W.P. Norton

Anne Garrels, Interrupted

In W.P. Norton on January 8, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Anne Garrels

Moscow, maybe 1994: Drinking coffee with Anne Garrels. Now, she was real down-to-earth, intense, curiosity-driven. We were talking about the first Chechnya war (she, I and this very young married couple who worked for AFP down there).

I never went to Chechnya and the only combat action I had seen as a reporter was in downtown Moscow in October of 1993, when Yeltsin sent tanks and troops to crush the parliamentary uprising.

Anyway, Anne was in the middle of this deeply involved anecdote about how the Russians were “shelling the shit out of this village, when –” and my friend Peter kept interrupting her with something off-topic.n

She kept trying to bring it back to her point. At least three more times, she got out the words “shelling the shit out of … “ but Peter wouldn’t let her finish. She never acted the least bit phased, though.

Peter later showed me mugshots of the faces of dozens of slain Chechen men, given to him in the field by people who hoped that the photos would be seen by family members for purposes of identification. That night, lying down to sleep, the faces of the dead appeared to me. Their eyes were nearly half open.


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