Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

AP: Bitter Chechen veterans watch as Russia mourns sub deaths

Expand Messages
  • Norbert Strade
    Bitter Chechen veterans watch as Russia mourns sub deaths ASSOCIATED PRESS NESTEROVSKAYA, Russia, Aug. 31 — The grief that swept across Russia when 118
    Message 1 of 6 , Aug 31 4:31 PM
    • 0 Attachment
      Bitter Chechen veterans watch as Russia mourns sub deaths

      ASSOCIATED PRESS

      NESTEROVSKAYA, Russia, Aug. 31 — The grief that swept across Russia when 118
      sailors died in a submarine accident left Denis Kolpakov and the rest of his
      platoon in Chechnya baffled and bitter.
      ''Everyone is grieving for the sailors. As for us, no one gives a damn,'' said
      Kolpakov, a 19-year old sergeant, his weather-beaten face twisted by emotion.
      ''Two weeks ago, our company lost 14 men and who mourned for them? A colonel
      shouted at us and said it was our own fault.''
      Across Chechnya, soldiers seem angry and confused about why Russians were
      shattered by the loss of the sailors but say nothing about the thousands of
      soldiers who have been killed and wounded in fighting during the past year in
      the rebel republic.
      Sgt. Nikolai Terekhov, 20, echoed the opinion of many comrades when he said the
      loss of the sailors on the Kursk submarine was no different from the toll of a
      week of fighting in Chechnya.
      When word came of the Kursk, Terekhov and the other men in his unit stationed
      in a Chechen village drank toasts to the dead sailors. But mainly they mourned
      their own dead and talked about whether any of them would ever leave Chechnya
      alive.
      ''Every day, I only think about saving my own life and the lives of my friends.
      The submarine disaster seemed somewhat distant,'' Terekhov said. The war in
      Chechnya has strong popular support among Russians: They see it as a necessary
      response to the lawlessness and violence that spilled out of the southern
      republic after it gained de facto independence in 1996. Russian forces returned
      to occupy Chechnya last autumn.
      While it has seized much of the republic, the Russian military has failed to
      defeat the rebels and federal forces suffer daily losses. Some 2,700 soldiers
      have been killed and many more wounded in the past year, according to official
      statistics.
      And while their generals claim that the war is all but won, the soldiers face a
      desperate daily struggle for survival. Every night brings Chechen mortar and
      sniper attacks. Russian armored personnel carriers and trucks are ambushed in
      remote areas or devastated by bombs hidden by the roadside.
      ''For half a year, I have never been sure whether I would be alive tomorrow,''
      said 20-year-old Sgt. Andrei Dementyev.
      Russians were outraged by their government's initial indifference to the plight
      of the sailors on the Kursk, which was lost Aug. 12 in the Barents Sea. The
      anger mounted as it became apparent that the rescue effort was being bungled
      and offers of help from the West were initially rebuffed.
      Unlike the Kursk, which got huge media attention in Russia, the war in Chechnya
      has stayed mostly out of the media spotlight, partly because of public
      indifference. And after a botched 1994-1996 war in Chechnya, the government has
      tightly controlled information and sought to downplay losses.
      ''If you count the boys who died here, the entire nation should be mourning for
      a year without stopping,'' said Sgt. Igor Khapov, 20. ''But no one cares for
      us, nor pays us honor when we die. The commanders think that it's our job to
      die here.''
      Lt. Vladimir Vershinin, who looked frail for the leader of a reconnaissance
      unit and even younger than his 24 years, sympathized with the submariners.
      ''I feel awfully sorry for the seamen, they died a terrible death,'' he said
      with a slight stutter. ''But my soldiers are heroes just like them, although
      our commanders always reject my appeals to give them medals.''
    • Jan Mayen
      Dear all, ... reading this, I again wonder why the West was ever afraid of an army were schoolboys are being made sergeants! Best, Jan
      Message 2 of 6 , Sep 1, 2000
      • 0 Attachment
        Dear all,

        > Kolpakov, a 19-year old sergeant,

        > Sgt. Nikolai Terekhov, 20,

        > 20-year-old Sgt. Andrei Dementyev.

        > Sgt. Igor Khapov, 20.

        reading this, I again wonder why the West was ever afraid of an army
        were schoolboys are being made sergeants!

        Best,

        Jan
      • Michael Garrison
        Dear Jan & List, Nineteen was the statistical average age of the American soldiers in Vietnam. That this young man is a Sergeant at his tender age probably
        Message 3 of 6 , Sep 1, 2000
        • 0 Attachment
          Dear Jan & List,

          Nineteen was the statistical average age of the American soldiers in
          Vietnam. That this young man is a Sergeant at his tender age probably speaks
          more of the high attrition rate in his unit than his skill or experience as
          a soldier. I made Staff Sergeant during the first six years of my career
          (most of which was in Vietnam or the region), and it took another six years
          for me to make Platoon Sergeant- the very next rank up. For that matter the
          typical age of a newly commissioned West Point Second Lieutenant or Anapolis
          Ensign is 21.
          Unfortunately, such is the history and nature of mankind- The wars are
          always declared by the old men and fought by the young ones.
          Mike Garrison
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Jan Mayen" <jan.mayen@...>
          To: <chechnya-sl@egroups.com>
          Sent: Friday, September 01, 2000 6:17 AM
          Subject: Re: AP: Bitter Chechen veterans watch as Russia mourns sub deaths


