By Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Burry, Tatiana Tulchinsky, Georgi M. Derluguian
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Extra resources for A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya
As if they didn’t come to kill, but to let their tired feet get some fresh air. Their feet are big and scary, and the soles almost seem to touch our faces. The barrels of their guns are squeezed between their thighs. We’re frightened, but we all want to see our killers. They seem to be laughing at us crawling comically down below—heavy old women, young girls, and children. We can even hear their laughter. But no, this is just another illusion; it’s too noisy to hear that. Automatic weapon ﬁre whistles in the air around us, and someone always starts to wail along.
Still, there is loneliness. Death is the one situation where you can never ﬁnd companionship. When the diving helicopters hover over your bent back, the ground starts to resemble a death bed. 32 33 / O R D I N A R Y C H E C H E N L I F E Here are the helicopters, going for another round. They ﬂy so low that you can see the gunners’ hands and faces. Some say that they can even see their eyes. But this is fear talking. The main thing is their legs, dangling carelessly in the open hatches. As if they didn’t come to kill, but to let their tired feet get some fresh air.
It was here that Budanov swore to avenge himself against those snipers who killed his comrades in arms. ” Here, on March 26, 2000, the night after Putin won the presidential election, the colonel got drunk and decided that the time had come for payback for the battles at the Wolf Gates. He kidnapped, raped, and strangled an eighteenyear-old Chechen girl named Elsa Kungayeva, who he thought was the sniper responsible for everything. On this basis, he was “acquitted,” both in the eyes of Russian public opinion and by the Russian system of 40 / A S M A L L C O R N E R O F H E L L justice, which ruled that if the colonel was socially motivated, then it was a justifiable murder.