On losses in Russian army

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The Russian Army evaluated the level of crimes and emergency situations. The official website of the Defense Ministry published the relevant data recently. Along with this, the death rate in the troops attracts attention. It was reported that 442 servicemen died in the Armed Forces in 2007. Of them, 224 committed suicides, 126 died as a result of accidents, 31 died in traffic accidents and 23 died as a result of carelessness.

Despite the decrease of the overall death rate in the Armed Forces, the number of suicides in the Armed Forces grew by 7% in comparison to 2006. This parameter accounts for 50.7% in the structure of reasons for deaths of servicemen. In 2006, suicides had a share of about 38% among the reasons for deaths of servicemen and in 2005 they had share of only 25.9%.

The Defense Ministry also reported data about deaths as a result of hazing. In 2007, 15 servicemen died because of hazing. However, human rights activists believe that this parameter may be bigger. They explain that problems of hazing are simply hushed down in the army still. For example, this is said in the address to President Vladimir Putin signed recently by Lev Ponomarev, Executive Director of For Human Rights movement, and Dmitry Pyslar, Chair of Rights of Soldier fund. The document says that public human rights organizations receive thousands of complaints about the torture of soldiers daily.

The address also says, “Cruelty, lawlessness and the absence of rights became synonyms of the contemporary Russian army. Despite many years of efforts by the command of the Armed Forces and authorities of the state and efforts of the military prosecutor’s office aimed at normalization of the situation in the Armed Forces, we see miserable progress in observance of human rights in the army.”

Meanwhile, in its data characterizing the reasons for deaths of servicemen, the Defense Ministry speaks about the losses of servicemen in Chechnya separately. There are losses there and they are significant. If we sum up the data of the Defense Ministry, 3,603 servicemen died and 31 servicemen were missed in action on the territory of Chechnya between 1999 and 2006. Despite statements of some state officials about peaceful life in the republic, five servicemen died in Chechnya in December of 2007 and 54 soldiers and officers died in full year 2007. This is a lot. For example, in 2006 when situation was worse in Chechnya according to official reports of mass media, 57 servicemen died there. It seems that a peaceful life has begun by now but people keep dying. Losses in 2007 account for more than 10% of all servicemen who died in the Armed Forces. Strength of the Russian Armed Forces amounts to 1.2 million people. The group of the Defense Ministry in Chechnya consists of about 15,000 servicemen or is almost 99% smaller. This parameter shows that a risk of being killed in Chechnya is almost tenfold higher than in other regions of Russia. Incidentally, salaries of soldiers and officers in Chechnya is only 150% bigger than in other regions of Russia. What does this show?

The answer is on the surface. Combat operations continue in Chechnya. This is confirmed by losses of federal forces and police that do not decrease. According to Interior Minister of Chechnya, Ruslan Alkhanov, 82 servicemen of the Interior Ministry of Chechnya died in 2007 during the fulfillment of their service duty. Incidentally, as of October 1 of 2007, the figure of losses amounted to 55 servicemen of the Interior Ministry of Chechnya (113 servicemen were wounded). Thus, between November and December alone the figure of losses among policemen of Chechnya grew more than by one-third. The quantity of soldiers and policemen killed in Chechnya was much bigger than the quantity of liquidated militants. According to Alkhanov, only 72 militants were liquidated on the territory of Chechnya in 2007.

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