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Disabled Veterans of the Chechen Wars - Conversations (3)

Interview with Valentin, 27 years-old, - voluntary conscript injured by a Russian mine during the second Chechen war -, conducted at the Cheshire Home in Moscow, 13 July, 2010

Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski

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Dedication

Pipss.org is grateful to Lilia Antimonova who translated this interview from Russian into English. A French version of this interview was formely published on the blog http://russiaviolence.hypotheses.org.

Full text

1PIPSS.ORG - I was interested to know how you got to Chechnya. Was it during the first or second campaign?

2Valentin – It was not a campaign, it was an antiterrorist operation.

3PIPSS.ORG - What year was it in?

4Valentin – 2001.

5PIPSS.ORG - How long have you been to Chechnya?

6Valentin – For nine months. On February 23, 2003 I was wounded. Therefore I am not a contractor, I was drafted – I went to Chechnya voluntarily, I applied to go there. There were no orders.

7PIPSS.ORG - Why?

8Valentin – Because, I wanted to believe in and test myself. Somewhere I was looking for romantics. In addition, many guys went there as well. I wanted to go and I went.

9PIPSS.ORG - What troops did you serve in?

10Valentin – Chief intelligence, a special mission unit of the General Directorate of the Ministry of Defense.

11PIPSS.ORG - When you went to Chechnya, what was you attitude towards what was going on in Chechnya, to the war?

12Valentin – I take it normally. The matter is that if the State would really like to – in my opinion, this is not only the problem of Russia - it is worldwide – what is happening in Afghanistan and everywhere – is not only a problem of the Northern Caucasus. If the state would like to cope with this problem persistently, if we are asked to come and perform some specific tasks, indeed, we need to implement them. And not when we make a step forward, and after we did this we are told: ”Step back” – as a result we mark time, it has taken for so long. We still have problems in the Northern Caucasus, and we do not know when it will be over. They are not interested in resolving the problem. This is my point of view, there is no way out. I have a feeling that, if we had World War II now, it would take us ten years to enter Berlin, or may be even twenty years. They are not interested. In principle, the same is with Afghanistan. They do not want to cope with it, the governments simply benefits from this - they use illegal money, money laundering is going on there. When we are established a task to go and make peace, bring order with people, than we will resolve this and the people will understand – those who are willing to understand. A bandit will always come out – we need to really combat him and not to pretend as is in our case.

“We were betrayed by the commanding officer”

13PIPSS.ORG - What did happen in Chechnya?

14Valentin – If this is what really happened, I believe that we were betrayed, we were betrayed by the commanding officer. But for his decision, I would continue to serve and would not get wounded. We were simply sent out (on February 23, Russia celebrates a military holiday), in other words, we were dropped from helicopters to a given square to meet the gunmen. We did not meet them. We were given three days and then we were to return in three days to the detachment location. However, as is usually the case, if we are dropped from helicopters, they are to pick us up back to the helicopters. However, due to the holiday…..

15This is what took place, we found ourselves in a situation when we reported to the company commander that the weather conditions were good, and suggested that they send helicopters to take us back; the commanding officer refused to send the helicopters for us. When we opened the map we turned out to have twelve kilometers, we were to cover about fifty kilometers including twelve kilometers through a mined field. According to his order we went though a mined field. First the prapokchik was blown up. We had to pull him out in order to evacuate him. Then, I was blown up. This is how this happened.

16PIPSS.ORG - What kind of wounds have you got?

17Valentin – I was blown up on our mine, in a mined field. As a result I have got a mine and explosive wounding of my leg, and I got blind on my right side. I do not see at all with my eye.

A defective medecine

18PIPSS.ORG - What did happen after the wounding? Did you get evacuated? Where?

