[JURIST Europe] Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov [official profile in Russian] Wednesday told the Duma [official website in Russian], Russia's lower house, that Russian society was to blame for instances of military conscript abuse and hazing that have scandalized the country. He particularly faulted television and the media for contributing to a "decline of traditional values" and pointed to a "culture of abuse" that starts as early as kindergarten. Without specifying exact figures he did, however, say that abuse-related crimes in the military had decreased by 25 percent in 2005.
The abuse issue was brought to the fore by the recent case of Russian serviceman Andrei Sychev, who was tortured and permanently maimed [JURIST report] by his commanding officers while at a tank-training academy. Ivanov was sharply criticized for the government's very slow response to the crime. Two weeks ago a Russian military court convicted a senior officer in the country's elite missile corps of modern-day slavery and contracting out conscripts under his command [JURIST report] for personal gain. One possible solution for the conscript abuse, Ivanov has suggested, would be to lower the mandatory term of Russian military service from two years to one. He told the Duma Wednesday that officers would be disciplined and even dismissed for concealing crimes. The Moscow Times has local coverage.
Angela Onikepe is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.