Home » “I Was Already Sick”: How a Tajik Man From a Russian Prison Ended Up in a War With Ukraine
Asia Central Asia Featured Global News News Tajikistan

“I Was Already Sick”: How a Tajik Man From a Russian Prison Ended Up in a War With Ukraine

He did not want to go on the assault and, according to him, never fired a machine gun, and today he prays to Allah to forgive him all his sins.

On October 11, Dmitry Gordon’s official YouTube channel published an interview with the founder of the online publication “Gordon” with a native of Tajikistan. A young man named Bekhruz, a prisoner in a maximum security colony in the Samara region, told how he ended up in the war, what the Wagner PMC promised prisoners and why, in his opinion, the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine will not end very soon.

Either voluntarily or by force
The special project was prepared jointly with the Ukrainian state program for voluntary surrender “I want to live” with the support of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

Dmitry Gordon visited a camp for Russian prisoners of war.

Behrouz is not the only Central Asian sent to fight in Ukraine from Russian prisons.

From Tajikistan alone, about 100 of its citizens went to the front. This was stated by the Minister of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan Ramazon Rahimzoda in August of this year.
For participation in hostilities, prisoners are promised to be paid good money, all criminal records will be expunged, and the term is unimportant. Some are taken away of their own free will, others by force, like Maksad Kurbonov from the Rudaki region.

In February of this year, his relatives told Radio Ozodi that Maksad was forcibly taken from prison in Arkhangelsk. According to his father Fayzullo, the man said in his last interview 4 months ago that “more than 100 prisoners are being separated and forcibly sent to Mariupol.” Maksad was killed during clashes in the city of Bakhmut.

Cabar.asia. At the wake of Maksad Kurbanov, who died in the war in Ukraine

Another native of Tajikistan, 27-year-old Zulfikor Mukhiddinov, left to work in Moscow in 2019. Zulfikor was going to earn money and return to Tajikistan, but instead he ended up in prison.

In his last telephone conversation with his family, the man said that they wanted to force him and other prisoners to fight in Ukraine. He never made contact again. And 4 months later, his parents received a call from Russia and were informed that their son had been killed in the city of Bakhmut.

Zulfikor was buried in his native village of Yakkatut in the city of Gissar.

Recruited prisoners usually return either crippled or not at all. This was confirmed by Behrouz in a conversation with Dmitry Gordon.

“One day Wagner arrived”
Behrouz is only 26 years old, but he has already been jailed twice. He came to Russia in 2013 at the age of 16 to help his father.

  • What did your father do?
  • He was a farmer. And I first worked in construction, then in warehouses. And it so happened that he committed a crime and went to prison. During my first term, when I was 19 years old, I was imprisoned for robbery and theft. I was given 7.5 years of strict regime.
  • What did you take? An apartment?
  • Yes, we went into the employee’s apartment. Materials and things were stuck from there.
  • Is this one of your terms?
  • This is the first term. Served 5.5 years. He left 2.1 years on parole and came again to Novosibirsk, where his father lived. I got a job in the warehouse of an online store and worked there for 8 months. And it so happened that he committed another drug-related crime.
  • Did you trade?
  • No, it was necessary to transfer them to another person. Before I could pass it on, I was caught. They gave me 7.5 years of special regime. He served a year in the Samara region, the city of Tolyatti.

And one day Wagner came, gathered people, said that our help was needed. I gathered about 200 people from our camp.

  • Who came from Wagner?
  • Prigogine. He said that the Russian army had surrendered and needed our help. He gathered more than 200 people.
  • What did he promise?
  • He promised that if we fight for six months, we will be pardoned and all criminal records will be expunged. And they will still pay. It doesn’t matter what time it is.
  • What impression did he make on you?
  • Well, we were kind of surprised: who is it, why did he come. When he arrived, there were helicopters, the camp gates opened, and he arrived in a black car. I gathered all the convicts at the football ground and told everyone the conditions. Like, I’ll leave you my two people, whoever wants it, come up, sign up and we’ll pick you up.
  • He didn’t say that he prefers people who know how to use a knife or a pistol?
  • No, he gathered more than 200 people, but immediately said that we would go to storm. Not even that we will hold the defense. Those who agreed were taken away. Then, a week later, other Wagner people came for the second time and took 15 people away.
  • -You didn’t want to storm?
  • No. After that, a man from the Ministry of Defense came and told us that our grandfathers fought with the Germans and, if we survive, we will walk with our heads held high because we were at the front. He also said that we would hold the second line of defense; there was no mention of an assault this time.
  • And he added that within six months, if desired, we undertake to serve for another year and a half under the contract. He promised that we would receive money. So he recruited 80 people.

