Young conscript soldiers being “disciplined” for being deserters or committing other petty crimes. WARNING video contains disturbing content
Conscription in Russia is a 12 month draft, mandatory for all male citizens age 18–27. The mandatory term of service was reduced from 18 months at the beginning of 2008.
“Dedovshchina” is the subjection of new junior conscripts to brutalization by the conscripts serving their last year of compulsory military service, as well as NCOs and officers. It is often cited as a major source of poor morale in the ranks.
In the last 25 years, the abuse in the Russian army has risen to human rights violations.
Young men are killed or commit suicide every year because of dedovshchina. Tens of thousands of soldiers run away, while thousands more are left physically and or mentally scarred.
The Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia was created in 1989 in order to protect the rights of young soldiers.
In 2012, a draftee from Chelyabinsk region, Ruslan Aiderkhanov, was raped and tortured to death by his seniors. The lone witness who testified against the alleged perpetrators, Danil Chalkin, was later found shot dead in his military base. A contract soldier, Alikbek Musabekov was later arrested in this incident. (read news report here)
veteran of the Chechen war:
“It’s no longer a secret in Russia. It’s existed for 30 years. We never talk about it in the media, but nothing has changed. They’re just the rules of the game. If you have a son, you know one day he’ll have to leave for two years to do military service, and that for those two years, he’ll be beaten. The military reflects society, therefore, if society is cruel, the military will be cruel.”
Russian soldier jailed for abuse
A Russian soldier has been sentenced to 4 years in jail for abusing a conscript soldier so badly that his legs and genitals required amputation.
The incident took place at the Chelyabinsk Tank Academy in the Ural Mountains on New Year’s Eve 2005, while Sgt Sivyakov’s unit went on a drinking spree to celebrate the holiday.
The conscript soldier was tied to a chair and beaten, and made to crouch for so long that the blood flow to his legs was cut off and he developed gangrene.
Nine months after the attack, he remains in hospital.
Sivyakov, was convicted of exceeding his authority and using violence. He always denied any wrongdoing.
The prosecution had demanded a penalty of six years in jail. Pte Sychev’s family denounced the punishment – even before it was handed out – as inadequate.
More than 6,000 soldiers were victims of abuse last year, the military has said.
According to the UN International Panel for Struggle against Sexual Exploitation, the Russian army is plagued with male prostitution. A small amount of money is enough to find a Russian soldier-prostitute in the center of Moscow.
Servicemen may become male prostitutes in the Russian army for various reasons. There are young men who voluntarily offer sexual favors to their homosexual clients; others are forced into prostitution against their own will. Newcomers, especially those who finished higher schools before joining the army, suffer from sexual harassment more often than others. Brave soldiers try to protect their honor and rights, although there is no one to help them: commanders and military officials may often be involved in the sex business too.
“When I was standing on duty, two bullies came up to me and shoved me into the stockroom, a soldier serving at one of Moscow’s military units recollects. “They raped me there in turn. It was very painful and revolting. It didn’t take them much time to finish, but the next day I started noticing other soldiers giving me strange looks. I instantly realized that those bastards let everyone know what they had done to me. An officer came up to me one day and said to me point-blank: “Tomorrow you will to serve two clients.” I knew that if I said “no” then I would spend my last days spitting blood. But still, I told him “no.” When the officer heard that, he pulled out pictures of me being raped in the stockroom. “If you don’t serve the clients, you mother will see these pictures,” said he. I was forced into prostitution,” the soldier said.
Another serviceman, named only as Ilya, became a male prostitute during his second month in the army. The young man received a letter from his girlfriend. “The sergeant told me that day that I would no longer need girls. He and three other men forced me to go behind the barracks to the abandoned construction site. They made me kneel their, tied me up to a lamppost and hit me several times in the groin. The pain was so strong that I lost the will to fight them back. They made me open my mouth and raped me. I don’t remember how long it continued. When I came to my senses I didn’t want to live. I was seriously thinking about committing suicide. I was shocked that the rapists were visiting me regularly afterwards bringing fruit and vodka for me. When it ended they made me a prostitute,” Ilya said.
There were many incidents when soldiers prefer bid farewell to their lives being unable to cope with humiliation. However, military officials mostly say that such stories occur because of the unbalanced state of mind of the soldiers.
Boys beaten by older officer. The abuse gets gradually worse
International group Human Rights Watch has published a detailed study of what it calls “horrific violence” against new conscripts in the Russian army.
The 86-page report was called “The Wrongs of Passage: Inhuman and Degrading Treatment of New Recruits in the Russian Armed Forces”
The report says organized bullying has not only continued since Soviet times, but has become harsher.
