Guerrillas reclaim the night under the noses of Russians
The Russians stay inside their heavily defended positions in order to avoid clashes with the locals fighters who are intimately familiar with the terrain.
But there is also a balance of fear between the two sides who make efforts to avoid each other. On a recent evening we walked unnoticed for several hours parallel to the federal troops' positions.
The Russians surround their posts with armoured cars and keep the headlights switched on to light up the area around them. Of course, they do it out of fear of being attacked at night. But the brightly lit, bustling scene is like Kutuzovsky Prospekt (Moscow's main thoroughfare) in the week before Christmas.
With the engines grumbling, the soldiers did not hear as the Chechen fighters walked right past their positions. The road is barely visible and churned up by the caterpillar tracks of the armoured cars.
We stumbled and fell noisily, but we passed all the Russian posts and the guerrillas greeted a group of armed Chechens coming in the other direction.
The village of Kater-Yurt, 20 miles (30 kilometres) south- east of Grozny, has become a kind of safe zone which has attracted refugees from all over Chechnya. So far, about 10,000 have made their way here.
Under pressure from the Russians, the local elders managed to persuade the Chechen fighters to leave, allowing Russian interior ministry troops to comb the village to make sure they had gone.
Five women arrived in the village yesterday after crawling along a dry riverbed by night, from the village of Alkhan-Yurt, which is 10 miles (15 kilometres) away. They said that in Alkhan-Yurt, there were many dead because federal soldiers had been throwing grenades into basements; corpses lay in the cellars and out on the streets because there was nobody to bury them.
Andrei Babitsky is a journalist with Radio Liberty.
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 5 Fearne Cotton quits Radio 1 after ten years for 'family and new adventures'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is shot dead
Leonard Nimoy dead: Star Trek actor dies after suffering lung disease
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin, says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...
£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...