Mobilized men beat up Russian army soldiers who tried to steal their phones

According to reports, a scuffle broke out between newly mobilized men in Russia and their professional colleagues after the latter tried to blackmail the new recruits.

Contract soldiers from a military unit near the village of Alabino in Moscow demanded clothes and mobile phones from their new comrades, the independent Russian investigative daily The Insider reported, citing a statement by Telegram channel Baza.

The conscripts did not tolerate the attitude and responded to the attempted blackmail with brute force, leading to a mass brawl in which 20 “grandfathers” or older soldiers were beaten, according to the outlet.

When the situation spiraled out of control, the beaten soldiers reportedly escaped by locking themselves in a room and calling the police.

Military police arrived first, followed by officials from the Russian Interior Ministry, and the military was able to reach an agreement.

None of the contract soldiers wrote a police statement after the incident.

Dedovshchina, or the harassment of conscripts in the Russian armed forces, is still ongoing, according to Foreign Policy magazine.

Translated into English as “rule of grandfathers”, dedovshchina can manifest itself in the form of beatings and blackmail, up to fatal physical and psychological abuse.

The Belgian-based author Dr. Joris Van Bladel noted that Russian soldiers live in a “world of scarcity” and lack “basic things”. [such] than food, drink, and most importantly, money.”

This may explain why “dedy,” or grandfathers, constantly plunder the money, food, and clothing of new recruits, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

“You have to know your place until you’re fully part of the hierarchy, and then you show the same attitude towards conscripts,” said Katarzyna Zysk, a Russia expert at the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies.

Russia introduced reforms in 2008, including reducing conscription from two years to one year and changing the military’s leadership structure and education system, the Moscow Times reported.

Those changes didn’t eliminate Dedovshchina, but the number of convictions for abuse of power in the Russian army has halved in the years since the reforms, while convictions for violence have increased fivefold, RBC said.

About 1,132 and 372 military personnel were convicted of abuse of power and violence, respectively, in 2018, compared with 2,294 and 2,169 respectively in 2008, data from the Russian media group showed.

“The level of violence based on the informal hierarchy based on tenure decreased as tenure decreased,” Arseny Levinson, a lawyer with the rights group Citizen and Army, was quoted as saying.

Putin announces partial mobilization of around 300,000 in Russian reserves

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