By Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Burry, Tatiana Tulchinsky, Georgi M. Derluguian
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Additional info for A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya
Death is the one situation where you can never ﬁnd companionship. When the diving helicopters hover over your bent back, the ground starts to resemble a death bed. 32 33 / O R D I N A R Y C H E C H E N L I F E Here are the helicopters, going for another round. They ﬂy so low that you can see the gunners’ hands and faces. Some say that they can even see their eyes. But this is fear talking. The main thing is their legs, dangling carelessly in the open hatches. As if they didn’t come to kill, but to let their tired feet get some fresh air.
After all, it’s only the beginning of the war, the ﬁrst days of October 1999. It seems to us that the ﬁghting won’t last too long, and that the refugees will soon be able to return to their homes. All we have to do is survive this day, and things will straighten themselves out. At one point, Vakha becomes bolder—after all, when there is danger for too long, everything gets to be dull and boring. Ignoring the helicopters, he suddenly turns over onto his side. And in a normal, human way, without earth in his mouth, he begins to talk about his family—his six children, who had left Achkhoi a week ago for Ingushetia along with his mother, wife, and two unmarried sisters.
Politkovskaya documents two interrelated processes: ﬁrst, the weakness of Russia’s central government, which must (or thinks it must) tolerate war atrocities in order to attain minimal compliance from its junior ranks, and, second, the entrepreneurial strategies of various military and state ofﬁcials who form an extensive, inchoate, and perennially feuding informal network that is making a proﬁt on this war. This seems to me sound sociology no less than a damning indictment. Let me get back to Bourdieu’s method, with which I started this exposition.