Business Trip to Death! Russian Spetsnaz in Chechnya! (English, Greek, Russian subtitles)

Uploaded by BitnikGr on 26.01.2013

Business Trip to Death
Russian Special Forces in Grozny
My name is Igor Komissarov. I am 37 years old, married, and I have a 12 year old daughter.
I work in St. Petersburg, as a Special Representative of the Press.
January 1996 I was detached to Grozny to the Press Office of the Provisional Russian administration in Chechnya.
Before departure, I asked my superior if I will need a bullet proof vest or a submachine gun.
"Take a deck of playing cards with you" he said, "It's all quite in Grozny".
It's the 22nd of January. The ruins of downtown.
Igor Komissarov, has his camera with him. He wants to document this unusual business trip.
The first pictures are filmed while riding an armored vehicle with the Special Forces unit.
52 days lie ahead and the 6th of March which he will never forget.
This movie is his point of view on a country and a war.
Personal, one-sided, partial and only a fragment of the whole truth.
It's a video protocol of an eyewitness.
We have met him only short time ago, in St. Petersburg, 2200km away from the Hell.
He showed us these pictures there.
He told us, that since he is back he watches his footage at home alone again and again, like a necessity.
He has left to us 8 video cassettes.
22 hours of VHS material, full of technical flaws, but anxiously authentic.
The dying of the own men and the cruel violence of the own side.
“It's better to show the nightmare" - he told us - "It's better to not forget it."
Grozny through the eyes of Igor Komissarov.
And he had always one same song in his head, his song in Chechnya.
"In war is like in war. Remember me, my girl."
"In war you never know,"
"We might kill them or they might kill us."
The market stands in front of the base of the Provisional Russian Administration.
Bread and vodka. The Special Forces Units supply themselves with those, here.
Policemen trained for counter-terrorism operations were contracted and detached to Grozny, to restore peace.
They will stay and fight, even when the last soldier was deducted, while officially it is "peace" here.
This place, these buildings are a pathetic piece of safety behind barbed wire and sandbags for 52 days.
Grozny, the 4th of March, 1996
- I think there are some wounded.
The tank has blown up.
We can't see anything. The market stands there blocking everything.
Keep an eye on the roofs.
4th of March, about 06:30 am. There was an explosion.
Suddenly, I am awake.
The Checkpoint. The guys getting in positions. Defensive positions.
What happened? A raid?
How many enemies are there and where are the enemy snipers?
Two of us run into the house to detect the enemies.
Otherwise we won't get out of here alive.
- Our guys are there. - Where? Dukhs are on the roof. - Our guys went there.
One of our vehicles rushes away. I am running behind it with my camera.
My assistant Sergey, filmed these images from the roof... and indeed there is an armored vehicle.
It must had driven onto a mine.
Injured, maybe dead, no hesitation they need our help.
But "Dukhs" are everywhere in the houses.
That's how we call the Chechen fighters - "Dukhs" (a ghost/spirit). Do you understand?
You don't see them, but they are always there.
And then they kill you.
The vehicle couldn't pass. One seriously injured man got out.
You may not cross the road, it's an open field!
They will shoot you.
I'm like in trance, I see only a flickering image.
The numbers in the viewfinder.
Thinking only "you have to hold this, you have to show it".
The Truth, just how it is.
- One! Two! Three! I'm going!
- Bitchen! - Be careful! Take him up! - Look, a sniper is punching us from there. Did you pick up the battery?
The armored vehicle, the injured man.
The explosion had thrown them into the dirt.
It was an unbelievable impact.
You are totally confused in your head. You are getting sick. You are passing away for some minutes.
Confused, even days after that. I have experienced it myself, physically.
Even today they come back, those dizziness and qualm.
- Scatter from there. - Scatter! Damn!
I have forgotten the name of this man.
We call ourselves "brothers" here.
"Brother" and nothing else.
The driver's legs were torn off, he says.
- And the Commander got the whole shockwave.
