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Page last updated at 20:41 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 21:41 UK

Rap earns Russian soldier 'exile'

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Russian army rapper feels wrath over 'letter'

A Russian army lieutenant is being sent to the Russian Far East after making a rap video complaining about conditions in his St Petersburg barracks.

The video, posted on the Russian equivalent of YouTube, is set to the tune of "Stan", by US rapper Eminem.

In it the lieutenant laments the peeling walls and filthy bathroom and mouldy showers at his base.

But he is now being sent to Ussuriysk, a coal-mining town which is nine hours by air from Moscow.

The video - titled "A letter to the minister of defence" - features footage of the squalid living conditions in the barracks.

The soldier's musical complaint sees him read out an email he is writing to the Russian defence minister, asking what happened to the mortgages promised to soldiers to buy decent places to live.

And why did he never receive a reply to his previous letters, he asks?

Wretched conditions

However, the army appears to have shown its disapproval, by posting the soldier to Ussuriysk, which is home to a military school, a statue of Lenin and, according to guide books, lots of trees.

BBC Europe analyst, Steven Eke, says that the message in the video was a serious one.

Russia wants to build modern, professional armed forces. Yet wretched conditions - especially for conscripts - are one of the reasons for the hundreds of suicides and desertions every year that plague the Russian army.

And the video - posted on RuTube - has drawn hundreds of comments, our correspondent says.

Some fellow soldiers sympathised, but many viewers said it was disgraceful and had damaged the image of the Russian army.


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