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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Annals of Russian "Patriotism"

The BBC reports on how Russians love their country, and how their country loves them right back:

Russia Plesetsk map
Pte Sergei Sinkonen was beaten by two drunken superiors, then thrown into a kennel with guard dogs, officials say. He was found in a coma the next day and underwent an emergency operation, but died of his head wounds. Bullying incidents are frequent in the Russian armed forces, sometimes resulting in the deaths of soldiers, either by killing or by suicide.

Sinkonen, 21, was a conscript from the northern city of Petrozavodsk, serving with the space troops at Plesetsk, a cosmodrome used to launch mainly military satellites.

Two weeks ago, he and another soldier were beaten by two officers who had been drinking heavily at a wedding celebration. Doctors said belt buckles had been used to inflict severe injuries on Pte Sinkonen's head.

Dozens of deaths

Russian military prosecutors are investigating the case as one of "exceeding professional authority" - a vague Russian legal definition most often applied to torture cases, BBC Russian affairs analyst Steven Eke reports. Harsh physical discipline has historically been a feature of Russian military life, he adds, but bullying now claims the deaths of dozens of young men every year. It is the major reason why most Russian families do everything possible to help their sons avoid military service, he says.

Monsters and Critics has more on the story:

After the deadly abuse of a soldier at the Russian Plessezk space base, Defence Minister Anatoli Serdyukov has dismissed its commander, the Interfax news agency reported on Wednesday quoting military sources. According to the sources, the major general was responsible for the situation. The Russian military has repeatedly made headlines with the torture of soldiers. The 21-year-old soldier was beaten up so badly by two of his drunk superiors in mid-August that he died of his injuries. The forces at the rocket base near the city of Archangelsk are considered elite units. According to statistics by the Defence Ministry, during the first half of this year more than 260 soldiers died off duty - most of them took their own lives. Every year thousands of young recruits are injured in abuse by superiors), where many soldiers suffer lasting damage. Parents often pay substantial bribes to save their sons from conscription, media reports say. The public prosecution on Wednesday brought charges against an ensign who is believed to have beaten up the 21-year old. The second suspect, a captain, was currently being treated in a psychiatric unit, news agencies reported. Another soldier, who was also abused, survived the attacked.

Barbarism, pure and simple.

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