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One of the main duties of a commander in his work is to ensure permanent battle-readiness of his (sub)unit is to care for the health of his subordinates.[68]

Safeguarding the health of conscripts is a major priority for the Russian armed forces—at least, in theory. Internal army regulations contain detailed provisions for monitoring the health of soldiers and addressing problems when they arise. However, in reality these provisions are routinely ignored. Monitoring of soldiers’ health is often superficial or non-existent, and access to health care is severely impeded. Hazing prevents many conscripts from seeking medical care for their health problems. Those who overcome their fear and seek medical at on-base sickbays often receive substandard help and subsequently face repercussions from senior conscripts. Hazing even continues in some military hospitals.

Background on Living Conditions

The Military Code of Conduct attaches great importance to creating living conditions in the armed forces that are conducive to good health. 69 It defines ensuring strict observance of sanitary rules, appropriate shelter, and adequate food as among the “main aspects” of a military commander’s work.70 The poor living conditions of conscripts discussed in this report indicate that officers are failing in this duty. Many conscripts interviewed for this report attributed the health problems they developed during their service to poor living conditions. With striking uniformity, they linked stomach problems to their poor diet and festering sores to poor personal hygiene and drafty and damp living quarters. Personal hygiene was a major problem for many on their military bases. Several said they were given too little time to wash properly during the weekly shower they are entitled to.71 One conscript who suffered from festering blisters said he was afraid to go to the bathroom to wash in the evenings:

You fear going to the bathroom in the evening because the dedy sit there and smoke. You can be sure that they will harass you [if you go in] and that you’ll get [beaten]. It’s better to just go to sleep and not go to the bathroom.72

Others said they were not given changes of underwear for extended periods of time.73 Many conscripts and their mothers said that because of these conditions their clothing became infested with lice. One mother said: “There was also the following detail. His underwear, but also his uniform generally, were alive from the lice.”74 Another mother said: “When he came home on a leave of absence, I washed his uniform and [discovered] lice—lice and larvae in his underwear. As his leave was less than twenty-four hours, I washed, dried and ironed at night.”75

These living conditions, which, no doubt, contribute to the health problems of conscripts, contravene the Russian army’s internal regulations.

Access to Medical Care

The Military Code of Conduct contains explicit and unequivocal language on access to medical care: A military serviceman may not hide an illness and is obliged to promptly report any illness to his immediate superior. In cases requiring immediate attention, the superior is supposed to grant the serviceman permission to go to the sickbay right away. If a condition is not urgent, the superior registers the health complaint in a registry and the conscript can go to the sickbay at the regular visiting hour.76 Additionally, the code requires commanding officers to monitor the health conditions of all staff during battle training and everyday life, prescribes weekly superficial physical examinations of all conscripts, as well as semi-annual, extensive examinations.77 These provisions, in theory, set out a level of access to health care that is consistent with the right to health as defined in the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.78

Yet, these norms are often ignored in practice. Several conscripts told Human Rights Watch that they only underwent in-depth examinations when transferred from one unit to another but not after every six months of service. One conscript told Human Rights Watch that superficial examinations were conducted every week while he was in a special training unit. He said he and his fellow conscripts had to undress to their underwear, after which the commander of his company and the medical doctor checked them for bruises and health problems. Once he was moved to a regular unit, these body checks ceased.79

Another conscript told Human Rights Watch: “In our unit, they checked our pockets for sharp objects every day but we never had any body checks. In the early months, I walked around with several large bruises...”80 Access problems exist at several levels. In some cases, conscripts did not seek medical care because senior soldiers pressured them not to or had tremendous fear of repercussions before seeking help. In others, some conscripts said that superiors whom they approached denied them permission to go to the sickbay. Still others said doctors turned them back without paying due attention to their health concerns when they sought medical help. This, in turn, has resulted in a widespread perception amongst recruits that it is pointless to seek medical care.

