Lecture 17 – Fighting Instinct
(excerpted from “The Other Russia” by Eduard Limonov, 2003. This message of the need to develop and hone Fighting Instinct is more true than ever, inspiring us to reprint this in Open Revolt.)
In 1991, 1992 and 1993 it happened to me to visit hot spots as new local wars were called then and certainly will still be called. On the war with the Croatians in Vukovar (Slavonia and western Srem), in Pridnestrovie, in Bosnia, in Abkasia and in spring 1993 in Kninska Krajina, where as a volunteer I defended the front near the town of Benkovats. I wrote about these wars in military reportages, but wrote little because those years and the following years of the second half of the nineties were tense years of struggle. I was catastrophically out of time: I founded the “Limonka” newspaper in 1994, loaded the party on myself, so I didn’t have time for anything. If God gives me the minimum quarter of a century that are genetically due to me by inheritance (my father is now 83 years old) – I will write. I wrote best about the soldier profession in the essay “Dogs of war”, I intended to develop the positions of that essay to the size of a book, but I didn’t.
Meanwhile I met in 1994 the famous king of mercenaries Robert Denar in Paris and in 1997 under adventurous circumstances I crossed the entire Central Asia with a National Bolshevik Party (NBP) group in Tajikistan and there I had the honor to meet Mahmud Khudoyberdiev. If these two outstanding military commanders are to be added to the Serbian general Arkan, to the colonel Kostenko, to the general Radko Mladich, to the captain Dragan – the hero of Kninska Krajina, to the rebelled presidents Miloshevich and Karadjich, to others less known, but no less worthy military commanders, then you get a whole crowd of only military commanders. And how many officers and soldiers did I know!
On the basis of this knowledge, after thousands of man-hours spent with warrior people, a firm conviction had developed in me, that war is not the sin of human kind, not a vestige of the past, not a shameful instinct, but a legitimate powerful instinct of aggression, the instinct of heroism. I developed this theme in the book “The Sentinel’s Murder”.
Referring to the work of the Austrian biologist Konrad Lorenz, I explained in that book (and later in the article “Dogs of War”) that a part of the man population of any country takes delight in war. Moreover military instinct is discovered often by accident, in people very remote in normal life from war, if they suddenly end up in a war. Some old teacher or a fitter turns out to be a frisky and enterprising commando. But all over the place opposite discoveries also occur: immersing into war, how many highest officers turn out to be absolutely not soldiers, moreover, hostile to the very military spirit. A man with a gun is not necessarily a soldier. A man with a gun and in a military uniform is most frequently not a soldier.
In Kninska Krajina fought for the first time, I remember, officers of the Yugoslavian Army, who had just went on pension at 60 years old and returned to the ranks voluntarily, when Kninska Krajina rebelled. The colonels Shkorich, Knyazhevich, the colonel Tanga fought great. In Kninska Krajina fought an adventurer who loved war, the talented fighter captain Dragan: a legend, a man who came from nowhere, either from Australia or Israel; it was only clear that he speaks Serbian and knows how to fight. He founded a school of military training, there, in Kninska Krajina, I was in his school and later, I recall, promised to transfer on the school’s account all the honoraries from my books and articles, published in Yugoslavia. There, in the school, young men and women wandered on the streets of the funny city, that they were going to seize, there in a T-80 tank turned the driver, who forgot which handle exactly to press. There, beautiful Serbians with splendid hips learned explosive skills and around wandered the soldiers, licking their lips… Dragan himself wore a kerchief and a cask on top of it. On his face he had an expression of quarrelsome insolence.
In Abkasia in 1992 I drove several times trough the positions of the Chechen commandos: “The Shamil forces” in the Low Eshers. I recall, they had on me the impression of a whole bunch of boys: all short, in black overalls, with black bandages on their foreheads, self-assured, with weapons hanging all over them. Like the “wild boys” from William Burroughs’ novel, I recall I thought. They were kind of photogenic and fresh, like on a fashion show. Only in 1995 Basaev became famous, it is then that the world learned and I learned that it is his people who fought in Abkasia. In Abkasia they were on the same side with our forces, for the Abkasians. The Chechens in Abkasia, Shamil’s forces had the same quarrelsome insolence on their faces like captain Dragan. Already then I thought – if I had this kind of guys! Now I am certain that we have this kind of guys, with a quarrelsome joyful insolence. In 1997 I found myself in Buddenovsk, I stood there for the pre-elections in the State Duma. Myself, I was based in the Kazak city Georgievsk but my representatives Irina Tabatzkova and Sergey Gromov worked on Budennovsk. They managed to make me come third in that city. The city was stuck all over with my leaflets. And boys ran on the streets with the “Limonka” newspaper. I was shown then traces of bullets from Baaev’s attack. On the gates of his house Dzhigarhanov showed me traces of bullets, a great guy, a Russified Armenian. Fate is a strange thing. I stood for election in a city in which Basaev killed and now I sit in a prison where the majority of the prison population is composed of Chechens – “terrorists”. On the bunk, covering his head with a sweater sleeps Misha Kuskov, he was transferred to me on the 22 May straight from the cell of Salman Raduev. So there are a lot of people around me with a high fighting instinct.
