RUSSIAN ARMY HAZING GETS WORSE, SAYS TOP PROSECUTOR

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MOSCOW, May 24 (RIA Novosti) - Some 246 servicemen committed suicide last year alone, said Alexander Savenkov, Russia's Military Prosecutor General.

Ever more hazing-related crimes were registered. Last year saw a 25 percent rise, as against a few preceding years, he said at a RIA Novosti news conference.

"The trend appeared two years ago. Such crimes used to make from 11 to 14 percent in the total criminal statistics for the Russian Armed Forces. Now they account for 30 percent."

The prosecutor did not specify the number of instances of hazing for 2004.

He pointed out an indicative fact-proceedings on such crimes were never launched a mere three or four years ago unless an assault and battery "brought a broken jaw or a ruptured spleen."

"Lethal and other major injury rates are keeping at their previous level instead of subsiding. That is bad."

The top prosecutor and his men were also alarmed to see commissioned officers commit ever more crimes. "Senior officers are now making 46.9 percent of the total number of culprits," said Savenkov.

There is another alarming trend-the military are applying to the court more often. More than 29,000 commissioned officers, 42 generals among them, filed lawsuits last year "thus to display no trust in their superiors," the prosecutor said.

He deemed it necessary for government attorney officers to visit troops as frequently as possible.

Military prosecution officers and military command representatives are now together inspecting units. The Far Eastern Military District is a first site of this pioneer arrangement. Landed troops spokesmen and all inspectors will gather for a conference after the inspection finishes. The top federal and district military prosecutors and the district commander are to attend, said Savenkov.

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