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April 4th 2003 · Prague Watchdog / Ruslan Isayev · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS · ALSO AVAILABLE IN: RUSSIAN 

Grozny citizens sympathize with Iraqis forced to live underground in Baghdad

Ruslan Isayev, North Caucasus – Chechens feel sorry for the people of Iraq, who are currently facing all the hardships of war and its consequences. And the people living in Chechnya’s capital, who are avidly following the war as it approaches Baghdad, especially support Iraqis.

“The residents of Baghdad can expect to experience a lot; but whether or not they will be able to endure it depends on the strength of their nerves and willpower,” says Grozny resident Shamil Zukhayrayev. According to him, it is high time that the people of Baghdad began stocking up on daily necessities, primarily flour, oil, candles and matches.

Grozny experienced this same situation beginning in late 1999. The siege of the city, which was totally surrounded by Russian units, lasted slightly longer than three months. Throughout the entire time, citizens lived in cellars and only occasionally emerged to replenish their stocks of food and water.

Sultan Khizriyev, a citizen of Grozny, recalls: “We already knew from the first war that Russian units would pay no heed to the plight of the innocent residents. Therefore, we prepared our cellars in advance for everyone who lived in apartment houses on one entire street.

The underground spaces of multi-story buildings seemed to be designed to provide shelter during bombing raids, and thus ended up saving many lives. More than twenty people lived in the cellar with us, most of them elderly, and included Russians, Armenians and one Georgian. Sometimes rebels would visit us, bringing bread and candles. No wonder we felt closer to these people than to those who were bombing us from above.”

Baghdad and Grozny have much in common. The capital of Iraq is headed toward a long and severe hardship, not unlike what Grozny experienced. The machinery of war, that will destroy hundreds and thousands of lives, has begun to grind and it is too late to halt it.

(D/E,T)

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