To Serve Without Health

Inadequate Nutrition and Health Care in the Russian Armed Forces

[1] In the course of its research, Human Rights Watch received anecdotal evidence indicating that the quality of health care provided in on-base sickbays and military hospitals is generally poor. However, due to our lack of access to sickbays, military hospitals, military medical staff and medical files, we are not able to draw general conclusions on the quality of the health services provided in these institutions.

[2] The conscripts interviewed for this report, many of whom served on more than one base, served on bases in, among others: the Republic of North Ossetia, the Republic of Dagestan, the Republic of Komi, Amur Province, Astrakhan Province, Cheliabinsk Province, Chita Province, Kemerovo Province, Leningrad Province, Moscow Province, Murmansk Province, Novosibirsk Province, Orenburg Province, Pskov Province, Rostov Province, Samara Province, Sverdlovsk Province, Tiumen Province, Volgograd Province, Khabarovsk Region, Krasnodar Region, Krasnoyarsk Region, Primorsk Region, Stavropol Region, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and others.

[3] Conscript and professional soldiers make up rank-and-file soldiers and sergeants in the Russian armed forces; in peacetime, conscript soldiers far outnumber professional (contract) soldiers. Higher ranks are made up of professional soldiers.

[4] Article 2 of the Law on the Conscription Obligation and Military Service of March 28, 1998 contains a full list of all branches where conscripts may serve:

Military service is a special kind of federal state service, which citizens perform in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, as well as in the border troops of the Russian Federation, the interior troops of the Ministry of Interior of the Russian Federation, the railway troops of the Russian Federation, troops of the federal agency for government communication and information under the president of the Russian Federation, civil defense troops (hereinafter–other troops), engineering-technical and road construction military formations of federal executive organs (hereinafter–military formations), the foreign intelligence service of the Russian Federation, the organs of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, the organs of the Federal Border Service of the Russian Federation, the federal organs for government communication and information, the federal organs of state security (in Russian: gosudarstvennoi okhrany), the federal organ for ensuring mobilization preparedness of the organs of state power of the Russian Federation (hereinafter–the organs) and in special formations created for time of war.

[5] Throughout Russia it is overwhelmingly the mothers of recruitment-age males who actively seek to prevent their conscription.

[6] According to a report of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, 60 percent of Russians support a transition to a professional army (See: Theodore P. Gerber and Sarah E. Mendelson, "Strong Public Support for Military Reform in Russia," PONARS Policy Memo 288, May 2003 at http://www.csis.org/ruseura/ponars/policymemos/pm_index.htm (accessed September 25, 2003)).

[7] A government plan adopted in July 2003 envisages decreasing the number of young men drafted each year by about 50 percent and cutting the length of mandatory military service from two years to one year by 2008.

[8] Between 1990-99, life expectancy for men and women was well below the average in Western European countries or the United States. In Russia, a man could expect to live to sixty-one (as compared to seventy-four in Germany and seventy-three in the United States) and a woman to seventy-three (as compared to eighty in Germany and the United States).

[9] The report was cited in: "33% of Kids Healthy," Associated Press, March 11, 2003.

[10] The report was cited in: Steven Eke, "Survey: 60% of Russian children unhealthy," British Broadcasting Corporation, December 16, 2002.

[11] "Top general laments quality of conscripts," Associated Press, April 9, 2003

[12] Human Rights Watch, "Conscription through Detention in Russia's Armed Forces," A Human Rights Watch Short Report, Vol. 14, No. 8 (D), November 2002.

