IN THE FIRST CHECHEN WAR

All residents were equal: we went altogether to wells after water, altogether were hiding in basements, altogether baked bread and rescued the children. In our one-bedroom flat, that was on Zaveta-Ilyicha Street, at the same time were living 11 neighbors – refugees, all different nationalities and religious beliefs.

People became rebels because their relatives (mother, father, brother, sister, child) were killed by bombs or gun fires. They could hold weapons in their hands and they could fight. In the first Chechen war rebels were called as "home guards”, as they were thought to fight against invaders, who destroyed and killed.
Typically, not only Chechens became “home guards”, but also non-Chechens were fighting. Representatives of different nationalities for whom the Chechen Republic was the homeland (Russians, Ingush, Armenians, Gypsies, Tatars and others) were fighting. In some known cases, Russian soldiers took “home guards” side, as they justified their resistance.

In those days the story of one Russian soldier named Dmitriy was well-known in the Chechen Republic. He fought bravely on the rebel’s side and died in a combat near Bamut hamlet. About his military service in Russia he used to say: “Military hazing, violence, total degeneracy...”

GENOCIDE

The greatest divide and hatred on nationality reasons have reached its peak in 1996, after it has been revealed by many witnesses' stories, photo and video documents that Russian soldiers have murdered large numbers of Chechen women, children and seniors in “Samashki” hamlet in 1995. (They continued awful slaughter in 1996.)

Extract from my Diary (1994-1999)

“7th April 1996. Aunt Amina said that in Samashki hamlet people were killed by soldiers. Her brother and all his family were killed, his wife and kids. Mother is sitting and smoking a cigarette. I hate cigarettes so much! She usually hits me with a towel, when I break them. Aunt Amina is also sitting and smoking. They both are crying. Our Armenian uncle Edik has disappeared. Just disappeared. Now other people are living in his house. Non-Russians.
Polya.”


“24th April 1996. Again, I am selling stuff on the market. But what can you do? You need to continue living! From the morning I have sold some things. I bought a potato pastry. I am learning the Chechen language. Fewer people speak Russian now. Aunt Mariam gave me a book. There are words written in the book:
'Kha ze khuyu?' – what’s your name.
'Kho khu deshj yu?' – what are you doing?
And others.”


Hatred towards non-Chechen grew out of grief and wounds. Hatred also grew out of the desire of criminal forces to kill non-Chechens and robber their homes. You could even hear such slogans, killing non-Chechens is an act of good.
I want to explain that among Chechens and Ingush were many decent people, who didn’t like such comments because they have lived and have related to non-Chechens for many years. Despite the horrible deportation on Stalin’s order in 1944, mockery from NKVD workers during departure procedures from the homelands, people who after a while came back, found kindness and fortitude in themselves to forgive the past and live peacefully along with non-Chechens.

But there were those who supported the idea of killing their neighbors and stealing their goods. In 1996-1998 murder and robbery of non-Chechen (Russians and people of other nationalities) was going on the flow. Non-Chechens were called “Russian pig”(Gjaski khak). Those Chechens who couldn’t do such things because their moral values had to be quiet or escape the republic, or they also could have been killed for helping the Russian population. They even could have been put to death as betrayers.

However, there are known situations, when the Chechens and Ingush were hiding their Russian neighbors, despite the fear of death for the whole family. They also helped neighbors escape Chechen republic.

Extract from my Diary (1994-1999)

“7th March 1998. Grandma Tonya is afraid to leave the flat. Someone can come and take it! If someone knocked on the door (and they were knocking very often), I asked in Chechen:
'Khjo mil vu?'* (Who is it?). Bandits went away. They thought, this flat was already taken.”


If you carefully read my childhood’s diary that no Russian publishing house was willing to publish until 2013, it is clearly seen that in 1995 all the persecutions are the result of criminal hostilities of Mr. Yeltsin.

Extract from my Diary (1994-1999)

“4th December 1995. They were shouting in the whole block:
'Russian bastards! Animals! We’ll cut you down!'
But mother answered:
'Fuck you! You won’t get a Russian flat! You mean fools, don’t touch Valya!'
Other neighbors told my mother that she doesn’t need to defend aunt Valya. Everyone loves my mother. They called her “Leila”. But mother said, she won’t give up.”


