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Dedovshchina Abuses: An Overview

Alexander D. was one of many conscripts Human Rights Watch interviewed for its research on the Russian armed forces. Throughout our research, conscripts from all over Russia told us numerous versions of what was essentially one and the same story. They spoke about the dedy treating them like slaves, of the violent punishments they suffered at their hands, and of gratuitous abuse. They recounted the indifference and remoteness of the officers, and the increasing despair they felt at the prospect of a full year of initiation, and, eventually, their decision to runaway. There were exceptions, of course: the occasional conscript talked about a unit where there was no, or almost no, dedovshchina. Their stories varied greatly in details, as initiation practices vary to some extent from regiment to regiment and depend on local traditions, the personalities of the dedy, the first-year conscripts, and the officers. Yet, the uniformity of the testimony was striking.

This report discusses three broad, interconnected categories of dedovshchina abuses: coerced servility, with its excessively arbitrary orders; gratuitous abuse; and excessive punishments, for failing to comply both with expected servility and for violating formal rules.

Expectations of Servility to Dedy

While the Military Code of Conduct gives second-year conscripts some formal authority over first-year conscripts who are lower in rank, it also limits this authority, stipulating clearly that orders may not be given that have nothing to do with military service or that are aimed at violating the law.81 Yet, in practice, dedy expect servility of first-year conscripts. They make up arbitrary rules that first-year conscripts must abide by, and change them at will; they expect first-year conscripts to be at their service at any time of day or night, and for any kind of order, whether lawful or unlawful, safe or dangerous, innocuous or malicious. If first-year conscripts complain, fail to deliver, or refuse to abide the rules or orders, the dedy punish them in whatever way they see fit, and often do so violently. These rules and demands dominate every aspect of the life of the first-year conscript: their day-time military duties, food, personal hygiene, health, possessions, and sleeping patterns. The military code of conduct does not provide for these arbitrary restrictions or the threats of punishment should they refuse to obey. Thus, from the point of view of Russian law, the vast majority of the orders and rules of the dedy are not lawful.

Determining whether these rules and orders also violate international human rights law is more complicated. A certain level of submissiveness to soldiers who have served longer arguably strengthens the respect for hierarchy necessary in military structures. This is the case even if new recruits are told to perform acts that are mildly degrading—for example, cleaning soldiers’ dirty boots, repairing their uniforms, or fetching them food—and do not directly serve the special mission of the military. But there must be a limit to this submissiveness; otherwise the right to be free of degrading treatment would be negated. Likewise, some interference with the right to health may be acceptable, but initiation treatment may not unjustifiably threaten the health of new recruits. It is important to note that, even if many of the dedy’s orders do not in and of themselves amount to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, their cumulative effect may well push them over the threshold.

In this section, we primarily discuss the orders and rules of the dedy during off-hours and with respect to the property of first-year conscripts. We also briefly discuss the situation with respect to meals and health, which was documented extensively in another Human Rights Watch report, “To Serve without Health.”82 We do not consider as violative of international law the assignment of the most unpleasant tasks during day time routines, such as the dirtiest kitchen duties, or heaviest tasks keeping the military base clean. First-year conscripts generally did not talk about this in their interviews, evidently considering it a fact of life that junior conscripts perform the least pleasant official tasks. Indeed, this would seem routine in armed forces around the world and raises no concerns under international law.

Food, Money and Other Belongings

Van Bladel observes that Russian soldiers live in a “world of scarcity,” lacking such “fundamental things as food, beverage and especially money.”83 This may explain why dedy use dedovshchina so consistently to prey on new recruits’ money, food, and clothing, and to coerce them into procuring the same.84 Conscripts face the constant threat of violent punishment for failing to surrender their property, no matter how meager, or to procure food, cigarettes, and the like.

They told Human Rights Watch that dedy routinely confiscated their property immediately upon arrival at the unit; forced them to hand over their salaries every month, as well as food and money they received in the mail or during visits from their parents. The dedy also frequently ordered first-year conscripts to procure money, food, or cigarettes, thus forcing the conscripts to ask their parents for these items or to beg on the street. The dedy’s demands that first-year conscripts procure for them were so routine that, in many cases, they placed the conscripts in a permanent state of servitude. Conscripts said they were beaten for failing to comply.


Numerous conscripts described a tradition called stodnevka, or “one hundred days.” According to this tradition, every night first-year conscripts have to put cigarettes under the pillows of dembeli (conscripts who have entered the last hundred days of their military service). They must inscribe the number of remaining days before the dembel’s discharge order on the cigarettes. As one conscript explained to his mother, he had to write: “Thirty-eight days remain before ded Vova's discharge. All the best, dukh Roman.”85 Several conscripts stressed the cigarettes had to be of good quality, or they faced punishment.

The conscripts all said forgetting to prepare the cigarette or failing to find one led to beatings. Vasilii B. said: “Every night he must have a cigarette. If you skipped a day and he comes in the evening and there is no cigarette – that’s it. In such cases, they beat [you] very severely.”86 The mother of another conscript said: “If eleven [junior conscripts] brought cigarettes and one did not, all [were taken] to the bathroom or storage room and beaten that night. Then the eleven [who did bring cigarettes] also beat the twelfth, who did not bring that cigarette.87

The story of one conscript illustrates the stresses associated with stodnevka particularly vividly. On May 27, 2002, Dmitrii Samsonov wrote to his parents and grandmother that the stodnevka was starting on June 19. He asked them all to send him supplies. For example, he wrote to his mother: “Mama, this is what I need for the next four months: every week a transfer of forty to fifty rubles, and a small package with Prima [cigarettes] and filter cigarettes… Mama, don’t forget to send this immediately. Immediately!”88

The letter was delivered late and his parents received it only the day before the start of the stodnevka. A few days later, a second letter arrived in which Samsonov expressed his desperation:

Today the stodnevka is starting and I haven’t received anything from you, nor from mama or grandma… I don’t know what to do. It’s 2:00 p.m. now. It will be lights-out in eight hours. I think that I will not survive this night. Or actually, I will survive but it will cost me a lot. I wrote to you, begged you—just in case, I also wrote to grandma—so you would [send me money] quickly but nobody responded. You just don’t understand how important it was for me. I needed 200 rubles for the stodnevka, a pack of Yava Zolotoi [a cigarette brand name] and four cigarettes per day by June 19. That was it…89

As a post scriptum to the letter, Samsonov wrote: “I love you very much and miss you but I don’t know how I’m going to survive now.” In a letter dated July 13, 2002, Samsonov wrote that he was in a military hospital with a broken wrist. He wrote: “I’m not going to explain how that happened. It would take too long. I just wanted to inform you that I survived the beginning of the stodnevka.” In the letter, he repeated his requests for money and cigarettes.