We had to train for 15 days in Rostov, then go to another combat zone.

We came to New Yalta to study, they showed us how to use weapons. But 15 days is not enough anyway. And then we were sent to the forest belt. We had to dig trenches and stand in position, which is what we did.

Then we went to dig at another position, when we dug, we lived quietly for a month, without bombing, and did not go anywhere except the store. Everything was fine. And then one day they told us to prepare for military operations, they say, we should already go to storm. And everyone was shocked: what kind of assault?! There was no conversation about this!

They began to take away 110 people at a time, so 5 platoons were formed. Our task was to hold the line of defense. When the tanks arrived and started bombing us, we were ordered to retreat.

The next day we went to the village of Novodonetsk. There, too, it was necessary to hold a line of defense. We stayed there for 10 days, there were a lot of losses from our company.

Then we were told to pack our things to go to the forest belt. Over time, out of 110 people, 35 remained, the rest were wounded or killed.

We stayed there for a couple of days, then they said that we were going to perform another task. I was already so tired of all this at that point that we were all simply being used as “meat.”

“The corpses had been lying there for five days.”

  • How were you captured?
  • There were three of us, one had a relative who lived in Kyiv and his friends fought against Russia. This man got in touch with them and said that we could be saved so that we would not end up in the “meat grinder”. We were sent coordinates via WhatsApp on how to get to the Ukrainian position, how to pass tripwires, mines, and then the coordinates of the Ukrainian position.

If such opportunities had been available from day one, I would have agreed immediately. Because when 35 people remain from 110, you will either be seriously injured – without legs and arms, or you will die. There is no third.

-Have you seen a lot of dead people?

  • Yes. I saw corpses that had been lying there for 4-5 days. The faces were already black. I was even scared, I felt sick. I told them that I could no longer participate in all this and would not go any further. And he didn’t go.
  • Have you asked yourself the question: why did Russia attack Ukraine?
  • I heard that the fact is that the Ukrainians did not want to join Russia. Russia said that if you go towards Europe, your road to Russia will be closed. And if you come to Russia, your road to Europe will be closed.
  • When you saw the war from the inside, what did you think about this war and what you saw?
  • I thought, what do people lack that they play with their only life like this? There will be no second life on Earth.
  • Do you believe in Allah? Are you praying?
  • Yes. I have a goal. I had no plans to fight, if I wanted to storm, kill, I would have agreed when Wagner arrived for the first time. Moreover, it was there for six months. I have not directed a single cartridge towards Ukraine in all this time.
  • Don’t you want to go to the front again?
  • Of course not! Who wants it?
  • Don’t want to return to Tajikistan?
  • First of all, I want to go to Tajikistan; I haven’t been there for 10 years.
  • When do you think the war will end?
  • When the rulers decide something among themselves. But this will take a long time. It feels like the war hasn’t started yet. It’s just that ordinary people are going to war for now. And if they send professionals who have been fighting for a long time, and missiles are used, it will be more serious.
  • “So that I have a place in heaven…”
  • What do you think about Putin?
  • I can’t say for sure. Probably – why does he do all this?
  • Don’t you feel sorry for the Ukrainians who are dying?
  • I feel sorry for everyone who dies. Every single one.
  • Ukrainians defend their home. And the Russians came to our house to take him away.
  • So that you submit to Russia?
  • Yes.
  • Well, how was everything before 2014? They were friends with Russia, they obeyed.
  • They didn’t obey, but there were normal relations. Two sovereign countries: Ukraine and Russia. Then they came, took Crimea, took Donbass.
  • This seemed to them not enough, and they decided to take away all of Ukraine. They wanted to take Kyiv. How would you feel about the fact that they decided to take Dushanbe?
  • They already took him away. Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are on the side of Russia and submit to it. This was the case initially. They cannot fight against anyone. Our population is only 9 million. They won’t be able to do anything.
  • And there is no army.
  • Yes. 3 tanks and 1 helicopter. Therefore, they will have to be silent and obey.
  • When you pray, what do you ask from Allah?
  • First of all, forgive my sins, guide me on the true path, deliver me from bad, dirty people. And so that I have a place in heaven.

Source: Asia Plus TJ