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Soldier dies in Moscow Region as latest hazing scandal hits army

MOSCOW, August 11 (RIA Novosti) - A soldier has died in the Moscow Region after the commander of the railroad support unit where he was serving allegedly subjected to him to a violent assault, the Railroad Forces said Friday.

Private Dmitry Panteleyev, whose company is stationed in Lukhovitsy, outside Moscow, died in hospital several days after the unit commander Captain Vyacheslav Nikiforov had reportedly beaten him up for taking unauthorized leave and getting drunk.

Investigators said Nikiforov had "inflicted severe wounds on the soldier." He is now under arrest pending trial on charges of abusing office and deliberately causing physical harm to another person.

Spokesmen for the Railway Force described the incident as "outrageous."

Hazing has been in the focus of public and media attention in Russia following a horrific incident in a Urals army unit at the start of this year when Private Andrei Sychev, 19, had to have both of his legs amputated after being allegedly beaten and tortured during New Year's holidays.

Earlier this month, Russian Prosecutor Yury Chaika said more than 3,500 instances of young conscripts being bullied by senior servicemen had been recorded in the first half of this year. Seventeen cases involved fatalities.

The Defense Ministry has acknowledged only seven deaths resulting from bullying in the first six months of 2006.

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