Salon Premium has snagged an interview with the infamous Rashid Dostum, who’s notorious for switching sides repeatedly and for having one of his men strapped to the treads of a tank and crushed for some violation. I heard he once shot a man for snoring too loud … anyway, the interviewer asks him directly about the tank incident:

You are notorious for your toughness. I read that one day you punished one of your men by tying him to tank tracks and crushing him.

Someone from CNN asked me about the same story. It must be in a book. This is absolutely untrue. I respect human dignity and don’t remember punishing anyone that way. I love my soldiers and they love me. We’re willing to die for each other every day. But reporters here multiply everything, even jokes. I have heard on Al-Jazeera many times that I had died or was badly wounded. One day I just called them up to complain. Even with different ethnic groups here, I have a good reputation. No one blames me for cruelty.

Dostum on women’s rights:

Women are half the soul of a society. My belief is to treat them as equals to men. That’s why I allowed ladies to work and go to university. Education is not only for men. That’s what we had in Mazar-e Sharif in the past and that’s what we’ll have in the future. I have already announced that women who used to work in offices can now go back to work. Registration at the university has just started. During the negotiations in Bonn, they asked us to name an Uzbek delegation to join the interim government. Out of the six people, there is one lady [I named]. A group of women came to see me the other day wanting to get back to work. During our meeting, I asked them to immediately establish a council that could advise us on these issues and elect a representative who can become my deputy. I’ll listen to their advice.