Staunton, May 23 – Dedovshchina, a Russian term which describes the way more senior soldiers treat more junior ones and typically organized along ethnic lines, has decreased since the length of draft service was cut to one year; but it has not disappeared, only changed its form, Anton Shcherbak says.
The lawyer who coordinates the activities of the Soldiers’ Mothers of St. Petersburg, says that dedovshcina has been in large measure “transformed: now we often come into contact with systematic use of fore by fellow draftees but by those serving as contract soldiers or career military personnel” (currenttime.tv/a/dedovschina/31262595.html).
“When guys served two years,” he continues, “the commanders of sections were draftees as well and dedovshchina came from them. Now, the commanders of sections are sergeants, professional contract soldiers who in the same way ‘educate’ soldiers.” In some cases, officers above them promote this illegal practice.
Only if some inflicts a serious injury on another soldier is he likely to be charged and punished. And many officers in fact protect those who engage in dedovshchina and are inclined to punish instead their victims. If the latter are forced to leave service, they may even be given a notion on their military record calling into question to their patriotism.
Shcherbak describes numerous cases of dedovshchina new and old and also the way that the military treated those who were part of them, something that provides clear evidence that the command’s claims that this plague is a thing of the past are clearly overstated if not outright false.
He tells the story of one soldier Ilnur Adashev who was beaten to the point by one of his fellow soldiers that he could not function. Commanders agreed to move his abuser to another unit, but word came that friends of the abuser knew where Ilnur was serving and would seek him out and beat him as well. After that, the victim felt so bad that he attempted suicide.
After that, he asked for psychiatric help. His commanders weren’t all that willing to help him and when he finally was able to see a military psychiatrist that individual told him he was “a traitor” for seeking to avoid service but finally agreed to sign a declaration that he was mentally handicapped and could not continue to serve.
But the final indignity was yet to come. Everyone who serves in the military is supposed to be given a simple military ticket; but Ilnur’s officers illegally included details on his travail thus ensuring that he would suffer from dedovshchina not only while he was in the ranks but even after he left them.