Monday, March 15, 2010

Letter from Dmitry in Russia


Congratulations, you are a very popular man. Your articles and book about survival in times of crisis are read around the world :) In one of the sites I found an interesting article on the experience of survival during the civil war in Abkhazia (unrecognized state). I hope that it will interest you. Of course, it is unprofessional translation.
A few words about Abkhazia. In Soviet times, Abkhazia was called the Abkhazian Soviet  Autonomous Republic and Abkhazia was part of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the government of Georgia abolished the autonomy of Abkhazia. But the government of Abkhazia declared its withdrawal from Georgia. And proclaimed an independent Republic of Abkhazia. The Georgian government urgently created a so-called National Guard. It consisted of parts of the former Soviet Army. In addition, some criminals released from prison and they too became part of the Georgian National Guard. The National Guard quickly captured a significant part of the territory of Abkhazia and its capital city of Sukhumi in summer 1992 years. However, in late 1993 year Georgian forces were defeated. Abkhazia is now de facto independent state. This is a very brief history of the conflict, but if you want to learn more about the history of the conflict, it is important to remember one thing. The real truth you do not know.
The Georgian point of view is that it is a war against separatists, who were supported by Russia. Georgian forces are noble warriors which fought bravely for their country. Abkhazian forces were the crowd of barbarians that killed the civilian Georgian population in Abkhazia. And there is still imperial Russia, which wants to enslave the peaceful democratic Georgia.
Abkhazian is right. Georgians have oppressed for many centuries the poor Abkhazians. Now it is time for the independence. But the vile Georgians do not want it. They sent hordes of bandits in a peaceful republic. These bandits killed and robbed civilians. However noble Abkhazian militia protected civilians from these damned bandits. Thanks to Russia that helped us.
The true facts. In this war there were not noble Georgian troops. This not National Guard. It's was a horde of bandits. In this war there were no noble Abkhazian forces.  And there was no noble Abkhazian army. This army is not much different from the Georgian National Guard. Russia has helped Abkhazia. It's true. Russia helped Georgia. This is also true. Why? Do not forget that the Soviet Union collapsed recently. Of 15 pseudo-independent territories. These territories was not a real states. These territories don't have real army, police, money.  And in these areas has been a very hard struggle for power. The struggle for power in Georgia. The struggle for power in Russia. Therefore, some clans in Russia supported the government in Tbilisi (capital of Georgia). Other clans in Russia supported the government in Sukhumi (the capital of Abkhazia).
This is not a noble war for a united Georgia. This is not a noble war for independence. It's just a civil war. Dirty and horrible like all wars.
More photos about this war in http://cyxymu.livejournal.com/57670.html
the example of Abkhazia Eyewitness
Part I: History of one city
       Submitting your material on Argentina made a strong impression. I have personal experience of survival in similar conditions, in Abkhazia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Switching-off electricity, gas, water and central heating in the subtropical climate Sukhumi it's very serious situations, but it not full catastrophe. Issues about heating were solved with the help of stoves, in parks and streets people have cut down trees. Apartment building immediately turned into a stinking and cool cesspool: without of water use the toilet is not easy. The first ominous sign of the irreversibility of the coming chaos this cessation of work of services on garbage cleaning. After a week in all areas of city huge piles garbage grow. Rats multiply exponentially, and in some cases with explosive progression, they safely run in the streets, not even afraid of dogs. Dogs quickly became too wild, going in predatory flocks as wolves. In the grocery stores shelves within a few days were completely empty...
       Here I describe the situation where the government still somehow functioning: people go to work, rode trolleys and bus, somehow working airport, it was possible in the car to go to Sochi for food and gasoline. In sea port it was possible to buy fresh fish directly by the ship. But the railway has already been exploded.  I was working nightshifts with a Niva as taxi driver. It was dangerous, scary, petrol as trash, I'm didn’t know if there was a road ahead. Not once had I found myself in such dangerous situation ... Now I probably would not have risked, because I was without any weapons! And the price of the machine was disproportionately higher than a human life according to the owner. Maybe, I did it because, I was young.
Up until the late autumn of 1991 years, we continued to actively build our out-of-town house. The state control over the distribution of goods collapsed and black and gray market of construction materials and services immediately appeared. And this market was rapidly growing and functioning properly. After those times when there was a limit on the amount of bricks, slate boards and distributed the trade union committee controlled and approved by the communist party committee, free black market it something fantastic!