[13] A Ministry of Defense official told a press conference in April 2002 that in 2001, doctors on draft boards found no less than 54 percent of the young men tested unfit for military service (see: www.utro.ru/articles/2002040216595170289.shtml (accessed on September 3, 2002). Another official said that for the 400,000 young men drafted some 600,000 young men are declared unfit each year (see:"More than half of Russians unfit to serve in army: general," Agence France-Presse, November 29, 2001). Russian law contains a long list of medical grounds that exempt an individual from performing military service temporarily or permanently. The law on military service establishes five categories of fitness of conscript candidates: A – fully fit for military service; B – fit for military service with minor restrictions; C – partially fit for military service; D – temporarily unfit for military service; and E – unfit for military service. Conscript candidates who are classified in category A and B are considered fit for military service, although category B excludes service in certain types of units. People classified in category C do not have to serve in peacetime but may be drafted in time of war. The fitness of conscript candidates in category D is re-examined within a year (Article 24 (1a) of the law on military service). Those placed in category E cannot be drafted even in time of war. An appendix to the Regulation on the Military Medical Examination (confirmed by Decision No. 390 of the government of the Russian Federation of April 20, 1995) contains a list of medical conditions and the relevant categories. The appendix can be found at: http://www.hro.org/docs/rlex/milexp/index.htm  (accessed on August 23, 2002).

[14] Hazing in the armed forces is popularly known in Russia as "dedovshina." The term "ded," a short form for "dedushka," or grandfather, refers to senior conscripts.

[15] See the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 49, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 993 U.N.T.S. 3, entered into force Jan. 3, 1976.articles 11 &12.  Russia, then the Soviet Union, ratified the covenant in 1973.

[16]General Comment 12. The Right to Adequate Food, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 20th sess., 1999, para. 15. See: http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(symbol)/E.C.12.1999.5,+CESCR+General+comment+12.En?OpenDocument (accessed on October 24, 2003). The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights provides authoritative interpretations of the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights though the periodic issuance of General Comments.

[17] Conscripts depend almost entirely on the government to provide them with food. Conscripts are supposed to receive a small stipend for cigarettes each month. However, most conscripts Human Rights Watch interviewed said they never received the money or said senior soldiers immediately confiscated it. Many soldiers also told Human Rights Watch that senior soldiers also confiscated any food they received through parcels and from visiting relatives.

[18] See International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) , G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force Mar. 23, 1976, article 10 ("All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person"). General Comment 21 of the Human Rights Committee states that article 10 "applies to any one deprived of liberty under the laws and authority of the State who is held in prisons, hospitals - particularly psychiatric hospitals – detention camps or correctional institutions or elsewhere. States parties should ensure that the principle stipulated therein is observed in all institutions and establishments within their jurisdiction where persons are being held. Human Rights Committee, General Comment 21, Article 10 (Forty-fourth session, 1992), para. 2,

The rights of prisoners are set out in various international instruments, including the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, approved by the Economic and Social Council by its resolutions 663 C (XXIV) of July 31, 1957 and 2076 (LXII) of May 13, 1977, and the European Prison Rules, adopted by the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers in its recommendation No. R(87)3 of February 12, 1987. The rights of people in mental institutions are delineated in the UN Principles for the Protection of Persons with Mental Illness and for the Improvement of Mental Health Care, adopted by the General Assembly Resolution number 46/119 of February 18, 1992, and by the Council of Europe's Committee of Minister's Recommendation No. R(83)2 "Concerning the Legal Protection of Persons Suffering from Mental Disorder Placed as Involuntary Patients."

[19] The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has recognized the need for guidelines on the application of the European Convention on Human Rights to the special circumstances of conscripts in military service. In 1998, PACE recommended that the Committee of Ministers formulate such guidelines. See resolution 1166(1998), Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, adopted September 22, 1998.

[20] In Engel and others v.  the Netherlands case (Judgment of June 8, 1976), the European Court of Human Rights laid down a general rule on the applicability of the European Convention on Human Rights to military servicemen. It held that:

The Convention applies in principle to members of the armed forces and not only to civilians.  It specifies in Articles 1 and 14 (art. 1, art. 14) that "everyone within (the) jurisdiction" of the Contracting States is to enjoy "without discrimination" the rights and freedoms set out in Section I.  Article 4 para. 3 (b) (art. 4-3-b), which exempts military service from the prohibition against forced or compulsory labour, further confirms that as a general rule the guarantees of the Convention extend to servicemen.  The same is true of Article 11 para. 2 (art. 11-2) in fine, which permits the States to introduce special restrictions on the exercise of the freedoms of assembly and association by members of the armed forces.