Raduev, tells Misha, writes in prison a book about his Kizliar operation. Raduev has a rosary, consisting of 99 little bones and he prays to Allah three times a day. In the morning, after the get-up, before food intake at noon and before the retreat call. Before the praying Raduev washes himself, three times the nose, three times the ears, neck, feet. (Even before the prayer Raduev goes to the toilet and also makes ablutions from a plastic bottle. In this sense Muslims are cleaner than our people). Then Raduev gets up on the bed, where he has already unfolded a green mat. He gets on his knees, makes bows to Allah and reads prayers, running his fingers over the rosary. Each time he prays about ten minutes. (I recalled that Geydar Dzhemal said to me in Kazan, for a Muslim the prayer is like the raising of the flag and the uniting of the armed community in precisely indicated hours of the day. Uniting.) During the reading of prayers Raduev exclaims “Allah Akbar!” All of this happens in cell No 101. However he eats prison food without restraint.
Raduev has a wife and two children. According to Kuskov’s stories, Raduev’s book begins from the moment when he captured Kizlyar with his people and called Mashadov and asked: what do we have to do? Mashadov responded: “Salman, you are Allah’s warriors, go and receive death!” A great beginning for a book.
According to Kuskov, Raduev writes documentarily: such and such document number, such directive. Raduev was blown up eight times. Regardless of the fact that he had a dozen of completely exact-looking “Volgas” and he chose himself each time in which to sit. Once a fortuneteller told him not to go anywhere in a car. Raduev pushed her aside, the Chechens, supposedly are not used to believe in fortune telling. His body guard, a relative, said: “Salman, let me sit on the right today.” And sat. The bomb exploded under the seat. Raduev has his sport suit burned.
Raduev sleeps with a large band on his eyes, a glass eye, a remade nose, a beard all over the face. He became friends with Misha and even went to the isolation ward chief to ask that they don’t transfer him from the cell. Raduev lost his eye in the following way: He was driving a little UAZ with his staff, six persons in all. They were shot at by the OMON. They shot from the right. The bullet entered by the nose, then in the left eye and came out behind, breaking off a little piece of the skull and continued its motion.
The Chechen who sat behind Raduev was killed by the same bullet. On a high speed the little UAZ turned over. Those who remained alive ran away into the village. Raduev remained seated, holding the falling off part of the head. Only three hours later he was brought to the hospital. The doctor said: “he’s a cadaver!” But he did the operation. Meanwhile they buried someone, saying that Raduev died. On the funerals ceremony only Raduev’s wife knew that he was alive and that they bury the body of another person. As for Raduev he went to Germany. Where they assembled from pieces, put a titanium plate in the skull, a glass eye. In Lefortovo Raduev is taken every morning around ten o’clock to the investigator where he reads all the 126 volumes of his judiciary case on the attack on Kizlyar. Around lunch he is taken to the cell. After lunch they take him to the investigator again where he reads the case’s materials again. In the bath, Kuskov says, one can see that there is not a living spot left on Salman’s body. Raduev does not lose his heart, he even, to a certain degree, relaxes in prison. As outside his day began with him being brought a pile of requests from his subordinates – fighters from “Dudaev’s army”. “I request to allocate me 50 dollars for the replacement of the carburetor”, “I request to allocate me 10 thousand dollars because I want to get married”, and if you don’t, tomorrow half-Chechnya will know that this Raduev does not support his heroes-soldiers.
These sometimes-anecdotic details, give in actual fact an idea about the kind of people whom the Russian Army fights in Chechnya. Basaev, who gave the instruction to film on video the amputation of his foot, Raduev who spent several hours seated, supporting his skull’s top, have a high-quality fighting instinct. “Salman, you are warriors of Allah, go and receive death!” is a heroic sentence, notwithstanding that they went to receive death from our Russian soldiers. And they brought death and they bring it to Russian soldiers.
The mass media are not able to understand anything in guys like Raduev, Basaev, captain Dragan, like Arkan (recently died), like Kostenko (died in 1992) because the journalists live among commoners, are themselves commoners and they write for commoners. For the commoner, Raduev is a crackpot.
The Chechens are a small people, who made fighting instinct the principal platform of their national character. This is why among them fighting instinct is more often present. Their warriors are not only those who were born warriors, but Chechen society also educates warriors, produces them. Our society on the contrary tramples even those who were born with a fighting instinct. The society of the future, the civilization that we want to set in place of the sticky disgusting disgrace that happens on Russia’s territory would have to preach, propagandize, prefer and educate fighting instinct. Not to maintain a huge, lazy, sweating army, running for vodka across fences, but to create a possibility for the use of fighting instinct for those who were born warriors.
