By Edward Limonov
Galina Strovoitova, heavily-build woman of 52, have died, killed by three bullets in her head on the dirty floor of staircase of her apartment building in St. Petersburg. Media said that in her person politician was killed. No, an ethnologist was killed.
Starovoitova have made her PhD on peculiar subject, "Problems of enthnosociology of minority ethnical group in modern city" in 1980. Minority group of her work were Tartars, living in Leningrad. For 17 years she was paid by Academy of Science, where she worked at Center for Studies of Interethnic Relations; first at Leningrad's branch, then in Moscow. In the beginning of the 1980s, she have participated in expedition in Nagorno-Karabakh, which was a part of Soviet-American project on study of longevity. IN 1987 Starovoitova moved to live in Moscow to work in main office of Center For Studies Of Interethnic Relations. Politics, as a matter of fact were a brief episode of her life, while interethnic relations became a destiny of Starovoitova.
In 1988 Starovoitova, together with Sakharov, have participated in struggle for liberation of Mr. Manicharov, one of the leaders of "Krunk" committee. Known as Karabakh's Committee, group, calling for Armenian annexation of Karabakh. In 1988 Galina Starovoitova have made frequent trips to Armenia and Azerbaidjan, trying to implement her own project of settlement for Armeno-Azerbaidjani conflict. We know that full scale war between those two "republics" have started in 1989. Probably as a consequence of Madame Starovoitova's understanding of interethnical relationships.
Herself she presented her candidacy for a deputy of Soviet Union's Supreme Soviet. From what district you might guess? From district N 393 of Armenia, city of Yerevan, capital. Amongst points of her program were: the right of nations to self-determination, call for such amendments for Constitution of Soviet Union and constitutions of "republics," which will strengthen republics sovereignty, call for a halt to assimilation of Armenians living outside of Armenia, call for a solution of Karabakh's problem on the ground of right to self-determination. The other points: revival of Armenian nation, dissolution of special task forces, democratization. Predictably, with such a program, ethnologist Starovoitova was elected on May 14th, 1989, with a score 75.09%!
But on June 14th, 1990, only year after, Starovoitova participated in Leningrad's elections for a post of "Narodny" deputy of Russian Republic. Why? She in-advance knew that Yeltsin will abolish Soviet Union in 1991? Her Armenian electorate have been angered with her, because of full-scale war in Nagorno-Karabakh? Her official biographers are silent on that subject. However, she winned in Leningrad with a score 74.07%!
In August, 1991, Starovoitova is in England. In her speech on BBC she incited the West to impose economical blockade on Russia, because of GKChPists attempt to overthrow democrats. Indulgent for minorities, Starovoitova was hard on Russians. The years of work with small ethnic groups made her a minorities-lover and a hater of its own people?
In 1991-2 Starovoitova is an adviser to the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet for interethnic relations. In 1992 she was appointed as an advisor on the same matter for President Yeltsin. She is in the summit of her career. Some politicians speak about Starovoitova as a prospective Minister Of Defense. Suddenly in November 1992 she was dismissed from her post. She is not amongst the deputies of Duma in 1993-1995. Only in December, 1995, she returned to parliament. On April 26th, 1996, Central Committee for Elections of Russian Federation have declared that 592,792 signatures from 1,160,000 collected for Starovoitova as a candidate for Presidency of Russia were invalid.
It is visible to you, reader, that sharp decline have occurred in career of Starovoitova after November 1992. What happened then shortly before November 1992? Answer is: growing tension in relations with a newly independent de facto Chechen Republic. Russian Army entered zone of Ossetian-Ingush conflict and came to the border with Chechnya. Chechen tanks came to meet Russian Army, the situation was highly explosive. Only after personal meeting of Gaidar with Vice-President of Chechnya, Mamodaev, armed conflict was dissolved. Galina Starovoitova have participated in Gaidar's efforts, but she went far ahead, she established warm relationship with Dudaev himself. She called for recognition of independence of Chechnya by Kremlin. President Yeltsin didn't like her uninvited initiative at all. He was mad at that lover of minorities. Love of minorities was now out of mode in Russia. Starovoitova was ousted.
Six years later she falls to the dirty floor of apartment-building with three bullets in her head. Curiously, next to her lays young man named Ruslan. Despite the family name Linkov, Ruslan is a name adored by Chechens and Ingushes. Another interesting detail: President of Chechen Republic sends his condolences to Prime Minister Primakov because of Starovoitova's death-very unusual gesture for any Chechen, not speaking of Mr. Maskhadov.
Who have killed Galina Starovoitova? Third-rate politician on decline she wasn't so important as to pay for her killing to highly professional killers. More believable that all her life dealing with ethnic problems, ethnologist Starovoitova have fell victim of ethnically motivated killing. Some unhappy Karabakh, Azeri, Armenian or Chechen have butchered an ethnologist.
Or else: young Ruslan, 27, was a principal target?
Editor's Note: According to an article by Vyacheslav Izmailov in the current issue of Novaya Gazeta, Galina Staravoitova was heavily involved in negotiations for the release of a pair of Russian hostages held in Chechnya by what is considered the most ruthless grupperovka operating in the region, headed by Ingush bandit Khasmat Tochiev. Tochiev has reportedly been operating in the area since 1994, and is suspected in the kidnapping of President Yeltsin's special envoy to Chechnya, Valentin Vlasov, and the murder of his aid, Akmal Saikov, as well as the kidnappings and murders of scores of journalists and others. Tochiev has even found mothers of young Russians that he's killed and demanded ransoms to return their corpses.
On August 1st of this year, Tochiev's gang kidnapped two young Russian recruits in Narzan, Alexander Glinsky and Sergei Leontev. The gangsters found Glinsky's adopted mother, Lyudmila Glinskaya, and demanded several thousand dollars from her in return for her son. When they learned that her husband had left them at a young age and they had no money, Tochiev told her to contact certain people in Ingusetia who could point out to her where they'd buried her son's corpse.
Through heavy intervention-including that of Starovoitova-Glinsky was freed a week ago last Sunday. Starovoitova is also said to have been instrumental in the negotiations of freeing three other hostages, including a thirteen year old boy, Andryusha Latypov. Izmailov ended his article by noting that during his recent travels through Ingushetia and Chechnya, scores of natives asked him to write in Novaya Gazeta that the people of Chechnya and Ingushetia share the Russian peoples sympathies over the loss of Galina Starovoitova. M.A.