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Russian Sailor's Death Remains Unclear

KALININGRAD -- The cause of death of a Russian sailor earlier this month remains unclear.

The Russian Baltic Fleet's Aleksandr Nikolaev, 18, died on February 3 after just one month of service.

Baltic Fleet spokesman Yury Kuroedov told RFE/RL's Russian Service that Nikolaev died of a stroke.

But Maria Bontsler, chairwoman of the Soldiers' Mothers Committee, says 18-year-olds do not die from strokes.

Bontsler said Nikolaev had a thorough medical checkup before being conscripted into the navy and his medical records show no problems.

Bontsler has insisted that an independent investigation be made.

New Russian military conscripts often face beatings and suffer abuse.