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Ex-soldier: Hazing is better than service regulations
Photo: Belarusian Military Newspaper
Earlier in March, Euroradio published an interview with a former Belarus Army soldier who defended a warrant officer in court on trial on hazing and abuse charges. The soldier said at the hearing that he had himself asked the WO to use a stun gun on him.
After the interview, Euroradio received a letter from ex-soldier Andrei Shyrvel who served in the army in 2011/12. We have decided to publish Andrei’s opinion. What do you think about it?
"I am speaking about the modern army, not about the history of hazing and so on. My opinion is based on my own service experience.
Hazing exists in the army for two reasons, and these reasons appear to be something like myths.
Myth One: There can be no army without hazing
80% of soldiers believe that there can be no army without hazing. What will I tell my friends when I am back home? I was drafted at the age of 25 and I told my sergeant that I would not like to see hazing in the army. Miraculously, the three sergeants in my platoon were too lazy to bother themselves with hazing. Maybe there were not interested.
There were some cases when relations violated the service regulations but I cannot call them hazing. Sometimes somebody’s parents brought delicacies and we gave all the food to the sergeants. They ate it and shared it with the platoon. They also saved the food for the future.
Well, I have gone off on a different topic. There were newly-drafted soldiers asking the sergeants when hazing would begin because their friends or brothers had served 'that way.'
Myth Two: Hazing is better than the service regulations
Ask former solders what is better for them: hazing or the service regulations? I am sure that many people will choose hazing – you have to endure it at first but later you start doing it to others.
Our service regulations are… sort of outdated.
For instance, if you choose to stick to the service regulations… Then it will begin…. All soldiers must speak politely to one another. If you speak to somebody casually, it means that you are violating the regulations and you will have to dedicate your free time to self-preparation.
Your sergeant may not want you going on leave. Even if it does not affect your 2 hours of free time a day… there are numerous things (the marching drill, physical training) that can be used to teach you that ‘you are wrong if you prefer the service regulations to hazing.’
“You must go to the toilet at least 2 times a day. It means two.”
According to the service regulations, solders must visit the toilet at least two times on the same day. If you want to serve without being exposed hazing, you will go to the toilet at least two times a day. To be more precise, only two times a day. I can tell you that it is enough.
You need to be able to dress and undress in 45 seconds and have dinner within 15 minutes (not 30). You cannot use mobile phones. We were not allowed to use mobile phones but we were hiding them.
“You can take a bath once a week. Once! Are we in the Stone Age? But this is what the service regulations say.”
I once said that going to the toilet 10 times a day is definitely not a violation because it is more (not less) than 2 times a day. But they understand it this way: at least two times means two times (although this happens not only in the army).
You can take a bath once a week. Once! A week! This is like in the Stone Age, but it is according to the service regulations. There is a shower room in the barracks and it looks like you can use it but you can’t.
I think that the service regulations need to be changed to make them more adequate and correspond to the needs of modern people at least in the peace time. Heaven forbid we should ever see the war time.
Our service regulations are forcing solders to prefer hazing because it is easier to live like this. Moreover, a sergeant can make a soldier press up ‘till the final victory’ or he can simply report that he is conducting a physical training course…