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All Captured on Camera: The Last Shots of the Perm OMON

Published: May 14, 2002 (Issue # 768)



  • Eight of the 10 service personnel captured by Chechen rebels after an attach on March 29, 2000, near Dzhanei-Vedeno.
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

On March 29, 2000, an OMON detachment serving in Chechnya was ambushed by rebel forces, who killed 42 of the 49 soldiers in the column. Now, photos and video footage seen by The St. Petersburg Times shed light on the human tragedy that lies behind the statistics. By Nabi Abdullaev.

BEREZNIKI, Perm Region - When he left for his first mission in Chechnya in February 2000, Sergei Udachin, a 37-year-old OMON officer, took along a cheap Kodak camera.

Before he was killed near the village of Dzhanei-Vedeno in one of the most painful episodes of the military campaign in Chechnya, Udachin had used up about half a roll of film.

He had someone take snapshots of him and his comrades: around a table celebrating a birthday, posing on their bunks in a Chechen kindergarten, standing with their weapons outside their Vedeno headquarters.

The rest of the roll was shot by a Chechen rebel who picked the camera off of Udachin's body. He used it to document troops the rebels had killed and taken prisoner in their attack.

Udachin's family and fellow OMON officers in Berezniki, a polluted industrial town in the north Urals, were to see the photographs only two years later. They said the camaraderie between the men, so visible in the early photographs, was what led them to Chechnya and what still keeps the town's OMON officers going back in spite of the horrors of the war.

Surrounded by birch woods, Berezniki continues to nurse its wounds from March 29, 2000, when 23 of its 101 OMON officers were killed in the attack near Dzhanei-Vedeno.

The rebels, commanded by Abu-Quteiba, a warlord of Arab origin, also killed 19 others: three OMON officers and nine regular police officers from Perm city, six army conscripts and one police officer from Vedeno.

Only seven men from a column of 49 survived to tell the tale. The rebels killed 31 men on the spot, and one wounded OMON officer was later found dead under a nearby bridge. The rebels took 10 men prisoner, later offering to trade them for Colonel Yury Budanov, who was in military custody on charges of murdering a young Chechen woman. The offer was turned down, and the mutilated bodies of the prisoners were either found near the battle site or bought from locals.

"That day a column led by Mayor Valentin Simonov left from Vedeno, where we were based, to the village of Tsentoroi to conduct a mopping-up operation there," recalled Colonel Sergei Gaba, the head of the Perm city OMON, who commanded the 100-member combined team of the Perm region's Interior Ministry forces on its 18th mission to Chechnya.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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