30 september 2020

Central Asia news

Cruelty in the barracks in the regular Kazakh army remains a problem kept under the lid

11.10.2007 12:03 msk

Sergei Baranovsky (Taraz)


Whoever refuses to feed his own army will feed a foreign. This axiom remains true even now. Unfortunately, the army demands more than donations in the form of taxes. It also demands human sacrifices.

Kazakhstan adopted a new military doctrine a short while ago. This document is expected to up combat readiness of the army itself and prestige of military service in the eyes of the population. As things stand, however, the Kazakh army faces the same old problems beginning with corruption and ineptness and ending with cruelty in the barracks. Unfortunately, this latter has been fostering in regular armies of all post-Soviet countries.

Article 36 of the Constitution states that "Defense of the Republic of Kazakhstan is a sacred duty and obligation of its every citizen." Not everyone meanwhile is in a hurry to honor this duty. Why is that?

"I suspect that every young man would like to serve in the army because it makes men, physically and mentally," one Artyom, a former serviceman, said. "In the meantime, they would like to become men and true defenders of their Motherland which is of course different from washing somebody's dirty socks. Physical hardships are all right, as long as there is no humiliation..."

What was Artyom talking about? What socks and humiliation? Needless to say, the matter concerns what is known as cruelty in the barracks, a particularly ghastly system of young draftees' suppression by their elders. The phenomenon is so widespread that everyone has heard of it or even experienced it in the army.

When Danijal Ahmetov, a civilian, became the defense minister, the military itself was the first to voice the tentative hope that some grave problem of the Kazakh army might be brought into the spotlight now. Personnel is all, as everyone knows. The army is not an exception. It needs professional servicemen to function properly - and to do away with cruelty in the barracks too. Ahmetov in the meantime complains of certain shortcomings of the existing system of military education: military colleges are understaffed, its instructors lacking the necessary teaching experience and even knowledge. Teaching aids are obsolete.

Ahmetov calls for dramatic changes in the framework of military education. (Kazakh military budget in 2007 meanwhile is 74% larger than the year before." "We will spent 4.8 billion tenges on the system of military education in 2008," Ahmetov promised.

Cruelty in the barracks in the meantime is not even acknowledged. The impression is this phenomenon does not even exist.