How did I write it in the number 151 of “Limonka” in “I have a dream…?” That’s how I wrote it:
“Will we produce weapons? Of course, we will. We will wage wars. But not those like before, not front on front. Our people will infiltrate their territories, familiarize their people with our way of living and ideas and the healthiest and strongest among them will become our people, our nation. And afterwards our forces will invade and finish off those who disagree. We will need land. The frozen Russia was captured by the claws of uncreative stupid administrators, poor of spirit. We will have to leave Russia, to build a nest on the fresh central lands, conquer them and there put the start of a new unseen civilization of free warriors, united in an armed community. Roaming across steppes and mountains, fighting in southern States.”
And for that we will need in abundance people with fighting instinct. Those who don’t have it will do other things, perhaps less honorable.
The existence of such unordinary people like the Chechens or the suddenly broken out Iran revolution (that refuted in 1980 all the theories of “progress” and a united civilization) or the Taliban movement, or the suddenly armed forces of “God’s children” appeared in Burma, where the tiny twins Johnny and Luther – leaders of this children’s crusade – all this phenomena shout and scream: the world doesn’t want to be homogenous! It is not homogenous. The world was forcibly driven into shackles and blocks of the western civilization. Victories over the civilization of the greedy protestant ascetics (I just see these vampires in suits and hypertrophied Adam’s apples) are possible. There are victories, there will be more of them. We will demolish this ant-like cold world of submission, people with fighting instinct didn’t stop appearing on this planet.
Note: As I was in the process of the description of general Raduev’s stay in cell No 101, I was interrupted. I was taken out of the cell and as usual, hands behind the back brought by hallways to the investigator Mayor O. A. Shishkin. There I was awaited by my two lawyers and a few investigators. They took two samples of my writing, i.e. I wrote two dictations: in French and in Russian. Afterwards, in another office, a huge Kalmyk investigator conducted a confrontation with the accuser on my case, the traitor D. K. As I came in, I saw on the chair a broken boneless person from liquid clay. According to the Quran the first man was made out of clay. It was like there wasn’t a single bone left in him. He was like a worm. Not only he didn’t look on me. His entire body stretched away from me. To the side, up and to the right he was bend, taking the eyes as far as possible from mine. He would have liked I think to sit with a box on his face. The being that I saw can also be compared to a dripped candle. He gave false testimonies that exonerated his clay. With a dull zombie voice. He was, obviously, beaten and terribly scared in the city before his bringing to Moscow. And he became a worm, this myopic guy, who looked like an eternal student, on the first congress of the party he sat with a baseball cap. He wrote in “Limonka” bold, heroic articles under the pseudonym “Oprichnik”. And here is the oprichnik who lies, slanders the Party’s chairman, affirms, that I, supposedly, ordered him to find and to get a set of arms. The oprichnik spreads like a worm on the chair. Humanology is a science that doesn’t stop to surprise you.
Returning to my cell in the evening I continued to write about the general Raduev. And I was ashamed, even at a distance before Raduev from the second floor from the cell 101, I was ashamed in my cell 24. Ashamed for the worm oprichnik, who has his living eye in place, who didn’t have to support the top of his skull, half a night waiting for the doctor or death. The Fighting spirit of the Chechen turned out to be higher than the fighting spirit of the NBP member, and I am their general, of these boys. I accused myself, that I did not warn them beforehand that “our people” would beat them terribly. By night however, I calculated that we had a draw with the Chechens. Since my first month-and-a-half I shared my cell with a powerful psychopath, who intensely “nightmared’ me. Voluptuously he hissed: “You will curse the day you were born, they will kill you slowly, they will hunt you down, you will lick the toilet with your tongue…” I understood that he was promised to take off a part of his term. After he was removed I learned that the same personage was put to a Chechen with the family name of Frantzuzov, who was involved in the preparation of the bombings, where, in what city, I don’t remember, he, I think, was the one who brought hexagen. The psychopath succeeded in “nightmaring” Frantzuzov. After a night of scaring (the psychopath like a boulder) Frantzuzov signed a sincere avowal – a “cleaning”. So in the moral contest with the Chechens it’s the NBP that has won. Because I had supported the nightmaring, I didn’t break. This is all fighting instinct and fighting instinct guys. Already in the morning I, light hearted, came back to general Raduev, to the description of his life’s fragments from the words of my cellmate, because I calculated that on the fighting instinct in prison with the Chechens we have a 1:1 score. I think that the administration of the isolation ward will never put me together with Raduev, so that I don’t get acquainted with a tribe with a high fighting instinct.
Eduard Limonov is a Russian writer, poet, publicist, and political dissident. He is the founder of the banned National Bolshevik Party and leader of political party The Other Russia.