Ethics in Leadership

Speaker opens humanities symposium

By AUTUMN GROOMS | La Crosse Tribune

Dr. Khassan Baiev was a surgeon stuck in the middle when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Russian soldiers accused him of being a traitor as he tried to save Chechen fighters. Islamic extremists did the same when he treated Russian soldiers.

Pressured by both sides in the ongoing Chechen wars, Baiev was granted political asylum in the U.S. in 2000 with the help of Physicians for Human Rights.

“I always looked at the wound and the person needing my help,” Baiev said Monday through an interpreter. “A doctor should not be political. We should go help those who need our help.”

Baiev opened “Immigrants and Refugees: The Global Movement at Our Door” Humanities Symposium Monday night at Viterbo University. The event, which includes discussions, speakers and films, continues through Wednesday.

“It is very important for me that American readers learn more about Chechnya and the people of my country,” Baiev said. “Unfortunately, some Americans do not know Chechnya and what is taking place there.”

Baiev said Chechnya once was a beautiful country with universities, libraries, museums and a population of a million people.

But 13 years of war have ravaged the country, ruining landmarks and scenery and killing approximately 250,000, including 40,000 children.

“Everything is destroyed,” he said.

Baiev recounts his history as a surgeon at war and tells of his native country in his book, “The Oath: A Surgeon Under Fire.”

He is a human rights advocate who has been honored by Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, and Amnesty International.


Autumn Grooms can be reached at (608) 791-8424 or

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