“2nd September 1997. Like a reward for everything that happened, I received a letter. Aunt Valya and Alenka are alive! They went with Uncle Sasha to some kind of Russian farm. There is a small river and a small house! I am so happy for them! Thank you God! Chechens helped them escape and aunt Valya gave them her 3-bedroom flat for it, and they kicked away the bandits. Those Chechens who had assault rifles. These good Chechens had machine-guns.”

Genocide has its own different ways, it moves like snakes on Medusa’s head. First, the aggression towards civilians came from the government and then trying to hide in a tricky way all the noise from bloody rivers, the government in the Chechen Republic poisoned friendly neighbors’ minds against each other. By using an ancient bastards’ rule: divide and conquer, the Russian government with the help from ambitious idiots-nationalists, have murdered thousands of innocent people.

Extract from my Diary (1994-1999)

“16th November 1996. Senior Armenians were killed. They were hanged. Someone from the flat did it. Russian family was murdered: father, mother and two children on a bus stop Autotrest”. They cut down even a small baby in a crib. I was thinking: how it is possible? Probably, those are very bad people who came and are killing everyone. Why can’t we go away? Mother says: there is nowhere to go, we don’t have close relatives, there is no place to live, no one will buy our flat, there is nowhere to go. What can we do? Other kids make fun of me every day.”

Probably you would like to ask me: how we managed to survive? I will explain it, well, documented testimony that was not published in Russia will explain it:

Extract from my Diary (1994-1999)

“4th December 1995. My stepfather Ruslan for the first time called my mother Leyla. He is Chechen, my mother’s lover. Mom saved him. On the market. BTR’s came there and grabbed everyone. Then, they tortured and killed people. They took them to a place called “filtration camp” and they killed there. In that spring Ruslan was selling car parts. Everyone was captured in his row in the market. They captured young guys and elderly men. My mother gave Ruslan an empty bottle and started screaming:

‘My heart is hurting! Please give me water! Water!’

She told the soldiers, that Ruslan was her neighbor and he can bring some water and drugs. They let him go and he left. But since then no one has seen those people, who were taken to the camp.”


It was tougher in school: they knew your last name and it was almost impossible to survive. Friends were helping a lot.

Extract from my Diary (1994-1999)

“23rd December 1997, Tuesday 12:00 pm. Two lessons were held in school. Me, Zaira, Seta, Teena and Zulya were playing tag and blind man’s buff. It was fun. We were laughing so hard! When it became colder, we went back to the classroom. There was no heating, but still it was warmer than on the outside. We started playing tic-tac-toe. When we went inside, we forgot to lock the room with a broomstick. We always did it because someone could have come in and start shooting.

And then the boys from 10th and 11th grade came. They started shouting in Chechen, that others in their classes have said that my name is “Kassee” and they are “allowed” to do whatever they want, just because I’m Russian. They actually wanted to take me upstairs and there was no sight of any teacher around. But who could actually defend me? But the girls have saved me! Zaira, Teena and Zulya stood in front of me and replied to boys:

‘You are wrong! She is not Russian! Her name is Fatima. Her father is a Chechen. She is a Chechen! Kassee is a different girl. She also has a Russian mother, but father is Ingush. Leave them alone!’

The guys started to argue in Chechen, but the phrase about my father being Chechen really scared them. Girls were prepared to defend me till the end. Teena grabbed a metal scoop, Zulya was holding a wooden chair and Seta, wearing her big bow, a broom. When the boys realised that they can’t do anything, they left. We quickly locked the classroom. Hands were shivering from fear? Not only my hands.

'Why this is happening?' slim Teena asked.

'They think that Polina is Russian! Russians are not humans! Slaves! Bastards! They throw bombs at us!' Zulya-fatty was saying loud. 'Polina must tell everyone her father is Chechen, or they will kill her! We won’t be always around to help her.'

'Why did you say my name is Fatima?' I asked Zaira.

'I don’t know,' she replied,'I guess that was the first thing that came to my mind. That was the name of prophet’s Muhammad’s daughter.'”


Russian troops' departure from the Chechen Republic in August 1996 and the summer war, where thousands of civilians have died, gave a new growth for hatred and genocide.
Non-Chechens, including Russians, that were born in Chechen Republic have been left between the devil and the deep sea. They have fallen into a trap that they can’t talk about without fear. From one side they were bombed and killed by their Russian soldiers, who considered them to be Chechens and from the other side, they were murdered by Chechens, who have developed anger from the pain of losing people they loved.

