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Hazing [Dedovshchina]

Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Andrei Kartapolov at a round table in the framework of the Army-2020 forum said that there were no such concepts as "hazing" and "barracks hooliganism" left in the Russian army. This was reported in the joint press center of the Army-2020 International Military-Technical Forum 26 August 2020. "In his speech, Colonel-General Andrei Kartapolov drew particular attention to the correctly chosen direction of joint actions to establish the statutory order in the armed forces, which resulted in a significant reduction in the number of military crimes, completely eradicated such a concept as" bullying ", in turn influenced the quality of conscription and the desire of Russian citizens to do military service in the ranks of the armed forces," the message said.

In addition, the head of the Main Directorate of the Military Police of the Russian Defense Ministry, Colonel-General Sergei Kuralenko, noted that a positive result in establishing the statutory order was achieved thanks to preventive work aimed at preventing crimes and suppressing disciplinary offenses.

Various abuses against military servicemen continue, including but not limited to the violent hazing of junior recruits in the armed services, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and border guards. Press reports during 2006 cited serving and former armed forces personnel, the main military prosecutor's office, and NGOs monitoring conditions in the armed forces as indicating that such mistreatment often included beatings or threats of increased hazing to extort money or material goods.

As of 31 August 2006, according to Prosecutor General Yuriy Chayka, hazing incidents led to more than 100 soldiers suffered injuries. The number of hazing cases and use of physical force by commanders grew by 3 percent, and there were more than 3,500 cases of hazing reported. According to the chief military prosecutor, the number of registered crimes and service-related accidents in the Armed Forces decreased by 2 percent from the previous year, to 21,252 cases this year. The number of grave crimes in the armed Forced decreased by 7 percent, while the number of murders dropped by 18.8 percent. There was some variation in reported statistics; other sources reported increases.

According to the Ministry of Defense, there were 1,318 casualties recorded during 2006 (not including casualties in the Internal Troops, special units, Border Guards, or Emergency Situation Ministry, which are recorded individually. The ministry earlier reported that 554 servicemen died in the Armed Forces during 2006. Among those, 210 servicemen committed suicide and 27 died in hazing attacks.The ministry maintained that 43 percent of the suicides were due to personal relationship problems and 23 percent were due to the hardships of military service. Approximately 19 percent of the casualties (250) were killed by other military personnel.

By the end of 2006, the Moscow Committee of Soldiers' Mothers registered over 1000 complaints from conscripts and parents, mostly related to beatings. Servicemen also complained about sexual abuse, torture, and enslavement. Soldiers often did not report hazing to either unit officers or military prosecutors due to fear of reprisals, since in some cases officers reportedly tolerated or even encouraged such hazing as a means of controlling their units. Officers reportedly also used beatings to discipline soldiers.

Hazing reportedly was a particularly serious problem in units that had previously served in areas of military conflict.

One high profile-case involved the hazing of private Andrey Sychov, 19, a first-year conscript at the Chelyabinsk Armor Academy. In December 2005 servicemen brutally beat and tortured Sychov at the Chelyabinsk Tank Academy, and Sychov had to have his legs and genitals amputated. The Sychov case prompted the State Duma to hold hearings on discipline in the armyin February.Minister of Defense Ivanov testified and attributed hazing incidents to a "morally pathological society" and violence in the media. On January 30, President Putin ordered the Ministry of Defense to draft "legal and organizational measures" to boost "the work of education and upbringing" in the military. Also in February 2006 President Putin ordered the Ministry of Defense to create a military police force tasked with ending hazing, fighting criminal activity, and restoring discipline.

In March 2006 the Council of Europe issued a report on the situation in the Russian Army and the practice of hazing. The report stated that the situation is extremely worrying and noted that in the view of both NGOs and conscripts themselves, young recruits lived through real torment. According to the report, deaths occur every year among young conscripts who have been ill-treated, subjected to initiation rites, suffered accidents, committed suicide or suffered untreated illnesses. Between 50 and 80 percent of all conscripts and young servicemen are reported to be subjected to physical violence, initiation rites, beatings, rape or humiliation on the orders of superiors or their peers. Dedovshchina (hazing) very widely practiced, and the authorities seem unable to gauge the extent of the problem.

After a three-month trial, a Chelyabinsk military court on 26 September 2006 convicted Junior Sergeant Aleksandr Sivyakov, who had consistently maintained his innocence, on five charges in the Sychov case, including "exceeding authority, resulting in grave consequences," and sentenced him to four years, less time already served, in a medium-security penal colony. Sivyakov was also stripped of his rank, banned from holding a command position for three years, and ordered to pay $825 (22,000 rubles) to cover the cost of transporting witnesses and experts to the court. The prosecution and defense both intended to appeal the conviction: the prosecution for a stiffer sentence and the defense for a new trial. Two codefendants in the trial, Private Pavel Kuzmenko and Private Gennadiy Bilimovich, were convicted of hazing a soldier of equal rank and given suspended sentences of 1 1/2 years, followed by a year of probation. Sivyakov could be eligible for parole after two years; since he had served nine months of his sentence, he could be free in 15 months.

In February 2006 local media reported that three recruits from Tyumen Oblast serving at Yekaterinburg's military base No. 32 were hospitalized as a result of hazing. One of them, Anton Afanasyev reportedly was first hospitalized and operated on following a brutal beating by fellow servicemen in September 2005.After two months in hospital, he returned to his unit, only to be beaten again in January, according to statements by his mother to the press. The second, Yuriy Afanasenko, was said to have been beaten by older soldiers on New Year's Eve (2005-06) in the same way as Andrey Sychov. Despite his swollen legs, Afanasenko reportedly received no help from military medics for several days. The third soldier, identified as Aleksandr Laptev, reportedly tried to commit suicide in late January because of beatings. A spokesperson for the Volga-Urals military district said that reports of violent hazing at Yekaterinburg's military base No. 32 were "greatly exaggerated," and that "not every bruise a soldier has is a result of dedovshchina." The officer added that facts were being distorted because of the "hysteria" over Sychov's case.

Hazing reportedly was also a serious problem in the Russian Pacific Fleet units. On 08 March 2006, in Vladivostok, it was reported that a local sailor was so severely beaten that he could not stand. At first his attackers hid him in their quarters, but when found, he was sent to various hospitals, misdiagnosed, and accused of trying to avoid his duties. Whenever his mother called his unit, officers told her he was "on duty" and did not mention his injuries. After arriving in Vladivostok, she had to go to the military prosecutor's office in order to convince officials to open an investigation. According to a press report, only after the mother met with a reporter, did military officials apparently become more responsive.

Local and national news reports during 2006 highlighted measures taken by the Russian Pacific Fleet to stem military hazing in its ranks. Select groups of officers attended courses on psychological causes of military hazing. Navy officials expressed optimism that the training will help reduce the number of criminal hazing incidents in the navy.

Both the Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committee (USMC) and the main military prosecutor's office received numerous reports during 2006 about "nonstatutory relations," in which officers or sergeants physically assaulted or humiliated their subordinates. Despite the acknowledged seriousness of these problems, the leadership of the Armed Forces made only superficial efforts to implement substantive reforms in training, education, and administration programs within units to combat abuse.




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