On July 24, 2002, his parents received a telegram saying that their son had died the day before. Later, they were told that he had slit his veins.90

Confiscation of the Property of Conscripts

Conscripts almost uniformly told Human Rights Watch that in the first days after they were assigned to a regular military unit the dedy took their civilian clothes, food packages from home, and their personal belongings. Many also said dedy forced them to swap newly-issued military clothing for their own worn-out clothes. In some cases, the dedy openly demanded that newcomers hand over these items, in other they took them while the first-years were outside or asleep.

Dmitrii Kosov told Human Rights Watch that when he and other first-years arrived at their unit outside St. Petersburg, military officials brought them into a room and sat them down. He said:

They [military officials] took us in and sat us down in the Lenin room... We sat there and waited. Then some unshaven guy comes in, his pants are falling down, and asks everyone to give him money because he doesn’t have enough to buy alcohol. [When nobody volunteers,] he takes one of the people…out into the corridor. This person later returns, clearly beaten. Then he [the unshaven guy] asks: ‘Is there anybody else who doesn’t want to share his money?’ Everyone starts to give money. Then another one comes in and says that he will soon be discharged and that he needs pants. He collects six or seven pairs of pants. Others come in who need shoes. One of them liked my coat. My wallet went the same way, as did my telephone.91

Dedy told Anatolii T. to take the food package his mother had made for him to the pantry, where, as he was told, he could collect it later. However, when he went to change his clothes in the barracks, “they sat on the bed, and had already eaten it all.”92

Aleksei Koshelev was left with nothing but his trousers when he arrived at his unit. He told Human Rights Watch: “[A]ll [the clothing] we had was new. Warm jackets… They, the dembeli, had old, worn out [clothing]… And they started to take [them] from us all. I met one [a ded] in the hallway. He said: “Take it off!” I said “I won’t.” They started to [beat me]…they took it anyway, took my cap… I ended up in just my pants.”93

Numerous conscripts said senior soldiers went through their pockets and night tables as they were sleeping or outside. For example, Vasilii S. and Aleksei Koshelev said the dedy went through their pockets at night and took their belongings. Vasilii S. said: “Whatever you have in your night table disappears within two days. They can’t be locked.”94 Anatolii T. said that the dedy even stole his personal items, like his watch, tooth paste, soap, and razor.95

Confiscation of Salaries

Many conscripts told Human Rights Watch that the dedy confiscated their small monthly wage for purchasing cigarettes, tooth paste, and other personal items.96 In some cases, conscripts said, officers also confiscated their salaries. A few lucky conscripts told Human Rights Watch that they were allowed to keep their salaries.

Anton A., who served in a railroad troops unit north of St. Petersburg, said that, before he and his peers received their first salary, conscripts who had served six months more than they had, warned them that they had to hand their salaries over the dedy. “We went to get [our money], came back to the Company and handed it over.” Anton A. said that he did not always have to hand over the full amount. “Sometimes they allowed us to keep sixteen or six rubles, sometimes nothing—as they [the dedy] saw fit.” Once, Anton A. tried to keep his salary because he wanted to call his mother: “Junior Sergeant S. asked me for the thirty rubles. I said [that]…I wanted to phone home. He did not beat me but began to intimidate me: ‘Do you want to live normally here? … Watch out.’” Anton A. said that after that he “did not have a quiet day…” The dedy beat and taunted him, apparently in retaliation. Shortly after, he ran away.97

Alexander Sukhanov said that the starshina of his Company, a second-year conscript, disbursed salaries to conscripts. However, he always kept part of the salaries for himself. Once, when Sukhanov asked for his full salary, the starshina told him that he withheld it “for me, for gasoline. After all, it’s me who drives around searching for you, or takes you to the military prison in my own car. You can’t expect me to spend my own money on that, can you?” Sukhanov said that when he collected his salary, a ded always accompanied him: “As soon as you leave the Company, he [the ded] says: ‘Let’s share… God ordered [people] to share.’ So I get the money, want to give him [just] ten rubles. He takes it all, quietly turns around and walks away.” Sukhanov said the dedy routinely took the salaries of all twenty first-year conscripts in the company, with the exception of one conscript who had befriended a ded.98

A number of conscripts said they signed a registry every month to confirm receipt of money they never actually saw. In these cases, it was not always clear whether the dedy or officers took the money. For example, Aleksei K., who served as commander of a squad in Totskoe in Orenburg province, told Human Rights Watch that the commander of his battalion came by with the registry once a month, saying “Today is salary day,” and had conscripts sign the registry.  However, Aleksei K. and his fellow conscripts never saw a penny. He did not know where his money went. Aleksei K. also said he had spent the few months of his military service in a unit in Krasnodar Region, where officers made sure everyone got their full salary every month.99 In some cases, officers and dedy offered justifications for not giving conscripts their salaries. For example, Pavel P., who also signed for his salary every month but never received any money, said that he and his peers were told that the money was used to buy soap for them.100

