OT - Unbelievable! MOSCOW TIMES reports Russian military calls in artillery strikes against its own mutinous, rampaging troops in Chechnya!

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Evidence Supports Claims of Massacre

By Yevgenia Borisova

Staff Writer

KATER-YURT, Chechnya -- Residents of the village of Alkhan-Yurt confirmed in interviews that a band of Russian servicemen went on a rampage earlier this month, murdering and looting.

According to the testimony of Alkhan-Yurt locals, the servicemen were elite Interior Ministry troops who not only summarily executed innocent villagers - by well-documented accounts, up to 41 people - but also rebelled against their own Russian commanders.

Some villagers claimed that the mutiny in Alkhan-Yurt was so out of control that the Russian military began to call in artillery strikes against its own Interior Ministry troops there. Some villagers also said those Interior Ministry troops who went wild in Alkhan-Yurt were still on the loose.

"Last week, the wild OMON [or elite Interior Ministry troops] left the village. They were driven out by Russian artillery and they left" in the direction of Grozny, said 47-year-old Alkhan-Yurt resident Shirvani, who did not want his last name used.

"We don't know where they are now," he said. "They are like uncontrolled armed groups of bandits. They are dangerous."

Russian forces this week clamped down on access to Alkhan-Yurt, a village 16 kilometers outside of Grozny - letting only registered residents in and out of the village. Alkhan-Yurt residents interviewed in the neighboring village of Kater-Yurt, however, provided mutually reinforcing accounts of what happened - of how Russian forces first fought with dug-in Chechen fighters, then took the town, then looted and murdered.

The Russian government and Defense Ministry have repeatedly denied these reports - now documented in separate research by Human Rights Watch, by the BBC and by The Moscow Times.

But Thursday the government announced it would investigate exactly what happened in Alkhan-Yurt during the two first weeks of December. And the BBC announced Thursday it was in possession of an amateur video of Nikolai Koshman, Russia's leading official in Chechnya, visiting Alkhan-Yurt and angrily upbraiding Russian servicemen as they run wild through the town.

"You'll be held personally responsible for this," Koshman is shown telling one officer, who appears to hold the rank of lieutenant colonel. "I've never seen anything like it anywhere in Chechnya."

The BBC reported that in the video, villagers are shown meeting Koshman. They tell him that 41 of their number have been murdered and hand him documentation - lists of those killed and descriptions of how it happened. Koshman is shown saying he will personally inform Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of what happened in Alkhan-Yurt.

Meanwhile, in the video the soldiers are still roaming the village. As Koshman and an accompanying entourage of generals also move around Alkhan-Yurt, a Russian soldier - apparently not recognizing their ranks - is captured on the video shouting at them, "We will shoot you!"

The BBC reported that a furious general is shown on the video tape shouting back, "Don't you know this is a deputy prime minister of Russia? How dare you behave like this!" He is then seen stripping the soldier of his identity papers.

The BBC reported that the film shows piles of stolen goods which have been loaded into Russian vehicles - video recorders, carpets, crockery, an album of family photographs spattered with blood. Villagers interviewed by The Moscow Times described similar scenes.

The BBC said the video was taken by a cameraman working for Malik Saidulayev, a millionaire Chechen businessman from Alkhan-Yurt who has been working with the Kremlin in its efforts to set up a Moscow-installed Chechen government.

Alkhan-Yurt residents say war came to their village of 13,000 on Nov. 26 in the form of air strikes and artillery fire. The attacks apparently targeted a dozen local Wahhabis - in the Chechen understanding, Islamic militants - who had based themselves in the local school.

The strafing of Alkhan-Yurt ultimately killed 132 villagers, by the account of residents, and 12 Chechen combatants. It also attracted Wahhabis from other regions to the village, and soon there was a massive battle under way.

NTV television Tuesday showed footage of demolished buildings and homes in Alkhan-Yurt - including deserted Chechen trenches and fortifications woven among civilian buildings - and reported that eight Russian servicemen had been killed and 55 injured in the fighting.

