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Russian Soldiers Complain Of Maggot-Infested Food

Russian soldiers based on a tiny Pacific island claim they have been served food crawling with insect larvae for months. (illustrative photo)

Russian soldiers based on a tiny Pacific island claim they have been served food crawling with insect larvae for months. (illustrative photo)

After a string of hazing scandals and mounting calls to provide soldiers with proper socks instead of footwraps, Russia's military is once again in the hot seat -- this time over food that was allegedly infested with maggots.

Troops in Russia's eastern Sakhalin region claim they have been served meals crawling with the maggots for more than a month.

Officers and soldiers at the base, on the tiny Pacific island of Kunashir, took pictures of the maggots and sent a complaint to local prosecutors. Some 1,000 servicemen are reported to serve at the base.

But they say action was taken only after soldiers' families aired their grievances in the local media.

"My son has served in this base for half a year, he has lost 10 kilograms," a local website quoted the mother of one soldier as saying on February 2. "Packages take two months to reach Sakhalin, and not everyone has the money to buy food in shops. The life and health of soldiers and officers are obviously not important for the Sakhalin region's military leadership."

The local Military Prosecutor's Office announced on February 6 that it had opened an investigation.

In the meantime, the Eastern Military District admitted that worms had been found in a batch of buckwheat but insisted that this was a one-time incident.

The embarrassing revelation carries echoes of an earlier food scandal in which a former Interior Ministry officer claimed in May 2011 that soldiers in Russia's Far East -- not far from the Sakhalin region -- were fed dog food to save money.

In a video address to then-President Dmitry Medvedev, Major Igor Matveyev said the dog food labels on the cans had been covered with labels reading "premium quality beef."

Matveyev was dismissed shortly after posting the video on YouTube and charged with abuse of office and beating two servicemen.

In September, he was stripped of his military rank and sentenced to four years in prison.

Investigators eventually discovered his claims to be well-founded.

The senior sergeant found guilty of orchestrating the dog-food scheme, however, got away with a fine.

-- Claire Bigg

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