Review of CARLOTTA GALL & THOMAS DE WAAL Chechnya: A Small Victorious War

Review of CARLOTTA GALL & THOMAS DE WAAL Chechnya: A Small Victorious War, in Central Asian Survey 17.1, 1998, 185-88.

The 1994-96 war in Chechenia was Russia's Vietnam,  insofar as the intense coverage devoted  to it by the world's media ensured instant reporting especially via vivid images flashed across TV-screens (even in Russia itself), which immediately gave the lie time and again to the disinformation  emanating from those responsible for the bloodshed in  the Kremlin. Unlike in some other Caucasian conflicts, Western journalists had no difficulty distinguishing aggressor from victim. Consequently, their readers and viewers received largely accurate information. But once a conflict ends, attention rapidly switches elsewhere, and the international  community easily forgets both the problems which initially  led to hostilities and the miseries (death, maiming, loss of domicile and  employment, destruction of infrastructure and economy, breakdown of civic order) that typically result. Thus,  roughly one year after the agreement negotiated by Aslan Maskhadov, now President of Chechenia,  and Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, soon  to be sacked by the opportunist Yeltsin, is an appropriate time for the appearance of a book chronicling the war and placing it in its historical context. The authors have done an excellent job in achieving their goals.

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