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Non-Combat Deaths Plague Russian Army

Published: February 26, 2010 (Issue # 1551)


Fifty-eight young men died as a result of non-combat-related causes in the military detachments of the northwestern district in 2009, Igor Lebed, chief military prosecutor of the Leningrad Military District, said Thursday.

Nationwide, the figure totaled 273 deaths, according to the countrys Defense Ministry. Suicides account for more than half of non-combat deaths in the armed forces. According to statistics released on Thursday, 137 people committed suicide in the Russian army in 2009. A further 88 people died as the result of accidents, 20 died in traffic incidents, 17 were murdered, seven died in incidents involving the misuse of weapons, and four died as the result of hazing.

The Defense Ministry estimated that on average, up to 500 recruits die from non-combat-related causes every year in Russia.

But human rights groups contest official statistics and claim the actual number is at least twice as high. Worse still, human rights groups insist hazing cases are often reported as accidental deaths.

The St. Petersburg Soldiers Mothers human rights organization said recruits are driven to suicide by hazing, violence and physical abuse. Some of the letters kept at the organizations headquarters were written by recruits who later committed suicide.

These letters are sometimes brought to the pressure group by desperate parents wishing to sue the military authorities.

Every month, deserters and their relatives flock to us with absolutely chilling stories of torture, forced prostitution and slave labor, said Ella Polyakova, head of Soldiers Mothers.

Investigations into suicides and alleged abuses typically lead nowhere.

Obtaining evidence from a closed structure like the Russian army, which has its own military prosecution system, has proven difficult.

It is a shame that the Russian armed forces are more concerned about their image which they want to preserve at all costs than about establishing the truth and protecting the victims of abuse, said Polyakova.

Unfortunately, in Russia, victims testimonies are not treated seriously enough, she said. Even if we submit a whole pile of testimonies, the prosecutors can easily refuse to open a criminal case, claiming that there is not enough evidence.

Basically, what happens is that the prosecutors weigh the testimonies of the deserters against the word of the officers; needless to say the victims do not stand a chance, Polyakova added.





 


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Wednesday, Apr. 23


Problems facing the elderly are in the spotlight at Senior Generation 2014, an international forum at LenExpo beginning today that focuses on drawing attention to and providing information about some of societys most vulnerable members. An exhibition combined with a trade fair will help those interested be better equipped to help this demographic.



Thursday, Apr. 24


Learn more about Denmark during the Danish Business Delegations visit to SPIBA this evening starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Danish Culture Institute. Danish Consul general Klaus Sorensen will be in attendance and the buffet following a presentation on Danish companies in Russia will be the perfect opportunity to network with the assembled businessmen.


AmChams Human Resources Committee Meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. this morning in their St. Petersburg office. Check their website for more details.



Friday, Apr. 25


Light Music presents the main events for their Cultural Kitchen project at Loft-Project Etagi today. A B2B event that focuses on Finnish food, arts, travel, music and design, the evening will conclude with a dinner by chef Jyrki Tsutsunen and dancing to music by Aino Venna. The event, which began yesterday with presentations by tourism and cultural institutions, concludes today with a preview of Finlands Flow festival and other musical events. Invitations are available from www.culturalkitchen.fi.



Saturday, Apr. 26


At 6 p.m. this evening, stylist Liliana Modigliani offers 50 simple ways to up your style quotient with beauty tips at the Galeria shopping center on Ligovsky Prospekt. The event is part of the final day of the shopping malls Fashion Saturday sales event, this week focusing on top brands located on the ground floor as well as presentation from fashion experts on sprucing up your spring look.



Sunday, Apr. 27


Families shouldnt miss Childhood Planet 2014, the trade fair that started yesterday and concludes today at LenExpo. Not only will goods and services be provided for children and families but the event hopes to promote Russian brands and eco-friendly products using the latest technology available in the childcare industry.



Monday, Apr. 28


The Hotel Indigo will be the site of SPIBAs Acting Skills for HR and Other Managers master class this morning starting at 9 a.m. The event will begin with coffee before moving on to the class itself and conclude with a tour of the recently opened hotel. Confirm attendance by Apr. 24.



Tuesday, Apr. 29


Improve your English at the British Book Centers Interactive English Lesson tonight at 6 p.m. Students at pre-intermediate and intermediate levels are welcome discuss topics that are selected to help learners master the more difficult aspects of English grammar and vocabulary.