               At work, we stopped doing real science! Management of my Institute was wise, those people who could earn money, got good profit. On work we were engaged only in what could make quickly profit.  For example, my friend did inverters for accumulators, who change 12v -> 220v. And I sold more unneeded accumulators for my institution. In time when electric power is often off, this business brought good profits. Dining rooms in the state enterprises have become a semi-private cafes. In such cafes and in the markets always it was possible to buy fresh home-made bread. But bread from the state bakeries could be bought only on shops on the established norm. Or direct on a bakery through a hole in a fence. People have started to adapt to new conditions.
In unheated apartments temperature was about 8 degrees Celsius. Day temperature on the street was just above, than temperature in apartments. Most people opened the windows, when they go to work. We are always warmly dressed, everywhere. We even sleep wearing a coat!
For survival, it has helped to have good and warm equipment and experience in alpine expeditions, in my opinion. There were many other large and small details and methods of survival, specific for the time and place. When existed though any civil power, it was possible to live. And to hope for the best. And the situation slowly improved.
But the situation quickly changed. One morning we were awakened by strange sounds. I looked out the window and saw a tank in the street. After the first shot from tanks in the surrounding buildings were broken glass in windows. Former wife of my friend was shot right in front of the house in front of parents and young son. The gate from the garage of my another friend was hacked by other militants. His car was taken in tow. Some time later they came home to him and they said: Give us the documents of the car. In the toilet-room, they laid down old newspapers. They locked up my friend there and set fire to the newspapers. My friend was lucky. The militants saw a new set of wheels for the car. So they did not wait for the death of my friend and went away early. My friend lived. Such stories are countless. The mentality of people is indeed changing circumstances. Note that in both cases they weren’t street thugs, but "soldiers", though not all in uniform, but with military weapons and doing it openly on broad daylight.
Yes, we have seen that such riots and ethnic fighting (Summer 1989-th) when two or even three days have been of complete lawlessness. But later a central government introduced the troops, the state of emergency and curfew. Now that was another situation. The central government no longer was.
We miraculously left the city on the Niva. Flats succeeded to sell. But the dacha couldn’t be sold. The transaction has not taken place, because the child by future buyers was kidnapped. We thrown our dacha, I left from Abkhazia on 31 July. Two weeks later a bloody nightmare started. Of the total number of our friends, it is a few hundred people actually were to prepared for the crisis only a few people. Yes, and our own rapid departure was in some measure a miracle and a surprise for us.
Part II Survival notes.
I agree with a companion from Argentina, most reliable and effective means is leave the country at the right time and in the right direction. But there is one feature. Here us are in home, it is our motherland. We do not need of another country .  Of course, we relaxed over the years of illusory prosperity. Six years ago, when I sold the apartment I bought in the suburbs the plot of land with the unfinished house. In this house there were no windows and doors. While the winter did not come, I installed the windows and the doors in my new house. Also I installed boiler on the firewood's. The first winter was very hard. In next year we installed natural gas piping, we dug a well and I conducted water in the house. Now we have a diesel generator of 3 kW and inverter with batteries of 1000 Ampere-hours. We have partridges and chickens, later we want to take a goat. Why not life? I note that except gas and water all is done with own hands. This can be a reality, if you have a good head and skillful hands. And most importantly, of course, with the help of God and prayer.
       Now I live in small town with the population of a city of  about 100000 persons. Nevertheless, we remember these apartments buildings in Sukhumi and what happened to them and their inhabitants. Our city is located 100 km from Moscow, it is at a little distance. Impossible to imagine that there will be a time of crisis in big city, for example in Moscow. Cold and flooded with shit Moscow it is not Sukhumi and even Buenos Aires where three days was no electricity. It will be worse than New Orleans, where the first rescuers and police went crazy. But they saw only the consequences of the catastrophe. What can we say about the inhabitants of the city? American government thought not long, simply closed a city on quarantine. This is simple and easy exit in this situations. The Government made the correct news, it's all right. And this is the richest and most powerful country and the economy of the world! What will be of  us, if a catastrophe ever happens? Oh, my God!
      For choosing the car I completely agree with our friend. But in my opinion, the simplest and most true option is "Lada Niva". Once in Abkhazia I stayed in a building out of city. Later I had to go to a city, but local residents blocked the only road. Of course, they wouldn’t disassembled a barrier specially for me, but they pointed out the very bad path around  the main road. This was a very bad path,  but I passed this path.