- And it has caught me only here.
It is a remarkable thing. The guys always mentioning the Commander first. Only he does counts and they speak about themselves later."
"That thing..." he said, "that thing, that has blown our vehicle, it has been lying in a rain puddle."
- A mine? - Who the heck knows...
Another one of our vehicles had managed to pick us up.
- Let's go! Get in!
But the Commander is under shock and he doesn't want to go.
"But I am not even injured" he yells.
- I am not wounded! Damn! It's all right! I can walk.
- Saturn Team.
They are now on the roofs, in positions, our guys.
Look out, don't shoot at them that's ours boys, there are on the roof!
- Come on! Come on! Come on! Why are you standing? Your mother!
Do we have the situation under control, already?
I run back where the market stands. Oleg is there. He is my friend.
He was always covering me while I have filming my footage, without me asking him to do so.
He was always right there.
He says "It was at 03:00 am... we were on our back trip to our apartments,
and here was a little boy about 12-13 years old close to the market.
Probably and very likely that it was him who placed the mine into the puddle.
They got one. One of the Dukhs got caught.
- Was it him shooting at us? - I don't know.
You feel only hate in such moments.
And a wish for revenge.
Does he have marks on his shoulders?
Due to the recoil of a rifle.
The man will probably lay in the "bunker" as a prisoner.
Until we will exchange him, maybe, for one of those poor pigs of the Army.
I don't know if that's exactly what happened to him. I've never seen this man again.
Back in our apartments, we got a message that the driver of the armored vehicle died in the hospital.
And again you keep asking, "What happened there?"
You will repeat it again and again and it's the only way you can endure this.
- Was it a direction action mine? - It was worse. But what kind of mine was it... hell knows.
Then Igor Komissarov shows us, how they went out one morning few weeks ago passing by these buildings.
"The location of another Police Special Forces Unit. You have to make it clear for yourself!" he said.
They reached the city's outskirts.
There on the left is the main square of Grozny.
"Grozny" - Igor Komissarov said.
- Do you know what that means? - "Fearsome".
The city was founded in the 19th century by the Tsar, when Russians occupied the region.
Grozny - The Fearsome! It should scare the resistance and to nip it in the bud.
A police raid is planned against illegal refineries.
Dozens of them exist in this territory.
Chechens tap the oil pipelines.
The refineries are primitive, but that's enough to produce gasoline.
It brings money for the war and for own pocket.
"In war you can say "good-bye" to everything, that’s a catch phrase here" Igor Komissarov said.
Is it a resistance or a crime?
Who can separate these two things apart now?
The mission is clear - to destroy the refinery plants.
Who will stop the illegal business, will also stop the supply of the insurgents.
And maybe will create peace in the region, for Yeltsin, who wants to win the elections.
The war is already not liked in Russia. Too many injured, too many mutilated... Yeltsin needs some rest.
Rest in a country where the oilfields are burning.
Nobody knows who set them on fire.
It is a hopeless attempt to extinguish the fire for months.
"This war is about the oil" Igor said.
"Today it's the first time it has become clear to me."
"The oil of Chechnya, the oil of the Caucasus!"
A major pipeline runs through Chechnya to the Black Sea.
It's a lifeblood.
And if Grozny falls, Russian Federation could fall apart too.
To the South, in the oilfields, unthinkable for Yeltsin.
The concept of the Iron Fist has failed and now Moscow sends Police Special Forces.
When the Police will restore the order, then no more war will happen here.
And then, there is an appearance of normality and ordinariness on Igor's pictures.
They are sitting in the "barrel", that’s how they call the primitive apartment of the Press officials.
One of the rare pictures which shows Igor Komissarov, the man through whose eyes we see this war.
A song, which was self written, is playing from the cassette player.
"There were shoot-outs, yesterday again" - they are singing - "and bullets have missed me again. So I'll stay alive a little longer."
There is a note on the wall - "Unlike the war, the life goes on."
