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Russian Ministry Reports 158 Noncombat Deaths

MOSCOW -- The Russian Defense Ministry has announced that there were 27 noncombat deaths of Russian soldiers in May, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The ministry says more than half of those soldiers committed suicide.

The rest of the deaths were a result of accidents, fights, and hazing incidents.

There have been 158 noncombat deaths of Russian soldiers this year -- 21 more than the number of coalition troops that have been killed in Afghanistan this year.

Last weekend, an army conscript committed suicide in a military hospital in the city of Vyborg, near St. Petersburg.

The soldier was part of a group of newly drafted recruits who had deserted their military unit last week.

Bullying and the humiliation of conscripts by older soldiers in the Russian Army often leads to young soldiers committing suicide or deserting.