Eric Bouvet, war photographer – Chechnya, may 1995
Interview excerpt from The Guardian
“It was unbearable. Two crazy weeks and the most unbelievable story I ever did. I was with a Russian special commando. They were torturing, killing and raping. I saw them do it, and I couldn’t stop them. Someone of a normal constitution can’t accept that. I was working on the edge.
This is the morning after a night that left four men dead and 10 wounded. It was heavy fighting, and I was very afraid. I discovered a dead Chechen four metres from me when I got up in the night. You see movies, you read books, you can imagine anything. But when you are in front of something, it’s not like the movies. We started out as 60 and came back 30 – one in two people injured or killed. I was lucky.
As soon as it was light, I took pictures. This is the first thing I saw. The guy with the bandage on his head has lost his friends. He has fought all night long. I don’t feel pity, but at the same time they took me with them and did everything to protect me. Without them, I couldn’t have done the story. I was the only witness. It’s very complicated.”
Chechen men from a village rounded up for the infamous “filtration camps”
Chechen hostages, such as this one, are taken, interrogated under torture and then executed by Russian special forces of infiltration and intelligence. Source: worldpressphoto.org
For two weeks, Eric Bouvet accompanied Russian special forces of infiltration and intelligence on their mission. Using night-glasses to see in the dark, they occupied strategic positions behind enemy. Source: worldpressphoto.org
For more on the filtration camps go here “War crimes” (testimonies from French editor Sophie Shihab, Russian journalist Andrei Babitski and Emma Gilligan’s book “Terror in Chechnya”)
Babitsky’s talks about his detainment at the filtration camp in video below