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A Russian soldier in Chechnya (file photo) 11 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Suicides, murders, accidents, and other non-combat deaths in the Russian military totaled 98 last month.

The figures, published on the Defense Ministry's website, brought the total of non-combat deaths to 445 since the start of the year, including 73 servicemen killed in May.

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov announced at the end of June that he would publish casualty figures regularly under a policy of greater openness following Russian press reports that 46 soldiers died off the battlefield in just one week.

Official casualty figures from Chechnya, where the military is fighting its second anti-insurgency war in a decade, are markedly lower than those estimated by human rights groups and officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

According to the website, two soldiers died in Chechnya in June, one not in combat, and two disappeared. Independent sources report fatalities in Russian ranks almost daily.

(AFP)
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