The story of a woman who survived the storming of the city of Grozny

The recording is in Russian

Place of interview: unknown

Interview date: unknown

The interview is an account of a woman who did not leave the city of Grozny at all while it was stormed. During the first war (1995-1996), she lost her husband and her 19-year-old son. Prior to the second war, she worked in a militarized guard. On either October 9 or 10, 1999, Russian troops – having occupied the northern regions – were already present in the capital of the Republic. During the shelling of the city, the interviewee’s second husband was wounded in the leg and was taken to the 9th city hospital. He remained there until October 24, at which time the attending physician called the woman and recommended she take her husband home as the city was under threat of being stormed. With the help of her colleagues, the woman drove her husband home. For many weeks following this, the city of Grozny was subjected to shelling from both the air and the ground. The interviewee explained that she lived close to the station, however, when it became unsafe to remain in the area, she left to another district in the city with her husband. A short time after leaving, their house was struck by a rocket and destroyed.

Other houses and civilian objects were also destroyed. According to the woman, ammunition used during the attack would often only explode some time after being fired and not right away.

The woman also spoke about her experience living in a city that had been shot and fired at. At night they would cook food for Chechen fighters. One of the fighters allowed her and her husband to settle in his father’s house in the village of Voikova during the winter.

According to the interviewee, the majority of the dead in the city were civilians. She had witnessed troops enter the village and bombard it with guns, and then bypass the yards, and throw grenades into houses and cellars. According to her, they did not care whether there were people there, nor whether they were Russian or Chechen. She named two of her friends, a man and a woman, who were found burnt in a basement. They had died as a result of a grenade explosion.

The couple’s neighbour, who also lived close to the station, was an elderly woman who had helped them with groceries and visited them often. In particular, she had brought food for the woman’s injured husband. After she stopped visiting them, the husband asked the interviewee to enquire about the elderly woman’s whereabouts and what happened to her. It transpired that the elderly woman had been killed, possibly by looters.