By Murat Sultangaliyev
Participants of battles at the Tajik-Afghan border request the country president to equalize their status to the Great Patriotic War veterans.
October 16, in the garrison 5546 in Atyrau met the members of local branch 'Association of Veterans of Battles at Tajik-Afghan border' and the representative of Association's head office Murat Mukhamedzhanov, where on behalf of the veterans' union he read out a message to the President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
In particular, it reads: "From 1992 to 2001, in accordance with inter-state agreements involving Kazakhstan, divisions of Kazakh armed forces, internal troops and border service performed tasks under the realm of protection of the CIS external border at the Tajik-Afghan section. Over the mentioned period, nearly 14,000 Kazakh citizens passed military service and were involved in combat activities there.
Kazakh contingent lost a number of soldiers - killed, wounded and lost without a trace - in clashes with armed tresspassers as a result of bandit assaults on garrisons, terrorist attacks and sabotage activities.
The bloodiest event happened on April 7, 1995 in the Pshihavr Gorge, where in a five-hour combat, 17 servicemen of the South-Kazakhstan regiment were killed and 33 wounded. But the mujaheedeen could not overcome them on their way to the Tajik territory.
It is long overdue to equalize Kazakh soldiers who defended CIS borders and gave their lives in the name of peace to the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War veterans.
Russia has already adopted such changes to its Veterans Act on January 1, 2012 that now provides benefits to former soldiers who served at the Tajik-Afghan border in September-November 1992 and February 1993-December 1997.
Battle in the gorge
According to the chairman of local branch of the asociation Kabir Akhmedgaliyev, there are over 300 participants of battles at the Tajik-Afghan border living in Atyrau Oblast now.
Alibek Shamshadinov (on photo), 36, from the town of Kulsary, served as a machine-gunner in the internal troops regiment 5485 in Khalai-Khum district of the border. He will never forget the combat of December 2, 1996:
"At around 22.00, the enemy began to shoot at peacekeepers across the Pyandj River. We were raised by alarm. I rushed with my light machine gun and munitions to the trenches and fell off the cliff. Lost consciousness. I woke up in the hospital with broken arms and legs and a blind right eye... Recently, I was recategorized as a 3rd category disabled person from 2nd, because a pension of 31,000 tenge is not enough to support my wife and daughter. Also I need a job..."
Alibek has decorations for "10 Years Since Withdrawal from Tajik-Afghan Border", "20 Years to RoK Armed Forces" and "State Border Service Veteran".
The soldier proudly remembers the moment of receiving one of the decorations from the Khalyk Kaharmany (Hero of Kazakhstan), General Lieutenant Bakhytzhan Yertayev.