Basil first ordered us to change clothes. We were given a set of field uniforms - Afghani, field caps and AKM assault rifles each. We refused from the bullet-proof vests and helmets offered by Vasya. The heat was terrible.
Then, chuckling at the “Moscow geeks” who had flown to the war in ties, Vasya gave us a tour of the unit. Its territory was not very large (approximately, as the area of the combat position of the C-75 division). True, unlike the "zachuhannyh" Air Defense Forces, built mainly by hacks, everything here was built thoroughly and even beautifully.
3-x storey barracks, a large club, canteen, headquarters, technical facilities were built by builders of white silicate brick. And in general - the part looked like a toy: subtropical vegetation, flowers around, a pond with goldfish at the headquarters, cleanliness. The war was almost not felt. Only the fighters, who were sitting somewhere in the trenches and traces of the shell splinters on the buildings, reminded of her. When we went around the barracks, there was a sharp sound of a close projectile break. Mysoev and Michal Mikhalych fell into a ditch, face down. We, the three "Muscovites" remained, with a foolish look, to stand. Just do not have time to understand and get scared.
- “Nothing, get used to fall and you. The projectile does not choose titles, ”Vasya predictively predicted our further behavior, getting up and shaking off.
It turned out where shells were taken from, regularly falling in the vicinity and in the territory of the unit. On the Georgian coast, the Gumists, on the territory of the former summer residence of the USSR Minister of Defense, in the Kelasuri region, the Georgians installed a howitzer battery and fired their guns at Abkhazians. Gunners from Georgians were unimportant, and sometimes shells flew directly into the territory of the unit. (For the month of our stay, more than 60 direct hits of Georgian shells on the territory and objects of the unit were recorded).
We all had only to trust in the grace of God, which we did. Abkhazians did not have guns then, and they could not suppress the Georgian battery with fire. Three times, with particularly fierce shelling, we, through Sibudkin, called Aviation. The flight of the SU-25 pair at low altitude made a proper impression on the Georgian gunners, and they stopped shelling in order to continue after a while. Our aviation had no right to suppress them with fire, of course.
You experience a very peculiar sensation at the close break of the howitzer projectile. What is shown in the movie - does not go to any comparison with the real sounds and feelings of a person under heavy shells. It seems that a giant with a huge metal club delivers a powerful blow to the iron roof, under which you are. The mouth is filled with a sharp metallic aftertaste, and all entrails tremble. The body is experiencing considerable shock from such stress. But - you get used to everything, and after a couple of days, we learned to even sleep under the din of close gaps. The most intense shooting was conducted at night, and there was nowhere to go from it.
Not far from our laboratory was the house of Vladislav Ardzinba. He then was the president of Abkhazia. I think the Georgians knew this and tried to get into the house of the rebellious president. By a strange twist of fate, all the houses around Ardzinba’s house received 2-3 hits, some were destroyed to the ground, but his house, with us, was not hit by any projectile. Every morning we were called to headquarters by a city telephone from Gudauta:
- This is from the presidential administration call. How is the house of Ardzinba ?!
- Everything is fine, it is worth - we answered.
- Well, well, thank you.
Of course, the Georgians easily listened to these conversations. Such “secrecy” was with this presidential house.
Oddly enough, the connection in our unit functioned well during the entire time that we were in the line of fire.
And there were several channels: ZAS - with our command in Moscow. Once, on the ZAS channel, Pasha Grachev personally called us. Calling the commander to the phone, Pasha heard his report on the situation, the situation in the unit, the life of the refugees (of whom we sometimes had 500 people and more accumulated). The conversation was calm, without "pumping." Pasha promised his support (after which the “reinforced company of paratroopers” appeared in the unit), and allowed Vasily Mysoyev to call him personally, in case of emergency. In addition to the ZAS line, we also had a regular “wired” telephone connection. And with the Abkhaz and the Georgian side, we were free to call back.
