“Chechenization” of Ukraine: what for? 

2014/06/13 • News

Russia is already spreading the “experience” of occupied Chechnya to Donbas.

Obviously, sending Chechens to the far away and completely disconnected Ukraine was a decision made by the Russian Federation government also with the goal to bury the issue of Russia’ military crimes in Chechnya forever – bury it under the tag of the “bandit people,” which would like nothing more than “to go to war, no matter where and what for.”

The long trace of the unfinished Russian-Chechen War is becoming more and more obvious on the “soil” of Eastern Ukraine. The grievous crimes committed by the Russian military-political forces on Chechen land, which have gone unnoticed by the main international institutions, have “metastasised” first in the aggression against Georgia. And now, with even more rascality, they are being committed in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine. 

All the familiar faces…

More and more sources are proving, by name, that the same people who were “exemplary” in their “heroics” in the Russian-Chechen war are involved in the bandit action in Donbas.

Thus, the Russian rights protection centre “Memorial” confirmed with 100% accuracy that the leader of the military wing of the separatists, colonel of the Russian Main Intelligence Headquarters Igor Strelkov-Girkin and Igor Strelkov, who committed at least four instances of kidnapping of citizens in Vedenskiy district of the Chechen Republic in 2001-20002, are one and the same. 

“And here we are finally approaching our hero and his unfairly forgotten deeds,” writes “Memorial” worker Alexandr Cherkasov in the Russian Internet medium “Yezhednevniy Zhurnal.” “I am talking about Igor Alexandrovich Strelkov, a.k.a. Igor Viacheslavovich Girkin. A lot is written about him. They say he is one of the “reconstructors.” They are talking less about his main specialty.

Strelkov has been participating in the events in Donetsk oblast since mid-April 2014. Almost immediately comments appeared, equating him to the officer who was acting within the 45 special intelligence troop of the airborne forces in the suburbs of Khatuni village of Vedenskiy district of Chechnya in 2001 and who was connected with violent disappearances of the citizens of the Republic of Chechnya.

But we were not completely sure: in reality, the surname Strelkov could have been a pseudonym, a call sign, used in various times for the operative coverup of various people. The doubts were eliminated by “Strelkov” himself in his comment on May 16th: “I remember, only in 2001 around the camp of Khatuni the local Chechen population “calmed me down” no less than three times.”

Cherkasov briefly lists Strelkov-Girkin’s “heroics” in Chechnya. “Just in 2001 around the villages of Khatuni, Makhkety and Tevzeni, dozens of people were detained by soldiers and later disappeared. Anna Politkovskaya wrote a lot about it at the time, it was there she was detained, it was in this military camp that she was inhospitably held for several days. And then the heroes of her articles were killed – as if following a list…” (the same article)

I open the compilation of Anna Politkovskaya’s articles issued after her murder (Politkovskaya Anna. What for? – M.: ANO RID “Novaya Gazeta.” 2007). The chapter “The concentration camp with a commercial inclination. Working trip to the zone.”

“The editorial committee [of “Novaya Gazeta,” where Anna was working, – N.B.] received collective complaints from 90 families living in several villages of the Vedenskiy district of Chechnya – Makhkety, Tozveni, Selmentauzen, Khottuni… A special articles – cruel punishing looting conducted against these villages by the soldiers accommodated in the suburbs of the village of Khottuni” (p. 63). Politkovskaya went on a working trip to check the facts listed in the plaints. I will provide just several instances.

“Rozita is already quite advanced in years, she has many children and several grandchildren. The youngest, three years old, did not speak Russian before, but who has seen how her grandmother was cruelly detained, is now constantly shouting: “they took her from the house at dawn, when everyone was asleep (…) And threw her into a ditch made on the territory of the military unit in the suburbs of the village of Khottuni.

Having curled her legs, Rosita spent 12 days sitting in the ditch on the soil floor (…) The ditch wasn’t deep. About 1,20 m, no more. And it was made in such a way that it seemed that you were breathing fresh mountain winter air: there is no roof overhead and it is constantly very cold. You cannot straighten out: massive blocks of wood have been put over you, you cannot move them with your head. So 12 days either crouching or sitting. (…)

She was never presented with formal accusations, though she was questioned thrice. Youthful officers which were young enough to be her sons and who introduced themselves as FSB employees made her wear “children’s mittens on a rubber band.” This means: on the fingers of one hand they place the end of bare electric wires, on the other – their other end. And the wires went over the neck from behind.” And Rozita’s family “got the following task from the same officers through messengers: find money for ransom” (p. 64).

