Radik Khabirov, a nineteen-year-old conscript from Kazan, was brought home from the army in a coma and extremely emaciated: he currently weighs 30kg. Neither the army doctors nor the commanders of his military unit explained to the soldier’s father what had happened to his son. On Thursday, Radik Khabirov was taken into Kazan city hospital. As his brother Marat explained to Ekho Moskvy radio station that it was army hazing in the unit had driven him to that state.
Saitgaray Khabirov, the conscript’s father, who brought up two children on his own, stated that when Radik had been conscripted, the military medical commission had declared him completely healthy.
Radik’s last letter reached Kazan at the end of November last year. “One month later, I was informed that on the 27th November, my son had voluntarily left the unit,” said Saitgaray Habirov. “The military registration and enlistment office for airplane construction paid us a visit at home and checked that he was not there. On the 28th February, a telegram arrived, informing us that Radik was at hospital in a coma.”
According to Khabirov, when he first saw his son after half a year of separation, his began to cry. In front of him, in the hospital bed, lay the crooked, stretched-out bones of a skeleton. He had only ever seen such a thing on television, in films about fascist concentration camps. Radik did not even have the strength to breathe on his own: his lungs could only work with the help of an artificial ventilation system.
His father was informed that his son had apparently returned to the unit on the 20th December and had been sent to the psychiatric department of the unit hospital, with the diagnosis: accentuated personality adaptation disorder. Later, two more diagnoses were added: bilateral pneumonia and pseudomonas. But on the night of the 22nd January, Radik almost committed suicide. They only just managed to drag the conscript from the noose which he had twisted from the bed-sheet, in time.
“Why did they not inform me straightaway when my son left the unit, or at least when he went to hospital?” asked the soldier’s father. “Why did the officers not want to say where Radik had been for twenty days or more? I think that even if he escaped the unit, it must have been because someone humiliated him or as a result of a fight. And they specially kept him somewhere for so long, so that the bruises would disappear. Well they kept him too long!”
The army doctors admitted that Khabirov developed the other illnesses during his military service, or rather in one month of his service, since on the certificate presented to him on finishing his studies in Saratov in November, he was pronounced healthy on 16 counts.
In a few months, Radik gained a little weight, but most importantly, as the army doctors assured Khabirov, although he had not entirely regained his health, he no longer needed treatment under hospital conditions. For this reason, the soldier, still comatose, was sent to his father.
Habirov was forced to arrange hospital conditions in his home. “We cook pureed soups for him, and various nutritious mixtures,” he said. ‘We give him different types of juice, vitamins. I feed him every three hours. Even at night.”
Radik only reacts to pain and flinches at loud noises. “He will definitely wake up,” Saitgaray Habirov informed Zhizn newspaper. “I know my son. He himself will tell us everything that happened to him.”
During the day, having left his son in the care of his grandma, Habirov visited officials. To this date, he has not been able to obtain either the promised military compensation of seven thousand roubles (about 250 dollars), or an invalid’s pension for Radik. At the military unit, the soldier’s passport was lost and at the Regional Internal Affairs Directorate they said that they will only be able to issue a duplicate copy in a month.
Now the soldier’s father has one hope: the Russian Minister of Defence. Saitgaray Khabirov is adamant that he will punish those responsible.
Translated by Leila Wilmers
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