“The pogromists were stacked in trucks in stacks of four layers and taken to the commandant's office”
On the most Russian of Kazakhstani territories – Baikonur – against the background of unrest unfolding in this country for several days state of emergency. A curfew has been announced from 23.00 to 6.00. It is forbidden to sell alcohol. Residents, Russians, are asked not to go out again. In the coming days, additional flights to Moscow are planned for those who want to sit out the troubled times at home.
Meanwhile, the old-timers of Leninsk (as Baikonur was called in former times) recall how they survived the soldiers' riots in the early 90s.
Photo: Sergey Ivanov
These were 91st, 92nd and 93rd years. The huge and seemingly friendly country, the Soviet Union, has just disintegrated. The future was hazy. The bloodless collapse of the USSR in Belovezhskaya Pushcha at the highest level did not mean that everything was going smoothly and peacefully on the ground.
The command of the cosmodrome, caught between two fires, even had to issue a special leaflet addressing the Baikonur people. In which they severely described the truth of life and a bleak future.
“In difficult conditions we carry out tasks. The collapse of the USSR, the economic chaos and devastation that followed, political instability, the crisis of national relations, inconsistency in resolving issues of military development and military service – all these are characteristic signs of the present day. ”
“ One spark was enough then so that we can burn, “says 60-year-old Vladimir Aleksandrovich (name changed at request), who at that time served in Baikonur and witnessed several soldiers' riots that took place in those years.
These were the pitiful remnants of Soviet troops. And no one understood who to obey now, what banner and oath of which state, so there was no discipline at all. Who is stronger is right.
The so-called “construction battalion” lodged at Baikonur. The lowest caste of the military in those days, a combined hodgepodge. Everyone who was abandoned by the more intelligent units was taken there.
“Basically, the natives of Kazakhstan were serving, they themselves were Kazakhs by nationality, although the army was still considered Soviet,” the retired officer recalls those events. – No one obeyed the officers. The motivation of the conscripts was simple: we want to go home. There is no country, why should we stay here? And there and then vodka, drugs, everything that goes with it. ” p>
This is how journalist Yuri Dmitriev described what was happening in those days at Baikonur:
“A dozen military construction detachments were cut off from the world. And this is next to the missile defense systems and mines with nuclear missiles that were on alert! The dirty and hungry mass of soldiers growled softly, and the officers could not help them.
The soldiers began to break even more angrily. Especially for those who did not have a “Kazakh dad” nearby with material assistance, which was no longer “grandfathers”, but the “command staff”, without hiding, provided for themselves. Sugar, sweets, tunics and even … socks were taken from the soldiers. All this happened against the background of the changed constitution in Kazakhstan and the open discussion by the local authorities of the ownership of Baikonur. ”
a real soldier's riot broke out. For several hours of atrocities, robberies and robberies, state property was damaged in millions.
Incidentally, the estimated date for the start of the rebellion was known in advance – the Day of the Soviet Army. There were warnings, reports where necessary. But they were unfolded. Until recently, no one believed that such a thing could happen at all.
The reason for the speech was the arrest of several Kazakh “authorities” from among the conscripts who categorically refused to carry out the orders of the commanders. Their colleagues, pumped up not only with alcohol, but also with drugs, rushed to free their friends. We tried to grab a weapon and go to Baikonur.
When this failed, the crowd rushed to smash the nearest military town: barracks, headquarters, canteen, tore locks from food and clothing warehouses … , hats, pea jackets, wringing their hands …
Perhaps many construction battalions would be happy not to participate in the chaos, but they were more afraid of their frostbitten fellow countrymen who demanded the continuation of the pogroms than, in principle, the absence of military and civilian power .
An agreement on the lease of the cosmodrome with the authorities of independent Kazakhstan has not yet been signed. All the property of Baikonur, purely legally, also belonged to some unknown person. The Kazakhstani militia seemed to have already been formed, but there was no sense in it.
According to unofficial information from the special services, it turned out that local nationalists also incited the hungry construction battalions to speak.
Inhabitants of Baikonur in those terrible days sat at home. There have been no official reports of what is happening. Local television in the news briefly reported that a small incident had occurred in military units near Leninsk – and that was all. Trains flew by the nearest stations without stopping for fear of capture. In the end, a rather controversial decision was made, but the only possible decision in those circumstances – all the conscript rioters, almost three thousand people, were sent home. Allegedly on vacation, from where they have not returned. No one was criminally liable for the riot and pogroms.
Criminal cases against the real perpetrators were chosen to be put on the brakes. It is possible that this was a mistake. Since next year another soldier riot broke out near Baikonur.
Starting in March 1992, the leadership of the military construction units of the Ministry of Defense began to actively disband the AFO in Baikonur and massively transfer them to the reserve.
Residents of neighboring villages and auls entered the housing abandoned by Soviet officers by self-seizure. By that time, the Kazakh administration had come to power in the city. She immediately began to legitimize the residence of the self-settlers. Turning the closed secret city of the allied subordination into an open one.
“Pogroms have now begun by civilian hooligans. A pack flew up to the vehicle fleet, with guns, with sawn-off shotguns, who with what, and stole cars, – continues my interlocutor Vladimir Alexandrovich. “We slept at home with loaded guns. Many left and went with their families to Russia. They abandoned housing and property. Somehow, I remember, at night they began to break into our apartment. And we were left alone for the whole floor. The neighbors have already left. I jerked the shutter. I went out into the entrance. Shot blanks up. I saw two of them ran down the stairs. ”
The Russians were scared to walk around the city. As soon as it got dark, everyone tried to take gas cans with them. “I remember one time I was returning in the evening at about nine and two men with knives attacked me near the“ Yubileiny ”store. I was in a long overcoat. Fighting is uncomfortable. But somehow I managed to fight them off. Since then I have only worn a short pea jacket, ”continues my interlocutor.
The nationalist card was also played openly. There was no relationship between the newly created Kazakh police and the Russian one; in the event of an emergency, they could not even call each other.
Exactly one year later, at the 95th site, where the specialists who prepared and launched Proton rockets into space, a group of Russian rocket soldiers rebelled. The example of their colleagues inspired the construction battalions to revolt. The soldiers honestly admitted that they also hoped for an early release to the reserve and therefore came forward.
There were another riots, and again with the participation of Kazakhs.
“They set fire to a military town again, and from afar it seemed that fuel oil tanks were burning. When firefighters went there to extinguish, they were simply pelted with stones. But this time it was possible to coordinate the actions of the police and push the rioters back to the steppe, where they were finally able to detain and arrest them. In four layers, the rioters were packed into trucks and taken to the commandant's office. ” Another spontaneous riot in the summer of 1993 was suppressed and, thank God, it turned out to be the last. Soon a lease agreement was signed between Kazakhstan and Russia. The Russian administration was formed, the first head of the city was Gennady Dmitrienko, who clearly defends Russian interests. According to the recollections, anyone could come to see him and be listened to. It seemed that the timelessness and anarchy of the 90s were forever a thing of the past.
But in the first days of 2022, riots in Kazakhstan itself overtook the villages of Tyuratam (Toretam) and Akaye, adjacent to Baikonur, protesters blocked the railway, threatened to blow up gas refueling … Nobody knows what will happen next. Since the Russian army at Baikonur has not been quartered for a long time. Will the local nationalist card be played this time, or will the locals be afraid to speak out with these slogans this time?
Most of those who live and work in Baikonur today know about those terrible times only by hearsay. And they sincerely hope that they will never be repeated. Russia will not abandon them