The Psychological Effects of War in Chechnya

Every policeman who has spent time in Chechnya needs psychological help – author

“Officials of the militsia, after a tour in Chechnya, are in need of qualified psychological help,” announed Asmik Novinka, sociologist and author of a new book, Between Russia and Chechnya. At a press conference on October 9th, marking the release of her new work, Novikova continued:

“The wives and daughters of veterans become estraged from their fathers and this brings about complications in their interactions. Problems arise with alcoholism, drug addiction, as well as sexual problems and communication skills.”

Novikova reminded her audience that 70 percent of policemen spend time in Chechnya, and that these tours are hardly voluntary. The veteran’s families often crumble as result, and officers frequently leave the service to avoid combat. Novikova believes that because of this, some of the best law enforcement recruits are lost to the system. “The government doesn’t pay them money, and doesn’t provide psychological assistance,” she explained. “The veterans themselves consider that the government has abandoned them.”

Over the course of her writing, Novikova researched opinions in numerous regions, and met with veterans who had served in Chechnya to ascertain their views.

“The specific [experiences] of police service in Chechnya are frequently useless, in the opinion of the veterans themselves, for working in peaceful Russian regions.”

While the Kremlin continues to assert that peace has resumed in Chechnya, and that combat operations are over, the figures seem to indicate the opposite. Just recently, on the 8th of October, four police were killed, and ten other servicemen were injured in an ambush in the Vedeno region. Since the conflict began, over 6,600 soldiers (by conservative Kremlin estimates.  Human rights groups have suggested the number is closer to 15,000), and tens of thousands of civilians have lost their lives in the contested Republic.