Our family couldn’t escape due to particular reasons:

• Nobody wanted to buy our flat due to reasons listed above.
• We didn’t have any close relatives in the Russian Federation.
• My stepfather was Chechen, they frightened us, but didn’t hurt us.
• We knew that in Russian Federation people don’t accept Chechen people, like the Russians are not accepted here. My stepfather would not simply have a life there.
• We still were hoping that someday some kind of peace will come. We loved our homeland.

Genocide towards residents of the Chechen Republic, regardless their nationalities and religious beliefs was conducted by the Russian government.

The government it truthfully responsible for all the multinational hatred that was spread in our lands. Also, they are responsible for throwing bombs that destroyed whole blocks with many houses, for killing innocent people, for the health loss during military acts.

All survivors, residents of the Chechen Republic that have suffered, regardless their nationalities and religious beliefs have their full rights to go to court and demand massive amends from Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Finance, because they have actually sponsored the army and therefore their crimes in our lands. We must show these cases to the ECHR.


CHAPTER TWO

ACTIVISTS: DOUBLE STANDARDS

I want to debunk two widely common myths that were imposed to the millions of people by the mass media and many celebrities that have never gone to the war zone and haven’t seen anything from the inside and can only judge certain events by looking at them from the side, just like looking at fish in the aquarium. Sometimes these people are called fake activists.

Myth #1: "Genocide was conducted only against the Chechen people".

From my report it is clearly seen that Chechen society was multicultural and multinational. That is why the government is responsible for the genocide of ALL residents, not only a certain ethnic group. As first people who got killed were Russian seniors in our capital city and only then Chechen children in villages. For me, as a person who sees the scale of this tragedy, who doesn’t find one-sided truth being honest, it is understandable that changing the reality and showing off a lot is just another “magician’s job” that needs to be done.

Indeed, we didn’t know anything about “genocide” in 1991-1994, but starting from 1995 we have met with this word personally. From both Russian government and the local neighboring nation that was angered by the war.

Extract from my Diary (1994-1999)

3rd June 1996. We came under gunfire. It happened in “Berezka” market. Someone has blown up a tank. Mom warned Valya, who lived with her Ingush husband in a house opposite ours, not to let out in the streets Bashir and Mansur. Bashir became so unkind. He threw rocks at me, called me Russian freak. Yet, his mother was Russian. But Bashir was proud that he had his father’s last name!”

In 1999 in our four-storey house only two Russian families remained. Most of them were kicked out, killed, beaten, threatened, etc. Every night people were afraid to go to sleep because every minute someone could have burst into the room and kill them. The only thing that saved us, was the fact that my stepfather was Chechen.

Important fact: Chechens don’t accept any documents or official papers. For them the only true argument is other Chechen’s testimonies. My stepfather was an honourable working man. He swore that my father’s father was Chechen (although he couldn’t have known it for sure). My grandmother, who was a Polish Jew, always has hidden this fact. But this argument about my father has saved me and my mother from inevitable and horrible death. We didn’t stand out of the public by our appearance: long dresses, scarves, talks in Chechen (some common words).

However, we were afraid of Russian army men, who came to destroy all of us, residents of Chechnya. They behaved recklessly and cruelly against all residents (Russian residents got the most anger and the most cruel attitude, as they were considered to be “Chechen helpers” or “Chechen supporters”).

During the bloody military actions large rows of Chechen refugees have gone to Europe to ask for political shelter. There were also fake refugees from Dagestan, Ingushetia and other Russian Federation regions, who were acting like “Chechens”. Those people received enormous financial support and great benefits that we couldn’t even imagine, lying down beneath the ruins without bread and water!

In most cases journalists and activists were saying things that were beneficial for them, but European Chechen unions have supported the idea of genocide of Chechens, undoubtedly, in their own interests.

This means in the end everyone was fooled, except for criminals and rich men, who had 30 000 rubles for completing all the documents, so that one family member could go abroad. Just to compare, in those days sometimes our family didn’t have even 10 rubles for a whole day. Social benefits in Europe recovered all the expenses. If you multiply the family out of five members by 30 000 you will get 150 000 rubles. Also, there was a great perspective of a wealthy new life.

All non-Chechens, that suffered in Chechnya, again were in a dreadful situation. They had “wrong” last names and they couldn’t so easily lie about lost passports and documents. They were silenced, they were betrayed, they were buried alive!
They became useless for the homeland, for other Russia’s regions and for the Europe. Activists and journalists are silent about them.