Quite often, this had to be done in relation to our former Georgian “brothers by arms". When reinforcing howitzer shelling, when shells began to burst in the territory of the unit, the commander usually called the defense ministry of independent Georgia and demanded "to stop artillery fire on the Russian military unit." However, this did not give much effect. The Georgians talked arrogantly, replied that they say, “no one shoots at you, we are shooting at the separatists,” and carried this nonsense in response to our claims. The best way to make the Georgian artillery shut up was, as already mentioned, call our aircraft for demonstration flights over them. It helped well. Unfortunately, we often couldn’t do this, and we had to just wait out the raids, hoping for God's help.
We must briefly tell you about the paratroopers with whom we lived there for more than a month in the most extreme situation.
The "reinforced company" of paratroopers turned out to be in the number of 22 people, including its commander (lieutenant), deputy commander (captain) and platoon commander (senior lieutenant). It was in such a strange way that their ranks and positions were distributed. From conversations with the leadership of the "reinforced company" it became clear and the main way of selecting volunteers for service in hot spots.
- Percentage of 70 fighters in our company are “penalty box”. Something a fighter otbebuchit in a peaceful environment - and they offer him voluntarily-forcibly "make amends" in combat conditions. There are also volunteers, of course ... - the political officer shared with us the principle of personnel selection. (I call him the “old” post, because in the troops of all former political workers the old manner was called “political politicians”).
Discipline among them was maintained in a simple and accessible way.
Twice did not repeat. As in the old joke. Probably, in combat conditions, this is correct. At the very least, their soldiers were exemplary in the service in the guards and patrols - no one slept at their posts, unlike our soldiers, spoiled by delicate authorized treatment.
For some reason, the lieutenant, the company commander, enjoyed the great confidence of General Sibudkin and did not recognize anyone’s power except him (who was from us for many kilometers in Gudauta). Once this led to a rather serious conflict.
"We drove our" urban "..."
Posts and secrets were scattered around the perimeter of the part. In the trenches, round-the-clock, in shifts, our soldiers and officers, as well as the landing force, were on shift duty. They checked the posts - and so did we, and they, without analyzing departmental affiliation. The paratroopers always carried out their service cheerfully, but sometimes our “eagles” had to be awakened. However, this did not last long.
One night we woke up from a terrible, heart-rending cry. It was not even a scream, but some kind of chilling death-crying. I have never heard of it in my life. We, who were already accustomed to shooting and tearing shells and learned how to sleep to these sounds, instantly woke up and, having picked up our machine guns, ran out according to the combat schedule, having heard this inhuman howl.
I thought that at night an enemy commando group broke through to us and a fierce hand-to-hand fight was already going on in the territory of the unit.
The howl suddenly subsided, everything more or less calmed down. A few minutes later, the cause and source of the scream that woke everyone up was found.
It turns out that the sergeant-paratrooper checked how his sentries serve. At the same time checked and our warriors. Our post, as a part of the senior sergeant and two soldiers, slept a powerful dream. The most interesting thing is that the senior sergeant even managed to put his machine gun on the parapet with a closed bayonet, and he lay down on the bottom of the trench and fell asleep.
That sergeant - paratrooper and raised all our sleeping "secret" as they had been taken: hard physical impact. And our senior sergeant (who had a higher education, by the way) - he also “drove” across the territory. To heighten the pedagogical effect, apparently.
This “rut” turned out to be excellent for him, judging by the inhuman howl that our highly educated senior sergeant had published. He was then barely caught and hardly reassured.
He was so scared and demoralized by the amphibious address that he really could not tell anything, except that: "I fell asleep, and then the paratrooper drove me ...".
The problem was that his machine gun disappeared from the parapet.
(In Soviet times, the loss of weapons was the hardest and rarest of crimes).
At least in the Air Defense Forces.
In our 6-th Air Defense OA for the entire post-war time there has been one case of the loss of a weapon. In 1972, some senior lieutenant, in Pushkin, managed to get drunk in a restaurant, where they stole a part-time PM, with whom the senior was on a business trip. So we had in 80's, after 15 years, to mention this case in every quarterly report on incidents and crimes in the Army. “The pistol PM № ..., lost by the senior lieutenant ... .. in the 1972 year, was not found" - this was an obligatory phrase (a kind of penance) of such reports to Moscow.
