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Village Refuses To Send Sons To Serve In Russian Army

Injuries to Ruslan Aidarkhanov's face and body have prompted his family to claim he was murdered and did not commit suicide, which was given as the cause of death in the official autopsy report.
ARSLAN, Russia -- Mothers in a village in central Russia are refusing to send their sons to serve in the army following the recent death of a local conscript, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

The women of Arslan, in Chelyabinsk Oblast, say they will not let their sons serve in the army until the death of Ruslan Aidarkhanov is fully investigated.

Private Aidarkhanov was found dead in his military unit in Sverdlovsk Oblast a month ago on September 3.

The official autopsy report said he hanged himself, but his relatives dispute that. They say there were bruises and other injuries on his face and body, and his fingers were severely burned, making it impossible for him to have handled a rope.

Aidarkhanov's aunt, Gamila Gyilmanova, told RFE/RL on October 3 that the village expected a visit that day from representatives of the Yekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk military prosecutors and officers from the military unit in the town of Yelansk in Sverdlovsk Oblast where Aidarkhanov was serving his one-year mandatory military service.

But she said the delegation, which was meant to bring all the documents pertaining to the investigation, did not come. Gyilmanova quoted the officials as saying the delay was because the investigation is not yet finished.

"We need all the medical autopsy documents and investigation papers in order to decide our next steps to seek justice. If need be, we would agree to his body being exhumed for the investigation, but all the photos we have are enough to conclude that Ruslan was murdered," Gyilmanova said.

Meanwhile, the mothers of eight young men in Arslan say they will not allow their sons to be drafted into the Russian army until Aidarkhanov's death is fully investigated and all involved are brought to justice.

Arslan has some 800 inhabitants, most of them Tatars and Bashkirs.

Gyilmanova told RFE/RL that mothers in other villages and in the regional capital, Chelyabinsk, support them.

Read more in Tatar here