Dyshne-Vedeno, Chechnya: A life in the mountain paradise…

As many Chechens believe, their country is under occupation. Here’s a story from 21 years ago, that happened in a small Chechen village in the mountains.

The most terrifying about a war is not tanks spitting fire and iron, nor the cannons or “Grads”. You can perhaps escape them if you know how. The scariest about the war is a human being who, armed and inspired by impunity from his command, encounters vulnerable civilians.

On May 17, 2001, 13 local residents were detained during so called Zachistka or “sweeping operation” in the Vedensky district of the Chechen Republic. 10 of them were released in the following days. All of them were beaten and tortured. The remaining three people, including a young woman, never returned home.

All the “disappeared” people were natives of the village of Dyshne-Vedeno. 30-year-old Roza Magomayeva was captured by the military at about 6 p.m. not far from her house on Rechnaya Street. According to the available information, the formal reason for her arrest was the black attire that she was wearing as a sign of mourning for her younger brother, who died during the hostilities.

Her elderly mother spent the next two weeks outside the building of the Russian commandant’s office, crying and asking to release her daughter. As of May 2022, the whereabouts of Roza Magomayeva are still unknown.

It is known, however, that on October 25, 2002, the prosecutor’s office of the Vedensky district opened a criminal case on the fact of her detention and consequent disappearance. The investigation was soon suspended since “the accused person has not been identified.

A few years after the detention of Roza Magomayeva, her sister Eliza was killed in the courtyard of her own house.

The other two people who disappeared during this incident were a 56-year-old father Asvad  and his 26-year-old son Bulat Malsagov, who owned a sawmill and made furniture. They were detained by the military at their homes in the morning. Under the pretend of identity-check, both were taken away by an armored personnel carrier in an unknown direction.

The formal reason for the detention of these people were the shell casings from automatic weapons found in their house. Malsagovs’ relatives, however, claimed that the shell casings were planted by the Russian military themselves.

On May 22, at about 4 p.m., an armored personnel carrier and a car “Volga” drove off the Grozny-Argun highway into a forest in the Grozny region of Chechnya. Russian soldiers were observed in the car.

It was the territory of Petropavlovskaya that used to be an apiary. This is where the explosion was heard. After some time, an armored personnel carrier with a Volga showed up on the highway again, heading towards the city of Argun.

People passing near the forest witnessed the incident. As soon as the military left, they went to the place of the explosion and found the detonated remains of two people. One of them had a passport in the name of Asvad Malsagov, registered in the village of Dyshne-Vedeno in his pocket. The second person turned out to be his son, Bulat Malsagov. They were tied together and blown up.

Dagman Malsagova, an honored teacher of Soviet Russia, came to pick up their corpses. She was collecting the scattered small remains of her husband and her son in a bag for several hours, some were found far from the epicenter of the explosion.

Information about these and many, many thousands of other victims of the Russian-Chechen armed conflict is collected and systematized in the Natalia Estemirova Documentation Center’s Database of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. Some of them can be found at: https://www.nedc-nhc.org/ .