Myth #2: "In Chechnya Russian army was happily greeted by civilian population."

Regarding this particular myth, I can testify that no one from the local people I knew never have greeted or happily welcomed the Russian army. It didn’t happen during first Chechen war, August war in 1996 or the second Chechen war.

People are afraid of wars, blood and death.
People don’t want to be killed.
Peaceful people always try to stay away from the military.

Starting from 1996 “home guards” were called as rebels. They were becoming more hostile to non-Chechens. However, the attitude towards the rebels remained double-sided, because among the rebels were those who helped civilians of ALL nationalities. They helped as much as they could by supplying food, medication. This was the reason most of the residents were tolerable to the rebels.

In most cases, a resident became a rebel, when his whole family has been killed because of bombs and he took a weapon in his hands. There were those who became rebels for other reasons, they just wanted to kill and rob Russian neighbors (non-Chechens) in an unlimited amount. There were also hired rebels, but I haven’t seen or heard anything about them, as they didn’t have any contacts with civilians and were living outside the cities, in woods or close to the mountains.

A SPECK OF DUST

The whole world knows about “Genocide of Chechens”

Untruth here is very small, just like a speck of dust. One phrase is missing, “residents of Chechnya”. You can imagine a journalist or an activist getting this little dust in his eyes. He will probably blink harder, tears will cover his eyes a little and that’s it... You can continue with your life, as it was only a very small lie! And how he can actually know the truth, when he was never there, running from bombs, in the first place.

I just want you to understand, there was a genocide in Chechnya, and it was against ALL our residents in our republic. It came down from the government. The government was fighting with their own people!

Mirrored reflections of genocide were: persecution and overkill of non-Chechens in the Chechen Republic and persecution and tortures in prisons, full of the Chechen people in other Russian regions. Divide and conquer. The ancient rule of bastards. Fooled people, poverty and hunger redounded to this revolt.

By sending tanks to Chechnya, the Russian government has actually betrayed their unprepared soldiers to war and officially claimed that we civilians, are “enemies”, “aliens”, “we are those who must be destroyed.”

Extract from my Diary (1994-1999)

“18th January 1995. He didn’t have legs. They were burnt. He asked about it himself. That’s what Ali told us, he lived just a block away from us. Ali was thirteen. It was he who killed. Then, he was crying because killing is scary. He killed with his gun. Grandma Nina was praying and everyone was crying. Ali gave a letter to the aunties. That soldier has written such words: “... Take care of our girls. We are heading down to Grozny. We have no choice. We can’t turn back, our tanks are pointing shotguns at us. If we turn back, it will be a betrayal. They’ll shoot us. We are going to our own death. I am sorry...”

Aunties wanted to throw away the letter, but my mother put it beside the books.”


CHAPTER THREE

ONE-SIDED TRUTH


Our well-known Ingush family, which asked for political shelter in Belgium, wrote us a letter in 2003. It is mentioned on my diary’s pages:

“12th May 2003, Monday. In autumn 1999 our neighbors went to Europe as “refugees”. Now they live in Belgium! They have a house with two swimming pools. They sent a letter to their “old yard”, describing how they live right now and what help they receive! We are happy for them. We have bought some products and a shampoo. I hope there will be some water! When we will buy a bucket, we can wash our heads.”

And so, describing genocide in a particular format, you could have improved your standards of living. That’s exactly what hundreds of families have done, by also having a stable financial background and support of the relatives. Mostly these families have left not only the Chechen Republic, but other regions as well by having or buying Chechen registration permits.

Knocking on their own chests, “losing” when not actually having the “registration permit in the Chechen Republic” large families real documents, hundreds of moochers and adventure seekers got a European citizenship. Honestly, real Chechens? Who actually suffered from war were just a couple. You might agree that agony and big money on the road are incompatible things.

As for my already expressed opinion on this matter, it has become even stronger after I asked for political shelter in Finland in January 2012 and I received it only in March 2013. For 1 year and 4 months I haven’t met ANY (!) Russian family that suffered from inhumane conditions in the Chechen Republic in 1994-2004, and managed to get to Europe and ask for asylum here.

But what happened to other poor people in those war years (1994-2004)? With non-Chechens, with poor Ingush and Chechens, who were the majority, and they didn’t have any financial support to escape the war zone?

