Chechnya: Testimony on "Purging" ("Scraping") Grozny

News and Press Release
Originally published
(Information of the "Memorial" Human Rights Centre employees, working in the Territory of the Republic of Ingushetia)
It became known to us from refugees that on January 21 and 22 two women who were wounded in the course of military activities in Grozny were brought to Sunzhenskaya Central Regional Hospital (SCH) at stanitsa (large Cossack village) Sleptsovskaya (Ordgonikidsevskaya).

On January 29 and Februrary 7 we visited the hospital and spoke with one of them, Goncharuk Elena Vitalievna, 1962, a resident of Staropromyslovsky district of the city of Grozny. From the words of Elena Vitalievna we put down the following:

"On January 19 I had a fragmentation injuries of both the legs and a wound in the region of ribs in the course of the Russian troops attack or scraping at Katayama, six line, along Neftyanaya street. There in the basement of one garage living were six persons: two Russian, two Chechenians, myself - an Ukrainian and Khava - metis. On that day, on January 19, a massed shelling was taking place in the district where we lived. After some time, in the period of calm, we heard the Russian speech. We started to shout from the basement, letting know that there were people there, but we heard only a burst of a machine gun fire, aimed in our direction, in return We asked them not to shout, but they continued to carry out a disorderly shooting.

When they approached our basement one of the soldiers ordered us to go out of the basement with the hands up. Going out if the basement we so several soldiers with sub-machine guns, aimed at us, and one of them - the one who was giving orders most of the time - had a granade with a ring taken out. About a minute he stood and looked at us smiling, and then threw the granade into a window of a semi-destroyed house nearby. I was already wounded at that time and asked for a help from their chief, as it seemed to me. In response he threw a bandage pack under by feet, like a bone to a dog. We, handing in our passports, were explaining who we were and how we turned out to be there. They neither checked our passport, nor ourselves, took a radio set - our only source of information- which we used connecting it to automobile storage battery.

In answer to all our requests we heard one thing: "Why did you stay here? If you decided to stay that means that you are querrillas. This is not the year of 95, this time we came here with the order to sweep away everything that grows and moves. Your city is not subject to restoration, we shall level it with the ground and you as well together with it"/ We told them about the basements where people lived? wanted to go there ourselves and to show them to them, but they did not want to do it. We were forced back to the basement. We did not have time to sit down, when they started to throw grenades, one of the women, Khava, who was the last to come down, - was wounded by a splinter. It became impossible to stay in the basement , grenades were acting upon us as a tear gas. We pleaded them to stop, calling them to be merciful. Then, when there were nothing left to breath with, they ordered us to go out; the first to go out were Lyuda, Natasha and a Chechenian lad. I could not go out without an aid and Kosum was helping me. Not waiting until we go out, they shot Natasha, Lyuda and the lad, and we came back to the far corner of the basement. We heard one soldier saying: "Why did you shoot?" To which the second one answered: "Kill them - we do not need witnesses now" after which they killed Khava by a disorderly fire, and were shooting there upstairs - probably in the dead Natasha, Lyuda and the lad. Kosum pressed me to the wall and covered by himself, and after the next grenade I lost consciousness, and when I saw Kosum, his head was broken and brains were splattered all over. At that time I received a wound in the area of ribs and the blood was going from my mouth. When it became quite in the street and it was getting dark, I managed to go out of the basement with difficulty and came barefoot to the neighbouring house where the family of Khashievs lived. They were afraid to take me to their basement, provided the assistance that they could and left to live in a shed. There I found that at the post at Khashievs shut were two persons - a lad who wanted to bring out his relative wounded into the stomach . Marie Goigova, one more relative of ours, was a witness how they both were killed at one of the posts in Grozny. The mother went off her head when she found out that her son was dead. After some time at the same post Marie and Mohammed Goigovs , who wanted to leave the city, were first taunted at and then killed.

In despair I decided to make an attempt to go out of the city. I already lost a lot of blood and was afraid of gangrene: if it were my destiny, I would go out of the city, if not, what difference does it make where to die - at a post or in this shed from wounds. Putting on a different cloths in order they would not recognize me, I went to the post. They treated me not bad at the post, first asked me a lot and checked if I were a guerrilla or not. making sure that I was from peaceful residents, they agreed to take me by first car into the direction of Ingushetia. I stayed at the post till the morning; in the morning I was put into the car to unknown persons, who were going to Malgobek. They were carrying a corpse of a woman.

When we arrived to Srednie Achaluks, the car driver put me onto the bus which was going to Sleptsosk, on which I came to a Sleptsovsk regional hospital.