Confiscation of Money and Food from Correspondence

Dedy and officers routinely screen packages and letters for conscripts and confiscate any money and other valuables they contain. For example, Alexander Sokolov told Human Rights Watch that his grandmother sent him a five ruble note in every letter. While he received all her letters, the money was always gone and the envelopes were taped up.101 Aware of this pervasive practice, Pavel P. told his parents not to send him anything valuable: “Why [should they send things], if half disappears right and left?”102 Anatolii S. instructed his mother to specify the sender of the letter as someone not related to him because mail from parents was more carefully scrutinized. The mother of one conscript told Human Rights that, after a while, she started writing on the envelopes: “There’s no money in here, give the letter to the soldier, he’s expecting it.”103 Conscripts whose parents sent food packages by mail said they were forced to “share” the package with the dedy. Ilia B. told Human Rights Watch that when a person receives information that a package has arrived, “he goes there with the starshii…, takes the package and comes back to the unit…and opens his package. And that is it… Two or three dedy walk up and say: ‘Let’s have a look.’ They look, and half [your stuff] is gone. Another looks and you’re left with one piece of candy.”104

Visits by Relatives

Dozens of conscripts told Human Rights Watch that, whenever relatives visited them, the dedy confiscated whatever valuables and food they received. They said that refusal to give up these items led to beatings and was pointless anyway, as the dedy took the desired items nonetheless. In a number of cases, the dedy put together “shopping lists” for the relatives. The dedy frequently also sent conscripts from the area to their homes to get food and money, or made them contact their parents so they would visit them.

Aleksei Koshelev told Human Rights Watch that whatever his parents brought him during visits was taken away: “For example, my relatives came to visit, we sat around for two hours… I can’t immediately eat everything, [but if I] bring a bag back to the Company, already at the checkpoint [it’s]: ‘Come here, we’re going to search you…’”105 A number of conscripts told their mothers not to bring them care packages. Ilia R. told his mother: “Mom, it’s pointless. I won’t even get near my unit with this.” He told her that the dedy would be waiting for him at the entrance to his base to shake him down upon his return.106 Another conscript told his mother that she should visit him only when he was in the military hospital because otherwise her visits were more trouble than good.107

In some cases, the dedy placed orders with conscripts who expected visits from relatives. For example, Anton E.’s mother told Human Rights Watch that the dedy instructed her son to make sure she brought packages of soup: “I told him I would [get some] and he said I should buy extra, that it ‘wasn’t for us.’” A fellow conscript of her son’s later explained to her that the dedy had “warned him not to return without gifts.”108 Egor Z. said the dedy ordered him to get his parents to bring him money, cigarettes, and notebooks when they were visiting. When Egor Z. did not get the dedy what they wanted, they beat him and announced that “things would get really bad” if he did not produce the goods by the next morning. Egor Z. and a fellow conscript climbed over the military base’s fence that night and ran away.109

A number of conscripts who served near their hometowns said that the dedy told them to get money or goods from their homes. Alexander Sukhanov told Human Rights Watch that a ded told him and his fellow conscripts: “’I can’t eat here, I’m sick of it, I want something else. Who’s local?” When they learned that Sukhanov was a local, they instructed him to call home and “order something tasty.” Sukhanov said his father brought some food over. The next day, the ded wanted something more “filling” and accompanied Sukhanov to his house to get more food. Sukhanov’ mother told Human Rights Watch that at first she did not realize what was happening and put together some food. After that, she visited his unit twice per week and brought food packages each time, which the dedy took away from him every time.110 Dedy sent Vladimir Z. to his sister, who lived nearby, for money.111 Stepan K.’s mother told Human Rights Watch that dedy instructed her son to make his parents to bring 650 rubles to the unit. She said that the dedy told him that if his relatives did not bring these items before a specific date, “you will not have a life.”112

Demands for Money, Cigarettes, and Other Goods

A number of conscripts recounted how dedy demanded that they give them money, cigarettes and other goods that they did not have. These conscripts said the dedy did not care how they got these goods, by begging, stealing, or otherwise, and that they faced physical violence if they failed to deliver. For example, Vladimir P. told Human Rights Watch:

[The dedy] openly demanded money. Absolutely nobody was interested in where you were going to get it. At the factory, for example, [where I was sent to work] I had to put a cigarette every day [under the dembel’s pillow]. In addition, you have to give them cigarettes during the day; they don’t buy cigarettes. If he [the ded] wants to smoke, he walks up to you [and says]: “I need a cigarette.” I initially had some money… If someone didn’t have money, they asked passers-by. Our unit is located in the city and you could walk up to the fence [and beg]. This was a daily practice.113

The mother of another conscript said that dedy put her son and his peers out on the streets at night with orders for vodka and sausage. She said:

These poor soldiers stand in Severomorsk with outstretched hands. I saw it myself when I drove by, they stood there… They also sent my son… he doesn’t get rest at night, he’s already sick because he doesn’t sleep… And then, what can [he] do, he knows that if he does not bring vodka and sausage back [he will be punished]. …and who will give him money at night? So he either has to steal handbags from women, or rob apartments, or sell himself. [My son] was beaten for returning without anything.”114

Ilia R. told his mother that he and his fellow conscripts were “thrown across the fence” at night in order to get cigarettes and vodka. He described the attitude of the dedy as “if you don’t have money, go and steal it.” She said her son never stole anything, returned empty-handedly and was beaten.115

Pavel P. said that whenever a first-year conscript was given leave, he had to bring money, food, cigarettes, or other goods back for the dedy. Once, when Pavel P. failed to do so, the dedy scolded him for not bringing anything back, gave him three blows to the chest, and told him that he would not be given leave again. Later, when Pavel P. had to go to the military hospital for an unrelated illness, the dedy ordered him to bring back cigarettes and other things. He told Human Rights Watch: “Where am I supposed to get these? After all, I can’t go and beg for it, can I?” So he decided to run away.116

Aleksei L. ran away from his unit because dedy punished him for failing to bring them the one hundred rubles they had demanded from him. His mother told Human Rights Watch that he did not have the money and was unable to find it. As punishment, the dedy put two military overcoats and a bullet-proof vest on him and beat him. The dedy told him the next day that if he did not bring them one hundred rubles that night, the “execution” would be repeated. Aleksei L. ran away together with a fellow conscript that evening.117


Dedy considersleep a luxury that first-year conscripts have not yet earned, and frequently make that understood. Indeed, many first-year conscripts said the nights were a time they dreaded. One conscript captured the mood of many others when he told Human Rights Watch that “nobody liked lights-out because the most horrible things happened [at night]. We eagerly awaited reveille.”118 Many first-year conscripts said that the dedy kept them up until long after lights-out at 10:00 p.m., or said they woke them in the middle of the night. Many told Human Rights Watch that they suffered from severe sleep deprivation and several maintained that they regularly “fell asleep standing.”