It was later, after the collapse of the USSR and the plundering of the Soviet Armed Forces, they began to plunder weapons by tens of thousands of units. What is worth only the famous order of Yeltsin to leave Dudayev 50% of all stocks of weapons of the North Caucasus Military District, stored in warehouses in Chechnya !!!)
At the time being described, the attitude towards the loss of weapons, by the inertia of the Soviet years, was very acute and the state of emergency with its loss required immediate and vigorous measures to search for the machine gun.
There was no time for everyone to sleep. Long searches and "disassembly" led us to the conviction that the paratroopers themselves had stolen the machine, on the sly. While their sergeant kicked through our territory, one of the paratroopers “attached legs” to a machine gun abandoned on the parapet. Our warriors, who slept next to their commander at the service post, told us this. However, they were rather afraid of directing the paratroopers. Apparently, the harsh landing "wake-up" made an unforgettable impression on them. (A reminder that sleeping in the post, and even in a combat situation, is unacceptable, served as an impressive bruise on the faces of sleepers). The same sergeant-paratrooper, who had checked them, managed to deliver them to both sleeping soldiers, before “chasing” our sergeant.
The lieutenant paratrooper commanding the "reinforced company" also went to the "unconscious".
“My arkhar members did not take your booby machine gun.” Look for your own, or maybe the Georgians stole him. And in general - he had nothing to sleep at the post. We have for this - once and for all life are taught. If someone else from your watch gets me sleeping, I'll show you how! - such were his “explanations”, in brief.
As for sleep in the post, he was right at all. But the machine had to somehow return.
It was clear that it was useless to complain to Sibudkin.
I went for a military trick. After a lot of empty words, he showed him a WAS telephone.
- Well, okay, comrade lieutenant. If you don’t want to give the machine away, we will immediately report this incident to the Minister of Defense Grachev PERSONALLY.
He gave us this right - to contact him in case of emergency.
Let him send a commission here. Our soldiers will tell her everything. Let's see if your Sibudkin can cover you !!! - I said to him.
The lieutenant grumbled something under his breath and retired to the club where his army was stationed.
After minutes 20 fighter paratrooper brought to us in the headquarters a bayonet from the missing AKM, which they allegedly found behind the part of the fence. After another couple of days, after several promises to report the same to Pasha Grachev about the incident, the lieutenant brought AKM. True, it was not our automatic, with a different number, but in the current situation it was at least some way out.
“You can't find that automaton anymore,” he answered vaguely to our questions about the number mismatch.
We realized that our “sleek” machine gun had already been sold to the Abkhaz and was useless to look for it. "War will write off everything!"
Meanwhile, the situation continued to escalate. The shelling did not stop. To us in part, except for shells, machine guns and machine gun bullets easily flew. In part, a lot of refugees from the Georgian-occupied areas of Abkhazia found shelter.
Russians, Ukrainians, Abkhazians, Armenians, even Estonians came across (there were several Estonian villages in Abkhazia since tsarist times). Mostly women, old people, children. There were many wounded and sick. We fed them all, provided them with water and medical assistance, overnight. The refugees lived in the basement of our 3-storey barracks. There was the safest thing.
In batches of 50-100 people, by sea we sent them to the “mainland”, to Russia. For this purpose, "Meteora" and pleasure boats, which rolled the holiday-servants before the war, were used. Georgian helicopters fired at them several times.
I remember how on one of the “Meteors” during the shelling by its Georgian helicopter 8 refugees, mostly Russians, died immediately ...
Our “free Russian television”, then “politically correct”, was silent about it, naturally.
How many stories I have heard about various tragedies are not transferable. How many curses sounded against Gorby, Yeltsin and other gravediggers of the country ...
Our television, by the way, worked fine. During the day, when a smaller one was fired, and almost no guns were fired at all, many refugees gathered in the Leninist room of the 3 floor of the barracks. There was a large room, and there was a color TV. They all watched the famous TV series "The Wealthy Are Crying, too." Looking at the TV delights of Mexican film stars, people forgot, for a time, about their real troubles and tragedies.