19Valentin – After the wounding, when the helicopters were found, they came to pick us. The helicopters took us. They took the entire group. because, it was clear that if they continue to walk- and we just began to move on this mined field – prior to the blow we did not even know what kind of mines were there – the mined field was mapped, but we did not know what kinds if mines were there… After I got blown up, the prapokchik (warrant officer) was blown up, we realized how to work with these mines. Then helicopters were provided and we were taken to Khankala. I was taken to hospital to intensive therapy department. I got a heavy wounding; I spent five or six days there. After that I was sent to Rostov. I was first operated on in Mazdok. I had to go through nine operations, nine serious operations. Then I was sent to Rostov. I was in hospital there. I developed gangrene. I had to be cut off my fingers. Then I was sent from Rostov to Podolsk to a regional military hospital, this was near Moscow. It was an interesting story. The doctors were incompetent; they did not want to take care of my wounding. As a result they let my leg deteriorate. When I was taken there, I was told that the ankle will move more or less normal and that everything will be fine. However, after my arrived to Podolsk, doctors failed to give me the right kind of help, they did not have the right qualification which I needed. As a result I developed a strong fester. Here in Moscow and in Podolsk I was given three or four operations. After the operation, there was to be an improvement. One or two weeks passed, but I got another high fever of 40 degrees and fester in my leg. As a result, I had a talk with the head of the department: “Either you cut off my leg or send me to St-Petersburg to my okrug to my hospital. I was told that I was not well. I responded that, I got worse in the year. He said, “When the temperature gets back to normal, you will be transported.” My father came. He was taking care that I am sent to St. Petersburg, to my hospital. […] I went to Petersburg with a high fever of forty degrees having taken pills and pain killers on, my own transport.

20PIPSS.ORG - On your own?

21Valentin – Yes I was given a car to take me to the station. I went together with my father from the station: I was loaded and I went. I was found a place in St-Petersburg military hospital. I was lucky to get a good doctor. He was a leading surgeon during the first Chechen campaign in Groznyy. When he looked at me he was shocked. He was horrified by how unprofessionally everything was done. He looked at me and asked: “What hospital were you in?” I said: “In Podolsk, near Moscow.” He did not believe me. Because I had Illizarov’s apparatus. It was taken off in Podolsk and I was told: “Walk.” But I understand that my leg was not fixed, the bones did not knit yet and were moving. How could I walk? I would stand up and fall. They put the Illisarov’s apparatus back and the fester process went on because the pins, which were put in the leg in Illisarov’s apparatus, were not made out of stainless steel or gold (this would be expensive), stainless steel would be standard. What they invented in Podolsk that they put in regular steel pins which is strongly prohibited because blood gets oxidized, and it begins to rust from inside. This is what they did. Therefore I got a high temperature and fester. Because they put the wrong pins in my leg, it began to oxidize and the process went on. The hospital doctor in St. Petersburg said: “If you were taken three weeks later…” - because he examined me and literally in two days sent for an operation – “ if you were taken here later, you would develop blood poisoning, and no one knows what would happen then.. Not just the leg amputation, but the entire organism would be affected. There would be trouble.”

22I had to have my leg shortened five centimeters because the process advanced. The lower ankle got festered and I had to have it removed because nothing could be done about it. If it were taken care of immediately in Podolsk – because when I came to Podolsk, my leg was perfect – only the seams were to heal and I were to wait until the bones knit. However they did not do this but chose their own way of treatment. Therefore, I spent another six months in hospital with these problems. That is I spent a total of one and a half years in hospital. And then I was checked out from the hospital. The only thing they did not attend was my eyesight, and I did not pay attention to this - I had normal eyesight. When I was taken to hospital my eyesight was good – and literally after I spent one and half years in hospital and was discharged from hospital I loose my eyesight within two weeks. I have an inflammation in my right eye. Doctors – I was not accepted to the military hospital, because I am not a contractor, I did not sign a contract to serve; I was drafted - those, who were drafted, are not accepted to a military hospital. This is where the problem is; I have to be examined at a civilian hospital. What does a civilian hospital mean? If I were wounded somewhere at home this would be understandable. But when this is related to a mine and explosive wounding, military actions, I think this is also wrong. I think that as I serve in the army, the ministry was to get involved with this. Why was it done this way? I believe that someone benefited from this. After I was examined by a civilian doctor, he told me that I had an internal hemorrhage of my eye. They could not operate on my eye because, first, it advanced and, second, there is a high danger that it would affect my left eye and I loose my eyesight in both eyes, or the hemorrhage gets into my brain and I die. There were few options. They denied me. They said that they would not operate on me. So, I live with one eye, I do my best but sometimes I give up. This also affects my studies. We live in the world of computers and technology. One cannot get employed without having computer skills, writing a thesis or year papers also requires to have computer skills – I can spent only two or three hours at the computer and then I get a headache and my eye gets watery and hurts. I cannot tell this at the Academy. It would be useless. If I find a job, I will also have to work on a computer. I cannot come and tell the employer that I cannot work on a computer. I would be given the following answer: “Stay at home and get you pension, we do not need you.” Therefore, I do not wear spectacles on my left eye out of principle. Now I think that after I graduate, I need to get a diploma and correct my left eye. It does not make sense without this as the present is for computers.

