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Escaped Russian Soldiers Captured

January 31, 1998

MOSCOW (AP) _ Eight servicemen were captured Saturday, hours after fleeing their unit in southern Russia, and one of them apparently committed suicide, Russian news agencies said.

It was the latest in a series of incidents involving defections, suicides and homicides in the Russian military, which remains underpaid, underfed and suffering from low morale.

The eight servicemen fled early Saturday from their unit in Bezenchuk, about 550 miles southeast of Moscow, according to the Interfax news agency. They were members of an air force logistics support battalion.

Four were caught after a few hours later, and the remaining four later in the day. Authorities said one member of the second group shot himself in the head, and died of his wounds at a hospital a short time later.

There was no indication why the soldiers had fled and the matter was being investigated.

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