Subject: RUSSIAN MILITARY IMPOSES PRISON TERM, AWARDS FINANCIAL COMPENSATION OVER BRUTAL HAZING RESULTING IN AMPUTATION
Date: Fri, 19 May 2006 0400
From: "Steven C. Welsh" <email@example.com>
RUSSIAN MILITARY PERSONNEL ABUSE: RUSSIAN MILITARY
IMPOSES PRISON TERM, AWARDS FINANCIAL COMPENSATION OVER BRUTAL HAZING RESULTING
Steven C. Welsh
Center for Defense Information
International Security Law Project
May 19, 2006
A Russian court-martial has sentenced Sgt. Dmitry Nagaitsev of the Russian Army to five years imprisonment for abuse of rank and degradation over months of beatings he inflicted on conscript Private Yevgeny Koblov at a base in Russia's Far East.
The beatings and his resulting nervous collapse drove Koblov to hide for twenty-three days in sub-freezing temperatures in a basement, in turn leading to gangrene that required the amputation of both of his legs. Koblov would be discovered unconscious by comrades who came upon him by accident.
In addition to the prison sentence against Nagaitsev, the Khabarovsk Military Court also awarded $7,500 in compensation for Koblov.
In another instance of Russian military hazing, another Russian draftee, Andrei Sychev, also lost both legs, along with his genitalia, as the result of a beating on New Year's Eve.
Failure to take strong steps in the past against hazing and other illegal behavior within Russian military ranks arguably has threatened to sap Russia's military strength and readiness, undermine Russia's image as a global security partner and erode Russia's capacity to gain civilian cooperation in, for example, the Chechen conflict.
The Russian Defense Ministry appears to be resisting calls by Russian President Vladimir Putin to create checks and balances in the form of special military police units to crack down on military hazing and other misconduct. While Putin indicated such developments could be forthcoming in a speech on Jan. 31, 2006, arguing "We need to toughen the control over the legality of the actions of the Armed Forces," on March 18, 2006, a sub-cabinet official within the Defense Ministry suggested Putin's lead would be opposed by the ministry and that such military police would not be created.
In the military context respect for rule of law, and related values of honor and duty, go hand-in-hand with military discipline, respect for the command structure, and military effectiveness.
It is no accident that the United States, the world's sole superpower, also has the world's foremost system of military justice, as well as a civilian society grounded in strong measure on rule of law. Respect for rule of law lays the foundation for both military effectiveness and overall strength and prosperity in broader society.
As concern has been expressed over U.S. military involvement in the abuse of detainees, it has been the U.S. military justice system that has been looked to, in part, to address those concerns and ensure accountability, such as through courts-martial. As of May 8, 2006, the U.S. military has, in recent years, prosecuted 103 U.S. military personnel over detainee abuse, convicting 89. (These numbers presumably do not include additional personnel subjected to administrative discipline and punishment, such as a few high-ranking officers from Abu Ghraib.)
One area of sensitivity in U.S.-Russian relations is that of human rights, including the conduct of the Russian military. Instilling respect for rule of law and human rights in the Russian military, and adopting stringent measures for transparency and accountability, are important areas of potential progress to demonstrate that Russia has the capacity and will to be a reliable security partner and global security leader.
[MAP showing location of Russian military base where abuse of Koblov occurred: http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/41663000/gif/_41663692_russia_khabarovsk_map203.gif]
SOURCES AND FURTHER READING:
"Army will have no military police - defense ministry," Russian Information Agency Novosti, May 18, 2006, http://en.rian.ru/russia/20060518/48301790.html
Vince Crawley, "U.S. Prohibits All Torture; 103 Troops Court-Martialed for Abuse: Officials report on U.S. position to U.N. Committee Against Torture," State Department Washington File, May 9, 2006, http://usinfo.state.gov/eur/Archive/2006/May/09-954728.html
"Russian sergeant jailed for abuse," BBC, May 19, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4997920.stm
"Russian Soldier Jailed Over Brutal Hazing of Young Conscript," MosNews.com, May 19, 2006, http://www.mosnews.com/news/2006/05/19/solgerabuse.shtml
"Russian soldier jailed over hazing incident," AFP, May 19, 2006, http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060519/wl_afp/russiamilitarycrimejusticehazing_060519105718
President Vladimir Putin, Transcript of the Press Conference for the Russian and Foreign Media, Jan. 31, 2006, http://www.kremlin.ru/eng/speeches/2006/01/31/0953_type82915type82917_100901.shtml
Andrew Tully, "U.S.: Does The U.S. Military Prosecute Its Soldiers Aggressively Enough?" Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Nov. 19, 2004, http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2004/11/e5089da3-6720-4062-bcdf-fe7eb9d5c150.html
Victor Yasmann, "Russia: Creation Of Military Police Could Help Curb Hazing," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Feb. 2, 2006, http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/02/02426e09-1ce7-45ca-bf67-4e799c358eb3.html.