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    Half of deaths in Russian army down to suicide in 2007

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    MOSCOW, April 16 (RIA Novosti) - Suicides accounted for more than a half of all deaths in Russia's Armed Forces so far this year, the Defense Ministry said Monday.

    According to the ministry's official Web site, a total of 110 servicemen have been killed in crimes, accidents and suicides.

    The deaths were mainly due to suicides (65), accidents (24), murder through negligence (7) and hazing (5).

    Four soldiers were killed with only one being a combat casualty in the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya in February-March, where illegal armed groups have continued operating since the active phase of a war ended earlier in the 2000s.

    The ministry said last December that a total of 514 servicemen had died in 18,198 accidents and other non-combat-related incidents in the Russian Armed Forces since the beginning of 2006.

    A report posted on the ministry's Web site said the majority of the deaths - 211 soldiers - were caused by accidents, while 193 servicemen had committed suicide. Twenty-two deaths were caused by abuse of rank and hazing attacks.

    In addition, 56 soldiers died in traffic accidents and 20 were killed by civilians.

    The elevated number of casualties and hazing incidents became high-profile issues in the Armed Forces last year following a scandal involving Private Andrei Sychyov, who had both legs amputated after allegedly being beaten and tortured during the New Year's holidays in his Army unit in the south Urals city of Chelyabinsk.

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