Grozny, 6th of March, 1996
6th of March. The shock! Rebels are in the city.
Hundreds of them, or maybe thousands or more.
They have attacked a Chechen Police station.
Two armored vehicles left ten minutes ago to help the Police.
"Unbelievable, I have failed to attend to a morning briefing and departure."
"For the first and the last time in 52 days."
"And this is the reason and the only reason why I am alive."
"The first group was caught in a trap. A deadly trap."
The combat place. The shootouts. No radio messages.
Getting to battle stations and waiting for Commander's decisions.
There is a bridge behind the wall. Our armored vehicles are some 30-50 meter further away.
The way down there is a suicide mission.
But we have to go, at least onto the bridge to see what is going on.
We need a helicopter. It has to deploy a smoke screen.
Cloud as a cover, a white shield in the open field.
But we don't have a helicopter.
A decision. The Commander must take a decision.
The help call to the Russian Army comes over and over again... Desperation.
- Bitchen! What are you doing there?! Are you asleep?!
- My God, what are you doing, are you all sleeping?"
"Meteor, Meteor! Storm 32, do you hear?"
A technical defect. On purpose. Sell out?
He takes a decision then. The armored vehicle will lead the way to the bridge and maybe down there... to our boys.
- Cover me.
- Where from the shots are coming? - From there. From the valley.
There is an armored vehicle... burning.
The army has canceled the air support. No helicopters. The weather is too bad.
Everyone knows we have to go down there and everyone knows we have no chance.
Waiting... for hours...
... intolerable.
"My name is Igor" - I said.
- And what is your name? - Andrey.
- Give me a cigarette, brother.
- I'm from St. Petersburg and you guys? - From Tyumen.
Meanwhile, our building is under fire.
Footage which Sergey, my assistant, has filmed.
Battles everywhere in the city.
Attacks which are to tie up our forces.
A few dozens of men are shooting back.
They can't leave, but they are protecting the building.
Our building!
We are still waiting outside on the bridge.
And then we are fighting through to get to the armored vehicle.
No footage of it. Problems with the camera.
(radio comm.) Bread baking plant. The gray building. The upper right window.
But then, this scene... The survivors...
- Watch this - the blood of our Commander.
- Everything covered with blood.
- The blood of our comrades.
"Imagine" - this man says - "we couldn't rescue anyone."
- Our ammunition is almost empty.
- Only three of us are left.
- Without any support.
- We were begging for one hour, but the Army didn't come.
- They said, that their helicopters can't fly in such weather. But what is wrong with it? The weather is good.
- And all the time we were alone.
- We were shooting back, but that didn't make sense, We had no view.
- And the snipers were shooting upon us. It was horrible, just horrible.
- We lost our Commander.
- Such an insanity, that it can't be happening.
- We are getting screwed and burned.
- And those jackals, who are using us here as human shields, getting rich on prize of our blood and continue driving their big Mercedes.
- They are all for sale. It's all about oil-dollars.
- Stop it!
- Why? It's the Truth!
- It should be broadcasted on central TV, but also show them what they are broadcasting instead of this. That all are quite in Grozny.
- Only we three are left!
- And so what if we begged for help, but the Army didn't come.
- They've abandoned us.
- So many dead, heaps of them all tight to each other and we can't do anything. The vehicles are burning, but we can't leave them there.
- Our boys and the Commander.
- They were burning on fire in front of our eyes.
- We were so close..., but we couldn't bring them out.
- Ok! That's enough!
"Record this on tape. Show it back at home."
"You have to show what happens here."
I feel nothing anymore.
I see nothing. I filmed these pictures with my defect camera.
The last of this day.
Police raid. 40km in front of Grozny. In a village.
Igor Komissarov shows us these images and we understand their mission.
"They are Policemen and whenever it was possible" - he said,
"They have done what they had to do - a police service."
Manhunt of criminals, drug dealers and weapon smugglers.
They existed even before, but the war is washing them up.
