In the following article, I attempted to portray in brief the entire chronology of events which had taken place in “peaceful” Groznyy before and after “Chechen revolution.”
Let me apologize in advance for some minute chronological inaccuracies. After all, so many incidents have taken place in my life in the course of all these years. Some of my friends from Groznyy encouraged me to write even more detailed account of everything that happened in their town. However, I have to say “no”. It is just too painful to recall everything. Three years after escaping from Chechnya, I have been constantly fighting. Every night I would wake up sweaty. I was haunted by horrible nightmares as though I ran out of bullets and could not surrender.
Today, I sleep peacefully. Nothing disrupts me. I would not want to return to those nightmares. Forgive me.
Many Groznyy residents are scattered throughout Russia these days. Many of them would be capable of writing much more using much better language. I received a letter from one of Chechen refugees. He writes that he would never be able to portray everything he saw in his hometown due his worries about family's wellbeing. Well, that is understandable. Chechens are everywhere these days. They do not abide by the laws. They can easily kill someone who attempts to present a detailed account of everything he/she witnessed.
I have also received several “comments” regarding this story with a clear threat to “rip my head off”, “kill”, “torture”, etc. Author of the book “I fought this war” B.N. Mironov who survived the fist Chechen war asked me to publish this story.
In the course of many years, (beginning from 1980) people have been rather skeptical about leaving their homes at night. After all, we all have been living in a lawless republic. Chechens were always suspicious of people of other religions. After Gorbachev successfully splintered the country into pieces and each nationality began striving for sovereignty, everybody became extremely anxious to banish all the “invaders” from their territories. Some countries however were doing it in a “civilized” manner; others only began talks regarding the subject matter. Chechnya however decided to take instant actions. It is worth mentioning that even back then Chechnya have always been famous for its incredibly high crime rate. Almost every other Chechen lad carried a knife in his pocket. Robberies, beatings, rapes were so common in the republic that people soon stopped being surprised.
Life was becoming more interesting with every day. It was anarchy. Despite people in police uniform in the streets, the republic was living according to its own laws. Nobody knew whom those policemen tried to protect. Besides, the main KGB building had been destroyed. Afterwards, one of my acquaintances KGB major who worked in that building told me the following story. Two security guards were on their weekend duty. When a massive crowd of people started storming the building, one of the guards (Russian) decided to talk to the crowd and calm them down. His Chechen partner shot him several times in the back. Afterwards, he opened the doors and let everybody in. Bandits robbed the entire building. They even stole stationary. There was a unique collection of telephones in the building. Only five or six sets have been manufactured in the entire USSR. The equipment was destroyed. As a result, the building was turned to a giant public toilet. Chechens became aware of their own lawlessness.
The reason for such horrendous act appeared to be quite clear. Chechens simply wanted to show their supremacy in the republic. Afterwards, they began a slow process of ousting of non Muslim government officials from their posts. Some of the politicians were kidnapped. Witnesses refused to comment. After several of such instances, it became evident that Chechens were serious.
One can easily buy weapons at numerous bazaars and even by banks. Dealers offer quite large assortment of armory. It is possible to purchase any kind of weapon, from knives to mortars. Bullets, grenades, bombs are also present. Many drool over such abundance.
Based on the all national will, after the reign of Army General Dudaev in Chechnya, after shameful Russian Army had to leave the republic, abandon its own territory, everybody wanted to burn all bridges with us. Yeltsin with his supporters sold or simply gave away all of us along with Russian weaponry to its protйgй. As a result, we had been alienated from everyone.
Plain murders did not appeal to anyone anymore. Everybody took for granted. It was no longer shocking. So Chechens began cutting their victims into pieces, raping little children and throw them off balconies. Some claimed it was pure nonsense refusing to believe the facts. Shortly however everyone could witness authentic proofs. People started to get used to the idea of “death”. It no longer appeared as mysterious and scary. We encountered it daily; it was constantly by our sides.
Such chaos only grew worse. I checked my gun every time before going to bed. At times when it was quite outside, I struggled to fall asleep. Silence was too fearful. I could only sleep with the sound of rare gunshots outside. My wife and I would sometimes even argue about weapons used. After a while, we both could distinguish those gunshots pretty well.
I remember one day my friend and I were traveling to his place. We stopped not far from a local bazaar. I decided to wait for my friend in the car while he had to get something outside. Suddenly, as I turned my head, I noticed a young man approaching me from afar. One should not be a genius to assume that such encounters never result in anything positive. I secured my shotgun between the seats and continued waiting.
“Hey you”, addressed me the lad. “Drop me off at the next district”. I decided to structure my conversation with him as though he was a mental patient; trying not to disturb him.
-You see, I ran out of gas. Sorry, can't help you.
-Hey you, I told you, drop me off at the next region. Do it! Otherwise I’ll throw a grenade in the back of your car. You wouldn’t be able to escape.
I looked closer; one of his pockets looked stuffed. He was not joking. I was unable to escape from my car quickly. I was keeping my cool. Suddenly, I grabbed my shotgun and pointed it at his stomach. “Step away from the car”, I ordered him. The lad turned pale. He probably did not expect such response… I turned on the ignition key and slowly began moving forward. He did not even attempt to run after me. I got lucky, Thank God.
What happened next? My destiny is just one among the millions who have to be refugees in their own country. I've been wandering somewhere in Moscow suburbs, had my passport annulled. Afterwards, I was able to acquire Canadian citizenship; worked in Korea…this is where I am now while writing this story.