Training Range Tsygol - One of the Islands of Serdyukov’s GULAG

Recently attention of mass media and our was caught by protest actions. Next tragedy on the training range received very weak illumination in press. On the other hand, facts of use of call out as retaliatory measure or measure of intimidation of young men - participants of protest actions – have been received. In my opinion, it should be understood much more deeper: call out in general - means of instilling of slavish psychology both to young men and society.

Here you are one more sample of self-organizing "from below". It’s not the only one having relation to military service. Yesterday I found similar letter of other group of people. There were protests in connection with Ayderkhanov's death. All these don't find serious support of leaders and participants of protest movement. Theme of invocatory slavery practically doesn't enter "democratic agenda".

What do you think - why?

“It’s simply reports from war” - from a letter of soldier's mothers to the President of Russia about situation on the range Tsugol

Six regular soldiers died yesterday on the training range Mulino in Nizhny Novgorod Region as a result of explosion which occurred during ammunition stowage from a car on the ground. Three more got fragmental wounds and now are in medical institutions.

Despite numerous appeals of human rights organizations and public figures to stop use of recruits in works connected with utilization of ammunition they continue sending unskilled soldiers to the training ranges. Thus often soldiers are compelled to unload shells in awful conditions and in the absence of necessary safety precautions.

A series of tragedies on the training range Ashuluk didn't lead to basic change of situation as a whole. Explosion on the range Mulino unfortunately can appear not the last if the decision on absolute prohibition of use of soldiers in similar works isn't urgently made. Today every training range where regular soldiers work is a zone of high risk.

Parents of the regular soldiers staying on the range Tsugol of the Zabaikalye Territory wrote about it in the open appeal to the President of the Russian Federation from April, 28, 2012. (Full text of the letter you can see following the address:

Petition under this appeal had been started shortly before the tragedy on the range Mulino. Appeal is signed by more than two hundred people. The main requirement of those who signed - to stop use of recruits in works connected with utilization of ammunition.

“We, mothers of regular soldiers, ask you to pay attention to our plea for help, - is said in the open letter to the President of the Russian Federation. - Our children serve in the army, but were directed by the Ministry of Defence on utilization of ammunition. If our children are being called out for this purpose?”

Parents of soldiers in their letter described situation in camps on the range Tsugol where large number of soldiers works now: canvas tents for 40-60 people where soldiers live are placed in the open field, in April they are covered with snow, blown off by a squally wind of dusty storms.

Parents emphasize that the work of soldiers on the range is not practically different from slavish, as:

1. Work is dependent.

2. Unloading-loading operations can proceed for more than 12 hours per day with lunch break or even without it and even during night-time. Performance of plan is being demanded from the children.

3. Soldiers have been working for nearly a month without any hope of the end of change. There’s hope only for infinitely far demobilization.

4. Using only hands backs soldiers lift and move boxes with shells with the weight from 60 kg and more.

5. There is no possibility to have sound rest and restore forces. It’s stuffy in tents in the afternoon and cold at nights. Many are already chilled. Borzinsky hospital next to the range is already overcrowded. Living conditions are terrifying.

“The work is heavy, children are exhausted, sense of danger becomes dull because of fatigue. Not one month of this infinite work is ahead,” - is written by parents.

They also give the reference to a forum on a site Prizyvnik,info where parents of soldiers exchange information received from their children by phone with each other.

Here you are only few messages:

“Yesterday we unloaded 7 cars, we hardly reached our tents. A shell fell on a foot of one of the guys and shattered fingers, other one broke 4 fingers on a hand. Food is bad. Porridge in the morning and late at night when there’s only one desire – to fall asleep... There are no baths, for already 2 weeks we stay as dirty as pigs. Boys have been already started itching. Hope not to catch some disease”.

“If it’s possible to wait for the son from the army quietly? Boxes are rotten and break into pieces directly in hands of soldiers”.

