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Last Updated: Friday, 22 June 2007, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
Russian 'slavery' officer jailed
Richard Galpin
BBC News, Moscow

Russian soldiers
Russia's army has been tarnished by a series of bullying scandals
A military court in Russia has sentenced an army officer to three years in prison for selling one of his soldiers to work as a slave.

The conscript was sold to work as a slave labourer on a building site.

He was later badly injured in an accident at the site, losing a leg and suffering brain damage.

Even by the standards of the Russian army, where conscripts are often badly abused, the case is one of the most shocking in recent times.

Last summer, 22-year-old Lance Corporal Andrei Rudenko was sold for $2,500 by his commanding officer to a local businessman in the Siberian city of Chita.

He was forced to work on a building site without being properly fed and without being able to wash.

A month later while at work, he was knocked down by a car which left him in a coma for 13 days.

He suffered brain damage, lost the sight in one eye and had his right leg amputated.

Despite this, his former commander, Col Nazim Nazarov, was unrepentant.

After hearing the court sentence him to three years in prison, he said everything he had done had been aimed at the welfare of his soldiers.

Alas, he said, initiative is always punished.

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