Human Rights Watch research shows that the practices described below have existed for a considerable number of years, and that the Russian government has apparently taken no effective steps to remove these obstacles to access to health care. Despite repeated requests, the government has refused to meet with Human Rights Watch to discuss this issue.81 The failure of the Russian government to ensure effective access to health care for conscript soldiers violates its obligations under the right to health.82

Minor Conditions Turning into Major Problems

One of the clearest indications that conscripts are deprived of access to medical care is that their minor health conditions often go untreated and develop into serious health problems. Conscripts told Human Rights Watch that because they could not seek treatment, innocuous blisters or small cuts became infected, started to fester and eventually turned into large open sores oozing with puss; their stomach aches gradually worsened and became chronic; and many repeatedly fell ill with pneumonia as their general health deteriorated. In many cases, the worsening of these conditions could easily have been prevented had medical care been readily accessible. The stories of Evgenii Gorbunov and Roman Davydov are cases in point.

The Case of Evgenii Gorbunov

Gorbunov was drafted into the navy in June 1996, and served in the northern city of Severomorsk. In the fall and winter, senior soldiers regularly made him and his peers march or do physical exercises in the bitter cold outside. By November, Gorbunov had fallen ill and developed a fever, his legs and face became swollen, and he began to cough. When his urine darkened, that same month, Gorbunov approached the medical assistant, a fellow conscript with limited medical training, who told him he was pretending to be sick to avoid the hardships of military service. The next week, Gorbunov collapsed and started spitting blood while he and one other conscript were forced to run with heavy backpacks for an infraction of the rules. When the medical doctor made his weekly visit to the base, a day later, Gorbunov complained. The doctor told him he was just tired but sent him to the sickbay. During the next two weeks, Gorbunov was given cough medication but his condition continued to deteriorate. After two weeks, Gorbunov was released from sickbay. A week later, on January 1, 1997, his condition had deteriorated so much that he was sent to a hospital, which immediately placed him in intensive care. Gorbunov spent three months in the military hospital in Severomorsk and at the military academy hospital in St. Petersburg. According to Gorbunov, his kidneys had been seriously affected by exposure to the elements and continued to cause him problems. In February, during a procedure at the military academy in St. Petersburg, one of his kidneys failed completely. His other kidney functions at greatly reduced capacity.

Gorbunov has been in a military hospital ever since, receiving dialysis every day. He is waiting for a kidney transplant. Human Rights Watch has not had access to Gorbunov’s medical records and can therefore not assess whether the kidney failure was directly related to his treatment in the armed forces. Regardless, his treatment violated his human rights but no one was ever held accountable the escalation of his health condition.

The Case of Roman Davydov

Davydov was drafted in November 1999. He served on various military bases before being transferred to a unit in Khabarovsk province. At that base, his leg became severely infected, which apparently did not attract attention during weekly body checks:

In our unit hygiene was not observed... There were lice, they were all over... Our legs got infected. A louse bites you, you scratch it, sweat, dirt [gets into the wound]. I didn’t go to the doctors. The only medication they have is zelenka [a disinfectant]. I managed to find myself a cream and bandages, and tried to cure myself. I tried but it didn’t help. Things just got worse.

[Eventually, my commander sent me home because of my leg. On the train,] there was a strong smell from my legs in the compartment. I constantly sat on the top berth so that the smell didn’t [reach the other passengers]... I could not do anything with my boots anymore, take them off or put them on because my legs had swollen so much... [At home,] I went into the shower in my socks and bandages and I could take the bandages off only with the help of the water.

The next day, Roman Davydov went to a civilian hospital, where he was told he had a trophic gangrene. Despite treatment in the hospital, the condition has become chronic.

Pressure Not to Seek Medical Care and Repercussions

If you were sick, you were at fault.83

Conscripts from military bases across the country uniformly described a presumption that those who seek medical care do so to avoid the hardships of military service. Because of this presumption, both junior and senior conscripts pressure their peers not to seek medical care. Conscripts who ignore the pressure often face repercussions, including harassment, beatings, and extortion. As a result, many conscripts try to cure minor health problems themselves, rather than risk abuse by seeking professional care.

