From a review in the Oct. 20 New York Sun of Anna Politkovskaya’s A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya:

In the recent presidential election in Chechnya, Akhmad Kadyrov won with 81% of the vote, despite being so despised by the electorate that his own press secretary admitted that in free voting his man would receive no more than 5%. Fortunately for the Kremlin-backed gangster, the election was not free. The Chechens, Seth Mydans reported in the New York Times, were told, “You must vote for Kadyrov or there will be a mopping-up operation and you will lose all your young people.”

…In [an] interview… Mr. Kadyrov said that “A dictator is needed here, in the literal sense of the word.” He then went on to praise the NKVD and describe a pacification scheme he would implement were he in power, modeled on the NKVD’s midnight visits….

This war is being waged not against terrorists but against civilians…. “The activities that the antiterrorist operation has sought to eradicate–violent hostage-taking, slavery, ransoms for ‘live’ goods–are now being performed by the new masters, the soldiers.”

The atrocities Ms. Politkovskaya documents–routinized slave trading by Federal soldiers, filtration camps where ordinary Chechens are held in pits and tortured until their relatives can pay ransom, deliberate infliction of mass starvation on the population, the destruction of medical equipment at children’s hospitals–are entirely comparable to those committed in Bosnia. Not only is there no accountability for soldiers who routinely massacre civilians; they are actively encouraged and given special commendations. Chechens may be rousted from their sleep and made to crawl on all fours for hours while being spat on and beaten by troops of the Ministry of the Interior.

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