It costs 10 manats to say goodbye to a son who is leaving home to join the army. A new type of bribe has appeared at the railway station of the city of Turkmenabad during this year's draft.
Correspondents of Chronicles of Turkmenistan report that this amount is coerced by staff of the railway station and transportation company to give access to relatives to the railway platform from where the train with new recruits departs.
One can get to railway platforms from the building of the railway station but access is only for ticketed passengers. There are also gates overlooking the street for bulky cargos, which are used during the callup campaign. Parents wishing to see their sons off have to contact the railway station employees. They need to inform the latter how many people would like to escort conscripts to the train carriage and pay 10 manats per person. Then a staff member of the railway station approaches representatives of the transportation police and points at those who have paid the fee, after which people are allowed to come to the platform.
Parents are denied access to the military enlistment office where conscripts can be kept up to 24 hours. After a conscript comes to the enlistment office, the railway platform is the only place where relatives can see them and for this reason they are willing to pay for this opportunity.
We have a large family and everybody would like to say goodbye. It is a good thing that they are not bringing kids with them. Still, we had to pay 70 manats for seven adults, a Turkmenabad resident said. We were even allowed to enter the train carriage but in this case you need to pay 35 manats per person to a conductor.
However, not everybody can afford to say goodbye to their sons. Many mothers are left outside the railway station. During the draft campaign an NSM officer keeps vigil at the station but he ignores money extortions from parents.
After arriving at the duty station, conscripts start asking parents to send them cash to pay bribes to senior conscripts or pay a fee to commanding officers to make sure they do their military service in rather troublefree conditions.
A female resident from Ashgabat, a mother of six children, said that her eldest son was drafted less than a month ago, called his parents and asked them to urgently send 400 manats.
He did not say what he needed the money for. Then he asked me to charge 5 more manats to the mobile phone he had called me from, the woman said.
She has recently lost her son and makes a living by making canned pickles for neighbours and acquaintances, washing dishes at sadakas (charity dinners) and rendering other services.
400 manats is a huge amount of money for us. But if he does not pay, he will be abused and tortured and It is most likely that the bribe will be much bigger than this amount. I don't know who to contact not to make the situation worse, a mother with many children complains.
Source: Chronicles of Turkmenistan