Alexander Kaiankin told Human Rights Watch that conscripts regard with suspicion peers who go to the sickbay:

In our unit it was considered disgraceful to go to the sickbay, for example to complain about a blister or a painful festering sore. [Seeking medical care] was bad and was stopped. [The dedy would say] “you’re dodging [your duties]...” Other junior conscripts start to despise you, and the senior ones encourage that.84

Another conscript, who said he frequently had bruises from beatings, confirmed the pressure dedy put on conscripts to avoid medical care: “It was undesirable to go to the sickbay. If you go to the sickbay, you make things worse for yourself... They told us: ‘If you go to the sickbay, we’ll kill you.’ They threatened us.”85 Aleksei K. summed the situation up: “Honestly, if you weren’t too ill, it was too much of a problem to go to the sickbay. Nothing good was to be expected–they immediately started picking on you ...”86

Several conscripts told Human Rights Watch about the repercussions they faced after hospitalization. Igor K.’s story is illustrative:

K., from Novgorod province, began serving on the Liabiazhe military base outside St. Petersburg in late 2000. He told Human Rights Watch that a poor diet during the first six months of training exacerbated stomach problems he had had prior to his military service. After moving to a regular regiment, K. sought medical care and was hospitalized with an acute stomach condition. K. was put on a special diet and received medication for one month, which relieved his stomach problem but did not fully cure it. K. told Human Rights Watch: “After my release from the hospital, the attitude toward me in the regiment had changed. Other conscripts and sergeants began to humiliate and mistreat me.”

Two months later, K. was hospitalized again with another bout of stomach problems. He spent another month in the hospital. When released, the attitude toward him had worsened. “A number of soldiers began to beat me and pick fights with me.” In October 2001, K. was beaten so badly that he was hospitalized with an internal injury that required surgical intervention. Upon return to the unit, the harassment and ill-treatment started again. After yet another hospitalization and renewed beatings, K. fled his unit.87

Superiors Refusing Access to Medical Care

Several conscripts told Human Rights Watch that they sought permission from their superiors to report to the sickbay but were denied. For example, Vladimir O., who served in an Interior Ministry forces unit in Kirov Province, said that when he developed a cough, he tried to see a doctor. His superior told him that he could not go to the sickbay and had to continue to perform guard duty. O. told Human Rights Watch he has a long history of bronchial problems. After this incident, he fled his unit and returned home where he received treatment and was cured. Another conscript, Ilia B., asked permission from his sergeant to report to the sickbay when he experienced chest pains and generally felt sick but was denied. B. told Human Rights Watch he went to the sickbay anyway and was yelled at when the sergeant found out.

Apparent Inadequacy of Sick Bays

Conscripts overwhelmingly told Human Rights Watch that seeking medical care at on-base sick bays is pointless, in particular for minor health problems.88 Most said that they drew this conclusion after they or their peers sought care at sickbays but received none. For example, Vladimir Z. said he went to the sickbay because a stinging pain in his chest kept him from sleeping: “[The doctor] looked at me and said: ‘You’re all right, you’re healthy. Go back to duty.’” Another conscript said he tried to see a doctor after being beaten in the kidney area. According to the conscript, the doctor came outside at the regular visiting hour and apparently: “Who’s dying? Nobody. Ok.” He then left without so much as examining the conscript.89 Conscripts who at the time realized that they required professional medical attention told us they did not go to the sickbay because it was “pointless.” One conscript said that in his unit’s sickbay there was only a nurse “who loved to drink and only applies disinfectant.”90 Another said that “seeking medical care was useless because they only gave [nondescript] tablets and nothing else.”91 Reflecting remarks by a number of other conscripts interviewed for this report, Pavel P. said: “We cured ourselves. I wrote to my mother because they never had medication in the sickbay...”92

Physical Abuse and Harassment at Sickbays and Hospitals

Violent hazing, an endemic phenomenon on many military bases throughout Russia, often does not stop at the doors of sickbays and military hospitals, and therefore interferes with conscripts’ right to adequate medical care. Human Rights Watch interviewed several dozen conscripts who said senior soldiers physically ill-treated them and forced them to perform a variety of chores for them in sickbays and military hospitals. These abuses took place primarily in the evenings and at night, after medical personnel and officers had departed senior conscripts in charge. In one case we documented, the victim committed suicide after a night of particularly cruel treatment.

