- Press Release No. 07/1150
Today on January 15, the Khanty-Mansiysk District Court of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous District-Yugra finished the case filed by the Mother's Right Foundation on behalf of a dead soldier's mother, Tatiana Vladimirovna Tikhon. She raised her son alone. Now, when some time has passed, she tells that she did not want him to join the Army, because she ‘had a premonition of trouble'. But Anton was willing to serve in the Army. When he was called up on June 5, 1998, he did his best to join the Special Forces and thus joined military unit No. 6761 (Special Forces Detachment No.15, NCD, IF MIA, known as the Armavir Special Forces). On September 5, 1999, Anton's unit was sent to Daghestan under the command of Colonel-General V.G. Kazantsev. Deputy Commander-in-Chief was Major-General N. A. Cherkashenko. It was Cherkashenko who worked out the plan of capturing the height with the help of the Armavir Special Forces, and it was Kazantsev who approved the plan. (It took them one day to work it out.) On September 10, 1999, the generals sent the boys to battle with their communication devices discharged thus exposing them to the attacks of our aviation.
We should remind you how it all happened. On September 10, 1999, the Special Forces detachment under the command of Major Yashin took the height and had to fight with the outnumbering enemy. The group was sustaining losses. Because of the bad weather, the aircraft had no chance to help them to annihilate the enemy. After some time, Major-General Cherkashenko ordered Major Yashin (who had reported that they were surrounded by the Chechen guerrillas) to leave the height and move away following the planned routes. Major-General Cherkashenko had no full information on the situation and was not able to grasp its emergency, but nevertheless he changed the whole of the plan thus breaking the rules of the Field Service Regulations and the Staff Operations Manual. In the course of withdrawal, the group divided into two subgroups but their intercommunication with the detachment was interrupted because of their ‘run down' communication devices. So the members of Special Operations Forces (Spetsnaz) could not send a message that they had met the guerrillas' desperate resistance and were in wait hiding on the slopes of the mountain. Cherkashenko supposed that the group had already reached the mountain foot. No one bothered to verify the situation. According to the ‘plan', Russian aviation bombed the slopes were the group was hiding... As a result, 9 members of spetsnaz were dead and 23 were wounded. Among those dead was Anton Tikhon. The message of his death was received by Tatiana Vladimirovna's husband who had divorced her long time ago. He called her on September 17, 1999 and asked, ‘Where shall we bury our son?'
Cherkashenko, author of this worthless operation, was found guilty under article 293 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code (negligence). Then he was granted an amnesty and thus escaped any penalty. Some of the parents, whose boys were killed in this battle, appealed to the Mother's Right Foundation. In 2002, we won the case of compensation for Stanislav Vlasov's death. This case was a precedent. In 2004, we won the compensation to the mother of the deceased Alexander Slesarenko. Anton Tikhon is the third killed member of the Armavir Special Forces detachment for whose mother we filed a case of compensation.
The interests of the mother of the deceased were presented by the Mother's Right Foundation lawyer, Tatiana Sladkova. The trial has been going on since November 13, 2008. At today's session, she substantiated the claim and demanded that the Ministry of Finance should pay compensation for the guilty actions of an official of the RF Ministry of Defense. The Foundation lawyer reminded the audience that Anton had been Tatiana Vladimirovna's only son and after her divorce she had been raising him on her own. Six months passed after her son's death and only then Tatiana Vladimirovna came to the unit, where her son had served, and got to know that he had been awarded the Order of Courage. None of the officials could tell her where was the Order and why it had not been given to her. The mother was in a long-term correspondence with the RF Ministry of Internal Affairs in her search for her son's Order. In the long run they told her that the documents ‘had been lost'.
Tatiana Vladimirovna spoke at today's court session. She spoke with tears trickling down her cheeks: ‘My son Anton...was... the meaning of my life... Anton was only four when, after my father's death, I had to move to Kazahkhstan to take care of my sick mother. My husband would not follow us. Antosha was a quiet, clever, and jolly child. He was fond of music and drawing. I was always proud of him. I wanted my husband to come and see our son. ‘I was able to arrange that my son should have served not far from our place. But he was not willing to. He was never afraid of anything. When Anton was called up, he called me from Tyumen and told me that soon they would select servicemen for the elite Airborne Forces and the Special Forces. He was eager to serve in these forces. I offered him to come back home, but he certainly refused to. Son was sent to Rostov-on-Don for the training camp and then to the Armavir Special Forces detachment. In 1999, I visited my son. We spent three days walking together around the town. Antosha asked me, ‘Mother, shall we go to the restaurant when I come back home?' ‘Sure, Antosha.' That night I was to go. Antosha was allowed to see me off but the train was late, and he had to return to the unit. He kissed me, got into the car, and was gone. I followed him with my eyes for a long time. If I could have known that I'd never see him alive again! His kiss is still burning on my cheek. I can't see war films and boys in military uniforms. My heart is bleeding every day and I still can't believe that my Antosha is gone!
‘I still can't grasp the fact that our boys were killed by the attacks of our aviation. Every day I accuse myself of not protecting my son. I did not want to go on living. One night I went to the cemetery, cried and fell asleep there. It happened on the eve of the 2002 New Year, and then I felt that somebody seized my hand and shook it. I woke up - nobody was beside me. I realized that it was my son, who did not want me to die. I asked him to come back because I could not live without him. Some time passed and I saw a night dream in which he was standing on crutches. (During the battle he lost his foot and died because of blood loss. No one was able or wanted to help him. His wounds were not lethal and for five days he was just lying and dying. When he saw his fellow boys, he smiled and died - his strength was gone! I learnt all this in the unit.) In my dream, my son said, ‘Mother, you should not suffer because of me. I'm fine!' I started feeling better and was no longer seeking to die... But my wound is still bleeding and that will last as long as I live... I will never forget our last phone talk on the eve of the events. When we talked on September 5, I asked him, ‘Antosha, won't they send you there?' He said that he would be transferred to the Reserve Force. ‘May be I should ask your commanding officer not to send you anywhere?' But my son would not let me do it. On September 11, I called to the unit and got to know that the boys had been sent to Daghestan. I asked, ‘What am I to do?' They answered, ‘Wait for letters.' Instead of a letter, on September 17, 2:00 A.M., I received a phone call. It was my ex-husband and he asked me, ‘Where shall we bury our son?' I don't know how I could survive my grief... My son was everything to me. I still can't admit my talking about him in the Past Tense.'
‘Some officials were to speak after the mother. They were not able to speak against satisfying the claim. Alexander Sergeyevich Zimenko, Leading Lawyer of the Khanty-Mansiysk Commissariat, representing the Ministry of Defense (quite a rare case, though everyone should behave the same way) expressed his condolences to the mother of the deceased. A representative of the same Commissariat, Julia Petrovna Nabieva, asked to hurry up with making a decision, because it was painful for the mother to attend the court sessions. They expressed their hope for a just legal decision. Only one defendant, the Ministry of Finance, raised their objections: they thought that it was not her son's death that caused the mother's health deterioration. However, the representative of the Ministry of Finance did not come to court to announce his position, and the court considered that he had no valid reasons for his absence. The representative of the Ministry of Defense also did not come. And the Ministry of Finance ended their objections with consent to satisfy the claim of the Mother's Right Foundation; the compensation sum was the only reason for debates. We claimed that they should pay 19 million roubles (we don't think that it's too much for the death of the soldier who paid his life for the generals' mistakes).
After some discussion, judge Sergey Nikolayevich Voronin satisfied the claim of the Mother's Right Foundation ordering to pay the mother 1 million roubles.
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