Nevertheless, when interpreting and applying the rules of the Convention in the present case, the Court must bear in mind the particular characteristics of military life and its effects on the situation of individual members of the armed forces (para. 54).

Applying this general rule to the concrete circumstances of the Engel case, in which the applicants alleged that the measures of military discipline they were subjected to violated their right to liberty, the Court held that "the bounds that Article 5 (art. 5) requires the State not to exceed are not identical for servicemen and civilians. A disciplinary penalty or measure which on analysis would unquestionably be deemed a deprivation of liberty were it to be applied to a civilian may not possess this character when imposed upon a serviceman. Nevertheless, such penalty or measure does not escape the terms of Article 5 (art. 5) when it takes the form of restrictions that clearly deviate from the normal conditions of life within the armed forces of the Contracting State" (para. 59).

The Court has also ruled that a state's right to impose restrictions on the rights to respect for the private life and freedom of expression of servicemen due to the particular characteristics of military life is not unlimited. In the Lustig-Prean case (Judgment of September 27, 1999), the applicants complained that the authorities had investigated their sexual orientation and dismissed them from the armed forces on account of their homosexuality. They alleged that both the investigation and the dismissal violated their right to respect for their private lives. The Court held that "it is open to the State to impose restrictions on an individual's right to respect for his private life where there is a real threat to the armed forces' operational effectiveness, as the proper functioning of an army is hardly imaginable without legal rules designed to prevent service personnel from undermining it. However, the national authorities cannot rely on such rules to frustrate the exercise by individual members of the armed forces of their right to respect for their private lives, which right applies to service personnel as it does to others within the jurisdiction of the State" (para. 82)

In the Vereinigung Demokratischer Soldaten Österreichs und Gubi v Austria case (Judgment of December 19, 1994), the applicants alleged that the decision by the Austrian Ministry of Defense not to distribute a magazine about the armed forces to servicemen while distributing all other such magazines constituted a violation of freedom of expression. The government argued that the magazine presented a "threat to discipline and to the effectiveness of the army" and this justified its decision not to distribute it. The Court held that "none of the issues of der Igel [name of the publication] submitted in evidence recommend disobedience or violence, or even question the usefulness of the army. Admittedly, most of the issues set out complaints, put forward proposals for reforms or encourage readers to institute legal complaints or appeals proceedings. However, despite their often polemical tenor, it does not appear that they overstepped the bounds of what is permissible in the context of a mere discussion of ideas, which must be tolerated in the army of a democratic State just as it must be in the society that such an army serves" (para. 38).

[21] Article 329 of the Military Code of Conduct. See: Obshchevoinskie ustavy vooruzhennykh sil Rossiiskoi Federatsii (Codes of Conduct for the armed forces of the Russian Federation), (Rostov-na-Donu, Feniks, 2002).

[22] Human Rights Watch interview with Vasilii S., October 4, 2002, Uriupinsk, Volgograd Province. S. served in unit 2062 in the city of Kaspiisk, Republic of Dagestan. Vasilii S. is a pseudonym.

[23] In fact, Vasilii S. was lucky; after a month he was transferred to a different military base, where he was fed slightly better.

[24] Human Rights Watch interview with Sergei Podolskii, November 28, 2001, St. Petersburg

[25] Human Rights Watch interview,July 31, 2003, undisclosed location. The former military procurator requested to remain anonymous.

[26] Letter from V. Isakov, deputy minister of defense, to A. Neistat, director of the Moscow office of Human Rights Watch, dated June 25, 2003, No. 163/VNK/292.

[27] Human Rights Watch interview with Denis Ivanov, April 17, 2002, St. Petersburg. Ivanov served in units 3526 (Lebiazhe, Leningrad Province) and 6717 (St. Petersburg) of the Ministry of Interior's troops.

[28] Supplement No. 1 to the Regulation on Ensuring Rations to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in Peacetime, signed by then- Minister of Defense Igor Sergeev in Decree 400 of July 22, 2000. The ration lists vary for the different types of troops and different kinds of situation, including for special rations for air and sea borne troops, for troops on submarines, as well as for hospitalized military servicemen. In this report, we compare conscripts' actual diets to the general ration (in Russian: obshchevoiskovoi paek).