The professional opportunities of a war invalid

23PIPSS.ORG - How did you find a job?

24Valentin – I will tell you how. I was checked out of hospital. I do not know how things are in France, but here it is very difficult to find a job. Neither the state nor private firms are willing to help. If you are lucky, you will meet a good person, who will employ you. On the one hand there are laws that guarantee employment, one is to be employed but they do not employ you. As a result I was employed thought my Dad’s contacts. I began to work.

25PIPSS.ORG - What kind of work did you do?

26Valentin – I worked as a guard. I guarded cars. I passed my exam to get a driver’s license. I will be honest with you; I bought a medical certificate to confirm that I am healthy. I did not see with my eye by that moment. I went and bought a certificate. I needed to have driver’s license. Otherwise I would not be able to get a certificate; no one would give it to me. I passed the exam. I bought a car. No one could guess. People asked: “Why are you limping?” - Well, I played football and broke my leg, stretched my leg, hurt, and so on. On one could notice my eyes. I had my eyes of the same color and now they are different, of a different color after the wounding...

27Everything has worked out. I found a job. All of a sudden, I receive a phone call from Moscow. I was at work at that time.

28PIPSS.ORG - Excuse me, how long have you been employed?

29Valentin – I have worked there for one year. At first I worked in one organization, at a construction company, also as a guard. But I did not like this. – I will not name the company – but this is an organization where bandits work. I realized that I should leave it because I was not ready yet to become a bandit. I quit and got employed by a good firm. A relatively good firm., it was not my life goal to work as a guard, but this job helped me during the first period of my life. While I was at work, I receive a phone call from Moscow.

« Dom Sheshira »

30It was not Iuri Ivanovich who called, not a call from Moscow, but from Leningradskii Military Okrug – a colonel from the military okrug called. He said, “If you would like to, there is an opportunity to study: receive higher education at the Moscow Cheshire Home”. To be honest, I do not like to study. I did not feel like doing this, this was not for me. I would do everything but to go to school. When I was offered an opportunity to receive higher education, to be honest with you I was against this from the very beginning. I was supported by my family. I had a job; I planned to buy another car because my car was old, since 1986. I have worked for one year and we could afford to buy a new car, take a loan. This is not related to work: think about going to Moscow again with my wounds. I thought I would never go there again. I got disappointed with Moscow. Yet - I needed to go. I said, “No, I will not go there.” After I received one phone call, there was another call from a military registration and enlistment office. I received a phone call almost every day asking or insisting on me. Finally, one day I come home, my parents have been persuaded and they began to influence on me that I go and study.

31I was not explained clearly what kind of home it was – the Moscow Cheshire home. I was told that I will study with disabled people. I thought that I will be taken to a retirement home to stay with elder people, and I will be alone among them. I had a different idea. If I were told that this was a home for veterans. But no one told me about this. We did not understand this. We gathered a lot of certificates, I were to collect many documents. Then I was forced to go, and I went. When I came here I understood the situation and I stayed there. I met Iuri Ivanovich. He is helping me to solve various problems.

