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Russian Defense Minister Says Hazing Scandal Being Stoked --> Defense Minister Ivanov (file photo) (epa) 15 February 2006 -- Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov today accused unnamed politicians and social activists in Russia of stoking a recent army hazing scandal to score political points.

Ivanov also accused some Russian media of presenting a "negative image" of the country's armed forces.

"Yes, an outrageous incident took place in a Chelyabinsk tank college, which caused well-founded indignation among all reasonable people," Ivanov said. "Yes, unfortunately, crimes and accidents do take place in the armed forces, and we are not disclaiming any responsibility. But it must be noted -- as trivial as this may sound -- that our army is part of Russian society."

Ivanov addressed members of the State Duma lower house of parliament today following a recent brutal hazing incident that sparked public outrage.

The incident in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk over the New Year holidays left a conscript maimed for life.

Ivanov acknowledged rising crime in the armed forces but said incidents like the one in Chelyabinsk should not be used as "an excuse for making sweeping, indiscriminate accusations" against the military.

He said the army was considering a recent proposal to set up a military police force but said that would not solve problems once and for all.


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