[29] See, e.g., United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization/World Health Organization, Handbook on Human Nutrient Requirements (Rome: United Nations, 2001), and National Research Council, Recommended Dietary Allowances: 10th Edition (Report of the Subcommittee on the Tenth Edition of the Recommended Dietary Allowances, Food and Nutrition Board, Commission on Life Sciences, National Research Council), Washington, D.C. United States Department of Agriculture.If, however, soldiers receive only cooked cabbage, bread and grain porridges for days at a time with no supplements, fresh fruits or vegetables, eggs or meat, as indicated by some of the men interviewed by Human Rights Watch, their diets would be likely to be deficient in protein, vitamins and minerals and possibly energy.

[30] See article 227 of the Code of Military Conduct. See also: V.N. Dubrovin and Yu.I. Migachev, "Materialnoe obespechenie I sotsialnaia zashchita voennosluzhashchikh, grazhdan, uvolennykh s voennoi sluzhby, chlenov ikh semei" (Material Provision and Social Protection of Servicemen, Retired Servicemen, and their Families), Moscow, 2000, page 65.

[31] See V.N. Dubrovin and Yu.I. Migachev, page 65.

[32] The Code states in article 240:

Before the food is distributed, the medical doctor (or his assistant), together with the regiment's duty officer, are required to check the quality of the food, weigh the individual portions, and check the sanitary conditions of the canteen, the plates and dishes and kitchen ware. After a conclusion by the doctor (or his assistant), the commander of the regiment or, at his instruction, one of his deputies) tries the food.

The results of the check are recorded into the book of record on control of the quality of prepared food.

[33]General Comment 12. The Right to Adequate Food, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, para. 9.

[34] Human Rights Watch interview with Anton S., July 31, 2003, St. Petersburg. S. served in unit 6716 (Lembolovo, Leningrad Province) of the Ministry of Interior's troops. Anton S. is a pseudonym.

[35] For example, internal regulations state: "In order to ensure variation of the diet it is permitted to replace certain food items with others in accordance with relevant rules…" (V.N. Dubrovin and Yu.I. Migachev, page 65).

[36] Human Rights Watch interview with Dmitrii Kosov, April 11, 2002, St. Petersburg. Kosov served in the Ministry of Defense's unit 12744 in Osinovoe Roshche, Leningrad Province.

[37] Human Rights Watch interview with Aleksei K., October 4, 2002, Volgograd. K. served in units 37115 (Krasnodar Region) and 61918 (Totskoe, Orenburg Province). Aleksei K. is a pseudonym.

[38] Serving low quality food prepared in unsanitary conditions may violate the requirement that food provided be "free from adverse substances" (General Comment 12. The Right to Adequate Food, Economic and Social Council, para. 10).

[39] A number of conscripts also complained that they received porridge made of the chaff of rice (in Russian: сечка) and ground chaff of grains (in Russian: droblenka). While chaff may not please the taste buds, it does contain numerous nutrients.

[40] Human Rights Watch interview with Alexander Kaiankin, April 18, 2002, Sosnovo, Leningrad Province. Kaiankin served in the Ministry of Defense's unit 22336 in Volgograd Province.

[41] Human Rights Watch interview with Roman Davydov, April 13, 2002, St. Petersburg. Davydov served in two Ministry of Defense units in the Russian Far East, among them unit 52594.

[42] Human Rights Watch interview with Egor Z., October 5, 2002, Volgograd. Z. served in unit 6688 in the Northern Caucasus. Egor Z. is a pseudonym.

[43] Human Rights Watch interview with Alexander Sukhanov, April 17, 2002, St. Petersburg. Sukhanov served in the Ministry of Defense's construction unit 32087 in St. Petersburg.

[44] Human Rights Watch interview with Vasilii S., October 4, 2002, Uriupinsk, Volgograd Province. Several other conscripts also said they ate mashed potato made out of potato mix.

[45] Human Rights Watch interview with Ilia B., October 29, 2002, Novokuznetsk. B. served in a Ministry of Defense unit eastern Siberia. Ilia B. is a pseudonym.

