Reporters on the Job
WHAT DEADLINE?: Ilene Prusher filed her story a little late today. She and her interpreter, Lutfullah Mashal, traveled south to Khost for today's story (page 1). But she needed to get back to Kabul in order to file. And it wasn't an easy trip. "The roads are not paved for at least half the way, and we had to keep stopping for herds of sheep and their colorfully clad kuchi [shepherds]. Then we had a flat tire," Ilene says. "We left Khost at 1 p.m., but didn't arrive in Kabul until 7 p.m."
Then, she discovered there was no electricity, and her computer batteries were about finished. Then there was a minor earthquake. (They're fine.) "If it weren't for the fact that the mountains are so beautiful and that one of the warlords presented me with a bouquet of yellow flowers after our interview, I'd say this was a reporting nightmare," Ilene says.
CHECHEN MYSTIQUE: Reporter Fred Weir has never come face to face with a Chechen fighter, but it's hard to miss their larger-than-life mystique in Russian society. "Russia has over 100 minority groups, 20 of them have their own republics. But there's no other minority in Russia that attracts so much tension, anxiety, and fear as the Chechens do."
The rationale for this view lies in Russian history. "The Russians have always ganged up on [Chechens] in battle situations, and have usually been beaten nonetheless. Although Russia has conquered and occupied Chechnya for a century and a half, they've never beaten them."
A friend of his is a Russian Army interpreter who spent six months in Chechnya during the 1994-96 war. "He told me being in Chechnya was the most terrifying experience of his life," Fred says. "He says basically what the Army does is man the blockades during the day, and huddle in their bunkers at night. The Chechens own the night."
David Clark Scott