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Russian Military Court Sentences Sergeant For Hazing

Ella Polyakova

Ella Polyakova

ST. PETERSBURG -- A military court in Russia's Leningrad Oblast sentenced a sergeant today from the Kamenka military base for beating young conscripts, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

He was given a three-year suspended sentence.

An investigation into reports that new recruits were being beaten by several sergeants at Kamenka was launched last year.

Two sergeants have been sentenced in the last two months. One received a suspended sentence of 3 1/2 years, while the other was sentenced to four years in jail.

Ella Polyakova, the chairwoman of the nongovernmental organization Soldiers' Mothers of St. Petersburg, told RFE/RL that the sentences are too mild.

"Since the case was investigated by the Military Court, they tried to cover up the case," Polyakova said. "Those 16 young soldiers were severely beaten; one of them lost his gall bladder. Nobody protected them; the verdicts show that the investigations were weak and superficial."

She added that even when such cases make it to court, privates and sergeants are usually the ones who are punished, not more senior officers.

Kamenka became a notorious Russian Army base last year after numerous reports of the bullying and beating of recruits, some who desserted their units and at least one who committed suicide.

The base's entire military command was dismissed by the Russian Defense Ministry in December.