Place of interview: unknown
Interview date: spring-summer 2000
The interviewee – a mother of many children – described how her family and others were hiding from the bombing and shelling of the village. Approximately 60 people had gathered in the basement. They were not allowed to leave the basement for four days for water or food. One day, a shell exploded near the basement and knocked the door off. A blast wave from the explosion threw the woman a few meters across the room. She was shell-shocked and could not understand what was happening around her or where she was. No sweeping operations took place in the village and the local residents did not offer any resistance against any of the attacks. No help was given to the civilians during the shelling and bombing of the village.
Comment from the Natalia Estemirova Documentation Center: this episode relates to the artillery shelling and bombing of the village of Alkhan-Yurt and its subsequent assault in late November – early December 1999. Following the retreat of Chechen fighters from the village, a “sweeping operation” was carried out resulting in the looting and killings of residents who had not yet managed to leave the village.
The operation to capture the village of Alkhan-Yurt was accompanied by a scandal whereby a prominent Chechen businessman and politician from Moscow – who was a native of the village – spoke about the true scale of the crimes that had been committed in the village.
Representatives of the Russian government were thus forced to travel to Alkhan-Yurt to deal with this scandal. However, the scandal was eventually covered up when the battle for the city of Grozny began, which resulted in the complete encirclement of the village of Alkhan-Yurt.