Nighttime Chores

Practically all conscripts interviewed for this report said that the dedy made them do all sorts of chores: make their beds, wash, dry, and repair their uniforms, polish their boots, et cetera. Bannikov observes in his study of dedovshchina that “while the dedy and other privileged individuals watch their favourite television programs, the junior comrades must prepare their lodges for sleep: make their beds and straighten their blankets in such a way that [the ded] can cover himself with one movement of the arm.”119 While many of the chores are themselves rather innocent, they are performed under threat of punishment. As we saw in the case of Alexander D., punishment for failure to perform these chores can be severe. Sometimes, the dedy gave an abusive twist to the chores themselves. For example, Anatolii T. said that the dedy would stand behind him and his peers when they made their beds and if they weren’t fast enough, the dedy would mess the bed up and beat them in the kidneys.120


Conscripts told Human Rights Watch of numerous army rituals, traditions and jokes. Many of these rituals are in and of themselves innocuous but their combination with violent punishment may make them abusive.

Many conscripts said that they sometimes had to tell the dedy fairytales or sing them songs at night. According to Bannikov, such readings are often theatrical performances: the dukh stands on a stool, gesticulates, waves his arms to imitate a cuckoo, and varies his intonation.121 Bannikov provides the lyrics of a “lullaby,” which he says is sung all over Russia.122 Predictably, the lyrics are graphic and vulgar. In most cases, conscripts did not complain of any violence or abuse associated with these readings. However, in at least one case, the dedy turned this tradition into an abusive game. In early 2001, at a military hospital at Kamenka military base, dedy forced Aleksei Andriushchenko, who had been hospitalized for pneumonia, and another conscript to get out of bed late in the evening on several occasions, and sing for them.123 Whenever the two young men got the lyrics to the songs wrong, the dedy punched them in the chest.124

Numerous conscripts described traditional army jokes—with exotic names like “dried crocodile,”125 “the dembel’s train,”126 “bicycle,”127 “musical elk,”128 “fire from the left, fire from the right,”129 “dried flying mice,”130 and “dried parrot,”131—that the dedy made them perform in the evening or at night. While some said that the dedy treated these jokes primarily as innocuous entertainment, others said the dedy turned them into abusive games.

Five conscripts mentioned dried crocodile. Two said that they and their peers had to hang above their beds for a few minutes, were not punished when they collapsed, and felt that it was “like a joke.”132 For Alexander D. and two others the ritual involved abuse. Anatolii T. said that the dedy in his unit forced him and his peers to do “dried crocodile” when they were drunk or bored, and forced them to do push-ups while hanging: “If you fell, they beat you in the chest.”133 In the case of Aleksei Andriushchenko (see above), the court listed hanging above the bed as one of the abuses that he faced on the night before his death but provided no further detail in its verdict.134

Dedy woke Petr P. and his peers up almost every night for a full month.135 On a standard night, Petr P. said, the duty officer would announce lights-out and everyone would get in bed. A few minutes later, however, the dedy would say: “Reveille!” and everyone had to get up again—those who did not jump out of bed were kicked. Frequently, the dedy forced Petr P. and his peers to hang above their beds and do push-ups, and beat them as they were hanging. Petr P.’s parents took their son away from his unit after a ded hit

Petr P. over the head with a stool one night.

Food and Health136

Under the rules of dedovshchina, dedy are free to place limitations on first-year conscripts’ access to food—after all, the first-year conscripts have yet to earn the privilege of food. They routinely confiscate the best food items from first-year conscripts, severely restrict the amount of time for eating, and punish first-year conscripts who take uneaten food with them. While training conscripts to consume food quickly may be a legitimate element of field training, this was clearly not the purpose in the numerous cases examined by Human Rights Watch.

Dedy determine when meals are over; when they finish, they order everyone else to stop eating as well. Almost half the conscripts interviewed for this report complained that for part or all of their military service dedy routinely gave them so little time to eat—by most descriptions between one and a half and five minutes—that they were forced to either practically inhale their food or leave half of it uneaten.

Every fourth conscript we interviewed stated that dedy had confiscated their food during mealtime, mostly white bread, butter, and meat. One said:  “They gave us buns and [the dedy] took them away from someone. If a ded felt like having a second bun, he’d just walk up and take it. Nobody would tell him anything.”137 In some units dedy systematically confiscated food, in others the practice was less common. One conscript said: “The dedy sometimes took the butter. If you managed to put it on your bread they left it to you but if you weren’t quick enough you’d say goodbye to your butter.”138 Another said: “They only took our butter, sometimes also an egg. They would give us two, one they took. But that was rare.”139

Conscripts from military bases across the country described also a presumption that first-year conscripts who do 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 seek medical care anyway often face repercussions, including harassment, beatings, and extortion.


Dedy punish first-year conscripts when and how they see fit, both for violating their own rules and demands, as well as the official rules. Punishment generally takes place at night in the barracks, after the officers have gone home, or in concealed spaces such as storage rooms or bathrooms. The punishment can be both individual and collective, and ranges from push-ups or other physical exercise to severe beatings or other forms of physical abuse.