There are still a lot of peaceful inhabitants in Grozny. Many of them do not want to leave the city because of property, cattle, etc., not wishing to leave everything unattended. Only in our lane there live 15 persons, and in the other - two families: a father with a son and a mother with a husband, Ukrainians from Kirovograd. In our street in the basement 7 persons live with Khashievs' family - both their relatives and strangers/ I am very much afraid for Khashievs family. I think that they are still in Grozny, they are afraid to go through the posts, knowing about unjust and inhuman treatment there. Soldiers, especially those on a contract, are treating peaceful residence with vice, and not pay attention to the age, nationality or sex of a person. For them we all, residents of Chechenia, are bandits.

There are lots of corpses in the streets of Grozny. Almost at each yard people are lying with a cut throat, killed with an automatic gun, perished because of the explosion of a shell, artillery bombardment. Aviation if often using vacuum bombs in the city.

And the last, I request you very much about the following: inform my people in Kazakhstan, to my daughter and father - Goncharuck Vitaly Yakovlevitch, that I am alive, healthy and stay at Sleptsovskaya regional hospital

And, please, inform Reshiev Yusup that his brother - Kosum Reshiev died. I am sure that he is still lying there in Grozny, in the basement of the garage".

On February 3, we visited the hospital and put down the story of Makhauri Khadi Shamilievny (mother of 5-th children). She was born on May 12, 1959 in stanitsy Nesterovskay, lived in Grozny (h. 37, Lermontova st., Staropromislovsky dst.). Now her hourse is destroyed. Below, we publish her story.

"On January 21, I together with Larisa and unknown woman went out of the bomb shelter, where we all lived. We decided to use the chance of a quiet and go an have a look at our houses. This is in Tashkala of Staropromyslovsky district. When we turned around the corner we saw soldiers They were putting the things that they were taking from the house into the car. Knowing what such meetings are ended up with for witnesses, we hurried to come back. But the soldiers noticed us and quickly ran down to us. They called us guerrillas informers and they ordered us to go to commandant's office to find out the circumstances. At the beginning they took documents and some personal things from us. They ordered to take out everything that was in our pockets. At the same time one of the soldiers was looking at my golden things - earrings, chain and a ring. Then, due to strong fear I did not understand the question : "Have you not forgotten something?" Now I understand that we had to give to them all gold immediately? However it hardly could save us from a bullet. On the way to a so-called commandant's office we were stopped, taken to a semi-destroyed house, but we at that time, feeling that something was wrong, started to plead: "Do not kill us, we have children, we shall not tell anybody what you were doing here". These words influenced them in such a way that they started shooting immediately. First they killed our companion, a woman, who stood at the bottom of stairs, not willing to enter the house and pleading them not to shoot. Larisa and I at that time stood at the steps of the house. In several seconds the same happened to us. At that time I was standing behind Larisa's back. Probably that saved my life, all the blow was taken up by Larisa. I got a through wound of the back, and while falling down I strongly hit my head against the stairs and lost consciousness. I came to myself from the pain in my ear. An earring was torn from it. Other earring, strange as it may seem, was taken, if it is possible to say so, accurately. Understanding my position I continued to pretend that I was dead. Then they started to take off the ring, but it would not go. One of them asked for a knife, but during that time he managed to take a ring from the finger. I lost consciousness again, in general I often fainted.

Next time I came to myself because of a strong pain in feet, smell of petrol and smoke. We were already lying, all three of us, under burnt mattresses. At that time I heard the noise of a departing car, and probably that brought strength to me. I could stand to my feet and even make several steps, after which I fainted again.

When I came to myself, I decided to crawl to a bomb shelter. I could not get to my feet, my head swam - probably because of the loss of blood.

It was already dark when I got to the bomb shelter. I knocked on the pipe for a long period of time, knowing exactly that it went down. Nobody opened to me, I understood their feelings. I lost consciousness and came to myself, and came to myself because of cold hands that were touching my face. I was already taken to the bomb shelter. Their the inhabitants rendered a medical assistance (as they could) to me. Then women told me that in the morning, along the trace of blood, leading to the bomb shelter, soldiers came. I do not know how, by the women managed to persuade the soldiers that I was taken to another bomb shelter to my relatives. Luckily, the place where we were located was difficult to be checked due to the size of the basement and all scrap that was found inside.

Acquaintances told to my sister in Ingushetia that I was wounded and was in Grozny. On April 25 my relatives found a possibility to take me out of Grozny. In the region of the settlement Tashkala in the premises of the former storage "Metals store" a Russian regimen is standing. A colonel of this unit (unfortunately I do not remember his name and surname) render great assistance for me to arrive from Grozny to Ingushetia without obstacles.

There are still many peaceful residents in Grozny. At least such was the case before my departure. I am very much worried for them. In school 54 a group or a team of SOBR (special quick response team) is dislocated, the members of which are especially cruel to peaceful inhabitants. They say that they are poring petrol and burning people alive. basically the members of this group are engaged in maraud. I had an impression that they are subordinated to nobody and do whatever they wish to".