Chechen Hell

On the front lines of Russia's brutal battle for control of the Caucasus

General Alexander Mikhailov clearly wishes he were somewhere else. "I had my fill of fighting these monkeys three years ago," he complains to us, as we wait in Mozdok, a military base three hours by plane from Moscow that is the nerve center of operations against Chechnya. There is no point in trying to make "whites" out of the Chechens, he says. What the republic needs is a "good old governor-general."

The choice of General Mikhailov to lead a group of journalists on a tour of Russian-controlled parts of Chechnya is an intriguing one. In 1996 he was chief spokesman for...

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