Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Girls in Ghillie Suits


Over the years, film viewers have been entertained by the "army of beautiful women" trope. There were Pussy Galore's Cement-Mixers in Goldfinger. Dolemite had his "all-girl army of kung fu killers." When Derek Flint returned from his post-Our Man Flint sabbatical, he found himself "in danger, in the Virgin Islands, where the bad guys are girls." The girls were an "international feminist conspiracy to depose the ruling American patriarchy with a feminist matriarchy." Now these weren't ugly Andrea Dworkin/Valerie Solanas/Hothead Paisan feminazis we're talking about here. They were go-go girls with grenade launchers. Years later, Quentin Tarantino give us Fox Force Five and the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad.

In both the '94-'96 Chechen War and the recent conflict between Russia and the Democratic Republic of Georgia, a "real-life" all-girl army of snipers made life hell for Ivan.

Reporting in Wired.com's Danger Room, Nathan White gives us "The Return of 'White Tights': Mythical Female Snipers Stalk Russians":
The Return of 'White Tights': Mythical Female Snipers Stalk Russians
By Nathan Hodge November 25, 2008 | 9:06:47 AM

Russia's top investigator is claiming that the Georgians employed mercenaries during their August war -- including female snipers from Ukraine and Latvia. Reuters reports:

Asked to list the nationalities of the foreign fighters it believes were involved, Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Prosecutor-General's investigative committee said: "America, the Czech Republic, Chechnya, the Baltic States, Ukraine and Turkey."

Bastrykin added: "There were also two snipers ... one from Ukraine and I believe a Latvian woman."

That sounds an awful lot like the mythical "white tights" -- the exotic female snipers of Chechen war lore who were said to pick off hapless Russian conscripts. As the story had it, these stone-cold, blue eyed killers were said to be from the Baltics -- or Ukraine. They were sometimes described as Olympic biathletes recruited as mercenary sharpshooters by Chechen commanders.

Writing in the UK Independent during the 1994-1996 Chechen war, Andrew Higgins observed:

From the very start of the conflict in Chechnya, Moscow has been unable to admit that the Chechens could possibly be fighting on their own. To explain the debacle, Russian propaganda has paraded a far-fetched collection of bloodthirsty foreign mischief-makers, including Afghan mujahedin, Ukrainian Fascists, Islamic fanatics, Chechen migrants from Jordan and, in a crude flourish that smacks of sexually frustrated barrack-room fantasy, female snipers from the Baltics in white tights.

Even the Russian Wikipedia page describes the "white tights" (Russian: belye kolgotki) as a "myth born in military folklore" that was picked up on in official propaganda.

This claim is also reminiscent of the case of Michael Lee White. During the war with Georgia, Russian officials produced his passport as proof that foreign agents had led or advised Georgian troops (Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also insinuated that the United States deliberately stirred up the conflict to aid Sen. John McCain in his presidential bid). The Wall Street Journal eventually tracked White down -- in Guangzhou, China, where he was working as an English teacher.

[ source : The Return of 'White Tights': Mythical Female Snipers Stalk Russians | Danger Room from Wired.com ]

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