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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Grachev's Spin on the War

At a recent meeting with journalists and Duma deputies, the leadership of the Defense Ministry made some surprising admissions concerning the initial stage of the operation in Chechnya. First, the main burden of the war so far has been borne by the armed forces, not by the Interior Ministry troops that are officially in control of the occupied territory. Second, it was acknowledged that Chechnya has not only brought forth examples of heroism, but of unprofessionalism and cowardice on the part of many high-ranking officers.

Defense Minister Pavel Grachev's report made it clear that his position had received support from above, and this allowed him to speak sharply against his opponents in the military. "We will strictly interrogate every general and every officer who made any kind of political statement," Grachev said.

To be fair, it must be said that antipathy toward the mass media was rather muted at the meeting. Grachev even announced a new policy according to which the Defense Ministry would try to objectively inform newspapers and television stations. However, it was clear that Grachev has little sense of what the public already knows about the war. He repeated his claims that Russian artillery and air strikes never hit civilian targets. He also denied his well-known, televised remark that it would be possible to take Grozny with a single paratroop regiment.

It was also announced that 3,956 decorations have already been presented in connection with Chechnya, and a further 14,300 have been awarded but not yet received.

Moskovskiye Novosti, March 5