Yuri Khrameev, first commander of Northwest Special Police Group (OMON) and leader of a St Petersburg police group in Chechnya, is almost a legendary person. After his Chechen business trips, he was awarded with order “For Services before Fatherland of Second Degree”; his group was acknowledged being the best among similar formations of Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Khrameev’s soldiers detained more than 100 militants (one of them turned to be Maskhadov’s spokesman and editor of “Ichkeria” newspaper), while among seized armaments there was even a missile launcher.
Khrameev: After Novosibirsk Supreme Command School, I served in special units of internal troops, including that ones in some “hot spots.” In Chechnya, my subordinates had minimal losses: one killed over eight months. Ones, our barracks were shelled, while a “gift” even got directly to our room with 20 soldiers. All of them could be killed, though they were lucky only to be contused. Later investigators came to us, looked at the hole in the wall, at the room and at my soldiers. They could not even believe the story had come to the happy end. And the reason was simple: not long before the shelling, I gave an order to make a spare exit in the barrack. So, the whole energy of the blast elapsed there.
Your group took part in military actions in Komsomolskoye settlement area. Could you tell about it?
Khrameev: The group had to put up a defence on a short line (about 200 m). We had not to admit the bandits to force their way from the settlement. We fulfilled our task: no one of Gilaev’s militants forced his way, 60 people gave themselves up, while my machine gunner, ensign Alexandr Smirnov annihilated Maskhadov’s emir (administration’s head) of Urus-Martan district. Of course, it was not easy for us: we had to mobilize everybody, including our doctor, who turned to be a good sniper.
There was information in mass media, backbone of Gelaev’s band and of the most battle-worthy Chechen troops consists of mercenaries. Is that true?
Khrameev: There is no doubt, mercenaries fight on Chechen side, and they are very experienced. Arab, Ukrainians help the militants, there are Baltic soldiers among them. They are not being taken prisoner. However the main power is Chechens. Sometimes they have less experience, though they are better equipped than we. For example, my portable radio transmitter’s range is 3 km, while a trophy Chechen ALINCA works at a distance of 60 km.
But Chechens seem not to have heavy armament? You know, as a cadet I saw outdated tanks and ATC. So, these tanks and ATC are being used in Chechnya. On the other hand, the militants have lots of anti-tank means, I could make sure of it while ensuring security of then internal minister Rushailo, who was visiting Chechnya. Investigating the place, I found a path very suitable for an attack. I made an ambush there and turned to be right. Soon, two cars of the militants appeared. My soldiers started to fire and killed one of the bandits, three of them were wounded and taken prisoner. The others retreated. Afterwards, this group of militants was neutralized by FSB (Federal Security Service). Yes, and among trophies, there were four controlled missiles and a Fagot anti-tank missile plant.
Is that true, the militants are so informed because of treason of some federal soldiers? Khrameev: In Chechnya, several organizations, including Ministry of Internal Affairs, Federal Security Service, Devence Ministry, work together. So, I must co-ordinate every operation with many bosses, including local authorities to which I formally submit. Though, it is known, information gets to bandits through them. Often, a group launches a special operation, and while coming to the place it is ambushed. The militants know everything. I know, the 6th company of Pskov Airborne Landing Division was killed in such way. This is why, I sometimes neglect formalities.
How the Chechen police acts in this situation?
Khrameev: There are many people among Chechen policemen who could be called prostitutes. They work for both sides (20 submachine guns in exchange for a militant). They like to settle scores. Once, somebody called up to me, as if from Gantamirov office, saying I had offended his soldiers, so they would soon settle scores with me. In a wile, really a column of cars drove up to us. But my soldiers dog in, soldiers of a neighbouring group drove on an ATC. So they had nothing better to do than to turn back. There is another case. In a settlement of Urus-Martan district, a groups of Chechen policemen was shot. Everybody was sure, that was the militants’ deed. Though it turned to be the policemen’ rivals had done it. They simply wanted to take their place. In general, there are some positive moments in inter-Chechen conflicts, because one of the sides always could address to us. Once, I took several ammunition cases, painted them green and signed them: “For questions and suggestions to the commandant. Mined”. I can say, sometimes very important information arrived.
Were the cases not carried off?
Khrameev: A bold guy tried to carry off one of the cases, though he lost his health there. There were no more attempts. In addition to such way of collecting information, economical measures also could be used. In Chechnya there is poverty, so sometimes it would be enough just to make a present to impel somebody to work for us, to inform us when the militants come.
How do you consider the case of colonel Budanov? Khrameev: I do not know him personally, though we have common friends, who tell only good things about him. I suppose, this officer has been just exposed. The same operation was tried towards me. Once some people came to me and introduced themselves as representatives of Ministry of Internal Affairs. They said two actions had been brought against me. According to them, I was being accused of connection with militants, of possessing an illegal oil will and of rape of an under-age girl. I did not answer to these absurd and drove them to major-general Gadjiev, leading security zone of Urus-Martan district. He cleared up the situation and understood they simply wanted to give me up. Colonel Budanov seems to have hindered somebody, though he was not as lucky as me.
Yuri Andreev for PRAVDA.Ru St Petersburg
Near the United Nations Glass Palace in New York, there is a metallic sculpture entitled "Evil Defeated by Good", representing Saint George transfixing a dragon with his lance. It was donated by the USSR in 1990 to celebrate the INF Treaty concluded with the USA in 1987