Russian army 'riddled with sadists'
By Andrew Osborn in Moscow
Russia's once mighty armed forces are a haven for sadists, with senior soldiers subjecting their junior colleagues to vicious beatings, torture, sexual violence and death threats, a report said yesterday.
After three years of research and more than 100 interviews with victims, Human Rights Watch, based in New York, said the problem of violent initiation ceremonies - known as dedovshchina or "rule of the grandfathers" - had reached horrific levels and was sapping morale and undermining combat readiness.
According to official figures 25 soldiers have died as a result of the rites presided over by older conscripts since the beginning of this year; 12 others have died from excess force used by their officers, while 109 have committed suicide. Independent analysts say the real figures are much higher, however, with many deaths being erroneously recorded as accidental or occurring outside military service.
Lambda Legal Demands Changes to Bush Administration's New Regulations that Focus on Boy Scouts' Access to Schools While Ignoring Gay Student Groups
As Part of Its Broad New National Campaign on Youth Rights in Schools, Lambda Legal Mobilizes Public to Contact U.S. Department of Education WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Saying that the Bush Administration is focused on protecting the Boy Scouts' access to public schools while ignoring the rights of gay student groups whose equal rights are often violated, Lambda Legal urged the U.S. Department of Education to add inclusive language to policy regulations that were made public this week and will go into effect within the next couple of months.
The proposed regulations, which now enter a 45-day period of public comment before going into effect, guide schools on making sure Boy Scouts groups have access to schools for meetings, recruitment and other activities. Lambda Legal, which just launched a long-term national campaign on students' rights in public schools, said today that Gay-Straight Alliance groups should be specified in the new regulations as one kind of youth group that also has a right to meet in public schools.
"The Bush Administration wants to add thousands of words about the Boy Scouts to federal rules that don't say one word about gay student groups -- even though they're both protected by federal law and Gay-Straight Alliances are unlawfully denied school access on a regular basis," said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director of Lambda Legal. "The Boy Scouts need no help getting access to schools but they're the focus of the federal government's attention, while gay youth are routinely ignored and left to fend for themselves when their rights aren't respected."