Nothingness in the gardens, even under new toy-looking houses on Putin’s and Russian Hero’s Kadyrov’s avenues. Nothingness and dust.

But those “lucky” survivors didn’t end up well. Regardless of whether they were Chechens, Russians, Ukrainians or Tatars, they have been persecuted as “Chechen” in other Russian regions and deep poverty and uselessness awaited them. They were called as Chechen, because of their places of birth or for bomb and gunfire stories. Quickly others forgot to term them as “refugees”, now they were called “forced migrants”, in other words, people without a future.

Extract from my Diary (2002-2004)

“29th October 2004, Friday. While we were getting on the bus, we managed to hear another story of another Russian refugee from Chechnya. Her name was Katerina. Young woman, hearing that we are from Grozny, wept and said:

- It is hell here, much worse than in Chechnya. Politicians don’t do anything for us. There in Chechnya, you can be killed because of your nationality, but here people just hate you. Locals make fun of us by calling “Chechen beasts”, “gooks”. All Russians, that were born in Chechnya are called like that. If you were born there, they see it, it’s like a stain that cannot be removed. No one is going to help you. But they always invent something to make our lives more miserable. They can burn the house, kick you of the village. After washing my clothes and hanging it in the backyard to dry, they put ink on it. Recently they just killed our dog. There is no life, you just want to kill yourself. Chechens usually help other Chechens. They support each other. Many are being transferred abroad for a better life. As for us, Russian refugees from Chechnya, nobody cares.”


TRUTH AS IT IS

There is a Surah in Qur'an. It’s called “Earthquake” It is written there:

“So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it.
And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it!”

This Surah has 99th number.

On 21st October 1999, at 5:00 pm a Russian missile was dropped on the central market of the city of Grozny. Not just one. Two more missiles exploded near Grozny’s maternity hospital №1 and the central post office. At that time Putin became the head of a new government.

Russian government still, without any shame, lies that it was a “weapon market”. In that market since I was six I helped my mother to sell seeds, chewing gums, flowers, newspapers, etc. There were “reformation times” in the 90s, when my mother’s salary was delayed all the time. We were trying to survive. The number of people selling products and things in this market reached four thousand every day! The missile “fell” on the market at 5:00 pm, i.e., one of the busiest times in the marketplace. Nearby my working spot these people have died:


• A fifteen-year old girl, who sold chocolate bars and sweets (her mother and sister were seriously injured);

• A nineteen-year old boy. He came to help his sister to stock out the things like cigarettes, key rings, lighters;
• A woman who was pregnant with an 8-month child. She sold cabbage (seven children became orphans that day).


The missile exploded just a few blocks from us! Can you imagine what a disaster was happening at the place, where it hit the ground?

Extract from my Diary (1999-2002) – the only one published in Russia.

“25th October 1999, Tuesday. Russian side refuses to comment the situation about bombing the central market. But Chechens don’t have such big missiles. They say that the ones, who were near explosions, have been torn into pieces and now relatives can only distinguish them by remaining parts of their clothing: buttons, hair pins or small pieces of fabrics.”

In 1999 Second Chechen war has begun. It was even more bloody. In the Chechen Republic still remained those non-Chechens, like blurry shadows, gingerly whispering Chechen words, who didn’t have any chance to escape this dreadful situation. They didn’t have any relatives in other regions or homes or a chance to leave the homeland. Tatars, Russians, Armenians, Avars, Kumyks, Bulgarians... I knew them. There were Chechens and Ingush, many of them were decent and kind, but because of the poverty they could not escape.

They were living with a hope for hardly visible humble peace. They were living in hunger, in the cold, without any comfort or heating, trading shoes for potatoes in markets, for years they were waiting for truce. But dreams don’t come true in Russia: submarines sink, houses explode, but markets with cabbages and bread are attacked with huge ground-to-ground military missiles.

Extract from my Diary (1999-2002)

“20th January 2000. Yurochka, who was grandma’s Nina’s grandson and who lost his mind, was talking to me about UFO. Soldiers are not real, they are alien killers from outer space. He was waiting for his “true Russian friends”, but not for those aliens...

Finally, we were allowed to go out. Aunt Aza and aunt Lina came into the light and started collecting straight away pretty red soap bars. They said, some neighbors left it for us to keep. I was ashamed, but I didn’t give away my soap bar.

'Allow me to go inside the flat! I need to take the passport. How can I be without a passport?' my mother sounded worried.