International law prohibits governments from treating persons in an inhuman or degrading manner under any circumstances.93 This prohibition also applies to conscripts, although considering the special mission of the armed forces the threshold for inhuman and degrading treatment may be higher for conscript soldiers than for other groups in custodial situations, such as prisoners and persons committed to mental institutions.94 International law does not prohibit the performance of chores and other work by conscripts while they are in hospitals. Yet, Human Rights Watch believes that, in determining whether and what work can be assigned to hospitalized conscripts, the primary concern should be the health condition of the patient. Assignment of work that interferes with their recovery would violate the right to the highest attainable level of health.

Abuse at Sickbays

Most conscripts who had spent time in sickbays told Human Rights Watch that harassment and hazing continues there. Human Rights Watch documented, among others, the following cases:

  • Aleksei Dryganov, who served in a unit outside St. Petersburg in early 2002, was admitted to the sickbay when his temperature spiked to 39 or 40 degrees Celsius (102.2 to 104 Fahrenheit), after a senior conscript beat him over the head with a stool. He recounted that two senior soldiers accompanied him to the sickbay and, after getting drunk in the evening, “forced me to serve them: take away plates, prepare soups for them. Once, they forced me to clean up even though I was on an I.V.” Commenting on another stay in the sickbay, Dryganov said: “I was there for three days. They didn’t let me sleep until 4:00 a.m. All the time I had to prepare tea, prepare soup, and clean their rooms.” After three days, Dryganov fled his military base.95

  • Vitalii K., who served in unit 45935 St. Petersburg in 2002, landed in the sickbay with a high fever on his third day of military service. He said medical personnel there took his temperature but did not give him any medication to bring down the fever. Instead, he said, he was asked to mop the floor. When he said that he could not do it anymore, he was told that if he stopped he would regret it. He continued to mop. The next day, he was put to work again, this time carrying bricks from the sickbay to a location outside the military base. That same day, soldiers at the entrance of the base told K.’s sister, who did not know her brother was in the sickbay and had come to see him be sworn in, that her brother was too ill for her to see him. Minutes later, K. and another patient from the sickbay walked out of the base carrying a load of bricks.96

  • Alexander O. told Human Rights Watch he landed in the sickbay of his base near Volgograd after senior soldiers severely beat him. Yet, even there, he was not safe from his tormentors: “In the evening, the sergeants from my regiment came to the sickbay to harass and abuse sick soldiers. They forced us to steal things from the sickbay for them. This happened at the end of the day when the officers and medical doctors had gone home.”97 It was made clear to O. and other sick soldiers that refusal to comply would lead to further beatings.

Physical and Other Abuse in Military Hospitals

Harassment and hazing also occurs in some military hospitals. While most young men interviewed for this report said they were treated well in military hospitals, about a dozen conscripts said they faced harassment, humiliation and sometimes ill-treatment in them. Conscripts particularly singled out military hospital 442 in St. Petersburg, although we also received allegations of abusive treatment in military hospitals in Novocherkassk and Kislovodsk. Several interviewees stressed that the abuses occurred primarily in the evening and night, after senior medical personnel left the hospital.

Military Hospital 442

Five conscripts described various types of inappropriate treatment of patients in military hospital 442. Several told Human Rights Watch that senior soldiers there forced them to work or do chores for them during the day and got drunk and became abusive at night. Dmitrii Kosov, who was in the hospital in early 2001 for several weeks, said:

They...chased us out into the freezing cold in the morning to shovel snow, in our pajamas, without even winter boots [in Russian: valenki], in slippers. We had kitchen duty, washed dishes, carried heavy milk cans. It was pointless to explain that your whole body hurts. They don’t care: “You’re not in a resort, go, work.” Hospitalized senior soldiers would have drinking parties at night. They sent the young ones to get vodka... Sometimes people were beaten. It was all rather unpleasant.98

In a separate interview with Human Rights Watch, Roman Davydov, who was in the hospital at the same time as Kosov, confirmed Kosov’s testimony.99

