The following is an interview with Kakiev Said-Magomed Shamaev, commander of the “Western” battalion of the mountainous force of the United Forces in the Chechen republic, Major of the Russian Army. He was born on 22 February, 1970; completed 8 grades in Grozny; 1989-1991—served in Nagorny Karabakh. Afterwards, he studied at the University of Alma-Ata. From 1994 till 1994 served in an anti-Dudaev opposition. He is a four-time-hero of the Russian Federation. He was awarded with two medals for courage; received two inscribed guns from the Minister of Defense.
Question: Said-Magomed, how long has your resistance against Chechen extremists been lasting?
Said-Magomed Kakiev: After serving in the Sovier Army in Nagorny Karabakh in 1991, I returned home, to the epicenter of events. I thought I would never come close to weapons ever again. I was wrong. Dudaev appeared in Chechnya stirring up major chaos, organized several criminal gangs in the region and I did not have any other choice but to fight with Dudaev’s bandits. That’s how I joined the opposition.
In 1993, we failed to assassinate Dudaev…when my hand grenade suddenly exploded in my hands. I lost an arm, one eye, my nose and got four cracks in my skull. My friend died right on the spot. Many assumed that I would never fight again; I was an invalid after all. However, thanks to the Almighty, I was able to recover, even though my appearance was totally changed. Doctors “mended” my entire body in a beauty salon in Moscow. I acquired a new face. No one could recognize me. I told myself, “I still have one hand; I still have a soul which is fully devoted to Russia.” To me, Russia and Chechnya represent one entity. Personally, I was fighting for this unity; I will continue to fight for this unity till the end!
Question: You participated in the first Chechen campaign, including the bloody battle in Grozny…
Kakiev: I entered the city with my squad. Back then we were apart of neither the Ministry of Internal Affairs nor the Ministry of Defense. We were motivated by one thing only—patriotism, love for our country and a strong will to put an end to Dudaev and his gangs. We were moving side by side with the Moscow’s riot squad and with special service forces. We were asked to help, since we knew the area pretty well, knew the language and could communicate with the locals.
We engaged in a bloody battle on the territory of “Eletropribor” factory in one of the regions of Grozny. We were even involved in ruthless bloody fistfights. Luckily, the riot squad and the special forces were by our side. One can hardly forget the events of those few days… We lost 7 of our guys. But we managed to destroy 29 gang members. The enemy had to retreat. Those were the people of commander Bazhiev. He is dead, now he is judged by the Almighty Allah.
Question: Why weren't armored forces used to the fullest extent in this invasion of Grozny?
Kakiev: This was an incredibly ruthless war. I felt terrible for those young boys. Many things were unclear…we tried to warn our allies, but no one listened to us. Order is an order, period! They assumed it was easy to conquer…do you know how many people we lost?
Question: There still remain some questions concerning the events of August 1996. Did you witness those events?
Kakiev: On August 6th, I was patrolling Dagestanskaya Street. A house of the city's mayor Yakub Deniev was located on that street. His family belongs to the real saints. We were attacked by everyone, from every side. There was only 50 of us. We were guarding the house. We were running out of weapons. 37 women and children were hiding in the basement there. Later, negotiations began and the “spirits” swore on Koran that they’ll let everyone go: all kids and women and the elderly. I did not believe them from the start. We had a choice of either staying in the region and trusting those promises of the gang members or continue fighting. Everyone stayed. I left the place on my own… it took me seven days to leave Grozny.
The “spirits” in turn shot everyone to death in the house, including 30 of our troops. They later burned and immured them in the basement. It was only after two years that their bodies were recovered and sent to the Rostov’s laboratory. When the cortиge with the bodies was traveling from Rostov to Chechnya, every singly militant's post was saluting them. As soon as they crossed the Chechen border, those Dudaev’s soldiers started yelling “Look at these traitors!” “Bury them in Russia!”. We will never forget this! We are perfectly aware of the names of those beasts who committed such terrible crimes. They are Doku Umarov, Ruslan Gelaev and others.
Question: In 1996 you had to leave Chechnya, what happened then?
Kakiev: I was called an outlaw by Maskhadov. He promised a title of “Hero of Ichkeria” to the one who kills me. I could not get home for three years; haven’t seen my relatives. I’ve been living in Moscow for all these years. Since 1999, with the help of Allah and Putin, I managed to return to the republic. I was appointed assistant of the head of Nadterechni region, built two camps for refugees with heating and water. Then I signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense and left to fight.
Question: Many things have changed in Chechnya since those times. You are currently a chief of the Chechen special military unit…