'Not allowed! You don’t need a passport. Don’t take your belongings! Don’t shut the doors! Let's go! With a concomitant.’

Aza gave my mother a black leather jacket.

'Just save this one for me!' she asked about it unexpectedly.

People from two houses were walking in a line. I saw 11 people. Behind the corner, on the backyard, the gunfire was stronger. Mines were rustling and blowing. Not far away one of them has exploded. We saw it right in front us. We and the army men were walking together. Our people hit our people. The soldier on the left was loudly swearing on his radio set. But I managed to figure out parts of their dialogue:

'Hey you, Permyaks! This is us! We are here! You hit your own fellows!'

We were walking first in line: grandmother Stasya, mother and me. Stasya was hardly moving her feet. She was in the middle and we were holding each other. I couldn’t barely move myself because of the hunger and tiredness... When we heard that awful mine’s noise, we fell to the ground. Then we stood up and continued walking...

They lead us to the cliff. I looked down. There was sticky mud and snow. Yurochka was shivering, he christened the soldier and was mumbling something like:

'Shoo! Shoo! Fly away from here!'

Someone from the army men shoot just above our heads. I was afraid and I felt that I will fall. My head was spinning around. Mother managed to hold me tight. And the wandering fragment in my leg “has stopped” in one place and hurt me with an awful strength.

Old grandma Stasya fell on her knees and started screaming:

'What are you doing? We are Russians, just like you! Don’t shoot us!'

Mother was standing there silently.

Soldiers were laughing. The one that was round like a pancake, just waved his hand:

‘You are free! Just roll down the cliff! But don’t think about coming back home – we are doing a sweep there!’

We obeyed him and actually rolled down the cliff in the sticky mud and snow. Soldier, who was talking on the radio, said to us out loud:

‘Don’t worry about the shooting. We were just joking around...’

We were walking in an unknown direction, hiding in empty garages. Our concomitant showed us an empty house without windows and doors, but with thick brick walls:

‘You will stay here for a while. Another squad is coming after us. They are tougher than we are. We are kind, from Moscow. Some of us have even gone to college.’

He was tall and thin”.


Extract from my Diary (1999-2002)

“12th February 2000. My friend’s mother Khava came for a visit. The first thing she did was to rush to us. She asked, where is her husband Sultan? We told her:

On 18th January Sultan, after Aza’s neighbor’s brother’s funeral decided to visit your house, in the private sector. In the morning of January 19th we were evicted because of the “cleaning”. But your husband was not with us! After nine days we returned home. No one has ever seen Sultan from that time”.

Beautiful Khava’s mother started crying. Aza and Vovka called for her many times. Said that they know where Sultan is buried, and led her away. As later I found out that Aza, Olga, Vovka and Lina were looking for goods in the private sector and they found my friend’s father a long time ago.

He was shot, but not only him. Beside him two people were lying on the snow.
“'On this street and a little above' neighbors were saying,'army force with Ossetians were walking. It was a disaster! They hate Ingush people since the conflict in 1992 because of the debatable lands. That’s why those three were shot. There was a local Russian boy, a Chechen and they brought that Ingush man.'


'So it would be international' soldiers laughed. Also they didn’t allow to take and bury the bodies...”


Not far away from that place, an old woman in her nightgown with her daughter were shot. Her daughter in her early 30-ties was completely naked. Two blocks away from there, if you go from our house to the private sector up in the hill, a little 7-year-old Chechen girl was killed with her mother an aunt. People from the streets were saying that the soldiers took little girl’s older sister with them. The girl was about my age.

They threw a grenade in a basement of the common room in a bread factory. Both Chechens and Russians died. They were hiding from the gunfire. Loads of people! There were children...
In the market “Berezka” we have met one mother, whose daughter was killed. Her name was Galina. Probably, young Chechen women have died in that place. Once we were hiding from bombs at their place in “Berezki” area. They were thinking of going to that basement”.

So that the criminal war in Chechnya could continue, Russian viewers had also received their amount of dust and lies from the TV. “Chechens” became main antagonists, who were seeking for blood and innocent victims in the city streets so a prejudice against Chechens began. Although there are decent and well-educated people in every nation!

Chechens received cruel and violent attitude in all prisons in Russian regions. This fact exists, as I bear witness that had the opportunity to hear those horrible stories from people, who survived “filtration camps” only by miracle and those stories, whose relatives couldn’t stand all the tortures, they’ve lost their minds or died.

