A recent case illustrates why most Russians don’t want their sons – especially talented, well-educated ones – to serve in the army. It’s a tale of senseless violence and abuse going beyond dedovshchina , bullying, or hazing. And it highlights how contract service makes sadistic riff-raff into unprofessional NCOs, and tormentors of the conscripts they’re intended to lead.
For their part, more VUZ graduates are ending up in the army given the military’s need for higher numbers of draftees and its tighter enforcement of conscription rules. The army believes more educated conscripts will make service safer, but it may just make them the victims of violence in the ranks.
The investigation into the May death of a conscript named Albert Kiyamov in Transbaykal Kray recently ended with the filing of criminal charges against company sergeant Sergey Lugovets.
Kiyamov was a promising graduate with a degree in nuclear physics, who’d been picked for a job in the Scientific-Research Institute of Nuclear Reactors. But he got called-up in April. According to Newsru.com, his family thinks his poor vision should have made him unfit to serve.
Lugovets enlisted in the army despite a suspended sentence for theft in Volgograd Oblast, and became a sergeant in the headquarters company of the 36th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade in Borzya (v/ch 06705). According to Utro.ru, he quickly established ‘his order’ in the company. And he picked Kiyamov to be his main victim.
Kiyamov endured days of beatings and humiliation from Lugovets before jumping to his death from a fourth-story barracks window on May 14.
According to Newsru.com, the command told Kiyamov’s family it was a simple suicide, but they refused to accept this, believing – based on the number of bruises and abrasions on his body – he’d been beaten, then thrown from the window. The SibVO military prosecutor at first denied observing evidence of prior beatings on Kiyamov’s body. But an investigation ensued.
Sergeant Lugovets didn’t deny his guilt, but claimed he was trying to ‘teach’ Kiyamov how to conduct himself around his ‘seniors.’ He faces a possible 10-year sentence for “violating regulation rules of relations between servicemen, entailing serious consequences.”
The unit’s officers were attending an exercise at the time of this incident, and military investigators gave them a warning to eliminate the kinds of violations that led to Lugovets’ abuse of Kiyamov.
Vitaliy Cherkasov, Director of the Transbaykal Legal Defense Center, told Newsru.com about a similar incident in Borzya more recently, but, in this case, the soldier sustained serious injuries, and survived to be discharged from the army. A legal defense group told Utro.ru the Kiyamov tragedy was possible because the Defense Ministry allows men with criminal records to sign up for contract service [of course, it drafts some with criminal records too].
Units in Borzya, and the Transbaykal generally, have a substantial history of problems with violence and abuse in the ranks. On the positive side, investigators are getting to the truth in some cases, but too late for kids like Albert Kiyamov.