A temporary disability status

32Valentin – In particular, here is another story. When I got a disability, I was not given a disability for life.

33PIPSS.ORG - What kind of disability group do you have?

34Valentin – I have group three disability although I am entitled to group two.

35PIPSS.ORG - Do you have an artificial limb?

36Valentin – No. Here is my leg. I do not have a limp. I do not see with my eye. It does not recover. My leg also got damaged. I should have group two disability. However, at the social security fund where they consider cases on disability, medical expertise, they decided that they need to save the money on me for the state to benefit. Obviously some corrupted official went on a vacation to the South with this money. It is not interesting – why should a person, who is really in need of money, be paid it when it can be spent to go somewhere and have good time. They gave me group three of disability, but not a permanent one. In other words, each year I should come for reexamination. In fact, I do not live in Petersburg; I live in Kolpino – the Kolpinskii district of the city of St-Petersburg.

37PIPSS.ORG - Is it far from the center?

38Valentin – Yes, it is far away. I had medical examination in my place by a total of four doctors. It took me three months to be examined. And then I was to go to the main commission. There, I also go through an examination, a general commission gets together and decided whether to give me disability or not. When I go there, they say:, “Young man, you were to have come already… - according to the deadlines, because if you do not come on time, you are stopped to be paid your pension until the disability is extended.” Here is what they say: “Young man, aren’t you too late? You were to be here three months ago.” I answer: “Take your documents with the records and see when I stated to go through the examination.” They said, “Isn’t it too long?” I answered them: “May be I need to star to be examined on the New Year so that I am on time by May”. I began to be examined by doctors on February and yet I was late. When I came here to study it turned out that I needed to go from school for examination. This falls to the period of an examination session. Naturally the teachers would not wait for me. However, this was significant for me – my pension is my major income.

Disability pension

39PIPSS.ORG - How much are you paid?

40Valentin – I am paid thirteen thousand rubles. This is a very small amount.

41PIPSS.ORG - Thirteen thousand rubles per month?

42Valentin – Yes, per month. Moreover, I pay transportation costs, for electricity, and water at my home at a privileged rate. This means that I have seven or eight thousand in hand. This is very little. I analyze and see how veterans are secured in America… When they are shown on TV – I agree that two or three thousand dollars which they are paid may be too little for them. I am impressed with the country which is not socially oriented but is taking care of them. Here, - they say, - We are a socially oriented state; we develop programs, ministries, institutions… However in reality we get nothing, this does not work in reality. And they do not want to give. There is a law but it does not work. Why does not it work? When you write to the ministry, they do not respond. There is no pressure level. When I look at the European countries, I get impressed. Both in America and in Europe they have got everything: they are provided with a pension and medications, and they are helped to find employment. Both the society and the state in general make them understand: we need you.

43PIPSS.ORG - Why do you think that the state does not care for you?

44Valentin – Our state? – No.

45PIPSS.ORG - Why does it not?

46Valentin – If you bring the talk closer to the Cheshire Home, the Program of the Moscow Dom Sherishera is supported by enthusiasm of Iuri Ivanovich and Sergei Alekseevich. Although this should be the function of state. However the government does not what to do this. Here deputies will come, someone else, they will see, well……

“[…] the drags of society”

47PIPSS.ORG - Why do you think the Russian state does not want to take care of you? Do you think that disability is understood as a weakness in Russia?

48Valentin – I think that it is understood not only in Russia but probably in the entire world. I do not think that this is a weakness. Why doesn’t in Russia the government want to take care of us? Because they do not want to care. This is probably because they do not need us. They probable take us for the drags of society. It is to their advantage to fly somewhere to Egypt, to Cairo, spent this money on leisure, which could be otherwise spent on ……. A lot of money got stolen, sent to nowhere. It was in the news two or three years ago: there was a flood in Siberia. Zubkov was Prime Minister at that time. Money was allocated but one and a half a millions got lost. This is funny to think how one and a half millions could possibly be lost.

