The Trouble Brigade

Trouble at the Gate (photo: tv100.ru)

Things go from bad to worse for the LenVO’s troubled 138th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade, based at Kamenka.  A possibly armed standoff involving Dagestan natives outside one battalion, a suspicious suicide, two noncombat losses in live fire training at night, the list goes on . . .

At mid-day Saturday, 20 men from Dagestan’s diaspora living near the area showed up at the gate of one of the brigade’s battalions in Sapernoye.  They were seeking revenge on a lieutenant, himself a native of Dagestan, for some unidentified reason.  The unit fired warning shots, and local police came and detained some of the men, and dispersed the others.

Newsru.com put the number of men from Dagestan at 40, with 18 detained by police.

A law enforcement source told Gazeta.ru that a dispute between a former contractee from Dagestan, living in area, and the lieutenant from Dagestan was the reason for the incident, but the nature of the dispute between the two men is unclear.

The battalion commander came to the group of men, and tried to talk with them, but after some talking they again tried to get through to the battalion’s barracks.  ITAR-TASS reports he was escorting two of the men to the barracks to try to resolve the situation when the others tried to enter the base.  The commander then raised the unit’s alarm, and warning shots were fired.  The nearest police had to come from Priozersk, 50 kilometers away.  Before the incident at the gate, there was apparently a fight between two groups of Dagestan natives at a school.  The Priozersk police deny reports that the group at the gate was armed.

The LenVO Commander reportedly came to Sapernoye and talked to local elders from Dagestan.  Locally registered residents originally from Dagestan apparently tried to stop this group of men who are reportedly unregistered ‘transients.’

In Sapernoye, they say the men beat battalion commander Andrey Myshyakov; he declined to comment, but said everything was fine with him.  Newsru.com reported that he suffered moderate head injuries after the beating.  ITAR-TASS also says he was beaten and hospitalized in stable condition.  Its source is the press service of the Military Investigative Directorate (VSU) of the RF SKP.

Gazeta.ru says that police and FSB military counterintelligence officers are on the streets of Sapernoye.  The investigation into this incident continues.

There was an earlier incident, in August 2005, in which two lieutenants found a conscript from Dagestan dressed in civilian clothes in a local bar.  When they ordered him back to the barracks, the situation escalated into nearly three nights of fights at the bar.  Four lieutenants were beaten, and the Dagestan natives apparently called for reinforcements from their kinsmen in St. Petersburg.

Also over the weekend, the 138th Brigade revealed the reported suicide of a conscript who was working as a bookkeeper for the brigade.  He had an honors degree from the Kaluga Budget and Finance Academy.

Investigators have reliably determined that he didn’t kill himself because of poor relations with other servicemen, and his family and friends say there’s no way he’d have hung himself.  St. Petersburg’s ‘Soldiers’ Mothers’ believe his ‘suicide’ could be connected with his work in the brigade’s finance section, where nothing happens without machinations.  They believe he may have learned about irregularies in the formation’s finances.

On the night of 8-9 April, two 138th brigade lieutenants were killed in a tank fire accident on its Bobochinskiy Range.  Apparently, a junior sergeant commanding a tank lost orientation and fired into the rear part of the range, directly hitting its central fire control point and killing the two officers.  A host of investigators continues to examine the circumstances.  The press noted a September 2008 incident in which an MRL fired off range, putting one rocket within 50 meters of a highway, damaging a vehicle but not harming its occupants.

Finally, the aftermath of sergeants beating conscripts in the brigade this fall . . . recall that the Defense Ministry did a vertical stroke on the brigade’s leadership for this, 8 officers were dismissed, but that’s not all.

It’s come to light since that, on his way out, the soon-to-be ex-brigade commander and other dismissed officers managed to receive hefty bonuses of 2-3 million rubles.  Officers who kept their posts got nothing.  For his misuse of his soon-to-be ex-post and the brigade’s finances, the former brigade commander could get 4 years in prison.

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