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29.10.2006

For money you can write about Chechnya too. But … anonymously

   

This book is the diary of Madina Elmurzaeva which she kept during military action in Grozny. It proved no easy matter to get it published. The editor and compiler Yelena Sannikova talks about the difficulties human rights activists encountered trying to find a publisher.

“It seems that in our day fear has emerged in society, and at a quite serious level. Publishing companies refuse to publish this book. In fact, they said, yes, you give us the money and we’ll print it for you, but we won’t put the name of the publishing company. The publishers who in the end did put out the book also took some time before they’d agree to give their details, but thank God did finally decide to do it and the books has come out. Incidentally when the sample copy was already in my hands, I discovered that the printers did not dare put their details”.

Madina Elmurzaeva worked as a nurse in one of the Grozny hospitals. In 1994, during intensive artillery fire and bombing, she did not leave her patients. She saw the New Year in the hospital basement with no electricity, and the gunfire nearby. She managed to persuade the military command to stop shooting at the hospital which enabled her to get the wounded out.

Together with three volunteer assistants, Madina Elmurzaeva organized a group of emergency care. All her experiences are described in her diary. Here is an entry made in January 1995. “I can’t bring myself to describe it all. What the soldiers are doing here! We’ve been sold out. Today they’re sauntering about, drinking, knocking back the vodka. A drunk soldier doesn’t understand what he’s doing, he doesn’t care if he kills somebody today or not. He sees an enemy in everywhere, and for that reason I’m frightened. There are so many of them! Russia’s learned to keep Chechnya in a state that’s like hell. Yermolov, Stalin, Lenin, today it’s Yeltsin, the war. Sometimes the drunk soldiers start fighting each other, and a lot have died that way. O Allah, I entreat you, don’t let them destroy the villages, have pity on us, I beg you, forgive the poor”.

Madina Elmurzaeva was killed on 10 February 1995. She had gone out to a far removed part of the city to provide assistance to a wounded person but found that he had died. When she placed his body on the stretcher, there was an explosion: a mine had been attached to his body.

 

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