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    Contract servicemen in Russia a 'source of lawlessness' - prosecutor

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    Russia's chief military prosecutor said on Wednesday that it was important to prevent contract servicemen in the Russian Armed Forces from becoming "an even greater source of lawlessness" than at present.

    MOSCOW, November 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's chief military prosecutor said on Wednesday that it was important to prevent contract servicemen in the Russian Armed Forces from becoming "an even greater source of lawlessness" than at present.

    "During the first 10 months of this year, contract servicemen committed over 3,500 crimes, which is 25% more than last year," Sergei Fridinsky said at a meeting on the fight against crime in the military, adding that the trend was undermining efforts to strengthen discipline and morale in the Armed Forces.

    Crimes committed by contract servicemen range from the hazing of colleagues to assaults on civilians and robbery, he said.

    Fridinsky added that 93,000 privates and warrant officers were currently serving under contract in the Russian Armed Forces.

    However, the Russian federal targeted program on contract military service for 2004-2007 envisions an approximate 50% increase in the amount of contract personnel by the end of the year, to 147,500 servicemen.

    The current total number of personnel in the Russian Armed Forces, including both contract men and conscripts, is 1,134,000.

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