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Russian Sailor's Death Under Investigation

KALININGRAD, Russia, February 13, 2009 (RFE/RL) -- 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 today 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 has a very thorough medical check-up before being conscripted into the navy and his medical records show no problems. Bontsler insisted that an independent investigation be made. New Russian military conscripts very often face beatings and suffer abuse.