Official casualty numbers
Russian authorities continue to juggle with false figures
Despite the fact that some of the international media started to regard the official Russian casualty numbers with slight suspicion, the Russian military authorities remain unconcerned and still publish figures that have long ago been shown as false. Although we do not have any evidence of an incident when the Russian authorities would feel obliged to indirectly comment on the casualty numbers as published by Chechen sources, the latest statement by the Deputy Chief of the Russian General Staff, V. Manilov, cannot but provoke this thought.
The Chechen information server Kavkaz Center, which is controlled by Movladi Udugov, published on February 1 an article summarizing the Russian military losses encountered in the course of the military operations in Chechnya. The article entitled "Rotation of Russian Forces Motivated by Heavy Losses" indicates that minimum 24-27 thousand Russian soldiers died since September 1, 1999.
According to Russian information agency Interfax, General Manilov said on February 2 that 2728 troops died and 7971 were wounded since the beginning of military operations in Chechnya on October 1, 1999. Brief comment on the last development of the information on casualties provided by the Russian officials will show that Manilov’s update has little connection to reality. On November 20, president Putin spoke of 2,600 dead, two months later on January 22, the Deputy Minister of Interior, I. Golubev indicated that 2,700 soldiers have died so far, stressing that the number of casualties has increased significantly in the previous weeks. The average number of casualties in the autumn months, as indicated in Manilov’s regular weekly updates, was 65 dead and 220 wounded Russian soldiers a month. This was before the escalation of fights, mentioned by Golubev.
At their press conference on January 29 the Union of Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia (UCSMR), probably the most reliable source of Russian casualty numbers, announced that since the beginning of conflict in the Northern Caucasus, 6,500 Russian troops have been killed. The UCSMR had repeatedly stressed that the official numbers provided by the Russian authorities do not reflect the reality, as only those killed during the particular battle or attack are counted. The official numbers do not include soldiers who disappear or die later as a result of wounds, shell-shock, illness etc.
A press conference of General Manilov (with comments by Oleg Kusov) - Radio Svoboda (Feb 2, 2001, in Russian only)
A Comment on Casualty Counts in the Second Chechen War - UCSMR (published by Prague Watchdog on Dec 14, 2000)
Official Russian Casualties: Juggling with False Figures - Prague Watchdog (December 13, 2000)
Casualties officially announced since the beginning of the conflict - Prague Watchdog (September 13, 2000)