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Conscripts in Russian military cry foul

A group of young conscripts in St Petersburg claim their superior officers forced them to have sex with clients, reports Fred Weir.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2007 11:22 IST
Fred Weir
Fred Weir

Join the Russian Army and become a male prostitute?

That's the complaint of a group of young conscripts in St Petersburg, who claim their superior officers forced them to have sex with clients, a job that exposed them to beatings, torture and venereal diseases.

The case was exposed by the Union of Soldiers' Mothers, an anti-military group, which said senior officers were hiring out their conscripts at the Millionaya Ulitsa base in St Petersburg to local businessmen and even senior military officers.

Sometimes clients would appear in the middle of the night to pick up the young soldiers, the group said.

Ella Polyakova, spokesperson for the group, said she had taken the complaint of one young soldier who allegedly contracted HIV after being forced to have sex.

"He said they were given a list of clients," Polyakova quoted the soldier as saying.

"If they didn't work, they were beaten."

She added: "We have several witnesses to it, and one of them gave us a written statement that he was forced to do it after he had been beaten and tortured with an electric current."

The local prosecutor in St Petersburg opened an investigation into the allegations on Tuesday.

The Russian Defence Ministry has so far declined comment on the case. But Russia's huge conscript army has been the subject of growing controversy over allegations of hazing and negligence that leads to the deaths of dozens of young conscripts annually.

Last year national attention was drawn to the case of 19-year-old Private Andrei Sychyov, who had his legs and genitals amputated after enduring days of vicious beatings from higher ups who subsequently denied him medical attention.

First Published: Feb 15, 2007 11:22 IST