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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dozens of Drunken Soldiers in Train Brawl

Dozens of professional soldiers clashed on a Siberian train early Wednesday, smashing windows in a drunken brawl that 250 policemen were called in to disperse, police said.

The fight broke out on a train from Chita to Chelyabinsk after graduates of the Siberian Military District's warrant officers school began arguing on board, Buryat police said, Itar-Tass reported.

As many as 160 officers took part in the brawl, and every window in two railway cars had been smashed by the time train pulled into the Buryat capital, Ulan-Ude, Gazeta.ru reported.

The soldiers had graduated Tuesday from Warrant Officer School No. 328 in Chita.

There were conflicting reports as to how many officers took part in the brawl.

A railway spokesman said that the fight involved some 150 passengers, including an unspecified number of warrant officers, the local Amitel news agency reported.

Some 250 police officers, including OMON riot police, were dispatched to Ulan-Ude's main railway terminal to deal with the incident, the spokesman said.

Around 20 warrant officers were detained after the train pulled into Ulan-Ude, Regnum.ru reported. Witnesses said most of them appeared to be drunk.

A spokesman for the Siberian Military District told Gazeta.ru, however, that only two individuals were involved "in hooliganism" on the train, while 21 military servicemen were merely questioned.

He said the two individuals broke two windows in one of the carriages. Other witnesses told Regnum.ru that the brawling officers smashed seven windows in three cars.

The Defense Ministry's combat drill chief, Lieutenant General Alexander Lukin, denied altogether that a fight had even taken place. Lukin said 20 individuals had been detained, 18 of them were soon released, RIA-Novosti reported. Two warrant officers remained in detention Wednesday, Lukin said.

Though he downplayed the incident, Lukin vowed to send a team of ministry representatives to Siberia to investigate the incident.

No civilians were injured in the fracas, officials said.

The Siberian Military District's web site made no mention of the incident Wednesday, though it did have a report of the graduation Tuesday of 300 individuals, including 40 females, "from one of the oldest" warrant officer schools in Russia. The school has trained a total 18,000 warrant officers, the web site said.

Warrant officers serve in only low-level positions, such as platoon instructors, and are paid less than full-fledged officers.

Their training lasts for only five months, compared with the five years that standard officers are required to spend in academies before graduating with rank of lieutenant.

This difference, as well as the lack of opportunity for any significant promotion, has created a certain prejudice in the public opinion of warrant officers. They are the targets of numerous military-related jokes that question their mental abilities.