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Russian Defense Ministry Fires Command At Notorious Base

The Russian military has been plagued by cases of hazing and abuse in recent years.

The Russian military has been plagued by cases of hazing and abuse in recent years.

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Russian Defense Ministry has dismissed the command of the Kamenka military unit near St. Petersburg, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Kamenka became a notorious Russian Army base this year after numerous reports of the bullying and beating of recruits.

Today's dismissal of a platoon commander, the company commander, the chief of staff, a battalion commander, the 138th motorized rifle brigade's commander, and two of his deputies came as a result of a government inspection at Kamenka after a scandal in early October over hazing practices.

Contractor Vladimir Romanov and conscript Aleksei Banetsky, who ran away from his Kamenka unit, had reported that three sergeants beat 16 soldiers and broke one soldier's jaw.

Romanov's father, who came to the unit to protect his son, said later that he had been dragged out of his car and was also severely beaten by officers of the unit.

Criminal cases against three sergeants were initiated as a result. Two sergeants were accused of exceeding their authority and causing bodily harm and the third charged with abusing his power.

Ella Polyakova, chairwoman of the Soldiers Mothers' Committee in Petersburg, told RFE/RL that the Defense Ministry showed its political will by dismissing the entire command at Kamenka. Polyakova said her organization is pleased with the results.

Meanwhile, the commander of the Leningrad Military District has also fired five St. Petersburg military commissioners.

Romanov has since been sent into the military reserves after the discovery of a medical condition, and Banetsky terminated his contract with the military.