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A victim of hazing within the Russian Armed Forces
A victim of hazing within the Russian Armed Forces died on Wednesday morning in the Burdenko military hospital in Moscow, a spokesman for the hospital said.

Since September 2006, Private Roman Rudakov underwent nearly 10 operations on his stomach, including the removal of his small intestine on September 30 in a military hospital. In January, 2007 he was transferred to a Moscow clinic for further treatment.

"Roman passed away on Wednesday morning, at 8:15 a.m. Moscow time (5:15 a.m. GMT)," the source said.

Before he died, Rudakov had claimed that his condition had been brought about by hazing.

His fellow conscript, Maxim Lomonin, was given a three-year suspended sentence for two confirmed cases of hazing.

The soldier also said that he had experienced severe pain in his stomach shortly before hospitalization, but that in response to his complaints a lieutenant had dealt him a blow to the stomach, accusing him of faking his illness.

On January 16, 2006 the-then Russian defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, said that Rudakov had a congenital blood disease and his health problems had nothing to do with hazing.

The St. Petersburg branch of the Russian Soldiers' Mothers Committee earlier accused military authorities of several violations of Russian law in the case of Rudakov, including his illegal draft into the army, beating a conscript, refusing medical assistance and concealing information.

Hazing became a high-profile issue in the Armed Forces following an incident involving Private Andrei Sychyov, who had both legs amputated after being beaten and tortured on New Year's Eve 2005 by fellow soldiers in the south Urals city of Chelyabinsk.

The brutal attack on Sychyov, and its horrific consequences, sent shockwaves though Russian society, and highlighted the problem of dedovshchina - or hazing - in the Russian armed forces.

Hazing, a tradition stretching back to the Soviet era, is just one of the problems faced by the average conscript in the Russian Army. The Russian Soldiers' Mothers Committee has estimated that around 1,000 soldiers die every year as a result of non-combat situations. A significant minority of these are murders and suicides.

A court martial in Chelyabinsk ruled on September 26, 2006 that the main defendant in the Sychyov case, Sergeant Alexander Sivyakov, should serve four years in a low-security penal colony. His co-defendants, Pavel Kuzmenko and Gennady Bilimovich, received suspended sentences of one year and six months, respectively.

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