Border Guards Open Fire, Kill Six of Their Own in Russian Far East
MOSCOW (AP) _ Two young Russian border guards on a Pacific island opened fire with automatic weapons on fellow servicemen, killing six and wounding several others, in what they said was retribution for a brutal hazing.
The two conscripts also shot down a military Mi-8 helicopter that buzzed their barracks to force them to surrender, news reports said Wednesday. A special assault team finally seized them after nine hours of carnage.
The incident indicates that hazing of new conscripts by older soldiers still remains a widespread problem within the Russian military. The practice is called ″dedovshchina″ after ″ded,″ which means grandfather and is a slang term for an older soldier.
Twenty servicemen died as a result of hazing in 1993, according to the Russian prosecutor general’s office. It said 2,000 harassment cases were investigated last year and 2,500 servicemen faced various related charges.
But the numbers are believed to be higher because many incidents are either covered up by commanders or not reported by the victims.
The Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers group, which monitors the practice, says dozens of soldiers have been beaten to death in recent years.
The shooting began early Tuesday at a border post on Tanfilyev island in the southern Kuril Islands when the two soldiers, identified only as Beltsov and Agdashev, broke into the base dormitory and shot several soldiers with automatic weapons.
The two then took up positions in the barracks and fired at anyone who tried to approach them. The post commander called for a helicopter from a base on Kunashir Island near Japan, but the soldiers managed to down it, Russian television said.
The helicopter caught fire and burned after landing, the ITAR-Tass news agency said. It was not immediately known how many people were on the helicopter, but all were injured, the news agency said.
Beltsov and Agdashev were taken into custody by the assault team, and officers were investigating the shooting.
Both soldiers said during interrogation they wanted to avenge brutal hazing, and all those killed were older soldiers, the TV report said.
Conditions of military service in the Far East are harsher than in other parts of Russia, with food and warm clothing often in short supply.