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A Terrorized Village in Chechnya Crosses the Border

Published: June 28, 2005 (Issue # 1082)

KIZLYAR, Dagestan — On a clearing the size of a soccer field, more than 1,000 former residents of Borozdinovskaya, a largely ethnic Dagestani village just across the border in Chechnya, are camped out in tents amid a jumble of furniture and other belongings.

They began moving here on June 16, when they found charred human remains they suspected were those of four men taken away from their village in a June 4 raid by masked gunmen.

In this makeshift camp, a few dozen meters from the checkpoint that separates Dagestan from Chechnya, the villagers are caught in the middle of a potentially explosive situation that threatens to sour already-uneasy relations between the neighboring republics as officials on both sides appear to be ready to stoke ethnic tensions.

The Dagestani exodus was triggered by a raid on Borozdinovskaya late in the evening of June 4, when more than 200 masked gunmen raided the village, which is inhabited predominantly by Avars, Dagestan’s biggest ethnic group, and took away 11 men.

The men, 10 Dagestanis and one ethnic Russian, have not been seen since.

Residents claim that the gunmen were from the Vostok, or East, special forces battalion, which is commanded by Sulim Yamadayev, a former Chechen rebel leader turned pro-Moscow strongman. The battalion is not part of the Chechen government’s security forces, but answers to the General Staff’s Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU.

But Sergei Surovikin, the commander of the 42nd motorized infantry division to which Yamadayev’s militia belongs, denied that any of his men had participated in the raid on Borozdinovskaya.

The allegations were “groundless and aimed at destabilizing the political situation and staining the honor and name of the honest career officer and Hero of Russia, Sulim Yamadayev,” Surovikin said in comments on Dagestani television.

The masked raiders herded about 200 Dagestani men into the village school, forced them to lie down in the mud and fired rounds over their heads, beating and insulting them, residents said. The gunmen raided homes, taking away cars and other valuables from the villagers, forcing even teenagers to empty their pockets of cell phones and cash, the villagers said.

Then, they said, the attackers gunned down a 77-year-old resident of the village, set fire to three houses and fled, taking 11 villagers with them.

To protest the raid, on June 8 and June 11 villagers set up roadblocks on the nearby highway separating Chechnya and Dagestan and called for the return of the missing men.

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Wednesday, Jan. 28

Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.

Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.

Thursday, Jan. 29

Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at

Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.

Friday, Jan. 30

The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.

Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website

A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at

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