By Umalt Chadayev
GROZNY, Chechnya - Last week the Chechen capital’s administration announced its decision to perpetuate the memory of Russian paratroopers who in February 2000 were killed in a battle with the units of guerrilla leaders Khattab and Basayev in the mountainous Shatoysky district of Chechnya. It was decided to rename Ninth Line Street (located in Grozny’s Staropromyslovsky district) “84 Pskov Paratroopers Street”.
The decision has seriously angered many of the republic’s residents, who view such actions on the part of the authorities as blasphemy and mockery of the memory of the tens of thousands of Chechens who were killed in the two military campaigns in the republic.
"In 1994 the Russian army came to us to ‘restore constitutional order’ and left two years later, having killed and maimed tens of thousands of people. In 1999 they returned and carried out another massacre here, killing, maiming and abducting far more people than in the ‘first war’,” says Kharon Dikayev, a resident of the republic. "It’s no secret that the forces who handed out the most brutal treatment to the population were precisely the soldiers of the special divisions - the paratroopers, spetsnaz, OMON riot police and so on. And now the naming one of the streets of our capital city in their honour is, I believe, a genuine blasphemy and mockery of our people. This is a most shameful step by the city authorities."
"I’ve heard about this ‘valorous deed’ of the Pskov paratroopers. They perished through the fault of their superiors, who threw them out to die on a hill near Ulus-Kert. While the servicemen may have died with dignity as befits true soldiers, it doesn’t mean that we should name a Grozny street in their honour. I mean, they came here to kill us. How can we name a street in honour of killers? In that case, let’s name our streets in honour of degenerates like Colonel Budanov, Captain Ulman, and Lieutenant Arakcheeyv ," Salam Saidov, a 23 year-old student at the Chechen State University, said in a conversation with Prague Watchdog’s correspondent. "Or let's call one of the villages they destroyed, such as Kotar-Yurt, Shamanov. After all, for the Russians [General Vladimir] Shamanov is also a hero, and he was awarded that high honour."
"I’m categorically opposed to a street in Grozny bearing the name of the Pskov or any other paratroopers. It means betraying the memory of the thousands of victims of those two undeclared wars on our soil. It means forgetting the atrocities committed here in the early years of the ’counter-terrorist operation’ by the Russian soldiers, who killed and destroyed everyone and everything here more or less discriminately in an effort to sow fear and terror among the civilian population. Why haven’t they named a street in Budyonnovsk in honour of Basayev? Or one in Kizlyar in honour of Raduyev? The Russian soldiers came here as enemies and behaved as occupiers on someone else's land," says Zalpa, a resident of the suburb of Katayama in Staropromyslovsky district of Grozny. "And yet it’s been repeated over and over again that Chechnya is supposedly an integral part of the Russian Federation, and its residents fully-fledged citizens of the country, like everyone else. We know what happened here and we will not forget it."
In late February 2000 the 6th Company of the Pskov Airborne Division found itself near the village of Ulus-Kert, Shatoysky district, in the path of the units led by Khattab and Shamil Basayev, who had broken out of besieged Grozny and gone to Vedensky district of the republic, Basayev’s ancestral birthplace. During a bloody battle, most of the paratroopers were killed. According to official figures, 84 out of the 90 servicemen of the Pskov Airborne Division, including 13 officers, died as a result of the fighting. Some of them were awarded the title of Hero of Russia, and the rest posthumously received other government awards.
(Translation by DM)
(T) RELATED ARTICLES:
· The administration of Grozny perpetuated the memory of Russian paratroopers (Grozny-inform, 23.1.2008)
· President Kadyrov pledges to name a street in Grozny after Pskov paratroopers (Youtube, 17.12.2007)