Numerous and overweight
By Durdy Nazarov
Huge allocations from the state budget to support the police forces are not a guarantee for the successful operation of the law enforcement agencies.
As a clear example, one can recall the 11-12 September events in Ashgabat when in an attempt to neutralize two armed persons up to 15 law enforcement officers were killed.
Why then have the law enforcement bodies which are well-sponsored by the state turned out to be so helpless?
«Just look at that policeman», says a resident of the Keshi village pointing with a nod of his head toward a stout guardian of order who has difficulty getting out of his own vehicle. «I bet he will never go where the danger is. He has a decent salary – almost 5 million mantas and additionally he receives gifts from the sellers he oversees and receives fines from petty crime offenders. He has a fully furnished apartment and a new car, a wife and children. It is he who needs to be protected...»
A poor level of physical and professional training of the police officers runs deep. Certainly, the Ministry of Interior Affairs offers special courses on physical training. However, in a situation of overall corruption, when everything can be sold and purchased, these training courses long ago turned into a sort of business with officers paying the instructors for credits on their physical training or bullet shooting reports.
An expert argues that if a physical check-up of the staff of any of the etrap`s or city`s departments of the internal affairs were to be carried out, it would reveal that one third of the officers and two thirds of the general staff would fail to reach a qualifying standard for running 200 meters, not to mention cross country running or exercises on the chinning bar.
However, during the independence era, nobody ever organized tests for officers of the Interior ministry, thus the number of overweight policemen unable to defend law and order in emergency situations has become frighteningly high.
Money and profitable connections are the attributes common to the overall activities of the Turkmen law enforcement structures starting from enrollment of the students to the Police Academy. It is mainly the children whose parents or close relatives who are employed in the law enforcement structures who are admitted in the Academy. Almost 100% of the enrolees – future officers of the Defense Ministry and the Ministry of the National Security – are enrolled in these higher education establishments by giving bribes or through the back door. For instance, this year, in order to be enrolled in the Police Academy, a bribe between 12 and 15 thousand dollars was required.
In the era of Turkmenbashi, who was deeply concerned with security, the law enforcement structures never experienced cuts in personnel. On the contrary, when thousands of teachers and doctors were mercilessly sacked and libraries were closed down, the number of employees in the systems of the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of the National Security grew like weeds.
Local people joke: «There are so many policemen in our country, so soon there will be one policeman for each family».
It seems that soon this will come true. At the September sitting of the State Security Council, G. Berdymukhamedov ordered to «explore in detail the issue of launching a special secondary school of police in Turkmenistan and secondary military schools in each velayat».
Apparently, the President mentioned the incident that happened in the country in mid-September. What if somebody again breaks down and in extreme despair is driven to resort to arms! Then the Turkmen law enforcement agencies will neutralize the «terrorists», if not by their skills then by their sheer number.
In no case, all representatives of the law enforcement agencies in Turkmenistan can be considered non-professionals or corrupt. During the September events, the officers sent to conduct «negotiations» with the desperate armed rebels were aware that they would die. They only asked their colleagues to take care of their families and went to carry out an order…
The President ordered that those who were killed in this special operation doing their duty be given awards. Yet, until now, the decrees on awards have not been published. What are the authorities afraid or ashamed of? After all, it is about those who carried out the silly orders of their supervisors scarifying themselves. It should be stressed that the supervisors were granted awards and this fact was cheerfully reported by the Turkmen press.
In this situation, who should be the model for the numerous policemen and students? Those who were killed or those who sprouted bellies and happily go about in their cars collecting the tributes from salesmen? No, people pay 15 thousand dollars when entering the Police Academy not to die. And the authorities are wrong if they intend to defend the order in the country and, at the same time, themselves, with the help of a large and overweight army of policemen...