And they are searching for partisans.
"Rebels" for Russians.
Police language - the language of power.
"The most Chechens don't want this war here" Igor Komissarov said.
And many, many of them are helping us.
A shot was heard.
They have caught one man
- Get up! Get up!
- Do you carry weapons?!
- Run! Hands behind your back!
- Behind your back! Run!
- Not there! Over here!
Igor Komissarov knows, that the civilians suffer in particular.
He saw it and recorded it on tape.
The people in the villages and cities carry the load of the war.
And this deceptive rest between two battles, which they call "a peace" in Moscow.
- Hands behind your back! - Tell him that she is after surgery.
They have arrested six men.
Three of them are getting free, soon after that and the others are getting exchanged against Russian soldiers.
A hostage business, as usual.
"Why you don't leave us alone?" this woman asks.
"We have toiled for the Soviet Union for decades and that's not our fault."
"It touched us" Igor Komissarov says.
but such scenes scare us. A few minutes delay and the insurgents gain time.
Time for an ambush.
Fire from the woods.
The invisible enemy again.
How much are they today?
The Police troops stay behind cover.
And after sometime the insurgents give up.
At first, Igor Komissarov didn't want to leave this footage to us.
Chechen insurgents.
A horrible interaction of our Police forces is "an exception" he says.
Such scenes from Grozny were never shown before.
Igor Komissarov was allowed to film, because his comrades trusted him.
"But will the viewer understand us?" he asked the interviewer.
Do you know how it is, when you lost a friend and then the murderers are falling into your hands?
The old story, violence creates more violence.
And both sides claiming the other side guilty of it.
He has started first and I am only defending myself.
"Show these pictures" Igor Komissarov says suddenly determined, "show them!"
"I survived Grozny. I am not afraid anymore."
Grozny, the 7th of March, 1996
The 7th of March. We were replaced by the Army to have a rest for a night.
We couldn't go back. Battles are being wages everywhere.
One Lieutenant gave us two heavy tanks, by higher order, to help us on his own risk.
We want to search for survivors and salvage dead bodies.
It sounds crazy, but that's how it is.
- We don't leave anyone behind.
- Bringing the boys back home.
- The alive and the dead ones, they have right for it.
The combat location of the 6th of March
This open, deadly field again.
We brought mine-searching dogs with us.
Often rebels plant mines under our dead men to get some more of us.
Are snipers in the ruins?
Fire cover.
And then we go. The goal is in front of your eyes. We are not thinking anymore. Just going.
- This is our countryman. A dog handler.
- Here are our guys.
There are no survivors.
They are dead.
They are all dead.
The next evening.
Still with the Army.
A tent of our accommodation.
Vodka. It's our mean to forget.
Consolation and Medicine.
The drug that we need to survive.
We always do 4 drink toasts. 2 for us, the 3rd for our fallen comrades and the last that nobody has to make a toast for us, tomorrow.
The 9th of March. The trip back to our apartments.
With the defected camera, I filmed the last pictures of this mission.
In front of us is an armored vehicle which provides cover for us.
It deploys a smoke screen.
Like a white protection veil that hovers over the column.
Memories. Memories of violence and death.
My cutout of reality.
My truth.
And an old footage is between these.
Grozny, 16 years ago.
I was here before, when I was a young cadet.
Back then, on my last evening, in a shabby bar, people had invited me.
I was eating and drinking until I couldn't anymore.
On the next day, at the train station, I met one from that bar again.
A flower seller.
He gave me one bouquet.
"For your mother" he said.
"Or your girlfriend, however you want."
"Give them greetings from Grozny."
This is a true story.
"The war is like a war" as the song goes.
Soldiers dream about their mothers at night.
The war, it's quite different from movies.
It's like a curse.
The girls are still waiting.
Business Trip to Death
Russian Special Forces in Grozny
Big thanks for translation from German to English to Talshet (
Text editing and subtitling - BitnikGr (