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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Cadets Complain Of Abuse

Navy commanders are investigating a complaint by two 14-year-old cadets at St. Petersburg's Nakhimov naval school that they were tormented and beaten by four fellow cadets for months while the faculty turned a blind eye to the abuse.

The navy's deputy chief admiral, Mikhail Zakharenko, arrived in St. Petersburg on Saturday to review the complaint filed by Vladimir Sobolev and Andrei Papulov and their parents.

Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said Tuesday that the investigation -- which includes questioning students and their teachers -- has produced no evidence of hazing so far and that the complaint most likely grew out of some dispute that the boys had failed to settle with one another.

Vladimir Sobolev's mother, Marina Soboleva, said her son came home with bruises on his face and back injuries and told her that he had been beaten regularly since the start of the school year in September.

She said she complained to the school principal and, after getting no reply, turned to the Soldiers' Mothers Committee, a nongovernment organization that champions conscripts' rights.

"In recent months my son has looked depressed but would not say why. Now I know that he was just afraid," Soboleva said by telephone from St. Petersburg.

She said her son had been eager to become an officer last year but now refuses to go back to the school.

The other young cadet, Papulov, said he had no one nearby whom he could turn to for help. He came to study at Nakhimov from the southern town of Anapa. "I thought that if I told anyone about it, it would make it even worse," Papulov said.

Soboleva, who took the boy to a neurosurgeon Tuesday, said his nose had been broken and he had suffered a concussion.

Nakhimov officials declined to comment.

While hazing is commonplace in the armed forces, discipline is usually strict in military and naval schools, said Yelena Vilenskaya of St. Petersburg's Soldiers' Mothers Committee.

She said her organization has received complaints about abuse at military colleges but this was the first incident she knew of involving young teens.

Nakhimov offers a two-year program preparing teens for a naval college. Its student body is mainly composed of boys from traditional navy families and boys with discipline problems.

Both Sobolev and Papulov come from navy families.