“Finally, the commander [of the 45th troop – N.B.] shows the ditches where the Chechens are thrown after cleanses. The colonel is caring: he keeps my elbow steady so I don’t fall 6 meters deep. About 3 by 3 metres, a rope leads to the indiscernible depth – you’re supposed to use it to get out for questionings. Despite the frost, the ditch smells in a very particular way. This is the custom here: the Chechens have to ‘go to the bathroom’ beneath their own feet. And continue standing on the same soil for days. If you want, you can sit” (p. 65).

Isa lives in Selmentauzen. In the beginning of February he also ended up in the concentrate camp at the edge of Khottuni. They put out cigarettes against his skin, they ripped out his nails, he was beaten with Pepsi bottles filled with water against the kidneys. Then he was thrown into the ditch. It was filled with water (by the way, it was winter), and then they threw smoke grenades at the Chechens that were thrown inside. Isa survived. But not all managed. Isa was not alone in the ditch – there were six. Officers of lower ranks which conducted collective questionings (…) violated them” (66). Isa was also paid for – the money was gathered by “all of Selmentauzen.”

Anna Politkovskaya further describes how she was detained and questioned herself, short of being shot. “I would prefer to ignore the most disgusting details of the questionings – as they are completely inappropriate. However these details (…) became the main confirmation to the fact that everything reported by the Chechens regarding torture and suffering is not lies” (p. 66).

Drawing from what she has seen, Politkovskaya concludes: “on the territory of the military unit on the outskirts of the village of Khottuni of Vedensiy district, where the 45th airborne and 119 parachute troops are located, as well as, MIA departments, Ministry of Justice and FSB departments altogether, there is a real concentration camp with a commercial inclination” (p. 64).

And the overall conclusion: “All of today’s Chechnya, where military units are located, is covered with horror-inducing handmade ditches, which contain all those who seem disagreeable: Chechens, soldiers, contract soldiers, those who are in discord… If one is to use more or less appropriate juridical words, these ditches are illegal investigative isolators. If we’re direct and honest – they are real Middle Age torture chambers” (75).

A. Cherkasov lists another name of a “hero” of the Chechen war, who has currently come to “help” the separatists: Igor Turcheniuk, the deputy commander of the Southern military district, who commanded the Russian army during the occupation of Crimea. He “commanded the 138 individual motorised shooting brigade, on whose location seven locals had disappeared and were later found beneath the earth. Of course, there has been no effective investigation of the fact.”

Crimea – the new motherland of Putin’s “Chechens?”

It is obvious: Putin has created a “Wild division” of sorts through his subordinate, Kadirov. Its “soldiers” are rampant in Crimea, reports the Internet publication “InfoResist.”

And here I have to draw your attention to the confusing array of words and phrases that this “Chechen” terror is described with in Crimea.

“According to the information of the group “InfoResist,” in two districts of the occupied republic of Crimea – Saky and Yevpatoriya – an unseen rampage of imported criminals in the spirit of the wild 90’s is observed. We have to remind you that Saky and Yevpatoriya are famous resorts with century-long history. The former is known for its healing mud and profiling sanatoria, the latter is traditionally considered the ideal location for holidays with children. Or it used to be – as very few parents decide to go to a location which has recently been full of people from Chechnya and Dagestan.

According to our emissaries, business raids and property raids are being conducted in the aforementioned regions. The best property is divided 50/50 – half is given to the bandits realising the motto “Crimea is ours.”

According to the data of our emissaries, the once calm and even sleepy resort cities have become unsafe, to put it mildly. People from the Caucasus already feel at home here – it is best not to visit cafés or restaurants, as the bandits already hold feasts in the “best” traditions of the 90’s. The locals joke sarcastically: soon they will start shooting in the air from rifles, like they had done at their Moscow weddings. It would be lucky if they just shot in the air…

One thing is obvious: the region has been sold out to the Caucasus bandits, and this is done with the help of “emperor” Putin.”

So are they talking about “people from the Caucasus” or “bandits from the Caucasus” here??? As it is difficult to imagine that the author of the message considered two entire nations bandits. It is most likely that the stereotype developed at the subconscious level was enacted in the author: “the person from the Caucasus (especially a Chechen or Dagestan citizen) is a bandit.” It is unthinkable now that the Russian “counter-terrorist” operation in Chechenia has turned it into Chechnya and its people – into bandits.

The examples of Russian terror in Chechenia mentioned above, described by Politkovskaya, are only a small fraction of what befell the Chechen people during the war, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year! As a result of this genocide war, 300 thousand Chechens were killed, most of which were peaceful civilians, out of which there were 40 thousand children. Such data is frequently presented by the head of the Chechen government in exile Akhmed Zakayev.

