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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Officers Convicted of Hazing

Three members of an elite police squad who went on a drunken rampage, beating up some 30 of their subordinates, were convicted by a military court this week after the home video they shot of their spree as a memento of their time in the police force was broadcast on national television.

Sergeant Igor Semyonov and 2nd Sergeant Ivan Napreyev were convicted Tuesday of abuse of power and were sentenced to three years in jail for their part in the incident. A third man, Private Ruslan Butyvsky, was convicted as an accomplice and was given a two-year suspended sentence.

Hazing is commonplace in the Russian armed forces and often leads to the death or injury of young conscripts. However, the audacity of the three elite policemen shocked many Russians.

"This was a mass battery ? mockery presented as a method of physical and psychological training," said Vladimir Kalmykov, military prosecutor at the Balashikha garrison, who investigated the case.

The half-hour video recording was used by the prosecution as its principal piece of evidence against the three men. The footage was intended for private use, but an unidentified man made a copy and sold it to the "Sovershenno Sekretno" television program, Kalmykov said. The video was broadcast on RTR public television last June.

The incident took place at a unit in Reutov, near Moscow, in September 1995.

The footage showed the three men, clearly drunk, enter the barracks where some 30 young conscripts were sleeping.

Semyonov, who served as platoon leader's assistant, ordered his subordinates to fall into line. The three men, all age 20, then began beating and humiliating the younger conscripts. Semyonov walked along the line, giving conscripts unexpected fist blows to the stomach.

They were then ordered to hold out a heavy stool with outstretched arms and warned they would be beaten if they let the stool drop. Forced to repeatedly spread on the floor and then get up, the visibly frightened men humbly obeyed. Semyonov was the men's commander and they couldn't resist, prosecutors said.

Those who could not keep up were forced to face a concrete wall and were hit on the back of the head. Then the victims were ordered to lie on their backs next to each other while the convicted men, in heavy boots, ran over their stomachs.

As they meted out the punishment, the three men posed and waved into the camera. No servicemen were killed or severely injured during the beating.

The special police division in which the incident took place, formerly known as the Dzerzhinsky division, is trained to fight terrorism, free hostages and maintain order during mass events.

Kalmykov said an increase in draft-dodging meant the squad was forced to accept unsuitable men into its ranks.

"It's natural that it happened there," he said.

Maria Kirbasova, president of the Soldiers' Mothers Committee, also said the squad has a reputation for hazing. "This is monstrous. ? Bodies and souls are being systematically maimed," she said. "Unfortunately, I think it's a regular occurrence.

She added: "They are sadists, but the same happens even among General Staff guards," Kirbasova added.