However, comparing this to the fact that ALL residents of Chechnya were destroyed, it looks only a part of the general genocide against civilians, but not the only type of genocide that was common in those years.

EPILOGUE

Readers of my documentary diaries and stories often argue: on whose side I'm on?

“In one of the stories Polina is describes, how Chechens hunted Russian residents of Grozny and in the other how Russian troops killed innocent Chechens” – complain puzzled truth seekers.

I want you to know: there is no “one-sided truth”

I'm among those who brought  bread and water to the ruins of the house where deep beneath slabs moaning of buried alive elderly is heard.

I will always act on behalf of peaceful residents, who had to live in inhuman conditions of war, regardless their nationalities and how they name God.

I receive no aid or assistance for publication of my documentary works. When I speak as a witness, because I have actually been there and saw the genocide and the war with my very own eyes, many organisations are trying to shut me up. But I will speak for myself and for those on whose bones the skyscrapers in Grozny are built and now mysteriously flare up.

I will speak. I will write. As long as I am alive.

I call up for justice for all who were responsible for organising these criminal Russian-Chechen wars, guilty of genocide against multinational residents of Chechnya.
The war in the Chechen Republic was a large-scale terrorist attack. In periodic sequence mirror pieces from that time are still falling on us as terrorist attacks, the apartment bombings, explosions in subways and Domodedovo airport. You cannot bring your country to a condition of civil war, like our modern government did.

I demand for an international tribunal and worldwide reprehension of the criminals.

P. Zherebtsova

This report was first published in “Krugozor” magazine (Boston), 2013.

Notes:
* (46 flats) – There were 48 flats in our building, but 2 of them were used by a “Vegetable store”.

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NäytäPiilota kommentit (5 kommenttia)

Käyttäjän allsynergy kuva
Rami Ovaskainen

"I will speak. I will write. As long as I am alive.
...................
I demand for an international tribunal and worldwide reprehension of the criminals.
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And life is not fair.... yrittää voi kuitenkin toki. Selvästi vaivaa nähty tekstin eteen, respectit siitä. Tuskin jaksaa moniakaan Uudessa Suomessakaan kiinnostaa..... täällä kinastellaan "tärkeämmästä" kuten sukupuolineutraalisuudesta tai kuvitellaan Uuden Suomen blogeilla olevan jotain suurempaakin vaikutusta Suomen politiikkaan.

Your demand will happen when hell freezes over... sorry. Kukaan (tai ainakaan kovin moni) ei sanonut elämän olevan reilua. Todella ikävää mielestäni.... tosiasiat piti tunnustaa ja sitä rataa.. tavallaan toivoisin että jatkossa suuri osa ei "tunnustaisi tosiasioita", vaan vaatisi parempaa. Eri asia sitten menisikö se parempaan suuntaan elämä vai huonompaan..

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"I will always act on behalf of peaceful residents, who had to live in inhuman conditions of war, regardless their nationalities and how they name God."

Hieno homma. Like it should be.

Käyttäjän allsynergy kuva
Rami Ovaskainen

kopio for no reason (Uuden Suomen vika tai ties mitä)

Käyttäjän jgagarin56 kuva
Juha Kuikka

Might be that there is no one-sided truth regarding the number of victims or their ethnic backgrounds but the truth remains that the whole war was twice started by Russian government to abolish the indipendence claim of Chechens. Without such wars there would have been no victims at all.

Käyttäjän hannumononen kuva
Hannu Mononen

"I will speak. I will write. As long as I am alive."

That is what you can and should do to let the rest of the world know. The Western media never reported what kind of chaos there was going on in Chechnya and foreign journalists never have the same insider knowledge as the eyewitness local population. There are very few who know first hand what you know. Your comments on various aspects of present-day Russia would also be interesting.

It is a good choice to publish in English, as you will then have a larger international audience than the limited number of Finnish readers. The better your writing style in English gets, the more attention and interest you can expect. Another possibility is to write in your own native language, which perhaps may offer advantage in literary terms. It is also a good idea to co-operate with good translators and Western journalists, like you have done. The Finnish translation of your blog is well written. Thinking of your tragic experiences, they remind of Sofi Oksanen's novels about the Soviet occupation of Estonia etc.

Of course, you should also have your private life in order and be able to pursue whatever aims in life are important to you, just like anyone else living in Finland - hopefully also enjoying life.

Thank you for sharing with us the above.

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