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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Savenkov: 46 Soldiers Die in Week

Adding fuel to an ongoing public squabble between Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and chief military prosecutor Alexander Savenkov, military prosecutors expressed concern on Tuesday about an increase in deaths in the military, saying 46 servicemen died last week alone.

Thirty-seven of the deaths were of Defense Ministry soldiers, while the rest consisted of servicemen in the Interior and Emergency Situations ministries, said Mikhail Yanenko, a spokesman for the Military Prosecutor's Office. The office investigates crimes committed in and by the military.

Yanenko did not provide comparative figures but said the latest figure was drastically higher than earlier ones.

He said the deaths of the 46 servicemen included suicides, fatal injuries inflicted by fellow servicemen or civilians, and traffic and other accidents.

He also said 22 servicemen were injured over the past week.

"All of these are noncombat deaths, and their number indicates that crimes and mortality in the armed forces are not declining," Yanenko said by telephone.

He said prosecutors would meet to discuss the issue Thursday.

Calls to Defense Ministry officials, including the chief spokesman and his three deputies, went unanswered.

Savenkov and Ivanov have been squabbling since Savenkov told reporters last month that crime and death rates were soaring in the military. Savenkov also criticized the Defense Ministry's recruitment offices, which he called overstaffed and ineffective.

Ivanov replied this month by insisting that deaths and hazings were down this year. He also said recruitment centers were properly staffed and that staffing issues were not under the jurisdiction of the Military Prosecutor's Office.

Savenkov also has criticized the recent acquittal of four officers on charges of killing six Chechen civilians, saying the verdict "had nothing to do with real justice." The court ruled that the officers were following orders.

Ivanov said last week that Savenkov's statement was "inappropriate for a lawyer."