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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Hazing on the Rise

MOSCOW (AP) -- Sixteen soldiers have been killed by hazing in the armed forces this year, with reports of such incidents increasing sharply, and five have died in other cases of assault and battery, the chief military prosecutor said Wednesday.

Prosecutor Alexander Savenkov said about 2,000 hazing incidents were reported in the military in the first half of this year, an increase of 30 percent on last year.

Savenkov said 1,200 soldiers have died in noncombat situations, 16 of them from hazing and five from assault and battery.

"Assault and battery has increased. Officers continue to cause grievous bodily harm to their subordinates," he said.

He did not explain the criteria that separate the hazing cases from cases of assault and battery.

Hazing often starts with routine demands for young conscripts to clean toilets, wash older soldiers' socks or beg on the streets for cigarette money. The defiant or weak-willed are beaten and in some cases tortured, raped and killed.

"This is a phenomenon that we must undoubtedly fight," Savenkov said.

He cited one "exotic example" in which the commander of a unit detained a lieutenant "in the cellar of a castle" for three weeks for repeated failure to report for duty.

Savenkov said more than 300 criminal cases have been opened against suspected perpetrators, including officers who tried to hide incidents of hazing in their units.

Gas Blast Kills 2

MOSCOW (AP) -- An explosion caused by a gas leak killed two people and injured 13 others Wednesday in an apartment building in the Khanty-Mansiisk region, officials said.

The explosion occurred in the pre-dawn hours in the Siberian city of Urai, Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov said.

The blast ruined a section of the five-story building, leaving about 40 people homeless, Beltsov said.

Iranian Visit Postponed

MOSCOW (AP) -- An Iranian parliamentary delegation that was expected to meet with the Nuclear Power Ministry has postponed a visit that was to begin Tuesday, Russian and Iranian officials said.

Iranian lawmaker Elaheh Koulaee, a member of Iran's national security and foreign policy committee, said the trip was put off because Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the State Duma foreign affairs committee who had invited the group, was making an unexpected trip abroad and could not host them at this time.

The postponement had nothing to do with nuclear issues or politics, she said.

Going Bananas

MOSCOW (MT) -- Residents of a seaside town in Kaliningrad were shocked to wake up to find their beaches covered with bananas.

Thousands of bananas washed up on the beaches of Morskoi on the Baltic Sea, reported.

Residents collected the bananas to take home, while children played with them, spelling out the names of Russian cities in giant letters on the beach, the Ukrainian news web site said.

The bananas, which had labels saying they were from Ecuador, are thought to have fallen off a cargo ship in a recent storm.