Another variant of movement in the city is a bicycle. How it was in Sukhumi. A bicycle is stored in a flat or office, for bicycle don't need gasoline or garage. With mass transition to this mode of transport this does not attract unnecessary attention to us. But You need a good lock and chain, if you go to the post office or shop.
Substitute money. With regard to gold and diamonds I can not say anything, I had none. But we know truly Russian way, our national currency. We need to buy 2-3 boxes of the worst vodka (90 rubles a bottle, about 3 $). It will not cost a lot. Quality in this case is not so important, the main thing is that these bottles must be produced at the factory (Note from FerFAL: Factory made, not some home brewed liquor of uncertain quality and origin) . In our Russian conditions for sure it acquires almost everything, for example of cosmetics, perfumes and candies.
Electricity. Autonomic electricity in a city apartment is very problematic task. The petrol electric generator on the balcony isn’t a good solution. A beautiful solution is rechargeable battery with an inverter such as uninterruptible power source (UPS). But keep in mind, Not all the Chinese UPS can start a refrigerator, as the initial starting currents can be 10 times higher than normal values therefore in UPS may be start short-circuit protection.
After the refrigerator main consumers - it is light and a TV with a computer. It is necessary to take care of electric illumination now. I recommend to use compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), also known as energy saving lamp (Note from FerFAL: Dealextreme sells LED light bulbs).  They consume less energy than standard incandescent lamp and they normally worked with insufficient voltage. Although these lamps are much more expensive than incandescent bulbs (100 rubles or $3), they are worth the money. It should be noted that the quality of electricity would be very bad (if there’s any at all). Constantly will be a jumps voltage up to 300 volts or down to 100 volts. You must think about a voltage stabilizer!
Recently my son brought a pack of Chinese lighters with built-in LEDs, very cheap, (5 rubles thing / about $ 0.20). Also, I recommend Chinese portable LED lamp with hand generator (less than 100 rubles per piece / about $ 3). We also purchased a Chinese garden lights with LEDs, with accumulators and solar panels. We wished to make emergency illumination in the house. Unfortunately, these lights were working just a few days and nights. And later they not work. I think, the main problem is bad quality of solar panels. Maybe someone came across really normal lamp? I would have bought
A Power generator. Stand-alone power generators for home are now readily available. Recommendations for choosing it's theme for a separate article. The main condition is the choice of electric power, the installed capacity should be sufficient to supply all appliances. Since it is difficult to assume that all appliances will be used at the same time, there is some margin for power for start refrigerators and pumps.  After a long break in the power supply, You must not connect electric devices all at once, otherwise an engine will be turned off. You must necessarily take this into account! In addition, You dont need a more powerful electric generator. Too powerful generator it's excessive noise and increased fuel consumption. Do not forget that the generator consumes fuel, regardless of what is you need to include, for example the pump, refrigerator, welding machine, or just a TV and a laptop. Petrol generator in two or more times cheaper than diesel generator. However, diesel generators are more simple and more durable. Also important to me is that you can safely store the barrel of diesel fuel in the garage. But I'm afraid to store in the garage a barrel of petrol.
Communication. Unfortunately, our Argentine friend almost completely ignores the issues of communication and communication as they are essential to our lives in an emergency. On the its experience I can say that the phones continued to work, when nothing has worked. Telephone exchange as vital facilities management, are reserved for the power supply is incomparably better than the hospitals and maternity homes. But it's wired telephony. For example, in my house there’s no wired telephone. I can not imagine that mobile telephony will work in times of crisis.  If mobile phones dont work, how do you call the police, fire department or ambulance? Not that they would come anyway or that they want to come even if they could. In any case, during a crisis I guarantee the disruption of any telephone communication. Therefore, you need to buy several radio stations such as walkie-talkie. And give them to trusted friends. If one of them still has a working phone, they will help you call for help. And in any case, the voice of a friend adds to your strength in a difficult situation.
Dmitry from Russia

Thanks Dmitry, its always good to read your experience and learn from it.
I edited the letter some so as to improve the translation a bit more.
About communications, I recommend getting a scanner in the 400.000 Mhz to 470.000 Mhz range. That will cover most police bands, ERT and government agencies. Check the Mhz used by your local police to make sure, just in case. Remember its illegal to transmit on some of these frequencies in some countries, or to use the information illegally, but it IS legal if you just listen. Just to make sure, check your own laws and do follow them.


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