[46] Human Rights Watch interview with Vasilii B. , October 17, 2002, Novosibirsk. B. served in a training unit in Pereslavl-Zalesskii, Yaroslavl Province, and in a rocket troops unit in Uzhur, Krasnoyarsk Region.

[47] Human Rights Watch interview with Alexander Kaiankin, April 18, 2002, Sosnovo, Leningrad Province.

[48] Human Rights Watch interview with Vladimir Z., November 4, 2002, Cheliabinsk. Z. served in unit 69771 in Sverdlovsk Province and in an unknown unit in Shadrinsk, Cheliabinsk Province. Vladimir Z. is a pseudonym.

[49] During the Cold War, the Soviet armed forces maintained a food supply for the eventuality of war. These supplies are popularly known as "strategic reserves."

[50] The effects of long-term freezing of food items are not well known. Most of nutrition experts seem to agree that freezing up to one year should not affect most foods if they are properly wrapped and protected from the more deteriorating effect of air.  In the case of fruits and vegetables, there seems to be a consensus that the kind of freezing now done in Western industrialized countries actually preserves nutrients very well compared to other means of storage. See, e.g., the main dietary guidance document of the U.S. government, which notes that most frozen foods are rich in nutrient content:  U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans--Fifth Edition," (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2000), online at http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2000/document/frontcover.htm (retrieved October 10, 2003).

[51] Human Rights Watch interview with Roman Davydov, April 13, 2002, St. Petersburg.

[52] Human Rights Watch interview with Sergei Podolskii, a retired colonel and head of the nongovernmental organization For Military Reform, November 28, 2001.

[53] Article 240 of the Military Code of Conduct, see also footnote 25.

[54] Conscripts described two different eating arrangements: In some cases, pots and dishes were put on tables and conscripts served themselves, in others conscripts stood in line to receive a plate in a cafeteria style arrangement.

[55] Human Rights Watch interview with Vladimir P., September 30, 2002, Volgograd. P. served in unit 47084 in Vladikavkaz. Vladimir Z. is a pseudonym.

[56] Human Rights Watch interview with Anatolii Z. , November 7, 2002, Cheliabinsk. Z. served in units 54076 in Novoaltaisk and 25626 in Cheliabinsk of the railroad troops. Anatolii Z. is a pseudonym.

[57] Human Rights Watch interview with Ilia B., October 29, 2002, Novokuznetsk.

[58] Human Rights Watch interview with Denis Ivanov, April 17, 2002, St. Petersburg.

[59] Human Rights Watch interview with Aleksei K., October 4, 2002, Uriupinsk, Volgograd Province.

[60] Human Rights Watch interview with Vasilii B. , October 17, 2002, Novosibirsk.

[61] Human Rights Watch interview with Aleksei Dryganov, April 10, 2002, St. Petersburg.

[62] Human Rights Watch interview with Andrei D., November 3, 2002, Cheliabinsk. D. served in unknown units in Chebarkul (Cheliabinsk Province) and Verkhnaia Pyshma (Sverdlovsk Province). Andrei D. is a pseudonym.

[63] Human Rights Watch interview with Vladimir Z., November 4, 2002, Cheliabinsk.

[64] Human Rights Watch interview with Aleksei Koshelev, April 12, 2002, St. Petersburg. Koshelev served in units 6716 (Lembolovo, Leningrad Province) and 6718 of the Ministry of Interior's troops.

[65] Human Rights Watch interview with Anton A., April 18, 2002, St. Petersburg. A. served in unit 51046 of the railroad troops in Mga, Leningrad Province. Anton A. is a pseudonym.

[66] Human Rights Watch interview with Stepan M., April 18, 2002, St. Petersburg. M. served in unit 51046 of the railroad troops in Mga, Leningrad Province. Stepan M. is a pseudonym.

[67] Letter from V. Isakov, deputy minister of defense, to A. Neistat, director of the Moscow office of Human Rights Watch, dated June 25, 2003, No. 163/VNK/292.

[68] Article 326 of the Military Code of Conduct.