As a result, Chechenia, terrorised by Russian special squadrons of death and Kremlin-subordinate people of Kadirov, was turned into an “incubator” for “new type” Chechens. They have nothing of the honourable Chechen traditions, chivalry or the Caucasus openness. They are Chechens only according to their passports, in reality they are overt cutthroat bandits without any nationality. However their “Chechen” appearance and the “fifth line” allow Russian propaganda to kill several birds with one stone.

1. Provide a completely inhumane system whose matrix was developed in Kadirov’s Chechnya (under Russian occupation Chechenia turned into “Chechnya”). In this system all the elements provide for the omnipotence of the mafia government and lack of rights for everyone else. Limitless bribes (both in Crimea and Chechnya – 75%) are called not only to enrich the mafia significantly but also to eliminate all those who do not belong, morally oppress them, impose demonstrative disregard of everyone and various laws and rules.

2. Once more to present Chechens (all of them!, as the bandits of the Chechen nationality are not separated consciously from the entire Chechen society, but are “unimposingly” called a bandit nationality) as savages-barbarians-cutthroats to the entire world, and to spread libel about the entire nation again.

3. Use Kadirov’s people as punishers for the Crimean Tatars.

4. The conspicuous achievements of the most undermining result of Russian propaganda: having gotten stuck in the teeth, constantly repeated and “reinforced,” it is perceived as “self-evident truth” at the subconscious level. Such exchange of terms may happen at some point regarding Ukrainians as well, as the Ukrainian nation is already being lied about forcefully by Russian propaganda, implementing insistent stereotypes: “Banderites,” “nazis,” “cutthroats” (this time, they are Ukrainian).

It is because of such an effect of Russian propaganda – its penetration at the subconscious level – one has to be very vigilant when the nationality of one or the other criminal is mentioned.

Criminals should not be equated to nations – this is an axiom, even if we are talking about a military enemy. Russia aggressors are not the same as the entire Russian people, just like the bandits of Chechen nationality are not part of the Chechen nation! As there is always the danger of the effect of the subconscious boomerang – propaganda may hit one’s own nation.

“The experience” of occupied Chechnya in Donbas

The employees of “Memorial” Oleg Orlov and Yan Rachinskiy were part of “Memorial’s” 10-day expedition in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts which had been captured by the mercenaries and separatists. Having thoroughly documented the instances of clear violation of human rights (kidnapping, torture, and lynching), they conclude in their report of the expedition:

“During the trip work was carried out in the following cities: Donetsk, Druzhkovka, Konstantinovka, Kramatorsk, Mariupol, Kyiv. Civil activists, representatives of the government, victims of violence and eyewitnesses were interviewed. Brief conclusions: 

  1. The government and activists of the so-called People’s Republic of Donetsk are violating human rights grievously and systematically.
  2. The referendum held on May 11th, 2014 cannot be deemed legitimate. The means of holding the referendum excludes the possibility of reliable determination of its results.
  3. The Ukrainian government needs to immediately put order in its own law enforcement, completely exclude the deployment of insufficiently prepared and badly equipped soldiers to the locations where there is a possibility of their clashing with unfriendly civilians. 
  4. The Ukrainian government is obliged to prevent the activity of any illegal military formations, including those that position themselves as protectors of Ukrainian sovereignty. Such practice may damage Ukrainian sovereignty no less than the activities of separatists.”

Now there is no more doubt that Chechen mercenaries are fighting in the ranks of the separatists against Ukraine. How could they have ended up within a thousand kilometres of their motherland and why are they interested in fighting against Ukraine? There is only one answer: they were sent by Kadirov on Putin’s direct orders. With what goal?

I imagine they are being sent to Donbas with the same goals as they have been to Crimea (see above), excluding p. 3, as the Crimean Tatars don’t exist in Donbas as an organised force.

It seems that the decision to send the Chechens to faraway and disconnected Ukraine was also made with the aim to forever bury the issue of Russia’s military crimes in Chechenia – bury them under the label of “the bandit people,” which “don’t care where and what to fight for.”

It is these goals of Putin’s to “chechenize Ukraine” that have to be undermined, having exposed the roots of the evil of this regime, “grown” on Chechen soil with the methods described in detail by Anna Politkovskaya (who paid for it with her life). Such a move kills two birds with one stone: it neutralises the anti-Chechen and anti-Ukrainian propaganda, showing the essence of Putin’s regime – his boundless cruelty and demagogy, the evil “absurdity theatre,” constructed on the xenophobic myths about Chechen terrorists and Banderite Ukrainians.

Nadezhda Banchik, for “Argument” 

Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina

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