Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 1

The well-known award-winning Russian war correspondent Anna Politkovskaya has returned to Russia after being ordered by her editors to take refuge abroad for several months in the face of serious threats made against her life. The December 27 (nos. 94-95) issue of Novaya Gazeta contains a new report from her, datelined Chechnya-Moscow, concerning the travails of a conscientious pro-Moscow Russian procuracy official, Marat Berdiev, working in Chechnya. As was required by Order No. 46 of Russian Procurator General Vladimir Ustinov, Berdiev accompanied Russian MVD internal troops personnel on November 26 of last year as they performed a mopping up operation in the village of Avtury. Two Russian armored vehicles with their identification numbers intentionally smeared over were so heavily laden with goods looted from civilian homes that their crews had to ride on top of the vehicles. When Berdiev ordered the masked marauders arrested, the employees of the Shali temporary district department of the MVD declined to honor his order. The Shali district military commandant, Major General [of the army] Gennady Rudykh, then attempted to come to Berdiev’s assistance, but the MVD internal troops declined to remove their masks and menacingly pointed their automatic weapons at Berdiev and General Rudykh, after which they left in their vehicles to return to their division. It has been established that these men were a major, captain and senior lieutenant from the Don-2 spetsnaz division of the MVD internal forces. The end result of this incident? The MVD internal troops no longer invite local procuracy officials to accompany them during mopping up operations, even though this is strictly required of them by Russian law.