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Russian hazing victim 'not healthy enough' to run for parliament

MOSCOW, September 21 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian political party has denied the victim of a high-profile hazing attack registration to run for parliament on the grounds of health reasons, a party member said Friday.

Andrei Sychyov's sister said earlier this month that her brother, who had his legs and genitals amputated after being beaten and tortured by fellow soldiers on New Years' Eve 2005, had applied to run in December's elections to Russia's lower house as a Union of Right Forces (SPS) candidate.

"I have seen Andrei's medical report, and it does not recommend his participation in the election campaign," SPS senior member Boris Nemtsov said, commenting on the party's refusal to accept Sychyov as a candidate.

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.

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.

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.

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