Magazine Reports Terror Among Red Army Troops in Germany With AM-Germany-Gorbachev, Bjt
BONN, Germany (AP) _ Mikhail S. Gorbachev is deeply worried about Red Army troops in former East Germany, and a magazine said extortion, terror and mysterious deaths are rampant among Soviet forces on German turf.
Speaking at a dinner late Friday night, the Soviet president appealed for Germans to be patient with the huge Soviet army that is to be pulled out of former East Germany over the next four years.
Gorbachev spoke of ″painful tones, even an anti-Soviet flavor″ among people in former East Germany.
He said ″this remains a sensitive side″ of German-Soviet relations.
People in eastern Germany have been showing growing intolerance with the continued - if temporary - presence of the Red Army troops.
That’s not the only problem confronting Red Army troops on German soil.
Hundreds of Red Army troops are believed to have fled into the German woods in recent months, escaping bleak garrison lives.
Soviet troops desperate for German marks have reportedly been raiding their units’ weapons depots and base exchanges, selling everything from missiles to pornographic videos.
In its most recent editions, the German magazine Stern painted a baleful picture of desperation, suicides, mysterious deaths and extortion among Soviet troops in Germany.
″Terror, murder and corruption reign among the troops,″ Stern reported. ″A hated occupier, the 380,000-strong Red Army has become an army of bandits.″
Stern said its information came from Soviet soldiers it has interviewed.
It quoted one former Soviet officer, identified as Eduard Melnikov, as saying that at pay time every month older soldiers force younger ones to hand over ″protection money.″
″If you refuse to pay, you’ll be thrashed nightly,″ Stern quoted him as saying.
Extortion has spiraled in recent months because of Soviet soldiers’ access to German marks since July 1, the magazine reported.
Stern said there are growing numbers of cases where soldiers land in Red Army hospitals with broken bones and other injuries caused by beatings.
Stanislav Kaminski, another Soviet soldier who fled his unit, was quoted as saying: ″Officially, it’s called service accidents. But everyone knows that they were beaten up by their superiors.″
Suicides among the troops have risen dramatically because of such treatment, it quoted one former soldier as saying.
Soldiers have hanged themselves, cut their wrists, or poisoned themselves to end the misery they experience in garrison life, said Stern.
The magazine reported one case in which a 19-year-old recruit, identified as Valery Grischin, refused to pay extortion money and was found dead a month after reporting for duty at a barracks near Potsdam.
The official cause of death was suicide.
But when the soldier’s parents opened his coffin in the Soviet Union they found his throat had been cut and the wound sewn back together, said Stern. In addition, his skull had a deep gash and his left arm was broken, said the magazine.