But NTV said nothing of any post-conflict civilian massacre, and argued - oddly, without showing corresponding footage - that the damage in Alkhan-Yurt was entirely confined to an area on the outskirts of the town.

Villagers say otherwise. They say the Russians suffered enormous casualties in the taking of Alkhan-Yurt.

"Hundreds of corpses of Russian soldiers were lying in the fields after the fighting finished," Shirvani said. "My neighbors told me that they saw the corpses loaded in five KaMAZ trucks and driven away."

However, the villagers were less precise and convincing when discussing Russian losses than they were when remembering their own. Shirvani, for example, ticked off the names of each of 14 of his neighbors he said he knew had been executed by Russian forces - many of them drunk - during a rampage that occurred after no Chechen fighters were left in the village.

Shirvani said he believed many villagers had been executed, but could only personally confirm 14. Human Rights Watch, which first broke the news of a massacre in Alkhan-Yurt, puts the number at 41. So does the BBC.

"People were sitting in the cellars of their homes. OMON [elite Interior Ministry troops] opened cellar doors and threw grenades in. Then they asked if any fighters were in there. Do they think fighters are idiots, to sit in cellars and wait for them?" Shirvani recounted.

"In the cellar of one of my neighbor's, where many people were hiding, they threw a grenade. Luckily for her it fell into a small pit so that the shrapnel did not fly around as much. In another cellar, they fired into it with a rifle - and then when people shouted out in fear, they threw in a grenade towards the voices. Most were killed."

Another woman from Alkhan Yurt, who did not want her name used at all, said, "There was a Russian woman, the director of the local school. She asked the soldiers not to destroy the houses. They killed her."

"One old man asked them not to take his last carpet - he was hiding from the frost in his cellar, after his home had burned down. They killed him and set fire to his remains," Shirvani said.

"Alikhan, a neighbor, told me that the OMON threatened to kill him and his father - they put the two of them against a wall and, in front of Alikhan's children, pretended to shoot them five times in a row," he said.

Alikhan survived, Shirvani said. But four village boys aged 15 or 16 were shot dead; two other youngsters were mutilated with knives and then killed; and many women and some children were raped. He said earrings were torn by force from the ears of women.

"They took our things away on BTRs [or armored personnel carriers], whether it was bed linen, china or some other valuable," he said. "What they could not take away, they shot or burned down - good furniture, TV sets. They burned my Volga [car] and my entire home. My mother's home has no roof, no doors, no windows." In fact, Alkhan-Yurt residents say nearly all homes have been destroyed or looted.

"Maybe about 10 houses are left more or less okay to live in. And there were thousands of houses there," Zula, 38, another Alkhan-Yurt resident, said. She said she fled her village in November "with just the clothes on my back" when air strikes began, and her clothes are all she has left. She has been back since the air strikes to survey the destruction, and said simply, "My home has been completely robbed. It has no roof."


-- John Whitley (jwhitley@inforamp.net), December 27, 1999



-- John Whitley (jwhitley@inforamp.net), December 27, 1999.

I could be wrong but aren't the OMAN troops the reorganized KGB troops? Nice folks...Thats the russian equivalent of Delta Force or Seal Team Six going apeshit and running loose...

war sucks.

-- Billy Boy (Rakkasan101st@Aol.com), December 27, 1999.

The entire Russian campaign in Chechnya has been insane. Why was this whole escapade necessary? My answer is that Boris Yeltsin learned his politics in the only way he could--from the Communist regime. This is a hand-me-down type of operation. Not to deny American massacre of innocent Vietnamese when we were there. Obviously, savagry is a by- product of war.

-- Mara (MaraWayne@aol.com), December 27, 1999.

Just three more days and we shall have contol of the city Grozny.Two- days after that, we shall have or take full control of the city, NewYork.

-- Vladimir (Moscow@Russia.net), December 27, 1999.

Going to have to organize Neighborhood Watches -- for all types of scenarios.

