Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pavel Grachev, Russian Commander in First Chechen War, Dies at 64, Sparking Poisoning Rumors

The Russian Federation’s former minister of defense, Gen. Pavel Sergeyevich Grachevdied near Moscow on September 23rd at the age of 64.

Shouldn’t take more than an afternoon, eh?
A veteran of the disastrous Soviet war in Afghanistan, Grachev had been deputy minister of defense under Mikhail Gorbachev in the waning months of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.), then the Russian Federation’s first minister of defense under President Boris Yeltsin, whom he backed during two failed coups d’état against him—one by pro-Soviet forces in 1991 and the second by the Russian parliament in 1993.

Pavel Grachev (1948-2012) (right) in (can you guess?) ... 1993, actually.
(Communist iconography dies hard.)
Most famously, Grachev was ridiculed for having claimed that the Russian military could reclaim the secessionist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria within a few hours.  The First Chechen War, which Grachev mostly commanded, ended up instead lasting nearly two years (1994-1996), costing tens of thousands of lives, and resulting in the de facto independence of Chechnya (which was brutally reclaimed in 2000 at the conclusion of the Second Chechen War, under Vladimir Putin).

“Okay, guys, off you go.  See you back here in a couple hours.”
Just for fun, we will note that the website of the radical Islamist separatist Caucasus Emirate movement, Kavkaz Center, has gleefully picked up on unfounded media speculation that Grachev was killed by poisonous mushrooms, eaten at a birthday party.  The official cause of death is acute meningoencephalitis, which can indeed be caused by some poisons.  The Emirate website theorizes that the ’shrooms were fed to him as part of a hit by Putin’s minions.  The website calls Grachev “a new victim in a long list of top Russian army generals, colonels and G.R.U. [Russian military intelligence] staff whom Putin suspected of plotting against his K.G.B. rule and preparing a military coup.”

Pavel and Boris share a tender moment.  Don’t make fun.
It’s a male Russian thing.  You might not understand.
Grachev was himself actually once involved in an assassination scandal, in 1994, when a journalist, Dmitry Kholodov, who had accused Grachev of corruption in connection with the Soviet military withdrawal from the German Democratic Republic (G.D.R.) was killed by an exploding briefcase.

I include this photo of Pavel Grachev because I have no idea what that flag in the background is.
Does anyone know?
[Also, for those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with a forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  Look for it in spring 2013.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.]

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