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Another Soldier Deserts Infamous Russian Military Unit

Ella Polyakova
Ella Polyakova
ST. PETERSBURG -- Another young soldier has deserted an infamous Russian military unit near St. Petersburg after allegedly being abused, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Private Artyom Brish, who joined the army last summer, said he fled the unit located in the town of Kamenka after he was beaten by several older soldiers and officers.

Ella Polyakova, chairwoman of the Soldiers' Mothers of St. Petersburg nongovernmental organization, told RFE/RL that Brish should have legally not been drafted into the army as his parents are deaf mutes and need personal care. She said there are documents proving that Brish himself is seriously ill and incapable of performing his military duties.

Brish has asked the Soldiers' Mothers group for help in his case.

Polyakova said military draft boards in Russia try to enroll all young men -- despite their health problems -- in order to meet army enlistment quotas. In Russia, every male between 18-27 is required to serve one year in the army.

The Kamenka military unit gained notoriety in the last two years after numerous cases emerged of soldiers being beaten, hazed, and tortured.

In October, President Dmitry Medvedev fired the commander at Kamenka and two other military officials after numerous reports of abuse of recruits.

Eight senior officers had been sacked from their posts at the end of 2009, after at least two soldiers committed suicide and numerous others deserted the base, claiming they were hazed and even tortured while serving at Kamenka.

Read more in Russian here