          >
          > Dear all,
          >
          > > Kolpakov, a 19-year old sergeant,
          >
          > > Sgt. Nikolai Terekhov, 20,
          >
          > > 20-year-old Sgt. Andrei Dementyev.
          >
          > > Sgt. Igor Khapov, 20.
          >
          > reading this, I again wonder why the West was ever afraid of an army
          > were schoolboys are being made sergeants!
          >
          > Best,
          >
          > Jan
          >
          >
          >
          >
        • Mikhail Ramendik
          Hello! ... As far as I know, the positions of sergeant in the Russian and American armies are somewhat different. So it s not a full comparison. Yours,
          Message 4 of 6 , Sep 1, 2000
          • 0 Attachment
            Hello!

            >From: Jan Mayen <jan.mayen@...>

            > > Kolpakov, a 19-year old sergeant,
            >
            > > Sgt. Nikolai Terekhov, 20,
            >
            > > 20-year-old Sgt. Andrei Dementyev.
            >
            > > Sgt. Igor Khapov, 20.
            >
            > reading this, I again wonder why the West was ever afraid of an army
            > were schoolboys are being made sergeants!

            As far as I know, the positions of "sergeant" in the Russian and American armies
            are somewhat different. So it's not a full comparison.

            Yours, Mikhail Ramendik
          • janos@lobb.com
            I do not know how it is now in the Russian army, but in the seventies you had to report for army duty when you reached 18. That was the age when you became
            Message 5 of 6 , Sep 1, 2000
            • 0 Attachment
              I do not know how it is now in the Russian army, but in the seventies
              you had to report for army duty when you reached 18. That was the
              age
              when you became adult. Usually almost everyone was taken by the army
              at age 18. The drill started with a one month heavy duty physical
              and
              accomodation training. After the pass of the one month you took your
              oath in front of your regiment and your parents. That one was
              followed
              by a three month long drill where the emphasis was on to make a small
              bend of people - usually 8, a heavy gunner, an RPG man, five other
              man
              with AK-47 or AMD-49 and their leader - to fight and work like charm
              transfered in an APC. After this 4 months the next four months was
              spend to make three times three small bends, about 80 people to work
              as
              a unit with 9 APCs, three trucks.... After these eight months the
              bests could became sergants by virtue. The next two times 8 months
              were spent with any kind of shootings and participation in regiment
              level excesises. At the end of the first 24 months you surely could
              be
              a sergant and had the experience to lead a group of 8-24 into battle.

              The next 12 months folks could be sent to other region of the Soviet
              Union or to other Warsow pact countries. A man at age 20 has the
              best
              physical condition to fight, the best reflexes, the most
              aggressivity.
              So, the problem is not with the age. It is a Vietnam like syndrom as
              I
              see. We are being killed and we do not know when and why and we just
              want to go home. I am positive that a russian solder see the Chechen
              population as much russian as the american one saw the wietnamise as
              american. And we all know that Vietnam is far not America.
              János
              --- In chechnya-sl@egroups.com, "Jan Mayen" <jan.mayen@w...> wrote:
              > Dear all,
              >
              > > Kolpakov, a 19-year old sergeant,
              >
              > > Sgt. Nikolai Terekhov, 20,
              >
              > > 20-year-old Sgt. Andrei Dementyev.
              >
              > > Sgt. Igor Khapov, 20.
              >
              > reading this, I again wonder why the West was ever afraid of an
              army
              > were schoolboys are being made sergeants!
              >
              > Best,
              >
              > Jan
            • Mikhail Ramendik
              Hello! ... Actually one can be a sergeant in the Russian army at age 19 even in peace time, if one enters sergeant school. I stress again that a sergeant in
              Message 6 of 6 , Sep 1, 2000
              • 0 Attachment
                Hello!

                >From: "Michael Garrison" <MikeyGarrison@...>

                > Nineteen was the statistical average age of the American soldiers in
                > Vietnam. That this young man is a Sergeant at his tender age probably speaks
                > more of the high attrition rate in his unit than his skill or experience as
                > a soldier.

                Actually one can be a sergeant in the Russian army at age 19 even in peace time, if one
                enters sergeant school.

                I stress again that a sergeant in the Russian Army is quite different from an American
                one. The duties of an American-type master sergeant belong to "praporschik", roughly equal
                to an ensign. A "draft" sergeant is often a nearly randomly chosen soldier who was sent
                (or sometimes volunteered, although these schools are quite unpopular) to sergeant school.
                These sergeants have more duties but nearly no benefits, official or unofficial, over
                privates.

                A serviceman who stays after the draft time and is a sergeant is more close to an
                American-type sergeant.

                Yours, Mikhail Ramendik
              Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.