Incredible Tragedy

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In my review of Anna Politkovskaya's A Small Corner of Hell (April SR), I put the total number of war deaths in Chechnya at between 53,000 and 120,000 by the end of 2003 according to the latest credible estimate I could find.

However, I overlooked an even more credible estimate in A Century of State Murder? Death and Policy in Twentieth-Century Russia by Mike Haynes and Rumy Husan. This is a fascinating and invaluable book not just about Russia but also about the more general uses and abuses of 'facts and figures'. They put the overall figure at 190,000, 160,000 of them civilians - over 15 percent of the total civilian population.

This means that by now something like one in six of the civilian population of Chechnya has been killed since the first war was launched by the Russian government just over ten years ago.

Pete Glatter
London