The Russian army has discharged for drunkenness or disorderly behavior scores of the “kontraktniki” soldiers serving as volunteers in Chechnya, the radio station Ekho Moskvy reported on October 20. Citing a special commission of the Defense Ministry, the station said that the “kontraktniki” are heavy abusers of alcohol, violating the terms of their own contracts. For example, since last year some forty-nine officers have been discharged for that reason in northwestern Chechnya’s Naursky district. According to Ekho Moskvy, in connection with this problem the Defense Ministry has punished military recruiters in several provinces, including Rostov oblast and Krasnodar krai in southern Russia and the Ryazan and Orlov oblasts in the Russian heartland near Moscow.
The “kontraktniki” have an especially fearsome reputation for atrocities both against Chechen civilians and against the Russian army’s younger, less hardened draftees.