24 November 2017, Friday, 17:50

Vadzim Kabanchuk: There Can’t Be Effective Army Under Lukashenka

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VADZIM KABANCHUK

The army is a mirror image of the Belarusian state.

Vadzim Kabanchuk, one of the founders of the Zubr movement and the Krai organization, and now a volunteer in Ukraine, laureate of the National Human Rights Award named after Viktar Ivashkevich for 2016, said that to Charter97.org commenting on soldier Aliaksandr Korzhych’s death in Pechy.

– Today, Belarus is discussing the conscript’s death in Pechy. Thanks to independent media, new details of the Belarusian army realities are revealed. Tell us, are such situations possible in the Armed Forces of Ukraine? Can you compare the Belarusian and Ukrainian armies?

– When a country is at war, such cases are simply impossible. The servicemen are armed and will not tolerate such mockery. And secondly, the Ukrainian army has changed a lot. This is not an army of 2013-2014, today most of the servicemen are volunteers. The people who consciously have chosen to defend their homeland, not in peacetime, but during a military conflict, are qualitatively different from conscripts. The officers are very different, too.

The Ukrainian state itself had a great influence on these changes. Undoubtedly, the Ukrainian army is a legal successor of the Soviet Army, but Ukraine has developed in a different way, not like Russia or Belarus. A great emphasis was placed on history and patriotic education. So it turns out that the Ukrainian army is different from the Belarusian and Russian ones, although Soviet weapons have remained. But the fact is that you can give the best weapons to an unmotivated army and it will simply scatter.

We saw this during the Second World War, when the Wehrmacht launched an offensive against the Soviet Union. In the first months of the fighting, entire divisions scattered. The movement away from the enemy was stopped by special detachments and barbarous orders, such as: "On measures to strengthen discipline and order in the Red Army and the prohibition of unauthorized retreat from combat positions" or, simply put, "No step back!" The retreating and captured ones were declared "enemies of the people," the persecution of their families started. These anti-retreat units existed until the very end of the war. Not a single army has fought that way. Our people suffered such losses that the authorities are still afraid to call the real figures of the victims in the Second World War.

– It become known that the state media used to call ensigns from Pechy "a commander's dream" and "soldiers’ fathers". What do you think, did the higher officers know about hazing in Pechy? Who really should be responsible for this crime?

– By no means, everything is known at the level of a company commander and battalion commanders. Maybe the brigade commander did not know every soldier personally, but he was perfectly aware of what was going on in his unit. The middle-ranking commanders (lieutenants, captains) certainly were on top of the issues. After all, all that has its roots in the Soviet Army, when the commanders shed all the responsibility to sergeants and ensigns. They were busy with keeping the unmotivated army in the "iron fist".

Let's answer the question: "What is the Belarusian army?" This is an army in which no one wants to serve. The majority of recruits are those who have not managed to enter higher education institutions or have not been able to collect enough money to "evade" the army. So it turns out that they are not the most educated people, not the ones who would meet modern challenges. Certainly, there are a lot of good, educated and worthy people, worthy commanders and officers. But the system itself is a legal successor of the Soviet one, with all the consequences that come with it, with problems, bad orders of the commanders, such as "to arrange snow in cubes", what, as far as I know, and was popular in Pechy.

So it turns out that the commanders, trying to keep these people under control somehow, who often absorbed the yard and criminal traditions, have brought them into the army.

– Why do you think the Belarusians have taken this case so hard, for such situations have already taken place.

– Because thousands of Belarusian families have collided with this system. Maybe in other places hazing is not as tough as in Pechy, but it takes place in many military units. Therefore, there is such reaction. You know, it's like steam, which accumulates, and then there's an explosion. But everyone should understand that the Minister of Defense, the unit commanders, and the commanders of the middle level will not solve this problem.

The army is a mirror image of the Belarusian state, there cannot be an effective army in an impoverished state, there cannot be an effective army when it is amassed from under the stick. The best soldiers in the world are professional, when the people consciously make a choice, when a person feels the call to defend the Motherland, and not because he is threatened with criminal liability for evading military service. The "economic model" of the Belarusian state does not allow creating a battle-worthy army. Maybe the authorities do not understand that in today's realities, the role is played by professionalism and armament, rather than the size of the army.

We remind that 21-year-old Pinsk resident Aliaksandr Korzhych, recruited less than six months ago, on October 3, was found hung in the basement of one of the buildings in the military unit near Barysau. On October 5, the investigation called it a suicide. The deceased’s parents and friends do not believe in it categorically.

On October 10, the investigation reported about the initiation of a criminal icaseunder Part 3 of Art. 443 of the Criminal Code (violation of the statutory rules of relations between persons on whom the status of a serviceman applies, in the absence of subordination relations, which entailed grave consequences).

By the way, this is the second tragedy in Pechy this year – on March 31, another guy, Artsiom Bastsiuk, was found in the loop. The Investigative Committee terminated the criminal case initiated after Bastsiuk’s death.

Following Aliaksandr Korzhych’s case, four officials were fired from the Armed Forces, as well as five servicemen were removed from their posts in Pechy.