Sunday, January 29, 2006

A horrible thing has happened in Russia. Next to it, Abu Ghraib is like kindergarten.


Soldier Loses Legs in Bullying Ordeal
by Nick Allen in Moscow

Russia's defence minister yesterday condemned brutal bullying that left an army conscript fighting for his life as "shameful" and ordered a general to investigate.

The life of Andrei Sychev, 18, was "hanging by a thread", doctors said, two weeks after surgeons had to remove his legs, genitals and fingers after beatings by drunken soldiers.

"This shameful fact happened on New Year's Eve," the minister, Sergei Ivanov, said. "Why did it take 25 days for Moscow to be informed?"

Mr Ivanov sent Gen Alexei Maslov to investigate the incident at the Chelyabinsk tank academy in the Urals and sacked its chief.

According to reports, Pte Sychev was forced to crouch for three hours while being kicked and raped. His sister told the media he was tied to a chair, with circulation to his limbs cut off.

The soldier complained of pain in his legs for three days but was not sent to a civilian hospital for treatment until gangrene had already developed. Details of his ordeal came to light when an anonymous caller tipped off local human rights activists.

The most active group fighting the epidemic of bullying in the Russian military, the Soldiers' Mothers' Committee, yesterday called for Mr Ivanov's resignation.

According to official statistics, believed to be much understated, 25 teenagers died in the first half of 2004 as a result of bullying and more than 100 committed suicide.

Marina Litvinovich suggested people should gather by the defense ministry in Moscow on Saturday, and they did - some 300 showed up - and they demanded Ivanov's resignation, and even the cops were sympathetic.

Some photos from the rally are here. One of the posters reads: "Putin, protect not only the diplomats' kids," referring to the time last year when kids of the Russian diplomats were beaten up in Warsaw, which was followed by some really loud rhetoric from Moscow. Another poster demands that the children of the ruling elite - including Putin's daughters - also get drafted.

A good piece by Valery Panyushkin about what happened and how it affects the army's image is here (in Russian, just as some of the previous links).


  1. Oh, come on! Makes Abu Ghraib look like a kindergarten? While the Chelyabinsk case is hideous, let us not forget that Abu Ghraib wins out in terms of sheer numbers, as well as the nice case where one of the detainees was beaten to _death._ Remember him: "the Iceman?"

  2. In regards to previous comment - although the Chelyabinsk case is one - it is unfortunately one out of many cases regarding abuse of soilders - which Neeka mentioned in her post (she cited "official" stats just for 2004 - where bullying lead to the deaths of 125 teenagers! (direct cause and indirect - suicide). Did you happen to miss that part intentionally?

    So yes, we are talking about, over the years, the deaths of HUNDREDS and this does NOT include the number of maimed, wounded or psychologically traumatized!

    Unfortunately, the Soilder's Mothers org may be closed down - the umbrella org "Russian Human Rights Research Center" is under fire by the Moscow court system see
    "Russian activist: Government seeking to close human rights umbrella group"

  3. I am well aware of the impact of dedovshchina. But Neeka is referring to this _One case_ only -- suppose you missed that.

    However, if you want to open the whole can of worms up - let's. Are you unaware of the rather hideous effects of US occupation in Iraq? Maimed, wounded and psychologically traumatized?

    Sure -- this case is a tragedy, but to not only equate it with Abu Ghraib (how many were tortured there? but to say that it is _worse_ is just another manifestation of Neeka's reflexive russophobia.

    And, while we're at it, why don't you describe how, say, US and UK NGOs go about getting, reporting and distributing aid from foreign countries, just so we can compare the Russian case to those.

  4. favourite russian argument: "and in USA they beat black people"

  5. Is that all you have? Weak. Besides, it wasn't me that brought up Abu Ghraib, now was it?

  6. to the original anonymous commentator - So what you are saying is that Neeka is wrong to post HER opinion on HER site because YOU disagree with it?

    Okey dokey.

    Michael is that you? Just wondering.

  7. I was thinking the same thing. I guess we all have to have the same thoughts. Wow how boring is this going to be. I even make comments using my blog name.

  8. (from the original poster):

    Neeka can post whatever the hell she likes. However, why does she have a comments function, if not to allow for people to disagree, even vehemently, with her? Is it there just so you guys can write to say how much you agree with her?

  9. Please don't get hysterical: you can write anything you want here, no one's banning you or anything. Though it would've been polite if you had introduced yourself first. Thank you.

  10. Dear Neeka,

    You'll notice that I'm not getting hysterical, as I did not claim that _you_ were seeking to ban me, or my comments. I was merely objecting to the stupidity of the reductio ad absurdam of the two previous posters, by suggesting that disagreement is the same as censorship. I may disagree with you on _many_ things, but it's to your credit that you're not allowing yourself similar simple-minded thinking.

  11. "stupidity"? "simple minded"?
    Name calling those you disagree with while currying favor with the owner of the blog?
    'fess up this has to be Michael :)

  12. It isn't Michael, though that _is_ my middle name.

    When you suggest that my disagreement with what was written is an attempt to forge some kind of groupthink and/or to surpress your right to speak, well, that _is_ stupid and simple-minded. Deal with it.

  13. Man O Man , you got some anger built in you. Wow , well not really wow , more like pity.

  14. "Man O Man , you got some anger built in you. Wow , well not really wow , more like pity."

    Man, o man, you're like brain-damaged.

    If that's indicative of your level of discourse, I'd be careful about whom you pity. Save it for yourself.