Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power by Anatol Lieven

By Anatol Lieven

The humiliation of Russia through separatist rebels within the Chechen struggle marked a key second in Russian-and probably world-history. during this significant new paintings, exotic author and political commentator Anatol Lieven bargains a riveting eyewitness account of the struggle, the 1st in-depth portrait of the Chechen humans in English, and a cosmopolitan and multifaceted cause of the Russian defeat and the current weak point of the Russian nation and state.

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Physically, they were very unalike. While Basayev was looking more and more like a Mujahid, Maskhadov was still very much the Soviet officer, clean-shaven and in faded and dirty battledress - and not even a very imposing one, with his long, sallow, yellowish face, his big nose, receding chin and jug ears, like a Chechen Mickey Mouse. He was sitting in the room of the school janitor, and looked indeed as if he might have been an elderly lieutenant minding the door of some distant, isolated, boring military outpost at a time of peace.

The Azeris in my train compartment during the eighteen-hour journey to Grozny, through northern Azerbaijan and Daghestan, made no attempt to hide their hostility to the Chechens, an attitude of fear mixed with unwilling respect. They had some reason: the next three years saw repeated attacks by armed Chechen criminals on that particular train as it made its laborious way from Baku through Chechnya and north into Russia. The passengers were by turns tragic, pitiable and disgusting, human flotsam from the wreck of the Soviet Union, which had finally sunk barely a month earlier.

But above all, this is true of the graves. The overwhelming majority of Chechens who die in Grozny, in peace and war alike, have been buried by their relatives not in the city cemeteries, but in those of their ancestral villages, often near the shrine of an ancestral saint. The bodies in Grozny's cemeteries are usually local Russians, while the mass graves contain unidentified and unrecoverable Chechens who were buried in the ruins and dug out later by the Russian army. This was one of the things which made accurate assessment of the numbers killed in the battle for Grozny so extremely difficult.

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