None of the forms of punishment that first-year conscripts said dedy applied to them on a regular basis is provided for in the disciplinary code. This code provides for the following types of punishment: warnings, stripping of leave, detention for up to ten days, extra assignments and stripping of medals for rank-and-file soldiers.140 Second-year conscripts who have reached the rank of deputy platoon commander or starshina of a Company may, at maximum, independently issue rank-and-file soldiers warnings, strip them of leave, and assign up to two and three extra assignments respectively.141 However, dedy most frequently use other forms of punishment like severe physical exercise at night, beatings, and other forms of physical abuse.

Individual Punishment

First-year conscripts gave dozens of examples of individual punishment by dedy—frequently violent. Some of these examples are summarized below:

  • Anton A. recounted how, one day, he stood in formation and became distracted: “I looked at a different company. At that moment, they gave the marching order and I did not move my leg in time.” Afterwards, a ded took him to an enclosed space: “He put me against the wall. There was another person there [as well]… He initially beat me, then him.” Anton A. said that the ded beat and kicked him all over his body, including with a flat hand in his face and on the legs.142

  • Anton. A. gave another example. In his company, the dedy had established the rule that first-year conscripts had to hand the white bread they received at lunch time to them. If a first-year nonetheless ate his bread, the dedy sent him to the drying room and beat him there with sticks left over from construction work. Anton A. said that “several guys ended up in the hospital because of it.”143
  • Aleksei Riabov recounted that one day he was in the storage room to do upkeep on his uniform when a ded entered. The ded told him to take off his socks. When he refused, the ded first made him do push-ups and then hit him in the chest.144
  • Vasilii B. told Human Rights Watch that he and another first-year conscript refused to be lackeys for two dedy. As punishment, the dedy took them to the storage room and beat them in the kidney area and the head with their fists wrapped in towels.145
  • While standing guard, Denis Ivanov and two other first-year conscripts drank the tea of a ded. The next morning the ded accused him and one of the other conscripts of finishing his tea and sugar—an accusation Ivanov denied. According to Ivanov, the ded answered with “brute force” and he confessed. The dedy then beat Ivanov in the bathroom. Later that day, Ivanov was taken to his company, which was doing push-ups. He said: “[The dedy] brought me out to the middle and said: ‘Look, company, this is the rat of our company.’ At this point I started feeling really awful. I looked at my friends who were doing push-ups. They ordered them to get up. It seemed to me that every one of them wanted to kill me.” Ivanov said the dedy continued to beat him after that. Eventually, the most senior ded put an end to the beatings and made Ivanov eat a whole loaf of bread as punishment. Ivanov said his peers refused to talk to him for several weeks after the incident.146
  • Aleksei Koshelev recalled how a ded came up to him once and said: “’We’re going on a patrol now, when I get back from the patrol you have to fry a potato for me. I’m a dembel, you have to fry [one] for me every day.’ I told him that ‘I will not fry [anything] for you…’ He said: ‘if there won’t be potato, there will be a big fight.’” Koshelev nonetheless refused to comply. Enraged by Koshelev’s refusal, the ded later stabbed him in the stomach with a penknife.147
  • Two conscripts who fled the same unit together said in separate interviews that the dedy forced them to save their pieces of white bread and hand them over later. One said: “Sometimes when you are hungry, you eat the piece of white bread, which you’re supposed to give away. And you pay for that. If you don’t bring it, they say: ‘Go to the drying room.’ And there you get [beaten]. Several guys went to hospital because of it.”148

Shaving with Lighter

Several conscripts told Human Rights Watch that dedy had burned their facial hair as a punishment for not shaving, and soldiers’ rights organizations confirmed this occurs regularly.149 The conscripts said the dedy gave them no time to shave during the day and that secret visits to the bathroom after lights-out were strictly punished, resulting in a vicious circle. For example, Anatolii T. said:

We used to get up at night to shave, wash and sew… One night, a ded saw me go to the bathroom. He beat me in the bathroom so my eye was all swollen. He asked me what I was doing and said I wasn’t supposed to. If you don’t shave, they come at night… If the sergeant sees that you’re not shaven he shaves you with a lighter… It [doesn’t give you burns] but leaves some red spots and is unpleasant.150

Pavel P. also complained that the dedy did not allow first-year conscripts time for washing or shaving and said that the dedy did not give them razors. As punishment for walking around unshaven, he said that the dedy made them rub a towel over their chins and cheeks to burn away the hair, or would burn the hair with a lighter.151

Collective Punishment

Numerous conscripts said dedy punished them collectively for the failure of one or more first-year conscripts to comply with the demand or rules of dedy. Valentina Melnikova of the Union of Committees of Soldiers Mothers of Russia told Human Rights Watch that collective punishment is “extremely widespread” and that “threats of collective punishment are a key tool of coercion.”152 In the words of one conscript, Stepan M., “If someone does something he isn’t supposed to or…does something not the way he was told to, [they punished us collectively].”153 Another conscript, Pavel P., said: “[If] someone did not clean up somewhere, didn’t bring slippers where [the ded] wanted them, or…didn’t make the bed evenly…all suffered because of [that person].”154

While collective punishment of prisoners and most other categories of people violates international human rights law, this is not necessarily the case when applied to military servicemen. Collective punishment can play an important role in promoting discipline and group cohesion in armed forces, both of which are crucial for their proper functioning. Indeed, most armed forces around the world use collective punishment in one form or another. Thus, the issue of the severity of the punishment is the key in making the determination whether a violation has taken place, not its collective nature.