49Now about the veterans. Where is the problem? Someone needs to financially support this house. But only if someone needs this. This needs to be organized. Let the businessmen come. I do not ask them for money. Now that I get my diploma. Who will employ me? Either they look for work experience. They will look at me and see that I am disabled. They will not pay attention to the fact that I am a veteran; this would be a plus. However they will see that I am disabled and chose the following approach,”, “Why do we need a person like him?” There are people who graduated with honors, with a red diploma. Such a person is paid nine thousand rubles, which is nothing. He got a diploma and cannot find a job. No one needs his knowledge. It appears that all is based on pure enthusiasm of specific two to three or four persons. I saw a program on RenTV. They showed a young man. He is a veteran; he is not even disabled as he was not recognized disability. Such things happen as well. But he was there and was given an award and told, “This is the end.” And he was not registered as a disabled person. But that person is paralyzed. They called on people. Some people responded, some businessmen donated money and bought him a wheelchair so that he could go out. He stayed in bed at home for three hundred and sixty days. His mother is old and cannot take him out. I give this example because the state does not accept this responsibility. It simply forgot about him, crossed him out? that is all. Here we gave an award to a person, he did something, performed a duty. Such people like I am are in fact a waste of some established goal. When they call on young people to go to the army, “Men, go and serve your duty for the Motherland, the state…” But I do not serve for the state, I serve for my Motherland. One reason why I went there was that I get very much irritated with explosions taking place at peaceful time, hold downs and terrorism. I am convinced that this is allowed by the sate no matter how sad this can be. I am confident that this is done on purpose, the state allows for terrorist acts to take place during peaceful time in peaceful towns, beyond the territory of the Northern Caucasus. We have all kinds of special services. How can this possibly be overseen that here in Moscow or when in England as well explosions took place, how explosions are allow to take place inside of a peaceful city. I think that this should not be allowed. If special services oversee this, they should be either shot, or put in prison, or killed. Because they allowed for this to happen, they should be responsible for this. And when the ministers set down and said: “Yes, we are responsible. We oversaw this”. You are paid to do this job, to guard the people and state. One reason I went to the North Caucasus was that I think there should be peace there. Unstable or weak, yet peace without violence and terrorism. This is why I went there. In addition, I believe in myself and my qualities. Overall, there would be many reasons why I went. In the past, many people refused to go. In the past, people were sent against their will. they put you and you went to the war. Now, a big step was made. There is a choice: I could either agree or refuse to go. I responded that I would go. This was a thought through voluntary decision without any pressure. I was impressed with this. I thought that many people, who refused to go, would be under pressure. There was nothing like that. Those who wanted to go, went. It turns out that we go; get wounded that that is it. The task is fulfilled. When I look at our politicians – they seem to say beautiful words everywhere: “We do many things”. We get nothing out of this in the end.

50Valentin - It is summertime now and many people have left but I am preparing for my thesis...

51PIPSS.ORG - What area is your thesis in?

52Valentin – Finance, Economy, and Insurance. The thesis is on the Specifics of the accident insurance market.

53PIPSS.ORG - How long have you stayed in the Cheshire Home?

54Valentin – This is my fifth year. The last year. I came to defend my diploma.

Battle allowance

55PIPSS.ORG - Were you paid any battle allowance?

56Valentin – Yes. I was paid.

57PIPSS.ORG - How much did you receive?

58Valentin – Around two hundred thousand rubles.

59PIPSS.ORG - What did you do this with the money?

60Valentin – I bought a car, bought my driver’s license – paid for the exam and bought a computer. I spent all the money. I was out of money. For instance, I live in a dorm with my family – I have my father, mother, sister and myself – we do not own an apartment. This is how we live. I do not know when I will get housing; this is unknown whether I receive it at all.

61PIPSS.ORG - Were you entitled to it ?

62Valentin – Yes, I am entitled to it by law. They are to organize this, but this is not done. […] Many people like I am, who do not have their own housing, live here.

