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Russians Protest Over Hazing Incident

(RFE/RL) 28 January 2006 -- Dozens of demonstrators today picketed the Defense Ministry in Russia's capital to protest a recent hazing incident in which an army conscript was badly injured.

The AP news agency reported that at least 300 people were present at the rally.

Nineteen-year-old Private Andrei Sychyov remains in grave condition after his legs and genitals were amputated following vicious hazing at a tank academy where he served in Chelyabinsk, in the Ural region.

On New Year's Eve, older servicemen reportedly forced Sychyov and other conscripts to squat for several hours and brutally beaten them.

A similar demonstration was also held in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, the capital of Sychyov's home region.

Rights campaigners have long accused Russian military commanders of turning a blind eye to the brutal hazing practices that plague the armed forces.

Russian authorities have ordered an inquiry into the recent events.