Numerous conscripts said the dedy made them do push-ups and knee bends at night—evidently, this was the most common form of punishment used. Pavel P. said: “Everyone did push-ups... [They made us do them] until we dropped, one hundred, 150, sometimes 200. [If you fell, they said:] ‘Get up and go on with the rest.’”155 Stepan M. gave another example:

We had to go to the smoking room [to smoke] but [the dedy] took us there very rarely [because it was cold]. The sergeants [the dedy] themselves could smoke in the toilet or washroom but we were not allowed… [So when] someone smoked in the toilet, they [the dedy] smelled it was smoky and they put everyone in a row and we did knee bends. We stand in a row and the first person counts to ten [we all do knee bends on each count], the second counts to ten and like that to the end. And there were eighty of us. And each of these eighty has to count to ten. Some of us fell and were taken to the sickbay.156

Ilia B. said the dedy made him and nine fellow first-year conscripts do push-ups “until he [the ded] gets sick of it.” Sometimes the ded would order them to do push-ups, lie down on his bed and fall asleep. He said he and his peers would stop doing push-ups when they realized the ded was sleeping.157

In these examples, dedy limited their punishment to physical exercises and did not resort to any significant physical abuse. However, in other cases, dedy also beat conscripts while they were doing the exercises or when they failed to keep up. For example, Stepan M. said that the dedy had established a rule that first-year conscripts had to bring the white bread they received at mealtime to the barracks and hand over it to them. He told Human Rights Watch:

God forbid if someone saw you eat a piece of white bread. They wake you up at night, and you’re again going to do knee bends and push-ups, and you get [hit] with a stool in the head or with a post of the bed. They often beat us with the post on the arms, muscles, legs and back.158

Anton A. said violent collective punishment occurred frequently in his unit. He recounted the following incident, which happened a few nights before Human Rights Watch interviewed him:

One guy had forgotten his cup in a box for a fire extinguisher. The [officer who found the cup] punished the company duty officer [a ded]. And he [in turn] punished us in his own way. He woke us up at 4:00 a.m. and we started to do knee bends… [At one point] an officer came into the company and everyone ran [to their beds]. The officer left and [the dedy] lined us up once more. One guy said that he would not do any more knee bends because he couldn’t any longer. [The dedy] started to yell: ‘You can’t, you can’t?!’ Then they beat him. But he didn’t do any more knee bends. Then, to my surprise, they [the dedy] calmed down and said: ‘Go to sleep.’159

A. said a day or so later the dedy retaliated against the conscript who refused to do more knee bends and apparently tried to force his head into a toilet bowl and beat him. A. said that he was taken to the sickbay with a bloody face and bruises all over his body.

Denis Ivanov said that nightly collective punishment in the barracks was rare in his company because the most senior ded–-“the only person who did not try to humiliate people”—would not permit it. However, throughout the four months Ivanov served in the unit, the other dedy took them to the bathrooms for punishment. He said:

[W]hen there was [collective] punishment of the platoon, they lined up the whole platoon and brought us all to the bathroom. There [we had to do] all sorts of physical exercises and they beat us there. They made us stand with our faces to the wall. We had to do whatever they told us…160

Alexander Kaiankin gave an example in which he was the cause of the collective punishment of his entire platoon:

I used to give my friends haircuts. A ded walked by and looked for someone to send to do some job in his stead. He walked up to me and said: “Let’s go” but I refused. He immediately started [to get angry]: “What are you talking about? I’m a ded!” He began to harass me. I couldn’t contain myself and hit him twice in the chest. I couldn’t believe what I’d done. [I knew] three of them would beat me up… Later four of them came to me—he brought his friends—and said: “You, dukhi, what do you think you are doing? You have to submit. When you reach our seniority, in a year, you can abuse your own [dukhi]… Three of them beat me a little… Then they called up the rest of my platoon and beat all of them in turn. They put them all in a row and everyone got a share: a fist in the chest, a kick.161

Gratuitous Abuse

A system that designates certain people as having no rights, as dedovshchina does, is an open invitation for wanton gratuitous abuse. Human Rights Watch documented numerous abusive acts that dedy did not even try to justify in terms of rules, orders, or punishment. Most frequently, these abuses happened at night when the dedy were drunk. They ranged from poking fun at first-year conscripts in an abusive manner to forced acts of a sexual nature.

Drunken Abuse

Alcoholism is Russia’s foremost social problem. Millions of Russians are alcoholics, and alcohol plays a significant role in human rights problems such as domestic violence and random police abuse. Unsurprisingly, alcoholism is a considerable problem on military bases. As has been noted above, a considerable percentage of conscripts suffered from alcohol addiction prior to their recruitment.162

For Anton A., dedovshchina started two weeks after he began his military service. He said that the dedy woke him and his peers up several times a week at night, “depending on how much they [the dedy] were drinking.” He said that the dedy typically put them all in a line, and forced them to do push-ups and knee bends while wearing gas masks. While doing the exercises, the dedy “walked up to us and kicked us. They beat us on the heads, of course.” Once, the dedy forced them to do push-ups and knee bends for two straight hours and only allowed them to stop when one of the conscripts lost consciousness. A. said: “I stood across from him. He went all white, and fell with his head against a bed. They took him to the sickbay. After that, things calmed down a little but soon the abuses started all over again.”163

Alexander Sukhanov gave another example. He said that his ded together with three others drank every other night in his unit. “After lights-out [the ded] sent me repeatedly to get beer. I had to climb over the fence because you can’t go out through the checkpoint [without authorization].” Sukhanov said the dedy regularly became abusive after drinking.

If he was cheerful, he would start humiliating someone, laugh at him. He would throw someone’s slipper under the bed…or throw someone’s mattress out of the bed… But he could also beat someone, knock someone over, or burn him—whatever comes into his drunken head. He [picked] on those who couldn’t say anything, who were afraid… There were me and some eight to ten others. He beat me, a wet towel wrapped [around his fist] so there wouldn’t be any bruises. He hit me in the face, in the stomach. It’s an army law that when you beat someone, you do it with a wet towel… I was afraid what would happen later.164

Sukhanov ran away from the unit several times but his parents returned him. After his second escape, he was in bed when a ded told him to come over and asked him why he had run away. After a short exchange of words, the ded told Sukhanov to go to sleep:

…I started to fall asleep. Everything was quiet. I was sleeping on my stomach. Suddenly someone sat down on my legs from behind and a big hand [pushed] my head into the pillow. The sergeant sat down on my back. I felt something hot on my back. He burned me with a cigarette. I wanted to scream but nobody could hear me—they buried me in the pillow. They managed to burn me twice when I heard an officer coming and the guard yelled something. They immediately ran away. The one who lay on top of me got into his bed last, and I figured out who he was. I noticed that he was drunk and did not care. He did not bother me again [that night]. The next day at the formation I…was afraid to stand next to him. He might cut my throat. That day, I ran away again.165

Human Rights Watch researchers saw pictures taken by the Soldiers’ Mothers of St. Petersburg of several burn marks on Sukhanov’s back.

