21.05.2000 | A. Kostinskiy, Memorial , Moscow

Dedovshchina and officers


After the analysis of much information on dedovshchina one can assert that it is more than a massive phenomenon in the CIS armies, it is the main type of interrelations among privates and NCOs.

This phenomenon appeared immediately after WW2, when some servicemen, having passed the war, having wounds and awards, were not demobbed after the war. Some of them served 6 . 8 years and they were called . deds. (. granddads. ). At the same time greenhorn recruits came to the army. All the routine work was carried out by them, while the . deds. relaxed. At that time such a distribution of work did not look unfair.

To understand in detail how this phenomenon evolved in time is difficult now, but this system flourished and developed later on and passed without changes from the Soviet army to the armies of the CIS countries. Yet, in the beginning dedovshchina was revealed in a rather mild forms and consisted of fulfilling the work of the . deds. by greenhorns. In the late 60s the situation with younger soldiers became much worse.

The result was massive and systematic violation of elementary human rights of first-year soldiers, as well as the abrupt deterioration of the quality of the army.

At present an opinion reigns that to get rid of dedovshchina the professional army must be created. However, this can be realized in distant future, if ever. The problem is what to do now.

We would like to draw attention to the most important questions which must be answered in investigating any criminal situation: who is guilty and who benefits from the crime?

We believe that the main cause of dedovshchina is not a . poor material provision. , not a . recruiting of criminal elements. , not a . general situation in the society. . the reasons to which military prosecutors and sociologists like to refer. The main cause lies in the consciousness and practices of army officers. The latter facilitate their life and duties, transferring the organization work in sections and platoons onto 20-year-old . deds. . Actually the results are asked from . deds. , disregarding the . pedagogical methods. of training first-year soldiers.

Is it possible to do anything without creating the professional army? There are precedents which permit to hope that it can be done. In the Soviet times the situation in the pre-Carpathian commandment was standard: soldiers of the first year of service were beaten and undernourished, as a result of which desertion and suicides were rather frequent. In summer 1982 Order No. 0100 of the Minister of Defense of the USSR was issued. This order was aimed at fighting with dedovshchina. The commandment undertook the following measures:

strengthening of special training at the expense of non-army works;

resuming criminal punishment for dedovshchina (division and army prosecutors were permitted to start several show trials);

sentry service was made to agree with the Articles of War, and it was forbidden to stay sentinel for more than 24 hours;

development, though it sounds unlikely and comically, of the systematic cultural work among servicemen of the both years of service, attracting girls from vocation schools; concerts and chess tournaments were held, the procedure of meeting relatives was made more liberal.

All this resulted in terminating dedovshchina after the demobilization of . deds. within two months. Certainly, first-year soldiers performed almost all heavy work, but cruel and degrading treatment almost disappeared.

The majority of first-year soldiers suffer mostly from cruel and degrading treatment. Nonetheless, having passed to the second year, almost all of them will degrade and torment greenhorns, thus continuing dedovshchina for new generations. The analyzed precedent enables us to hope that the situation can be drastically improved before the creation of the professional army. To this end, it is necessary to develop investigations both by the civilians and the military. Unfortunately, military sociologists and lawyers, who have accumulated immense experience, are not free in presenting their opinions. Moreover, they often present distorted facts and opinions.

Dedovshchina is decreased when the army has numerous contacts with the civilian community. This is convincingly confirmed by the fact that the most horrible crimes are performed in the military units isolated from the civil life, such as remote storehouses and separate small units situated in unpopulated areas. The intense interaction of army and civil structures will cause fast progress in the protection of rights and human dignity of first-year soldiers. Every side will benefit. Recruiting commissions will not have to catch deserters, young men will not so frequently dodge the army, because many of them like to go to the army to become . manly men. , but they are not eager to measure the barrack with the matchbox or jump on a chair between two rows of . deds. who urge them with belts.

The main obstacle for the suggested transformations is a prejudice that dedovshchina is the main support of discipline in the army. How widely is this prejudice spread, one can see from the following little fact. On 28 . 29 May 1999 a session of the Consulting Committee on army service was held and a deputy of the Russian Duma, a professor, also said that dedovshchina is needed for discipline.

Each generation passes through a meat grinder of dedovshchina, through the reality without the right. How can we expect political activity from men who took from the army the conviction that any apeal to law is vain? Such outlook excludes discussing political systems, the more so . their improvement. Does the impunity of the . deds. find its continuation in the theft and bribe-taking of our officials?

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