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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Naval Officers Sentenced for Hazing

A military court on Friday sentenced two Pacific Naval Fleet officers to three and four years in prison after convicting them of abusing lower ranking seamen.

The garrison court in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok stripped Captains Maxim Kovtun and Mikhail Naboikin of their ranks for the offenses, which Interfax reported had been uncovered by investigators over the past year.

Deputy Prosecutor Vladimir Morosh said the crimes had been difficult to investigate. "After thorough inspections, however, the flagrant facts of violations have been established," he said.

"I fully confess my guilt" Naboikin said in comments broadcast by state-run Channel One television.

But Kovtun, who was sentenced to three years, denied the offenses, saying he had wanted to raise the men's fighting spirit. "The seamen have gone beyond insolence. The armed forces should not be turned into a kindergarten," he said.

More than 20 people claimed to have been abused in the officer's marine unit, RIA-Novosti reported.

The military has been plagued by hazing of conscripts by older soldiers and sailors, making compulsory military service unpopular. Soldiers' rights groups say many suicides result from abuse.