Once, the habit of watching a show just by a miracle did not lead to big trouble. In the afternoon, Mysoev and I went to the refugees. Talk with people, see how they live, agree on the order of evacuation. Talked to those who basked in the sun at the barracks, visited the basement. Then they decided to climb into the Leninist room. There was a series about the cry of the "rich". The people in the room were crowded, many children even sat on the floor and stood between the chairs. Having stayed there a bit, we went, it was, to headquarters. Had time to go down to the 1 floor down - and then suddenly the Georgians started firing from guns.
The time for shooting was clearly "inopportune." Mysoev swore and turned upstairs, into the Leninist room.
- "Well, let's all live down!" Then finish it up! ”- Vasily ordered the refugees. All those who had gathered gathered their voices in disgust, insisting on continuing to watch their favorite series, but Mysoev was relentless: “Quickly everything is down! To whom I said !!! ”- he roared menacingly and pulled the plug of the TV out of the socket.
Refugees reluctantly reached down to the basement. Having waited for everyone to leave the room, we closed the door to the Leninist room, and also started down the stairs.
We did not have time to go down two flights, as the whole barracks was shaken by a terrible blow. There was the impression that even its walls sway. Clouds of cement dust clouded the stairs. By the sound, it became clear that a shell had hit the area of the third floor of the barracks.
Vasily and I rushed upstairs. The door to the Leninist room was wide open. Having run into it, we saw the following picture: all the chairs and tables were turned over and splintered by fragments. Stands that decorated the walls of the room, too, were torn off by a blast wave and lay on the floor. There was a through hole in the brick wall, 40 centimeters in diameter. Bricks fragments covered the floor of the room.
A shell pierced through the main wall and exploded inside. It is terrible to imagine what would have happened if Vasya had not been thrown out of the refugee premises, a couple of minutes before the projectile hit him ...
When they saw what the Leninist room had become, they thanked us for a long time.
It is amazing that the TV, dropped by the blast wave from the bedside table, was not damaged from the fragments, and even kept working. We later turned it on, and it was in working condition.
Occasionally correspondents and journalists from various central and republican media came to our unit. I had to deal with them, talk about the situation in the unit, show signs of shelling, organize conversations with refugees and the wounded. He showed regularly this Lenin room.
Journalists willingly filmed all this, groaned and gasped, promised to make it public, but they didn’t show anything on television, not once during our stay there. There was almost nothing in the newspapers either. Only the “Red Star” on the first page dared to publish a photo from that defeated Leninist room.
Against the background of a hole from a shell, several women and children posed sadly. After our return to Moscow, I accidentally found and kept this issue of the newspaper.
And a few words about pets. When the war began, many residents of the surrounding houses became refugees, or were killed. Almost every house there lived dogs that - also turned out to be abandoned. They came to our part. Apart from the numerous small dogs, I remember several shepherd dogs and a hefty thoroughbred black dog, nicknamed "Baron". Baron this very funny itching. When he was very much overpowered by fleas, he pressed sideways to a long, trimmed shrub on the line at the headquarters of the unit. And he walked along this thorny shrub, first in one direction, then - turned the other side and walked back. It looked very funny, and the Baron’s muzzle, in those moments, radiated pleasure.
The fighters fed the dogs, and they literally clung to people in military uniform, instinctively seeking protection from shelling.
When in the evening the shooting intensified, the dogs stopped running around the area, but kept in different grooves and holes. With a particularly strong shooting - crawled into the headquarters, taking advantage of the slightest opportunity for this. The fact is that with strong shooting - many dogs began to involuntarily "spoil the air", causing this fact, understandable outrage among people. Then the soldier - on duty at the headquarters he took, literally by the tail, some flawed hefty dog and, her mother, dragged the dog out of the headquarters to the fresh air.
What is interesting is that no dog ever snapped at it and did not show the soldier's teeth, they just clutched at the door jambs with their paws, trying to make it difficult to deport. Self-preservation instinct defeated canine pride. Reclining in the bushes, the dogs again sought to slip into the headquarters and hide in it somewhere under the table. Then the picture was repeated. These funny incidents somewhat brightened our mood during the nightly shelling.