Vladimir P. gave Human Rights Watch the following example. One night at 2:00 a.m., when he was standing guard, a clearly drunk ded walked up to him and demanded that he bring him soup: “Where am I going to get that at 2:00 a.m.?” he rhetorically asked Human Rights Watch. “I couldn’t and I caught hell for it.” Vladimir P. said the ded had beaten him in the kidney area and also beat a fellow guard, who had served six months longer than he had. After that, the fellow conscript hit Vladimir P. with the flat hand on the ear. When Human Rights Watch interviewed Vladimir P., he still had problems with his hearing in that ear but he has, according to Right of the Mother in Volgograd, fully recovered since.166

Sexual Violence

The relatives of two conscripts told Human Rights Watch that dedy had exposed the young men to sexual violence. We also interviewed several conscripts who, according to soldiers’ rights organizations, had faced abuse of a sexual nature but who themselves did not provide us with that information directly. Soldiers’ rights groups say that conscripts encounter sexual violence frequently.167

Renat U. told Human Rights Watch that his nephew, Igor U., suffered sexual violence from dedy who had accused him of being an informer for the commander of the company. When the nephew denied the accusation, the dedy gave him a week to find out who the informer was. One night, the dedy woke up the company, put it in formation, brought Igor U. forward, and said: “Did you find the informer?” When he answered in the negative, the dedy concluded that he was therefore the informer. They then ordered him to take off his clothes and told him to get on his knees. Next, they brought forward one of Igor U.’s peers, gave him a condom and ordered the conscript to rape Igor U. The conscript refused. The dedy chose another conscript and told him to put his genitals in Igor U.’s mouth. The conscript laughed and took off his underpants. Igor U. resisted. Eventually, the dedy kicked him, beat him with an iron bed post wrapped in towels, and gave him another day to find the informer. They threatened that if he failed he would be raped. Igor U. fled the next day.168

While in the hospital recovering from pneumonia, dedy forced Aleksei Andriushchenko, a first-year conscript who served at Kamenka military base, to imitate sexual acts with another conscript. The next day, Andriushchenko’s dead body was found; according to military doctors, he committed suicide.169 A military court later found the dedy guilty of humiliation of their fellow servicemen causing serious consequences, and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from a year and a half to four years. In its verdict, the court stated that, in the night from February 16 to 17, 2001:

Poluianov [a ded] forced Andriushenko to bare his torso and imitate an athlete. Then Poluianov and Karmashov [another ded] 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 [a ded]...forced… Vasilkov [another first-year conscript] 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 push-ups 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.170

[81] Article 40(4) of the Military Code of Conduct.

[82] Human Rights Watch, “To Serve Without Health. Inadequate Nutrition and Health Care in the Russian Armed Forces,” A Human Rights Watch Short Report, Vol. 15, No. 9 (D), November 2003.

[83] Van Bladel.

[84] Van Bladel goes on to say that “money gives the soldier access to products that may color his gray, dull and monotonous life. It can improve his diet and may help him temporarily flee his dreadful situation through alcohol and drugs.” Ibid.

[85] Human Rights Watch interview with the parents of Rem P., October 28, 2002, Novokuznetsk. Rem P. served in a training unit in Kashtak and then in a regular unit in Borzia, both in Chita Province. Rem P. is a pseudonym.

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

[87] Human Rights Watch interview with the parents of Rem P.

[88] Human Rights Watch interview with the parents of Dmitrii Samsonov, October 27, 2002, Novokuznetsk. Samsonov’s parents provided Human Rights Watch with copies this letter and other letters, which remain on file with us. Samsonov served in a training unit in Kolomna and in a regular unit in Nizhnii Novgorod Province.

[89] Letter from Samsonov to his father, dated June 19, 2002. The letter is on file with Human Rights Watch.

[90] Human Rights Watch interview with the parents of Dmitrii Samsonov.

[91] 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 Pr ovince.

[92] 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.

[93] 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.

[94] Human Rights Watch interview with Vasilii S.

[95] Human Rights Watch interview with Anatolii T.

[96] At the time of service of most of the conscripts interviewed for this report, the wage was thirty-six rubles per month. It has since been raised to one hundred rubles per month (about U.S.$3.00).

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

[98] Human Rights Watch interview with Alexander Sukhanov and his mother, April 17, 2002, St. Petersburg. Sukhanov served in the Ministry of Defense’s construction unit 32087 in St. Petersburg.

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

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

[101] Human Rights Watch interview with Alexander Sokolov. Sokolov served at a training unit in Belidzhi in Dagestan and in border troops unit 2350.

[102] Human Rights Watch interview with Pavel P.

[103] Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of Anatolii S., November 3, 2002, Cheliabinsk.Anatolii S. served in a construction unit near Ekaterinburg. Anatolii S. is a pseudonym.

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

[105] Human Rights Watch interview with Aleksei Koshelev.

[106] Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of Ilia R., November 7, 2002, Cheliabinsk. Ilia R. served in unit 3344 in or near Ekaterinburg and briefly in 32 Gorodok. Ilia R. is a pseudonym.

[107] Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of Vasilii E., April 10, 2002, St. Petersburg. Vasilii E. served at unit 67636. Vasilii E. is a pseudonym.

[108] Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of Anton E., April 16, 2002, St. Petersburg. Anton E. served in a marines unit in Severomorsk in northern Russia. Anton E. is a pseudonym.

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

[110] Human Rights Watch interview with Alexander Sukhanov and his mother.

[111] Human Rights Watch interview with Vladimir Z.

