Russia loses one battalion of suicides each year due to stress in service in North Caucasus

Russian version of BBC reported with reference to Russia’s Prosecutor General, Fridinsky, that the share of so-called ‘noncombatant casualties’ in the Russian army is increasing, and today it exceeds 50 percent. “Almost a battalion of servicemen, 341 men, are no longer with us since last year as a result of suicides,” Fridinsky said during a session of the panel of military prosecutors. Almost a half of suicides are officers and servicemen enlisted by contracts.


Even though in January through May 2007 the number of suicides decreased by 14% compared to the same period last year, the suicide rate “brings fair satisfaction”, as the prosecutor put it.


According to the statistics, the main reasons that spur the servicemen to take their own lives are hazing and mental disorders that the draft commissions overlooked. Applied to officers and contracted servicemen, the reasons are absence of permanent home, conflicts in families and stresses after the assignments to the North Caucasus.


At the same time, the suicide rate in the Russian armed forces is approximately two times lower than throughout the country as a whole.


With these figures (36 suicides per 100,000 people, which is about twice as much as in the US) Russia is number two in the world after Kazakhstan, and the absolute number of suicides (almost 60,000 a year) is the second only after China.


Fridinsky also announced that last year servicemen committed about 6 thousand criminal offenses.


About a third of them were charged with “dodging the draft”, or “escapes” in other words, which were “as a rule motivated by unfavorable climate at the military bases”.


At the same time “positive shifts started showing” in the fight against “hazing” (by senior soldiers against the new draftees), “even though it’s too early to be talking about a radical turn”.


According to the official figures, the number of victims of “barrack crimes” in 2007 decreased by one third, and in the first quarter of this year by 27% more.


At the same time the prosecutors are concerned with the fact that while violent crimes in the army and navy were being committed by senior servicemen (so-called “grandpas”), nowadays about a quarter of such crimes are perpetrated by officers and contracted servicemen.


Fridinsky also announced that 367 servicemen died in automobile accidents last year, and 96 starting this year.


Each year thousands of servicemen sustain traumas and injuries during military training exercises, maintenance work or while repairing the equipment.


In January through March military prosecutors exposed 138 cases when the commanders concealed the crimes, compared to 94 cases during the first quarter of last year.


Department of Monitoring,

Kavkaz Center

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