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Soldier takes his life over hazing in Moscow - paper

MOSCOW, July 27 (RIA Novosti) - A young conscript jumped out of a ninth-floor window leaving a suicide note saying constant hazing had forced him to take his own life, a popular daily said Thursday.

Moskovsky Komsomolets said Kirill Grigoryev, a 19-year-old Moscow student, served in the General Staff in the capital preparing press digests for the defense minister and also worked as a computer expert in the Defense Ministry's Internet edition. He jumped out of a window of the General Staff building in central Moscow.

His mother, Alla Grigoryeva, said she had last received a letter from him June 6 and had been told about his death June 9.

"[Older conscripts] told us to bring them money, alcohol, cigarettes, prepaid telephone cards, and beat us severely, tortured us and did not let us sleep if we didn't do what we were told," the paper quoted the note as saying. "And they beat us for no particular reason, just out of boredom or when they were drunk."

Grigoryev provided the names of his abusers in his final note, but investigators said the note had to be substantiated by witness testimony. Grigoryev's fellow servicemen are, however, too scared to speak up, the newspaper said.

Grigoryev was drafted in late May 2005 when already a first-year student of Moscow Mining Institute and was sent to serve near Moscow, but was transferred to the capital thanks to a family friend, a General Staff colonel, who promised to "keep an eye" on the boy, according to the paper.

The paper quotes his mother who said in December Kirill could hardly walk after being beaten up in his barracks. And in late January, he caught a bad cold after older conscripts woke him up at night to send for beer and made him run in the yard with only his underpants on in temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius (-86? Fahrenheit) when they found he had no money.

Grigoryev, who was also sent on errands to the city, often called on his mother's office. Mrs. Grigoryeva said she had given money and cigarettes to him for "a ransom" to senior conscripts, the newspaper reported.

Captain Lantsov, Grigoryev's boss in the electronic edition, was shocked to hear about his death.

"It was a shock for members of the editorial office. It was totally unexpected," he said. "I used to ask him how he was doing and he always replied he was all right. If he had said he had problems, we would have done something about them... And he was doing a job he liked."

Colonel Sergei Ovchinnikov, who secured Grigoryev's transfer to Moscow, also said the General Staff was happy with his work and said he could continue working there after his army service expired.

In the suicide note, Grigoryev, technically assigned to a military construction unit near Moscow, also said his commanders had sent soldiers to work at commercial projects and received money for the labor force.

The Chief Military Prosecutor's Office has declined to comment on the case while the investigation is continuing. But a retired military investigator said such cases - causing someone to commit suicide - were extremely difficult to investigate in the army as witnesses usually keep silence in fear of senior conscripts and commanders.

Violence and corruption in the Russian army has been in the focus of public and media attention following a horrific incident in a Urals army unit at the start of the year, when Private Andrei Sychyov, 19, had to have both of his legs amputated after allegedly being beaten and tortured during New Year's holidays.

According to official statistics, 16 Russian servicemen died in incidents involving bullying last year alone. Experts, however, say the actual number is much higher as the official figures do not take into account hazing-related suicides.

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