The bloody war in Chechnya is treated by bourgeois propaganda as an internal conflict and until recently as a military operation for the liquidation of bands of foreign terrorists. Thus this war at a certain point stopped being considered as an internal conflict and became an act of self-defence against aggression by bands of foreign terrorists. The ideologists of the Russian bourgeois regime base themselves on the presence of mercenaries trained in the Sudan, Turkey, Palestine, Munich and London.
Our comrades had the opportunity to establish contact with a group of Russian soldiers stationed in the Chechen Republic, among them are troops coming from Krasnodar, Irkutsk, Vladimir and Primoriye. They agreed to answer questions from our correspondents:
Q. How does the Russian news media report on the course of the war in Chechnya?
A. We are directly involved in the events. Therefore we can say with complete certainty that the television coverage of the events is nothing other than a crude deception.
Q. What do you think of the Chechen civilian population? What do they think of you?
A. What can the Chechens think if their houses are bombarded under orders of our leaders and officers? Put yourself in their place!
Q. Is there a front line in the war?
A. No there isn’t. At this time a guerrilla war is developing. The guerrillas are hidden among the civilian population and this is the way they attack our rear.
Q. How much do they pay you in this war?
A. They promised us a wage of 23 thousand rubles a month (some $800 US). However, they did not tell us that they wouldn’t pay us the money directly, but that our mothers would get it. The government makes promises; you know very well the value of these promises without our having to tell you. We already have experience in the respect. I for example served in Tver before being sent to Chechnya. At that time they did not pay us our wages. About 300 of us decided to block the Moscow-Leningrad highway. They paid us immediately.
Q. Do your parents know that you are here?
A. No, they don’t.
Q. Do the sons of the rich serve in Chechnya?
A. No, they save their skins at the cost of others’ blood. It is the sons of workers and peasants who are in the army.
Q. What do you think of Soviet power?
A. It is good. During that time the army did not bombard homes and the civilian population, to serve in the army was an honour.
Q. Do you think that the army is defending our country in this war?
A. I doubt it very much. Recently our comrades transported two oil refineries belonging to Berezovski (an influential Russian magnate – translator’s note) from Chechnya. We think that the cause of this war is oil. We have heard that for similar reasons our troops shot workers in Leningrad.
Q. What do you think of the situation in our country?
A. It is a nightmare. You know that there are more troops under the Interior Ministry than in the army itself. What does this mean? It means that our government is preparing to put down the working people of Russia. To prevent a foreign invasion logically the government would strengthen the army, and not detachments of repression from the Interior Ministry.
Q. Does this mean that the government has the situation under control?
A. I doubt it. First, the troops of the Interior Ministry are made up of mercenaries. Mercenaries have never won a serious political-military conflict. Second, the majority of the troops are sons of workers and peasants. Draw your own conclusions.
Q. You are supposed to be here to fight against criminals. Would you fight against the class of parasites, the bourgeoisie?
A. Against parasites, we would certainly fight voluntarily.
From the Chechen civilian population, Hasan, a Chechen, 25 years old.
It is true that at the beginning the war was fought primarily for military objectives. Later they began to indiscriminately bombard homes of civilians, to bomb civilians. I was injured by a piece of shrapnel when I was at home in the middle of a bombardment by Russian troops. I went to a nearby village to get medical attention. The counsel of elders of the village had agreed with the Russian troops that they would not bombard them. Unfortunately they were also bombed for no reason. This is not an isolated incident in this war. With a great effort I got to the neighbouring village. Only after checking my wound did they allow me to come in.
Q. What does the Chechen population think of the war? Do they consider the Russian army as liberators?
A. At the moment the Chechen population does not hate the Russian soldiers, but, of course, nobody considers the Russian troops to be liberators. The armed units on Chechen territory are not very numerous. The neutralization and liquidation of these units would not be complicated, if this were the real objective of the Russian troops; it could be done quickly and without civilian losses. However, for that it would be necessary to gain the confidence of the civilian population and do it with their support. However, the Russian troops indiscriminately bomb civilian homes with artillery and ‘Scud’ missiles, some soldiers commit atrocities against the civilian population.
For example, 150 civilians died in the central market of Grozni (the capital of Chechnya – translator’s note) when a Russian missile landed. The guerrillas do not go shopping in the market.
Q. What is the reason for the war?
A. It seems that someone is benefiting from it.
Q. What does the Chechen civilian population think of the guerrillas?
A. It is difficult to answer this question. Some think that Basaev is a paid agent of the Russian intelligence services.
Q. What attitude do the Russian soldiers have towards the Chechen civilian population?
A. There have been cases of revenge against the Chechen civilian population by Russian soldiers because of their losses and internal contradictions in this war.
Q. What does the Chechen civilian population think of Soviet power?
A. The Chechen people think that this kind of conflict never happened under Soviet power. Life was definitely a great deal better then in all respects.
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