Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 93

The self-inflicted carnage in Russia’s armed forces continued this week as four soldiers serving in the country’s Far Eastern Military District yesterday killed their commanding officer. In the southern Russian city of Budennovsk, meanwhile, a young soldier was buried yesterday. He had been beaten to death earlier this week by an older soldier, reportedly for his refusal to mend the older man’s soccer shoe.

Yesterday’s developments were but the latest manifestations of the violence that has remained a part of Russian military life since well before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. One Russian news agency listed six previous incidents that have occurred this year alone–in which sixteen Russian soldiers died at the hands of their comrades. (Itar-Tass, May 13)

The murder yesterday of the officer in Russia’s Far Eastern Military District follows a familiar pattern. According to authorities, the four soldiers–all privates–were on guard duty at a remote garrison in far northeastern Russia when they shot their commanding officer. The four then seized weapons and a military vehicle and deserted from their unit. They were quickly tracked down in a nearby town, where they surrendered. (AP, Itar-Tass, May 13)

The death of the young soldier in Budennovsk also followed a familiar–albeit different–pattern. The soldier was reportedly the fourteenth victim in his brigade to die of “hazing” in the year-and-a-half since the unit was withdrawn to Stavropol territory from the war in Chechnya. During that same period of time, some 350 soldiers had reportedly complained of hazing to soldiers’ mothers groups in the area.