Putin: Ally or Terrorist?: Counting Vladimir Putin as an Ally against Terrorism Ignores His Career in the Murderous KGB/FSB and His Ongoing Support for Terrorist Regimes and Organizations. (Cover Story - Russia)

Article excerpt

"Lena Goncharuk, aged 38, said that she was the only one to survive out of a group of six who were ordered out of the cellar where they had been hiding and shot at point blank range. Resting in her hospital bed, her voice barely rising above a whisper, she said she had survived only by pretending to be dead." So reported Paul Wood from the Chechen border for The Independent of London on February 6, 2000, as "triumphant" Russian troops occupied Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. Wood's article, entitled "Chechnya's civilians put to the sword," continued with Mrs. Goncharuk's story: "They [the Russian soldiers] were asking for cigarettes, then they asked, 'Do you have a radio,' and they said, 'Give it to us,'" she said, explaining that the four women and two men were sent back down into the cellar after handing over their valuables.

"We hadn't even sat down," she went on, "then they began throwing grenades into the cellar and shooting. We all were crying and suffocating, the smell was unbearable. We were crying out, we could not see anything but they continued to shoot.

"We said, 'Guys what are you doing? We are civilians.' They stopped shooting and they said to come out of the cellar. Our legs and heads were wounded and we could hardly move but we got up, supporting each other.

"The first out were two Russian women, Luda and Natasha. We were standing inside the garage over the cellar and they started shooting at point blank range. The others were twisting in pain.... Natasha was lying dead already....

"There was one old man with us. His head was covered in blood.... Then they started firing again.

"If I had looked up I would have been shot. I opened my eye just a little bit, all I saw was the muzzles of their guns and their boots."

Putin's "Liberation"

Two hospital beds down from Lena Goncharuk was another victim of the Russian "liberation." Unlike Goncharuk, Hedi Makhauri, a 40-year-old Chechen mother, had not been trapped inside besieged Grozny; along with tens of thousands of other refugees, she had fled to neighboring Ingushetia.

With Russian troops establishing themselves in the capital, and the Russian bombing and shelling apparently over, she had thought it safe to go back and check on her house. Paul Wood's report briefly recounts her ordeal:

"They said it was a liberated area," she said, frail and thin, clutching her hospital sheet to her chin, telling us that when she got to her street, she and two other Chechen women saw Russian soldiers loading stolen goods from the houses into one of their armoured vehicles.

"They took us to the armoured vehicle and they said to go inside. We were afraid as they put blindfolds on us. We said, 'Why, we are not criminals, we have just come to see our houses.' They said it was orders.

"They said they would take us to the police headquarters, but they just took us around the corner. It was just ruins all around. Me and my neighbour were clutching each other's hand. We said: 'Why are you taking us here, there are no police here.' They said: 'Just wait, they will come.'

"The other woman said, 'Take whatever you want, we have children, just don't kill us.' They made us go into one little room. They just shot her in the head. She didn't even have time to say, 'Let me go.' They just shot her. Hedi said that the Russian soldiers were tugging at the gold ring on her finger.

"It slipped off just as they decided to get a knife to sever her finger and the ring along with it. They also took her ear-rings and her money, 400 roubles, about [pounds sterling]8.

"Then they put an old mattress over her body, poured petrol on, and lit it. The mattress was wet and did not catch light, only smouldered as they walked away. If I cried they would have killed me," she said.

"They said it was a liberated area"? Where did Hedi Makhauri and many others less fortunate than her get such calamitous disinformation? …