Military awards and decorations : « […] Kadyrov was awarded ‘Hero of Russia’ »

63PIPSS.ORG - What awards were you given?

64Valentin – A state award the Order of Courage, the badge Maltiiskii Cross for military service in the Caucasus. That is it.

65PIPSS.ORG - When were you awarded them?

66Valentin – When I was in hospital, when I did not yet retire. It was fast. I do not know if Iuri Ivanovich told you this. Much time has passed but many guys did not yet receive any - they are entitled to them – the awards were recorded in the documents – but they have not been awarded them. Iuri Ivanovich is helping with this, he deals with this issue. Although President of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, was awared “Hero of Russia”. Why was he given this award? He used to be a gunman, and now he found his own path - to stay close to power, so that he is not killed, I think. This is an opinion shared by many people, who went to Chechnya. They think negative of him.

Back to civil life

67PIPSS.ORG - How did your friends from St. Petersburg meet you after all this was over – after the war?

68Valentin – They used to come to the hospital. My life – and not only mine, but probably the life of many veterans can be divided into stages. When I went to the Army, I was stupid.

69PIPSS.ORG - Do they think this way, or you think so?

70Valentin – I think so. The perception of the world is changing. When I was drafted I was eighteen. I got wounded at the age of twenty. At twenty-one, I retired. In other words, I was stupid, then I served during peaceful time, I got some experience. I left for Chechnya, and that was another stage: formation of a personality. Achieve something in life without help. Some goals came up. Loyalty – to say nothing of the state, I mean the motherland – a sense of patriotism to the Motherland. There were situations when I was ready to go and blow myself up. Not every person can think this over, go and cover a danger with one’s own body. This came to me at war. I began to understand that I am no longer an eighteen yeas old boy. Totally different opinions. Now that I am disabled, but if something occurs here - if one person attacks another person – I know that I will undoubtedly come to the rescue, even if I am killed. I do not exclude such a possibility. I will not stand aside. The youth now and not only in Russia, but in the entire world, is such that not everyone will agree to help. This is how it is now. My shirt is closer to me, I will go home, and if there is a murder or rape – I should not interfere. It is possible that I may defend someone but only when there are five of us, but when there is just one person against three or four persons, even against two if they are armed with a knife, not everyone will defend. This trained me.

71When I came – my friends already served in the Army – and we keep a contact, but the perception of the world is different. It differs. I do not share a position that I would like to be paid millions. I want to have a good job so that I could provide for my needs, my family, if I get married I would provide for my child: own an apartment, car. I have everything. With many of my friends: the more money they have the better. They are good people, they can come for help. Indeed they are friends but they are not companions, it was long ago since we communicated.

72PIPSS.ORG - Are they still you friends?

73Valentin – Yes, they are still my friends however the relations are …. There is a barrier. Because I got experience, and they did not get such an experience. I am not interested in going out to clubs. This is not because there is nothing to do there, but because I am not interested in this. I mean disco, parties, night clubs. I do not go there. I can dance without going there; I used to go to ballroom dance. I am not interested in this. People get drunk and begin to hit each other without any reason. This is dull. People sit with glassy eyes. Many of them have money, the golden youth. But they do not have much experience in anything. Their Dad or Mom did everything for them. But I lead my own way. My Dad also served in the Army, in the Navy. Before I got drafted, he called on me and said: “Look, you have two options. We are not going to help you escape from the Army, we will not pay money”. I responded: I would not like to escape. “There are two options, either you go to the army through contacts to study to become an officer, graduate from a higher Navy school, or go and serve in the Army.” I said that I would go and serve in the Army. Then he asked me: “Why don’t you want to enter the navy school, you will study for five years, receive higher education, and you may continue to serve”. I responded with a joke at that time. I said: “I will better go serve in the Army for two years than I have to study in the Academia for five years.” Later, after the wounding we met and had a talk. I said: “Dad, how do you imagine it if I went there? I know that you have contacts at the school, the head of school. Can you imagine that if I knew I entered there through contacts, I would make use out of this and graduate with your help? I would not respect myself this way. I would like to go my own way.” I will not become President of the country; they will not let me to become one. But to keep an enterprise, manage it… But only if I go the entire way on my own from the beginning until the end. Only if I am given an opportunity to do this, and strive for this. But they do not provide me with such an opportunity. I count for; hope that I will cope with this. And I know that I will do this on my own. When I have children, I will also advise them to do on their own. I do not argue that help is needs. But not that kind of help when I come and say: “Please give me some money because I am disabled”. Not this way. “Please give me a push, find me a job. I will earn money for an apartment, a car. Please only provide a green corridor for me. Now many people just want money. I do not need this. I would better earn them. Give me an opportunity to find a good job, as I got higher education and what shall I do with it? Shall I become a yardman? Then it is better not to work at all. Shall I return to security? I am at a different level now. Why shall I study for higher education then? But for the higher education, I would go and work as a guard, then as a yardman, if things get worse. One gets an education in order to develop. But when people establish barriers for you, obstacles - it is the most horrible thing. These are not ordinary people who establish barriers, but it is the state, to begin with oligarchs and then all the details – the State Duma and Government. They do not care for this, they do not pass laws, nor do they enforce, or regulate.