[69] Article 329 of the Military Code of Conduct state that military commanders must strive to "enhance the conditions of service and life of military servicemen" by requiring "strict observance of the sanitary norms and demands of the military regulations for housing military servicemen, organizing their nutrition, provision of water..." They also should ensure "timely and full provision for every military serviceman the prescribed norm of nutrition."

[70] Soldiers themselves face a similar duty: "maintaining and strengthening the health…of military servicemen is an important and integral part of their preparation for fulfilling their soldier's duty" (Article 326 of the Military Code of Conduct). Article 334 further states that: "Every military serviceman has to take care of maintaining his health, may not hide illnesses and must strictly observe rules for personal and community hygiene…" These provisions reflect the position of theCommittee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, which has explained the right to health as "an inclusive right extending not only to timely and appropriate health care but also to the underlying determinants of health, such as access to safe and potable water and adequate sanitation, an adequate supply of safe food, nutrition and housing…" (General Comment 14. The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 22nd sess., 2000, para. 11, see: http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(symbol)/E.C.12.2000.4,+CESCR+General+comment+14.En?OpenDocument (accessed October 24, 2003).

[71] One conscript said fifty conscripts had ten minutes to bathe in a bathroom with only four showerheads. Article 335 of the Military Code of Conduct stipulates that conscripts must wash their full bodies once a week in the bathhouse. It also requires them "to wash their hands and face in the morning and brush their teeth; wash their hands before meals; wash their hands and face, brush their teeth, and wash their legs before sleep; shave regularly, and cut hair and nails in a timely fashion; and to change underwear, bed sheets, foot bindings, and socks once per week on bath day.

[72] Human Rights Watch interview with Vladimir Z., November 4, 2002, Cheliabinsk. Human Rights Watch's research into violent hazing found that abusive soldiers frequently use bathrooms or other closed off locations to harass and ill-treat their junior colleagues, in an apparent attempt to avoid being seen.

[73] Another conscript said he and his peers were not given a change of underwear for a full month, while the Military Code of Conduct clearly states that underwear has to be changed once a week.

[74] Human Rights Watch interview with Nina S., mother of Egor T., April 13, 2002, St. Petersburg. T. served in units 6716 (Lembolovo, Leningrad Province) and 6717 (St. Petersburg) of the Ministry of Interior's troops.  Nina S. and Egor T. are pseudonyms.

[75] Human Rights Watch interview with Olga and Nikolai Grushko, parents of Evgenii Grushko, April 18, 2002, St. Petersburg.

[76] Article 349 of the Military Code of Conduct.

[77] Articles 341 and 342 of the Military Code of Conduct.

[78] The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considers access to health services one of the essential elements of the right to health. This includes "equal and timely access to basic preventive, curative, rehabilitative health services and health education; regular screening programmes; appropriate treatment of prevalent diseases, illnesses, injuries and disabilities…" (General Comment 14. The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, para. 17).

[79] Human Rights Watch interview with Petr K., July 31, 2003, St. Petersburg. K. served in the Ministry of Defense's unit 67616 in Kamenka, Leningrad Province. Petr K. is a pseudonym.

[80] Human Rights Watch interview with Anton S., July 31, 2003, St. Petersburg.

[81] In November 2002, Human Rights Watch contacted the Central Military Medical Commission of the Ministry of Defense to seek a meeting to discuss some of the findings of our research. After initial telephone contact, on November 21, 2002, we sent a letter to General-Major Valerii Kulikov, head of the Central Military Medical Commission, in which we set out the purpose of our research and outlined a series of issues for discussion. However, our request for a meeting was denied.

[82] States have a positive obligation to provide conscripts with adequate health care as they are "unable, for reasons beyond their control, to realize the right themselves by means at their disposal." General Comment 14. The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. para. 37. Russia has formulated rules for access to health care for conscripts that are consistent with that obligation. Russia is bound, by the requirement of progressive realization, to ensure proper implementation of these rules. Russia's failure to do so constitutes an act of omission, as defined in para. 49 of General Comment 14.

