This is a story worth sharing. You can read it in Russian here.
A former militiaman, (a random picture from Flickr) who lives now in Europe tells his own story about what he had to go through, while working in Uzbekistan, and why he had to do ‘evil’ things. He brings another perspective on corrupt border cross-points (BCP) in Uzbekistan.
Policemen, or Militiamen have quite a bad image in Uzbekistan, both among the indigenous population and in the world. By default, they are evils, they are corrupt, criminal, murderers, rapists, or at least simply mean people – this is approximately the image of a militiaman. Of course there are nice ones, who understand, who care, who work for the sake of the people, who save, who are wise and honest, responsible and helpful. But this is not quite a typical image of a militiaman; this is rather an exceptional case, and extremely rare one. Some friends of mine decided to make a career exactly there, and they didn’t turn into evils. But it is, definitely, a tough place to work, as the former militiaman also notes (Translations are made by me):
“Nowadays it is extremely difficult for the ordinary person to work as a militiaman in Uzbekistan. Since it needs iron nerves and a talent for cruelty. One has to be able to go against one’s own compatriots, and extort money from them, as a bribe, which superior officials endlessly demand for.”
Border is a profitable place for the militia, many would feel lucky to have a chance to work there. Since 2002 in order to improve control/fight smuggling of goods militia was incorporated to carry out patrol of borders. He used to work on the Uzbek-Kazakh border. Every ‘chelnok’ (a trader who makes business by importing goods from abroad, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan or Kazakhstan) has to pay 5.000 soums (approx. € 3) for crossing the boundary. ‘Only from our BCP there were 100-120 ‘chelnokis’ daily crossing the border to and from Kazakhstan’.
Planned economy was also to be felt here: ‘gather more money and hand it over to the bosses’. the system works as follows: weekly $ 500 had to be ‘yielded’ for the boss. if there were four militiamen in one BCP, then each had to hand in $ 125 on a weekly basis.
He too did it. He had to extort money from people so that he could keep his job. He felt bad about what he had to do. He thinks that the system works the way one can’t change it. He says some of his colleagues were imprisoned, for having thought differently or not obeyed. “The security services have enough proofs for destroying us. They make us extort money, which is a crime, and then when it is useful for them they get rid of us.” The bosses make militiamen gather money for them on the first place, by breaking the laws, and then they punish them.
He says that militia has no rights and is absolutely unprotected from arbitrariness of the powerful and of other institutions. If militia were independent from them, they could work according to the law.
But the superior organs need militia to serve them, as slaves, who work to protect their interests. ‘They use us as they please. The people hate us – ordinary militiamen – although, we are as everyone else, just victims of this regime.
He told to Uznews.net, he couldn’t stand all this unjust system, and Andijan was the last drop. After the demonstrations in Andijan, he was sent there, to find terrorists. As he said he felt sorry for those poor innocent people. ‘We had to catch as more terrorists as possible, just simply young and middle aged people. And then when they are in militia, they are either forced to admit somebody’s guilt or freed after having paid a certain amount of money. This turned into a business.’
After having witnessed all these unlimited freedoms of rulers to do whatever they please, he understood, that it wouldn’t be better, but go worse and worse. He decided to flee. Illegally.
‘I feel sorry and pitty for my homeland, it is being hold in the hands of a group of people, which as a mafia, robs and destroys the poor people. It is obvious that the people of this land under this regime have no future at all.’
The story of a former militia… brings about a different perspective on security forces of Uzbekistan, who are not only the ones who break the laws, but are the victims of a lawless system.