For a long time the holy grail of online gore was a video known either as “The unknown Russian soldier” or its more common name, “chechclear”, which depicts, up close and in living color, a young man gasping in pain and terror, a Chechen jackboot perched upon his head. In short order and without warning a large knife is plunged into his throat, slicing outward, splaying his neck into a large red blossom. The horrific scream that chokes into a bubbling gurgle stays in the mind far longer than the actual act.
As the US entered into the war in Iraq, a new type of tape became commonplace, the beheading. These propaganda videos almost all started with the accused relaying their crimes (real or implied), usually of the nature of providing aid or comfort to the American or resistance forces. A group of masked men would stand behind the victim, reading a statement until such time as a blade was brandished and the condemned was drawn to the floor as the executioner used the blade to end the life of his prey.
These acts are, as they sound, horrific beyond words. Why do some wish to see them? What do we gain from seeing the misery and anguish of others?
Of course, I cannot speak for others, only myself. For me, it is a means of confronting both evil and mortality, to see for myself things that will hopefully forever remain outside of my life. As a creative type, I need to understand these situations for future reference. No pleasure is gained from these viewings, only a better knowledge of humanity.
But there is one thing I have seen that sticks out in my mind, coming to me in my dreams, appearing as a shadow behind my normal vision, never allowing itself to leave my thoughts. This is a thing so horrific and brutal that words fail me when attempting to describe the horror and brutality it displays.
The feelings of empathy that flow through me as I watch these moments bring a heavy and sullen feeling to the air, the weight of doom and despair that certainly was felt by those present at these actions. This is a tape of such unconscionable behavior that I can literally feel my beliefs in the underlying good nature of people die within me.
Before getting to the tape proper, it is best to understand the context of what is happening on screen.
A group of rebel Chechens, led by Salautdin Temirbulatov crossed into the Republic of Dagestan, in an attempt to rout out the occupying Russian forces. Temirbulatov’s group came across a village being defended by a sparse group of 13 Russian conscripts. Upon realizing they were greatly outnumbered, 7 of the soldiers fled, while the remaining 6 continued to fight. Once they had run out of ammunition, they surrendered themselves into a promised POW status.
The tape opens with the six soldiers laying on the ground, face down, the one furthest to the right is straddled by a Chechen soldier, who is sawing at the neck of the soldier, leaving his twitching, gurgling body to lay face down in a spreading pool of thickened blood.
The other five soldiers do their best to ignore their friend’s plight, totally aware of similar gruesome fates that doubtless await them. Shortly thereafter the leftmost soldier is assaulted, stabbed in the chest and shoulders to subdue him before running his throat out as well.
The cold eye of the camera moves in for a fetishized closeup as his skin turns ashen from blood loss. The lack of oxygen slows his movements and reflexes, and we are left to watch the exposed trachea struggling to pull in air, a high-pitched whistling ushering forth from the gaping maw opened by the blade. The Chechen pauses to wipe the soldier’s blood from his blade onto the hand of the dying man.
The remaining three lay motionless, wondering when their turn will come. The Chechens carry on as if nothing unusual is happening, even occasionally laughing to one another.
Number two is told to stand, while someone runs over to deepen the wound in six’s throat, as he is not bleeding out sufficiently fast. He still struggles to raise himself from the ground, but the pain and weakness are beginning to overtake him and he fades in and out of consciousness as the blood continues to flow.
The second soldier is pulled off to the side, about 10 yards from his dying comrades and is kicked to the ground, a Chechen brandishing a large knife stands above him, making fervent attempts to slice at the side of the soldier’s throat. The soldier cowers and blocks until covering his head with his hands and crying for his mother. The camera cuts away as the rebel strikes home with the blade.
The camera pans back to the lineup of soldiers, pausing to zoom once again on the wide opened throat of number one, who is slowly moving his hands towards his head, while lulling from side to side. We see the gathering rebels standing around the crowd of dying soldiers, some pointing and laughing, some carrying on about their business.
Now the camera pans back to the second soldier who has been separated from the group. A small puddle of blood has formed under him, but it is apparent that his injuries are not life threatening. A second rebel comes to finish the job and the soldier pulls himself up as the man moves to cut. They struggle briefly and then the Russian charges from the scene. We do not see his fate, but are led to believe that he was shot in the back during his escape.