[83] Human Rights Watch interview with Maksim Komlev, April 8, 2002, St. Petersburg.

[84] Human Rights Watch interview with Alexander Kaiankin, April 18, 2002, Sosnovo, Leningrad province.

[85] Human Rights Watch interview with Anton A., April 18, 2002, St. Petersburg.

[86] Human Rights Watch interview with Aleksei K., October 4, 2002, Uriupinsk, Volgograd Province.

[87] Human Rights Watch interview with Igor K., April 13, 2002, St. Petersburg. K. served in unit 3526 of the Ministry of Interior's troops in Lebiazhe, Leningrad Province. Igor K. is a pseudonym.

[88] Sickbays are areas on military bases where a small medical team provides basic medical care to soldiers who have been injured or have fallen ill. Soldiers who require more than basic care are sent to military hospitals.

[89] Human Rights Watch interview with Dmitrii Kosov, April 11, 2002, St. Petersburg.

[90] Human Rights Watch interview with Alexander Kaiankin, April 18, 2002, Sosnovo, Leningrad Province.

[91] Human Rights Watch interview with Igor K., April 13, 2002, St. Petersburg.

[92] Human Rights Watch interview with Pavel P., April 19, 2002, St. Petersburg. P. served in unit 01375 of the railroad troops in Mga, Leningrad Province. Pavel P. is a pseudonym.

[93] See, e.g. ICCPR, article 7 ("No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment").  Article 7 is not subject to derogation (article 4).

[94] For example, initiation rites that border on degrading treatment may be acceptable in the armed forces as a means of building the kind of group solidarity that is the backbone of any army. They may not be acceptable in other situations. However, such initiation rites should have a legitimate goal, may not be arbitrary, and may not unjustifiably threaten the health of the conscripts.

[95] Human Rights Watch interview with Aleksei Dryganov, April 10, 2002, St. Petersburg.

[96] Human Rights Watch interview with Vitalii K., October 2, 2002, Volgograd and a letter from K.'s mother to the soldiers' rights organization Right of the Mother in Volgograd, dated July 23, 2002. K. served in the Ministry of Defense's unit 45935 in St. Petersburg. Vitalii K. is a pseudonym.

[97] Human Rights Watch interview with Alexander O., October 2, 2002, Volgograd. O. served in unit 42091 in Krasnodar Region. Alexander O. is a pseudonym.

[98] Human Rights Watch interview with Dmitrii Kosov, April 11, 2002, St. Petersburg.

[99] Human Rights Watch interview with Roman Davydov, April 13, 2002, St. Petersburg.

[100] Human Rights Watch interview with Vitalii K., October 2, 2002, Volgograd.

[101] Human Rights Watch interview with Galina K., mother of Alexander K., April 18, 2002, St. Petersburg. K. served in military construction unit 31502. Galina K. and Alexander K. are pseudonyms.

[102] Human Rights Watch interview with Anatolii T., April 13, 2002, St. Petersburg. T. served in unit 6716 of the Ministry of Interior's troops in Lembolovo, Leningrad Province. Anatolii T. is a pseudonym.

[103] Soldiers' rights groups often arrange for conscripts who flee their units to be hospitalized for a reassessment of their fitness for military service. The parents of these soldiers and soldiers' rights groups closely monitor their treatment while in the hospital.

[104] Human Rights Watch interview with Alexander Kaiankin, April 18, 2002, Sosnovo, Leningrad Province.

[105] Andriushenko's father bitterly disputes this conclusion. He believes the senior soldiers not only humiliated his son but eventually also murdered him.

[106] Verdict of the Vyborg Garrison Military Court of January 18, 2002.

[107] Ibid.

[108] Human Rights Watch interview with Stanislav U., October 4, 2002, Uriupinsk, Volgograd Province; and Human Rights Watch interview with Evgenii G., October 4, 2002, Uriupinsk, Volgograd Province. U. served in units 6794 (Astrakhan Province) and 3033 (Persianovka, Rostov Province) of the Ministry of Interior's troops. G. served in unit 2062 in Kaspiisk, Dagestan. Stanislav U. and Evgenii G. are pseudonyms.