Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 21

The July 9 issue of Nezavisimaya Gazeta contains an interview with retired General Anatoly Kulikov, a former Russian minister of internal affairs and presently the chairman of the State Duma’s committee on security, in which he reveals that “65,000 [Russian soldiers] have been made cripples” during the course of the two wars in Chechnya. This figure, Kulikov notes, is approximately the same as the number of soldiers made invalids during ten years of war in Afghanistan. Kulikov does not cite a figure for number of deaths. On April 18, Kulikov noted, the State Duma by a vote of 381-0 passed a Law on Veterans in the first reading in which persons badly wounded in the two wars in Chechnya would be officially recognized as having been “participants in military actions.” The Russian government, Kulikov added, has been reluctant to support this proposed law due to its potential high cost for the Russian treasury. “At the request of the government, we have agreed to introduce this law not as of 1 January 2003 but as of 1 January 2004.” Kulikov expressed certainty, however, that the law would eventually be adopted. In passing, Kulikov also stated that “on the territory of the country [Russia] live 25 million Muslims.” (The figure usually given out for the number of Muslims in Russia is 20 million. The overall population of the Russian Federation is about 144 million.)