Vitalii K., another conscript, told Human Rights Watch that the dedy in the military hospital frequently got drunk at night and became abusive. They forced him and other junior conscripts to leave the military base to get alcoholic drinks for them. They also regularly put them all in a row in the night and forced them to do physical exercises. K. noted that these abuses always took place in the evening, when the doctors and other officers had left for the day.100

Human Rights Watch received similar reports from other conscripts who fled the same hospital. The mother of one said her son, hospitalized for an ear infection, told her that “it is impossible here, worse than in the regiment.” She said second year soldiers got drunk at night and became abusive, forcing them with “shoves and kicks” to run errands for them.101 Her son eventually ran away from the hospital. So did Anatolii T., who was getting treatment for heart problems and festering foot sores. He told Human Rights Watch that the senior soldiers in his ward found out that he had previously gone absent without leave and started harassing him:

The guy with whom I arrived told them I had ran away. It immediately started. They don’t like people who run. They forced me to do all sorts of things. They didn’t beat me but forced me to work. Cleaning the corridor, steps... There were also two guys who’d been in Chechnya. They immediately said: “You have to give us 500 rubles otherwise your life here is going to be very unpleasant.”102

One interviewee observed that conscripts who were sent directly from military bases to the hospital, rather than through a soldiers’ rights group, were particularly vulnerable to abuse.103 He said:

I was fine in the hospital... I was lucky compared to some others. There were some slaves, victims. Those who were sent there from the units, not from the Soldiers’ Mothers. There was this guy Lyosha there, he loved humiliating them, he was abnormal... He beat them on the spinal cord after they had a spinal tap.104

Other Military Hospitals

Human Rights Watch also received reports of harassment and abuse in several other military hospitals, although it was unclear whether the abuses there are as widespread as in military hospital 442. We documented, among others, the following cases:

  • In February 2001, nineteen-year-old Aleksei Andriushenko landed in a military hospital at Kamenka military base in Leningrad Province with pneumonia—the second time in three months of military service. A few days later, Andriushenko was dead. A military court later concluded that Andriushenko had committed suicide after other conscripts severely humiliated him on several consecutive nights.105 The court found that on several occasions, conscripts had forced Andriushenko and another conscript to get out of bed late in the evening and sing songs for them. The senior conscripts regularly punched their victims in the chest when they forgot the words. In the night from February 16 to 17, 2001, the humiliation became much more severe. According to the court,

  • ...after that [forcing them to sing songs], Poluianov forced Andriushenko to bare his torso and imitate an athlete. Then Poluianov and Karmashov began to play cards. The loser repeatedly forced the ill servicemen, including Andriushenko, to hit each other on the forehead. The person being hit had to fold his hands over the forehead. Andriushenko received no fewer than five such blows.

    At 2:00 a.m. that night in the same ward, junior sergeant Magomedov ..forced... Vasilkov and Andriushenko to lie down on the floor and imitate sexual intercourse, making all relevant noises and kissing one another, for a half hour.

    That same night and in the same place, between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., Poluianov and Kormashov...repeatedly hit and kicked each [of them] in different places of their bodies, causing bruises and abrasions. After that, they forced them to do pushups until they collapsed: do knee bends; stand with knees and elbows on the legs of a stool that had been turned up side down; hang above a bed, with the hands and legs placed on the head and foot boards of the bed; stand with the legs half-bent, holding a stool in front of them with stretched out arms. Only after that...they allowed Andriushenko and Vasilkov to rest, but forced them to lie together in one bed.106

The court found the perpetrators guilty of humiliation of their fellow servicemen causing serious consequences, and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from a year and a half and four years.107

  • Stanislav U. and Evgenii G. spent time in military hospitals in Novocherkassk and Kislovodsk respectively. Both said violent hazing continued in the hospitals but commented that it was “not as bad as in the military unit.” U. said harassment and beatings took place at night only, when doctors and officers had gone home and only the nurses remained. He said the nurses were unable to exercise any control over the senior soldiers.108

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 the Committee 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:,+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.

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November 2003