Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 23

The July 22 issue of the twice-weekly newspaper Novaya Gazeta featured an article by award-winning war correspondent Anna Politkovskaya devoted to the plight of Chechen IDPs residing in Ingushetia. On this occasion, Politkovskaya was interested in the opinions of the middle-aged and elderly men living in the tent camps (there are few younger men residing there). In the same “Bella” tent camp described in the article in Trud, Politkovskaya made the acquaintance of a middle-aged man, Isa, originally from the settlement of Shalashki in Urus-Martan District, who had been living in the camps in Ingushetia with his family since the year 2000. Conditions in the tent camp, she wrote, were horrific, with the temperature soaring to 50 degrees Celsius and above. “In the tent camps,” Isa told her, “it is hot, and everyone is sick…. Do you really think that we don’t want to go home [to Chechnya]?” Why then is he not going back? “I have two daughters and two young lads,” he explained, “I am saving my daughters in Ingushetia ‘from Budanov.’ And I am saving my boys from ‘cleansing operations.'” How long will the federal forces continue to mount the cleansing operations? For ten years? “OK then,” Isa continued, “let’s say ten years. But it will be without me. I won’t return for ten years. If there are ‘cleansing operations,’ I won’t be there. I didn’t raise my sons for them to become meat for them [the Russian soldiers].” What would induce Isa to return? “It is only necessary for them not to consider me cattle, and I will return to Chechnya.” Politkovskaya concluded her account by noting: “What Isa says is the most widespread point of view among the men of middle and old age in the camps, who comprise the overwhelming majority of the males.”