“[From the state] now I expect nothing”

74PIPSS.ORG - What do you expect from the state?

75Valentin – Now I expect nothing. I did not expect anything long ago. I have lost trust with them since I got to Chechnya. Having observed how we are betrayed some specific individual are responsible for my blow up and wounding. However, if you look at the mass… What can one expect from the state if our native country is selling armaments to all the gunmen? These are also facts although some people try to hide them. I believe that all normal commanders and generals have been removed... Some of them were blown up, others were killed. There are one or two good war generals left, who may demonstrate something. There are not any left. All the rest were removed, or destroyed. This is obviously because they had much information. How can one expect anything from the state? We will not wait to get anything. They do not benefit from this; they do not want to deal with this issue. They are selling out the country and will keep selling it. I will not be surprised to hear if Russia falls into separate states, as Rus used to be. Moscow will become a separate principality, St Petersburg – another one. The entire Russia will be looted. That is all. Therefore, no one expects from the state. Only negative is expected. I believe no one of our politicians and figures. If they would like to. they could change everything long ago. They do not want to do this.

“Here is Moscow […] You go out and all the time you are in danger”

76PIPSS.ORG - I have got two or three more questions. Are you suffering from memories and dreams about the war, about Chechnya?

77Valentin – I would not say that I am suffering. I cannot state that the time spent in Chechnya was totally negative In fact; I really liked to be there, because it was my own family of men, openness, was all were for each other and none betrayed or sold. This is the most important thing. But for the wounding and If I had another opportunity, I would return to Chechnya and would go to the Northern Ossetia, and to some other the places of hostility. Because…. The state is small, the Chechen Republic has a small territory. We had a company of thirty persons. All as one big family, we stood for each other. Here is Moscow; St-Petersburg is another huge area. However there is not effect of being protected as a human being. You go out and all the time you are in danger. One admits that none will come to the rescue. But there you may walk safe.

78PIPSS.ORG - Yet, here there is no war.

79Valentin – Why do you think that there is no war here? There is a war. A war is not only when they blow up and kill. Here the war is also on for a survival. Here at peaceful time – and not just us – but the entire world is fighting. There is just no shooting. And this is good, thank God. Let the violence of hostility stop everywhere. People would life and help each other. It would be better if there were no division into countries – third world countries, developing countries and so on. We need to help. There is hostility in Afghanistan. What will be next? Stop it. We need to develop local people. They grow poppies there. And if we come there, they would kill us. Then other people would come and the same would go on. We do not develop the infrastructure. Then we become surprised at why drugs get to Russia, to France and England. This is because all the governments and the states are interested in this. If they were not interested, they would put an end to all this long ago. Why should they if big money is turning there? The problem is in the following: everyone is temped by this money. Although money is nothing, a piece of paper, we are tempted by it. There comes a crisis all of a sudden. Where does if come from?