The next is pulled and separated from the remaining soldiers, begging for his life. He points out where some weapons are hidden and attempts to appeal to his captors. I provide below a translation of the next part, provided by a user at the Ogrish Forums named Warlord47, the provider of the tape I am describing. His translation helps to describe the horror underpinning the events as they unfold:
Kid laying on the grass ….
Chechen with the knife “Turn around”
Kid moves abit sideways ..
Chechen off camera “LAY DOWN!”
Chechen takes the knife out and bends towards the kid ..
Aleksey Lipatov “You dont need to cut me..I’ll tell you everthing..”
Chechen with the knife “what are you gonna tell me?”
Chechen off camera “Go ahead talk …”
Aleksey Lipatov “I’ll tell you where its located”
Chechen off camera “Where is it located?”
Aleksey Lipatov points towards a hill with houses “There in that house”
Chechen with knife “What ?”
Chechen off camera “What is in that house?”
Aleksey Lipatov “Weapons and ammo”
Chechen with knife “Where ? In that house?” and points
Aleksey Lipatov “Yes from there”
Chechen with knife looks at his combatant
Chechen off camera “Hes lying … ”
Chechen of camera “Lay on the ground”
Chechen with knife “what else you have to tell us?”
Chechen off camera “Where are the weapons!”
Aleksey Lipatov “what ?”
Chechen of camera “The weapons and the ammo”
Aleksey Lipatov “ON the top of the mountains”
Chechen with knife “where ?”
Aleksey Lipatov “There on top” and points.
Chechen with knife “Are you sure?”
Aleksey Lipatov “Yes, yes”
AK shots fired …
Chechen with knife backs off and he doesnt want to cut .. feels sorry for the kid “What do you want me to do?” in chechen.
Chechen of camera “Just cut him”
Aleksey Lipatov “There its right there” and points.
Chechens yelling “Leave him alone and come back!” .. a bunch of them yelling at once.
Gun shots fired from AK.
(The kid if fucking LAYING waiting to be cut … I dont get it … RUN BOY!!! )
Chechens keep yelling “leave him the alone ….come back already” (they are reffering to the other kid that ran)
Chechen with the knife “Turn around”
Chechen “take off your belt”
Chechens of camera “Come on cut him up”
Aleksey Lipatov “You dont have to”
Chechen of camera “just cut im up already”
Aleksey Lipatov “You dont need to, please …”
Chechen scum hits him with the belt
Chechen “All right come on!”
Chechen with Adidas jacket “Hands back!”
Aleksey Lipatov “Please dont”
Chechen (Adidas) “Hands back!”
Chechen (Adidas) hits him in the face “I said hands back!!”
Gets hit with AK.
Chechen of camera “quickly, quickly”
Aleksey Lipatov “Please lets talk..”
Chechen with camera “HANDS BACK! you fuck”
Chechen “fuck the belt”
Rifle hits the kid
Chechen of camera “Just fucking cut him already!”
Aleksey Lipatov “Please I dont want to do ” … they wrestle
Aleksey Lipatov screaming” I DONT WANT TO DIE! PLEASE!”
Chechens “cut him”
Aleksey Lipatov crying
Aleksey Lipatov “I DONT WANT TO DIE PLEASE!! you are very good people, please!”
Camera man “Yes, we are very very good people…. THE BEST”
Chechen “get the knife”
Chechen punches the kid in the head a few times
Chechen with the knife “Stop fucking hitting him”
Camera man “You gonna live in the grave city”
Aleksey Lipatov “MOM! MOM!”
Camera man “torture him”
Aleksey Lipatov “I WANT TO LIVE!”
Camera man in sarcasm “He wants to live!”
Aleksey Lipatov screaming .. 3 on 1
Aleksey Lipatov “Come on fellows … I just want to live”
Chechen “CUT HIM NOW”
Aleksey Lipatov “Leave me alone!”
Knife goes thru throat.
Aleksey Lipatov is kneeling while get butted in the head with an AK
Chechen with knife to the guy with the AK “What the fuck are you doing, fuck off”
Chechen with knife “Ill do this by myself!”
Cutting Aleksey Lipatov
Stabbing in the neck … over and over and over …. Aleksey Lipatov is no more.
The camera moves back to the group laying on the ground and zooms in for a closeup of the face of the next soldier as his head is pulled back and his throat slashed. He has a very low blood pressure, so we see the contortions of agony in his face as throws his body and rolls around, neck ripping wider with each passing moment, until he too lays motionless.
We never see the death of the sixth, but we do see his corpse.
The video ends with the soldiers’ corpses being unceremoniously dumped into a shallow grave.