Russians run amok among the Chechens

Even the Fascists did not treat us like this. Stalingrad wasn't as bad

A day after Boris Yeltsin declared the battle for Grozny won and the Russian military confined to "creative work", Said Dudayev, an 80-year- old Chechen invalid, hobbled , with the aid of a crutch, to a market on Tukhachevsky Street.

There he met an armoured personnel carrier full of jeering troops. The encounter cost him his life. "They were laughing. It was wild laughter," said Madina, one of the stall holders who survived this particular victory celebration by what Chechens and Russians left in Grozny describe as an army running amok.

"There was a girl next to me from my apartment block, Ira, selling cigarettes," recalled Madina, "She thought they were turning round but they drove straight into her, crushing her legs." According to witnesses, four people died and four were injured.

Mr Dudayev's body lies naked in the front room of the small brick house where he lived in north-east Grozny. Relatives scrubbed the corpse, as the skull oozed blood.On the front porch huddled a group of wailing women. "Even the Fascists didn't do this to us," cried Khara Akhmadova, Mr Dudayev's niece. "My father fought in Stalingrad and he said it wasn't as bad as this."

On Saturday, a day after the market place killing, the old man's crutch still lay where he fell, a trophy of another Russian triumph.

Now they have captured the Chechen capital of Grozny after two months of war, Russian troops, say residents, have gone on a rampage of killing and looting. Ordinary people, many of them Russians, speak of the horror of life in what President Yeltsin last week called a normal situation."Please tell them, tell them what's going on here," said Mrs Akhmadova.

Liza, the mother of Madina the stallholder, said soldiers came asking for vodka every day and were all drunk by nightfall. "They are beasts, not men," she said.

In Moscow the official line is that the Russian army and Interior Ministry troops are restoring "constitutional order" and "disarming bandit formations." The Justice Minister. Valentin Kovalyov. said last week that there had not been a single instance of looting.

As we approached Grozny from the north-west on Friday, the sky darkened, the dust thrown up by tanks mingling with the black cloud from burning oil refineries.

A grey pall has settled over the ruined city. We were on a bus, trailing a white flag from the wing mirror, bringing 40 refugees back to see what was left of their houses.

People gasped at the destruction, which mounts as you drive further into town. Many one-storey houses have been gutted, their blackened innards spilling onto the street. Whole apartment blocks have been incinerated, the streets full of churned up mud, burnt out cars and dangling trolley bus wires. A few gates and doors have been chalked with a feeble plea for mercy: "People live here".

In the Microrayon district where Mr Dudayev died , the boom of artillery still echoes from the south and west but people pay scant attention. The real danger is no longer shells, air raids or mortar fire but marauding soldiers.

Natasha, a Russian woman, was the only person of 50 inhabitants in the staircase of her apartment block. She had sat out the entire battle for the city, staying put even after a heavy-calibre bullet smashed through the wall of her bedroom. She said she had not slept for a month after she watched from a neighbour's window three Russian soldiers blown to bits by a grenade.

Like many Russians she feels little sympathy for the Chechen leader Dzhokhar Dudayev, but is appalled at the chaos the Russians have brought.

"We lived in fear for three years under Dudayev and now we are living in fear," she said, lighting the candles for the evening and drawing the curtains against another long night.

No one appears to be in control of the soldiers, drawn equally from regular army and Interior Ministry units. "Lena, my daughter, was walking along with a friend when some soldiers came up to them, put guns against their heads and said: `they're nice, its a pity to shoot them,'" said Tanya, a Russian woman. "The girls cried out: `we're Russian` and the soldiers went on."

Most vulnerable are the Chechens, despised as "blacks" and "bandits" by many Russians. The village of Staraya Sunzha, just outside the city, had not seen a Russian soldier until a a week ago. Untouched by the fighting, most of its relatively prosperous residents opposed Mr Dudayev. But Russian troops are now dragging them into the war.

Rusland Utsiyev said riot troops came into his house, put a gun to this neck and asked for dollars. They took his bottles of Amaretto and vodka, shot up his car in the courtyard, smashing the windows and engine.

They then moved across the road. A machine-gunner guarded the gate as colleagues searched the brick house. When they left, neighbours rushed in to check on two brothers, Aslambek and Musa Atayev, living there.

"We couldn't find them anywhere," said Said Hassan, "Then we found them. They'd thrown them in the septic tank." The bricks above the tank are daubed with blood. Aslambek had been shot in the back of the neck and Musa in the neck, according to neighbours. "Now they are forcing us to take up arms," said Said Hassan.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker