978-1-86046-897-1 / 9781860468971

The Dirty War


Publisher:Harvill Press



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About the book:

A Dirty War is the harrowing account of Russia's invasion and subsequent decimation of Chechnya--a place with a mixed population, many of whom were themselves Russians. Politkovskaya's reports from the war zone were printed in Novayagazeta, one the few Moscow papers that dared to defy government propaganda. Journalists were denied visas if they were suspected to deliver "anti-Russian coverage" and the dangers of being a free-thinking Russian were tragically illustrated by the murder of the paper's editor, Igor Domnikov, by an unknown assailant armed with a hammer. In a confused and horribly entangled situation, one thing is certain: for people and groups on both sides, the war has been extremely profitable. Black market profiteering has reached obscene and nonsensical proportions. Young, barely trained soldiers, fed on rotten food and with no guarantees of any kind of social security should they return home injured, trade guns and ammunition to those who will certainly sell them on to be turned on their comrades. Kidnapping gangs extort huge ransoms from their victims' families while staying above the law by buying favour with the Russian authorities. But from this chaotic mess, Polikovskaya manages to draw episodes and scenes which manage both to elucidate and humanise the complexity of the war and its many casualties. Refusing to simplistically apportion blame to one side or the other, she shows instead how the corrupt, unwieldy and utterly dispassionate Russian system has allows anarchy and violence to ravage its people. --Rebecca Johnson

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