“A son called yesterday. They had buckwheat, a piece of fat and gingerbread for supper. He told me that the food is ok, but he told about this "nourishing" dinner to a sister that they are being fed just to keep alive. The last time they washed on April, 15 – that’s all. If it is to treat people like this? They are cattle!! They are not even adults, but children!! According to messages of mothers, many are mentality stretched thin, wait a bit and accidents starts happening. How they can be helped? How to endure all this horror?”

“A brother called mom, they were brought after unloading and given 2 spoons of soup for dinner and supper. The clothes get tore on them and there’s no other available. They are going to strike.... What else could we do for them here?! I will write today letters to all e-mail addresses. From the president to military prosecutor's office. I am terribly afraid for the brother, I will start making fuss no matter how hard it will be for him. He still has 8 more months of service and it is excessively long term for staying on the range. He is 18 years old strong guy”.

In the letter parents specify that in the hospital there’s military personnel with injuries of limbs - shattered fingers of hands and feet, fractures.

“Chilled, hungry, tired, exhausted, sleepy, suffering from thirst, dirty, in the torn apart clothes. These are not bums. These are soldiers of the Russian army and our children. Who granted such right to somebody to scoff at our children? – soldier's mothers write. – For how long will use of recruits in utilization of ammunition proceed? If you want to receive the army which meets today’s requirements – teach recruits military science, instead of using them as cheap labor on unloading – loading operations! If you are not satisfied with a number of accidents which has been already happening in the Russian Army regularly? Recruits - not prepared for similar works either morally, or physically – aren’t suitable for this purpose. Enough to use mothers’ tears for patching of financial holes of military department!”

At the present moment parents of soldiers have been sending their appeal to the President of the Russian Federation to various instances and organizations.

Irina Kopoteva who signed appeal to the President of the Russian Federation in addition paid attention to the fact that there are several camps on Tsugol and it’s almost impossible to check conditions of soldiers in all of them.

“There’s an impression that camps are created purposefully to sow confusion, so that it will be difficult to find, to prove concrete fact to leave from control of public organizations”, - Irina Kopoteva wrote to us.

She informed that only one of tent towns is constantly visited by representatives of mass media and commission, while existence of others is being carefully hidden.

Appeal of soldier's mothers and information about situation on the range Tsugol was transferred on May, 3 to the device of Administration for Human Rights in the Russian Federation.

For reference: Mass media of the Zabaikalye Territory wrote about position of soldiers on the range Tsugol a year ago. Thus situation described last year is almost similar to today’s one. So, on May, 27, 2011 in the article of city portal of news agency “Chita.Ru” the following information was provided: “Soldiers, in fact, became … slaves. They carry one thousand tons of ammunition per day (three-four cars), work up to 2-4 o'clock in the morning. Food isn't organized. It’s possible to have only breakfast according to the schedule. Dinner – around 16-17 hours (if a car with products finds a place of stay of soldiers). Supper – after midnight, but soldiers don’t eat it as they flake out. There’s no water, soldiers are constantly dirty. They don't wash for three weeks. Totally insanitary conditions are created in the camps. Kitchenware is simply rinsed, household waste remains on place. Since April soldiers had no day offs”.

Then the press secretary of the top military commander of East military district Igor Muginov explained to the correspondent of news agency “Chita.Ru” who asked to comment information that matters of logistic and material supply were adjusted on Tsugol range, hot meals were organized.

“I was there literally two weeks ago – good field camp, good tents are constructed there. There are two camps in Tsugol now – at the station of unloading and on the range. There’s canteen there. When we were there, food was given in time,” — Igor Muginov told to the correspondent of news agency “Chita.Ru”.

To answer the question about the working schedule of soldiers the press secretary declared that no one can work for 16 hours per day. According to him, soldier go to have rest after unloading of echelon. There’s no work at nights at all.

Soldiers busy with unloading of Kamaz with ammunition refused to discuss events with the correspondent of news agency “Chita.Ru”, having told that their phones could be bugged.

О графике работы солдат пресс-секретарь заявил, что никто не может работать по 16 часов в сутки. По его словам, после разгрузки эшелона солдаты уходят на отдых. Ночью боеприпасы военнослужащие и вовсе не разгружают.

Vera Pisareva