[112] Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of Stepan K., November 6, 2002, Cheliabinsk. Stepan K. served in a unit near Ekaterinburg. Stepan K. is a pseudonym.

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

[114] Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of Anton E.

[115] Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of Ilia R.

[116] Human Rights Watch interview with Pavel P.

[117] Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of Aleksei L., October 5, 2002, Volgograd. Aleksei L. served in a interior forces unit 3033 in Persianovka, Rostov Province. .Aleksei L. is a pseudonym.

[118] Human Rights Watch interview with Vladimir O., October 1, 2002, Volgograd. Vladimir O. is a pseudonym.

[119] Bannikov, p. 180.

[120] Human Rights Watch interview with Anatolii T.

[121] Bannikov, p. 181.

[122] Ibid., pp. 180 and 181.

[123] The description of Andriushchenko’s plight is taken from the verdict of the Vyborg Garrison Military Court of January 18, 2002, which found that Andriushenko had committed suicide after other conscripts severely humiliated him on several consecutive nights. See below, “Sexual Violence,” for further details.

[124] Human Rights Watch interview with Ivan Andriushchenko, St. Petersburg, April 19, 2002. A few days later, after the dedy forced him to imitate sexual intercourse with another first-year conscript, Andriushchenko was found dead. According to military doctors, he had committed suicide. His father believes that the dedy murdered him.

[125] See below for a description.

[126] One conscript told Human Rights Watch that, while the dedy were lying in their beds, he and his peers had to shake the beds to imitate the motion of a train. Human Rights Watch interview with Federov.

[127] Vasilii B. described “bicycle” as follows: “They put matches between your fingers and light them. When it gets hot, you start to wave your hands.” Human Rights Watch interview with Vasilii B.

[128] Vasilii B. described “musical elk” as follows: You stand with your arms and fingers outstretched to the sides and sign songs. As you sing, you slowly move your hands toward your forehead. At the end of each verse a ded, who stands facing you, punches you at the level of your forehead. If you’re hands are in front of your forehead, they break the punch. If not, you get hit in the face. The ritual derives its name from the fact that, when your hands are in front of your forehead, your fingers resemble the antlers of an elk. Ibid.

[129] Alexander D. described this ritual as follows: He would stand outside in the mud and when the dedy would tell “fire from the left” he had to drop into the mud on his in right, and vice versa. Human Rights Watch interview with Alexander D.

[130] Bannikov describes the ritual as follows: “[A ded orders at any time during the night:] ‘Dry flying mice!’ and all dukhi must hang under the top bunk bed, holding on to the wire mesh with their hands and feet.” Bannikov, p. 182.

[131] Bannikov describes the ritual as follows: “[A ded orders at any time during the night:] ‘Dry parrots!’ and all stand on the back of their beds, holding on to it not to fall, and the ded knocks them off with a pillow.” Bannikov, p. 182.

[132] Human Rights Watch interview with Vladimir P.

[133] Human Rights Watch interview with Anatolii T.

[134] See above, footnote 123.

[135] Human Rights Watch interview with Petr P., November 3, 2002, Cheliabinsk. Petr P. served in an interior troops unit in Lesnoi, Sverdlov Province. Petr P. is a pseudonym.

[136] For more extensive documentation about the role of dedovshchina in the denial of conscripts’ rights to food and health care, see: Human Rights Watch, “To Serve Without Health. Inadequate Nutrition and Health Care in the Russian Armed Forces,” A Human Rights Watch Short Report, Vol. 15, No. 9 (D), November 2003

[137] Human Rights Watch interview with Andrei D.

[138] Human Rights Watch interview with Vladimir Z.

[139] Human Rights Watch interview with Aleksei Koshelev.

[140] Article 51.

[141] Article 54, 55, and 56.

[142] Human Rights Watch interview with Anton A.

[143] Ibid.

[144] Human Rights Watch interview with Aleksei Riabov, November 5, 2002, Cheliabinsk. Riabov served in a ministry of defense unit in 32d Gorodok, and at units in Shadrinsk (Kurgansk Province) and Karabash (Cheliabinsk Province).

[145] Human Rights Watch interview with Vasilii B.

[146] 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.

[147] Human Rights Watch interview with Aleksei Koshelev.

[148] Human Rights Watch interview with Anton A.

[149] Article 335 of the Military Code of Conduct obliges conscripts to shave “in a timely manner.”

[150] Human Rights Watch interview with Anatolii T.

[151] Human Rights Watch interview with Pavel P.

[152] Human Rights Watch interview with Valentina Melnikova, August 10, 2004, Moscow.

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

[154] Human Rights Watch interview with Pavel P.

[155] Ibid.

[156] Human Rights Watch interview with Stepan M.

[157] Human Rights Watch interview with Ilia B.

[158] Human Rights Watch interview with Stepan M.

[159] Human Rights Watch interview with Anton A.

[160] Human Rights Watch interview with Denis Ivanov.

[161] 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.

[162] See above. Experts on armed forces have noted the prominence of alcohol among soldiers. In his book “Boys in the Barracks. Observations on American Military Life,” L. Ingraham says that “[s]oldiering and alcohol have been almost synonymous since the invention of armies.” Ingraham, L.H., “Boys in the Barracks. Observations on American Military Life,” (Philadelphia, 1985), p. 91. For the role of alcohol in hazing at U.S. colleges, see: Hank Nuwer, “Wrongs of Passage. Fraternities, Sororities, Hazing and Binge Drinking,” (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1999).

[163] Human Rights Watch interview with Anton A.

[164] Human Rights Watch interview with Alexander Sukhanov and his mother.

[165] Ibid.

[166] Human Rights Watch interview with Vladimir P.

[167] Human Rights Watch interview with Valentina Melnikova.

[168] Human Rights Watch interview with the uncle of Igor U., April 11, 2002, St. Petersburg. Igor U. served in unit 6717 (St. Petersburg) of the Ministry of Interior’s troops. Igor U. is a pseudonym.

[169] As has been noted above, his father believes that the dedy killed his son.

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

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