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Honoring a General Who is Silenced

Published: September 30, 2003 (Issue # 906)


MOSCOW - If asked the way to General Anatoly Romanov's ward in the Burdenko Central Military Hospital, almost any of the staff can give directions. The hospital's department No.18 has been home for almost eight years to the former commander of federal troops in Chechnya.

Here in the two-room ward, once the most respected of Russian generals spends his lonely days, sitting in a wheelchair by the window or watching television.

Having miraculously survived a deadly attack during the first Chechnya campaign, Romanov, who turns 55 on Saturday, does not talk or walk due to the severe brain damage he sustained.

The general's wife, Larisa Romanova, who has become his spokeswoman and representative, even stepping in to receive military awards for him, said she believes the attack was a political hit, since it came as he was negotiating with the rebels to try to end the war.

Romanova said she has many questions for his commanders, but sees no point in raking up the past. "What shall we win if I smear everybody? My husband will not rise to his feet and walk because of that," she said in a recent interview at the Biblio Globus bookstore, where she works as a commercial director.

Without pointing a finger, she said too many interests were involved in the 1994-1996 Chechen war, and not only Chechen rebels, who were blamed for the attack, would have had an interest in sidelining her husband.

Romanov was wounded Oct. 6, 1995, when a bomb exploded as his motorcade was passing through an underpass near Minutka Square in central Grozny. His bodyguard and driver were killed, and only a few pieces were left of the jeep that Romanov was traveling in.

The general, who narrowly escaped death, was rushed to Vladikavkaz and then to Moscow with numerous injuries. He remained in a coma for about a year.

The attack occurred at a time when Romanov was making progress in peace talks with the Chechen rebels and it was widely seen as aimed aimed at sabotaging the talks. After taking up the post in July 1995, he had traveled extensively throughout Chechnya to persuade rebels to lay down their arms in exchange for a promise of a partial withdrawal of federal troops.

After the attack, the peace talks stalled for almost a year until another general, Alexander Lebed, and separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov reached a peace agreement in the town of Khasavyurt in neighboring Dagestan.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Jan. 30 through Wednesday, Feb. 4



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 www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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