80PIPSS.ORG - Did you feel you need to see a psychologist?

81Valentin – No. Psychologists would come to see us.

82PIPSS.ORG - When was it ? Was it when you stayed in hospital?

83Valentin – Yes. When I was at hospital. I distrust psychologists. When a young girl psychologist came, she brought us a lot of tests. We began to take them. It takes up to two hours to take them.

84PIPSS.ORG - Were they written tests?

85Valentin – She asked me, I responded, she was taking notes. We talked for two hours, she exhausted me, she tormented me. She left, returned two days later and said: “You're all sick, you should get help”. I did not expect to hear a different response from a psychologist. Now if you go to the Army, you are considered to be ill. It was not like that in the past at the soviet time. At that time, one could not be considered a normal person if he did not serve in the Army. We lost this now. We are now destroying the Army. Now if one serves in the Army, that person is considered to be ill, and if one does not serve - he did well, he is a respected person.

86They see what purpose a psychologist comes with. If he or she comes to help… Sometimes it happens to me when something wrong comes to my mind, but, say, I have a rather strong feeling of fairness. I am for justice. If I do good for a person, I expect that that person should also do good in return. It often happens here that you do good but then receive a stab in the back. I find a way out of such a situation myself.

87PIPSS.ORG - How did you react when the woman psychologist told you that you were ill?

88Valentin – I said : “Yes, indeed I am probably ill. I am probably out of my mind.” She laughed and left.

89PIPSS.ORG - In other words nothing happened? Did she return?

90Valentin – No. It does not make any difference to me what she thought and said. These are her problems. She may be out of her mind herself.

91As for rehabilitation, I did not get any rehabilitation. When I came for operative investigation, I was asked if I would like to have rehabilitation. I answered, “Please explain to me what rehabilitation means.” I have no idea: I came, left, spent much time in hospitals, and then I got on my feet. Is it what rehabilitation is? How does it look like? There are programs on rehabilitation on TV, you tell me about it as well…. But none here went through it. None was offered anything. I understand it as a kind of a sanatorium treatment.

92PIPSS.ORG - Did you ask to be sent to a sanatorium?

93Valentin – No, I did not ask for this. I was given some options; however with a sanatorium everything is highly corrupt. There are not places at a good sanatorium, or you are asked to pay for it. I am entitled to it; they should provide me with this. However, think of going away from home, from Petersburg two or fifty kilometers away, in other words, I may go to the Ladogskoe Lake for fishing and resting, and so on. However to get to normal centers - Social Security Departments decide this – they try to benefit from this. They have many relatives who need treatment urgently. A system is such that if you are in need, you are said to either pay for this or places are not available there.

94PIPSS.ORG - But were you entitled to rehabilitation free of charge?

95Valentin – I am entitled to this but I did not get it. I did not use this right. After I became involved in studying in Moscow, I have not time for this. I was only offered to go somewhere near St-Petersburg. What can they offer there? It is expensive, however to go somewhere to the south.

96PIPSS.ORG - Did you go somewhere for rest on your own?

97Valentin – Of course I did. I went fishing. I also went to the Ukraine to see my relatives. At my own expense. In general, everyone does this. First, there are few rehabilitation centers in my opinion; there is no need for ordinary, average ones. There are few good one. It is a problem to get there. It would be normal if I am told: “Go next month, on that date. Please choose one out of three or four centers.” But when they say: “You should go to that particular center, and give you a lot of papers”… It will take two or three months… I do not need such a sanatorium. I would better get in the car and go where I want to.”

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References

Electronic reference

Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski, « Interview with Valentin, 27 years-old, - voluntary conscript injured by a Russian mine during the second Chechen war -, conducted at the Cheshire Home in Moscow, 13 July, 2010 », The Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Societies [Online], Issue 14/15 | 2013, Online since 31 December 2012, connection on 25 March 2017. URL : http://pipss.revues.org/3990

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Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski

PIPSS.ORG / CERCEC

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