Issue #03/84, February 29 - March 10, 2000  smlogo.gif


Moscow babylon
Book Review
Other Shite

By Edward Limonov


Everybody’s talking about Babitsky’s cause. Mrs. Albright, Yavlinsky, Putin, French Senate, "bomzhi" on Kievsky train station. So I want to talk about him also. I have things to say. I met Andrei Babitsky in late summer 1999, just before Chechen invasion in Dagestan. We both were invited to participate in talk show, some make believe court proceeding. Widow of well-known dissident Kronid Yubarsky filled tele-law suit against Mr. Govorukhin’s Parliament Commission findings on first Chechen War. Mrs. Yubarski have accused Govorukhin of libeling Mr. Yubarski’s good name. According to Yubarski’s widow Govorukhin had claimed that Yubarski took Chechen’s side during war, that he wasn’t objective in his writings on the subject and was probably paid off by Chechens. Babitsky participated as widow’s witness of course, I participated in tele-drama as a Govorukhin’s witness, of course. Govorukhin himself wasn’t present, he was represented by Mr. Semago. Mr. Sergei Kovolev was also available, as well as Major Ismailov, known "exchanger" of Chechens on Russian hostages.

When it was my turn to testify and I took a witness stand, Babitsky suddenly interrupted my testimony. He was seating just behind witness stand in the first row. He said, "You, Limonov, should shut up, because you have taken arms, while working as a journalist." Babitsky also screamed, "It was easy to you to fire at innocent women and children..." He sounded very personal to me, although I believe that I met him first time in my life on that television show. I got angry and said turning to him, that I fought against an enemy even better armed than my side, and besides, that I risked my life every day. Three times I went into attacks, because of my conviction in justice of Serbs’ cause. Normally, I am modest and don’t speak much about my fighting experience. But Babitsky sounded nasty.

All that verbal fight lasted about couple of minutes, I doubt that it was included in final teleproduct, but what I felt after that, was strong conviction that Babitsky was disturbed about journalists’ behavior at war. It sounded too personal, that verbal attack on me. I am certain that he had some problems with his own behavior at war.

To the readers, who doesn’t know my background, I should say that I served as some kind of absolute beginner, precursor in profession of a war reporter for Russian young journalists. My first war reports from Serbian wars were published as early as in 1991 in Yugoslavia, in France and in Russia. I worked for Belgrade’s newspapers "Borba", "Politika" and "Nin" as well as for "Sovetskaya Rossiya" and "Dyen". Some Russian war reporters confessed to me later that they taught themselves to write, taking my war reportages as a model. Later I collected some reportages in my book "Assassination of a Sentry" and "Anatomy of a Hero".

So, I presume it was Babitsky’s hate-love to "father" Limonov what forced him to argue with me.

I will not try to guess, who arrested him and where Babitsky is now. Of course Russia is medieval country, with medieval police, medieval justice and medieval Army. Russian barbarism is sometimes charming, sometimes horrifying. WE are just little bit less barbarians than Chechens are, that is why they have won First Chechen War.

I am trying to figure out what was Babitsky’s decision what he made after that teleshow, if he made any decision. Shortly after he moved to Second Chechen War. I believe that after our verbal battle he felt easier. I believe that Babitsky desired to be like Chechens, at least to be like me. Just recently one of television channels have showed a video, where Babitsky, unshaved, bearded, wearing a sheep-fur shapka, sits on the floor below window, then runs as a mad, forcing camera in mocking attack. Exactly as Chechen warrior but unarmed. It is also useful to remember about existence of such thing as "Stockholm Syndrome" where prisoner getting to the point of identification with his captors.

I think if he is still alive, Russian authorities will let him go. That story is undermining Mr. Putin’s image worldwide. Russian authorities have made a political mistake in punishing Andruisha Babitsky for his drive to be like Chechen warrior or Edward Limonov on Serbian fronts. Political mistake is evident. But on human level those rude, square, red-necked Russian generals, full of cabbage soup, pork fat and vodka, have proved a presence of unmistakable instinct. They smell an enemy, they know that that guy did it. They feel that Babitsky is guilty, as Hungarian border officer knew that I am going from war.

Also, one should remember that such thing as a hate to Motherland exist. Genial poet, but also fine psychologist Charles Baudelaire in his "Les Fleurs du Mal" have a poem about exiles (including Mark Ames and Matt and Kevin) with such lines:

"What is forcing us ahead?

Some moved by the Hate of Motherland"

Participant of all democratical groups for last 10 years, Babitsky evidently hates this side of the front. And this side of front is Motherland. That why he fires from another side.

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