-- citizen soldier (watch@lock.load), December 27, 1999.

I don't believe Russian Bullshit anymore than American Bullshit. These "out of control" russians are doing exactly what the Russian Government wants done, only this way, no one can blame the Russians. They will all probably be given medals in some underground ceremony.

Bill in South Carolina

-- Bill Solorzano (notaclue@webtv.net), December 27, 1999.

You're right, Billy Boy - they are black-bereted Interior security [KGB]troops, who [masked but with OMON insignia] also killed 35-40 refugees fleeing Grozny at the beginning of December; raided, robbed and beat African, Indian, and Middle Eastern students in a dormitory of the State Medical Academy in St. Petersburg in October; and who attempted to brutally overthrow the independent Latvian government between January and August, 1991. They were also suspected a few years ago [in co-operation with the Russian mafia] of hi-jacking a special armoured military train, which they were guarding, loaded with cash to pay striking miners in Krasnodar.

A Russian regional lawmaker, Alexander Morozov, chairman of the Terek fund and a Cheyabinsk-region parliamentary deputy, found himself suddenly involved in a shoot-out in 1997 with OMON troops in the Ural's city of Zlatoust, apparently in connection with his involvement in a recently-launched drive to fight government corruption.

They fill in their spare time by beating up anyone they see with a dark skin on the streets of Moscow.

Oh, and they get a below-average wage of less than $60 a month - an incentive to plunder and steal. Not nice guys at all!

-- John Whitley (jwhitley@inforamp.net), December 27, 1999.

I have a friend who serves a church in Moscow, and have a bit of a twist on the Chechnya issue. It seems the main source of cash income in that country is kidnapping and beheading if the ransom demands are not met. It is heavily controlled by the Russian mafia, and this is part of the reason for the invasion.

Of course, like our unprecedented bombings in Kosovo, more civilians than mafioso (mafioski? I never could decline foreign nouns) ended up being killed. A very sad situation for the innocents caught in the middle.


-- gene (ekbaker@essex1.com), December 27, 1999.

The premise that Mother Russia has deteriorated into a thug state (no matter that to a large extent it *has* -- at least at the outer layers of the onion) will provide an effective means to leverage a return to traditional communism.

IMO, of course.

-- Ron Schwarz (rs@clubvb.com.delete.this), December 27, 1999.

Ron, you're right on about that! Russia has been an organized criminal state ever since the Revolution, and it's merely camouflaging its true nature at present. The links between the KGB and the Russian mafia go way back, and the present Chechnya war was meticulously planned [on both sides, believe it or not!] well before it began. If we make it through Y2K, it will be one of my first articles in the Year 2000!

-- John Whitley (jwhitley@inforamp.net), December 27, 1999.


The Chechen mafia operates in Chechnya, not the Russian mafia. The turf battles between the Russian and Chechen mafia in Moscow are legendary. Its 2 seperate groups.

This report of a journalistic video is rare. Part of the reason the Russians are able to pillage with impunity in Grozny is because any Western journalist has left long ago due to kidnapping, ransom and embezzelment threats, there. The place has been totally lawless so they are reaping what they sowed.

-- Downstreamer (downstream@bigfoot.com), December 27, 1999.

And I thought things weren't going to get TOO much worse over there, except for a total economic collapse! If the Russian government totally loses control of its military...we'll be in deep kim-chee!

-- Mad Monk (madmonk@hawaiian.net), December 27, 1999.

I wonder if any underpaid Russian troops would consider selling small nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons to someone like Bin Laden or Iraq. The majority of US citizens are only interested in the next 100 points in the stock market. They don't want to think about Y2K or the lose of control over nuclear weapons.

-- Dave (dannco@hotmail.com), December 27, 1999.

Downstreamer, You are the only one who got it right. OMON (Otryad Militsii Osobogo Naznacheniya) has nothing to do with KGB. The American equivalent of OMON is SWAT.

-- Brooklyn (MSIS@cyberdude.com), December 28, 1999.

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