Army Hazing Victim Dies in Moscow

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Roman Rudakov, an army private who suffered serious injuries after hazing from fellow soldiers and officers, died in Moscow on February 13th after over a year of hospitalization. Rudakov, 21, was bullied, beaten and humiliated during his mandatory military service in the Russian armed forces.

The soldier’s struggle is far from an isolated case. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, some 500-1000 conscripts died of non-combat related injuries, including hazing and suicide in 2007. Unofficial estimates from human rights groups like the St. Petersburg-based Soldiers’ Mothers run even higher.

The secrecy and slow response of the Russian military to Rudakov’s condition are similarly typical. Officials first denied that he was harassed, then hid critical medical records. When Germany, France and Israel offered to help with the private’s medical treatment, Russia flat-out refused.

Finally, little has changed in the armed forces since Rudakov was first hospitalized in the fall of 2006. There is doubt that his death will have any effect on how the military treats its conscripts.

Read the full story from Yezhednevny Zhurnal:

Without An Answer
February 13, 2008. 15:28
Yezhednevny Zhurnal

On Tuesday, after an operation, Private Roman Rudakov, a victim of bullying in the army, died in the intensive care unit of the Burdenko hospital, where he had spent over a year. Over the course of many months, he was waiting on an intestinal and kidney transplant operation. He was 21 years old, and he died slowly and painfully. According to his sister, he said this of the doctors treating him: “they are simply waiting for my death.”

When Roman Rudakov’s story first appeared in the media, Sergei Ivanov, then the minister of Defense, publicly said that Roman had a “rare blood disease.” – and no manner of “bullying.” Almost immediately it became apparent that this wasn’t so: Rudakov genuinely suffers from a blood condition, but “bullying” was also present. Medical documents and witness testimony soon surfaced and made it clear that Roman was regularly beaten in the unit where he served. In September 2006, an alleged blow to the stomach injured the vessels of his small intestine, after which the youth began to suffer tissue necrosis. After that, Rudakov was given directions to the Sosnovoborsky hospital, and he was sent on foot, without money, to the doctors. The distance between the Pesochnoye village, where Rudakov was serving, and the Sosnovoborsky hospital is more than 80 kilometers. Later, his small intestine was removed in St. Petersburg, and it was then when the story really became publicly known. The “Soldiers’ Mothers” found the dying soldier on a hospital bed and raised a racket.

Political movements and human rights activists rose to Roman’s defense, led protest actions, wrote complaints. Rudakov was transferred to Moscow to the Burdenko hospital. Then there was the court, where Private First Class Maxim Lomonin, [a fellow recruit] was made the scapegoat, even though Roman said that he was beaten by officers. Lomonin was given a 3 year sentence (suspended). Afterwards, everyone forgot about Rudakov: infrequent reports that his condition was worsening appeared in the media, and that was it. Only the “Soldier’s Mothers” were following Roman’s fate, and there was nothing they could do. The military exerted such efforts to hide any information about this story, that it’s unclear to this day whether or not anything could have been done to save Roman. Why was the operation postponed for so long? Is is true that they couldn’t find a donor (or didn’t want to)? And what did Roman Rudakov die of – according to relatives, an operation was attempted, but they don’t really know anything. There are many questions.

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