- Press Release No. 35/1303
Barabash is a small town in the Far Eastern Region of Russia. And there's Military Unit No. 24776 which should be disbanded. Many times we published complaints of parents whose children served in the unit. Boys from many regions get there: the Chelyabinsk and Perm Region, Ingushetia, Sakhalin... Young soldiers were savagely beaten and maimed. Last winter we were applied to by the family which had received the ‘cargo 200' (see press releases: No. 85/1228 of September 18, 2009; No. 91/1234 of October 8, 2009: No. 94/1237 of October 14, 2009; No. 05/1273 of February 9, 2010; No. 07/1275 of February 16, 2010). The conveyor goes on and on. This time we were applied to by the mother of Vladimir Novik, who had escaped from the unit located in Barabash because he had no other way out. Vladimir's letter reads:
"I, Vladimir Vladimirovich Novik, was drafted to the army by the Poronaisk Military Commissariat on November 13, 2009. On November 15, I arrived at the assembly camp, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. There we spent 4-5 days; then we, 33 conscripts from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, were sent to the Knyaz-Volkonsky camp, Khabarovsk. Then, we were sent to the model Communication Battalion, Volochayevsk Town. I was surprised by the cleanness of the place and by the good treatment on the part of soldiers and officers. Officers and sergeants took care that there should be no hazing or violence.
At the end of April, 11 of us were sent to Barabash Town, Khasansky District, Primorsky Region. When we arrived at the place, they made us hand over all of our personal belongings, including cell phones, photo albums, etc. We never saw them again. The master sergeant told us that our things were in a safe but he ‘did not know its location'. At the morning assembly, the majority of the senior soldiers were from the Caucasus Region, we had to hand over our belt badges and to exchange clothes. The officers present were just watching and sneering.
In the barracks, I had several conflicts with soldiers from Tuva and Daghestan but I was not in despair. I knew that only six months were left, and senior servicemen were gone. When I joined the army, my hair was brown and I was a healthy guy. Now my hair is gray, and I feel that my health has worsened substantially. I came across the problem I was not able to settle down on my own.
On July 30, on our way from the medical unit a medical inspector and I were buying cigarettes. Near the shop we met two drunk soldiers from Daghestan. They started extorting money from the inspector. When he said that he had no money, they sent him to get it. I was left alone. They demanded that I give them money too. I tried to explain that I had no money. When they saw officers, they made me enter the entrance. It was my mistake to enter it. One of them told the other - in their language - to stay outside. The latter obeyed. When we entered, the first one resumed extorting money. I said that I had to go and tried to run away. He took me by the face and started beating my head against the wall. He would not listen to me. I evaded a blow, and he hit his hand against the wall. He got angry and took out a knife to stab me. I pushed him away and ran out of the entrance. The next day, his fellow came up to me and said that I had stabbed his friend and must pay 40,000 roubles. In a few days he repeated his threats and set a deadline. I had to get the money before the end of the week. He said that if I did not give the money, my mother would receive the ‘cargo 200'.
The deadline was coming up but I did not know what to do. So I decided to leave the unit. The choice was to commit suicide or to escape. Mother did not have such a huge sum. We applied to the soldiers' mothers but they did not help us. Then we applied to the commandant's office, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, but they did not help us either. My back aches, my nose is broken, my feet are rotting. I think my mother won't let my younger brother join the army. During the three months I served in the unit, many soldiers became runaways. They had no way out. Before then, I despised such soldiers, now I understand them very well."
Yesterday Vladimir Novik, who is now in hospital, was visited by a representative of the unit. He demanded that the soldier go back. Vladimir's mother, Marina Valentinovna Shigasheva, did not let her son go. She said, "We don't raise our children to be murdered or maimed in the army.
The mother and her son ask journalists to make their case public and thus to support their family in this difficult situation. For more information, apply to the press service of the Mother's Right Foundation.
In the Internet, relatives of the soldiers who are serving in Barabash confirm the facts described by Volodya Novik:
- Puschistik: "The serviceman who escorted my husband to the unit told that at the moment there were not many soldiers from Daghestan there because contract servicemen had been sent home. But still, Russians should not walk alone because soldiers from Daghestan take away everything - money, pea-jackets, badges!"
- Marina V.: My son has served three months in M.U. 24776 in Barabash. On May 8, after taking oath of enlistment, they were sent to the training ground, not far from Sergeyevka Village. They sleep in tents on wooden beds. They cover themselves with wet jackets. His clothes can't dry up because it's raining heavily in Primorye. No mattresses, no blankets. Many of the soldiers suffer from cold, high temperature and coughing. They are starving. There's no water. It's quite a problem to wash themselves, to wash dishes. Sometimes the soldiers are told to use pools but they would not obey. Their sore feet will recover but their living conditions... My heart is aching. It's not a war. Why do they treat our children as animals?"
- kind_uncle: "He told me nothing good about the training camp. Awful living conditions. No shower. They wash themselves in the river. No military training. They spend all the time working and digging trenches. The troop numbers 27 soldiers. Seven are soldiers from Tuva. They have knives and challenge even senior servicemen. Food problems. He's starving."
- Oksa: "Hello everybody! My husband is also in Barabash. He arrived there on May 23. He had two cell phones. He handed over one of them. The second one was found and taken away. But he manages to call me. Sometimes he asks to pay 50 roubles for his sergeant's call. He is waiting for the oath which will be held on 30 or 6 or 12. Then he will be sent to the training ground. No money, no cigarettes. We sent all this to him but apparently the sergeant took the greater part of everything. It's interesting that when we were at the post office, the employee told us that somebody had already sent money to the same sergeant. It's kind of business."
- assi1985: "My brother is serving in this unit. He arrived there from the Saratov training camp on May 21. He called two times. He told that the living conditions were bearable but everything was old and shabby. The place was not as good as Yelan or Saratov. He says that ‘demobees' can't go home because they have no money. Complete devastation. Officers don't care. Hazing. Cell phones are not permitted. He's hiding it."
- IraR: "In April, my son arrived at Barabash, M.U. 24776. On his arrival, he fell ill. They treated his pneumonia with nitroglycerine and his heart and kidneys failed. He did not take oath. Somebody signed for him when he was in hospital... Today I received his call. He told me that he was again in hospital. Spine problems this time. It's the third time he's got to hospital within 1,5 months. They are in the army but still... I know that our boys dig trenches from 5 A.M. till 1 A.M. I think they are treated as slaves. They are starving. My son lost 13 kg. No water. They use water from the river. They even drink it. Almost everybody has had dysentery."