War Veterans in Postwar Situations: Chechnya, Serbia, by Nathalie Duclos (eds.)

By Nathalie Duclos (eds.)

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Sample text

How the war evolved can be seen in the changes in composition of the forces. During the first conf lict, the 45,000 men present on the terrain included soldiers from the federal army, troops from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the special forces of the Military Intelligence,28 and the FSB (Federal Security Service—former KGB). 29 Furthermore, with the exception of the special forces, their training was rough and failed to prepare new recruits to control their reactions on the terrain, thus increasing stress, fear, and the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force.

Finally, the system of psychological expertise is deeply marked by a historically Russian and ideologically Stalinist concept of the individual and his psychic state,77 which considers trauma to be a personal weakness. The job of MVD psychologists is thus to spot potential weaknesses in candidates before sending them to the field of operations, which means that for psychologists, any manifestation of posttraumatic stress is proof in itself of professional incompetence. It is therefore not surprising that MVD psychologists detect a minimal number of posttraumatic syndromes each year.

Social advantages and potential state aid are presented as a gift for which they owe additional service. Having served their country on the battlefield—with the sacrifice inherent in that service—veterans learn that they continue to have obligations to the state. If we analyze the measures taken in the context of the application of the Patriotic Education Program by the Interior and Defense Ministries, the main providers of veterans in Russia (creation of commissions or 42 Anne Le Huérou and Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski structures within the MVD and MO87 in charge of carrying out the Patriotic Education Program88), as well as their publications, we find a rhetoric similar to that which followed the Second World War89: the veteran must be a model of organization and discipline, and must inspire heroic acts in the younger generations (by spreading the “propaganda of the Russian people’s heroic traditions and the army,” and by dispensing “lessons in courage” to the young 90).

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