Allah's Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya, New Edition (Tauris Parke Paperbacks)

Allah's Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya, New Edition (Tauris Parke Paperbacks)

Sebastian Smith

Language: English

Pages: 328

ISBN: 1850439796

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A mixture of travelogue, history and war journalism, Allah's Mountains tells the story of the conflict between this nation of mountain tribes and the might of the Russian army. It is also a story of the history, people and cultures of the Caucasus and of tiny ethnic groups struggling for both physical and cultural survival.

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fiction film – great helmets and pads of camouflaged, bullet proof material over their shoulders and torsos – while a friend filmed them on video. At first I thought these were the fashion experiments of young men who felt good and powerful – victors. ‘I have a gun and strength and youth ... and the mountains!’ as Tolstoy’s Olenin says on his way to Chechnya in the 19th century. But all that playing the conqueror was a facade. These were demoralised, not victorious men, soldiers fighting a

even at a structural level, with the divide between the relatively well looked after interior ministry forces and the crumbling, resentful regular army widening every day. With no breakthrough along the hilly frontline, the Russian propaganda machine had to concoct fantastic explanations for the delay. They said Bamut was impregnable because of a disused Soviet nuclear missile base that Russia’s artillery and airforce could not destroy; they said nearby Orekhovo had hundreds of foreign

source said the Chechens were threatening the lives of the officers’ families unless they left the republic. In Moscow, the consensus was that it was time to cut losses through negotiations and quit, and so the troops left – unarmed. The man doing the negotiating (or dealing, depending on how you look at it) at this time, was the new minister of defence, Pavel Grachev. The Russian parliamentary enquiry into the Chechen war published a May 1992 telegram from Grachev, authorising the regional

from Yeltsin’s hometown of Sverdlovsk in the Urals, the Council expanded its advisory role to become a decision-making unit. The organisation, which met behind closed doors and had no role in the constitution, had become one of Yeltsin’s key institutions for running the country. Not all the members of the Security Council were anti-reform or in favour of going to war, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin being the most notable opponent. But it was people like the ministers of the interior and the

blocked by civilians. ‘It is forbidden to use the army against peaceful civilians. It is forbidden to shoot at the people,’ he said. But the odds looked laughable. The entire Chechen population numbered just under a million and the republic, at 15,000 square kilometres, was substantially smaller than Wales or Sicily; you could drive from one side to the other in just over two hours. Russia’s armed forces officially had about 1.7 million men, as many as 2.4 million including the interior ministry

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