Human Rights Watch says that although the abuse has been known about for several years, Russia’s leadership has done nothing to address the problem.
One conscript, Alexander D, told Human Rights Watch that “the one way to avoid physical abuse was complete submission – turning into a ‘lackey’ who does whatever he is asked no matter how humiliating or senseless”.
He says he was repeatedly beaten for refusing to sew collars on senior soldiers’ jackets. Another time Alexander D’s belongings were taken away and he was sent out, along with others, to beg for money to buy vodka.
The situation is exacerbated by the fact that most conscripts are ill-educated and frequently come from backgrounds with severe social problems, the report says.
Many junior officers either do not care about the welfare of their soldiers, or passively encourage the bullying as it gives a certain “discipline” to the barrack block.
First-year conscripts could also be forced to act out an old army joke called “dried crocodile”, he says.
The conscripts had to put their hands and feet on the posts at the head and feet of the bed and remain in push-up position for long periods of time.
“They [the dedy] lie down on the bed [beneath you] and God forbid you fall. They beat you up and then start from scratch. Sometimes they even burn your leg from down there… when they were drunk they could make you hang all night.”
March 1994 – Mass shooting committed by two abuse victims
MOSCOW — For months, the two young draftees had been subjected to the routine cruelty inflicted on Russian army recruits. Then came a painful, ritualized hazing to mark the completion of basic training.
Such abuse is common throughout Russia’s armed forces. Its teenage victims frequently end up with serious injuries. An alarming number are killed or driven to commit suicide.
Almost always, the mistreatment is ignored or covered up. This time, though, the results were so unusual-and so ghastly-that there was no way the army could keep them secret.
The tragedy unfolded at a remote base on a bleak, impoverished island in the Pacific Ocean. In the wee hours of the morning last Tuesday, the two recruits decided they had had enough. They crept into the room where their tormentors were sleeping and opened fire with machine guns.
When the shooting stopped, 6 soldiers were dead and 3 others were badly wounded, according to official reports. The two recruits, identified only as Beltsov and Agdashev, then held off an army assault, even shooting down a helicopter, before finally surrendering hours later.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the barracks murders on the tiny island of Tanfilyev near Japan is how little they shocked ordinary Russians, who long have accepted vicious brutality as an unavoidable fact of military life.
“The relationship between older and younger soldiers is very primitive, almost on a savage level,” said Vladimir Romanov, a retired army colonel who did five years of research on the physical and psychological abuse of recruits and now teaches at a Moscow military academy.
“The root of the problem lies in the broader society, where people have been dehumanized and denied their rights for such a long time. The situation in the army is just a mirror of this. New recruits are treated like they have no rights. Older soldiers feel they can do whatever they like to them.”
FULL STORY HERE In Russia’s Army, Cruelty A Way Of Life
SUICIDE OR MURDER?
It is suspected that many reported suicides in the Russian Army are in fact cases where the soldiers were simply “hazed to death”. Read about the case of Ruslan Ayderkhanov here The Ayderkhanov Case.
Official letter from the Human Rights group “Memorial” addressed to the president of the Russian Federation Appeal to President Medvedev by Human Rights Defenders on the Death of Ruslan Ayderkhanov
“The lost boys” – photo series by Heidi Bradner about Russian conscript soldiers in Chechnya, most of them inexperienced 18-19 years olds
The currency of passage at Russian checkpoints in Chechnya was often cigarettes. Sometimes it was food to fight off starvation. The Union of Soldiers’ Mothers Committees of Russia joined with Chechen women in Nazran to find their lost sons, often lacking even basic information such as the regiment name. Critics claimed that the Russian army treated its conscripts as cannon fodder or slave labour for officers. Source: theaftermathproject.org
Two young conscripts humiliated, then physically abused by a larger group in the dorm rooms
Read more in Torture and atrocities – “In Russia, winning wars has always been a matter of quantity, not quality,” said one conscript. “They don’t even count us as losses. We’re just meat.” A few episodes describe young “poorly-dressed exhausted soldiers” being sent ahead of the infamous mop up operations to check passports. They warn villagers of the massacre that the “bloodhounds” (Special Forces teams and contract soldiers) are being sent to carry on soon.
Read more in Chechnya veterans – How Russia treats its ‘heroes’ – Orders given under the influence of alcohol lead to unnecessary loss of young conscripts’ lives. Neglect by government, authorities and medical staff. For survivors – the return to a life of poverty, social rejection and humiliation.