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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 August 2007, 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK
Russian soldier in kennel death
Russia Plesetsk map
The head of Russia's elite space troops has vowed to punish those responsible for the death of a conscript.

Pte Sergei Sinkonen was beaten by two drunken superiors, then thrown into a kennel with guard dogs, officials say.

He was found in a coma the next day and underwent an emergency operation, but died of his head wounds.

Bullying incidents are frequent in the Russian armed forces, sometimes resulting in the deaths of soldiers, either by killing or by suicide.

Sinkonen, 21, was a conscript from the northern city of Petrozavodsk, serving with the space troops at Plesetsk, a cosmodrome used to launch mainly military satellites.

Two weeks ago, he and another soldier were beaten by two officers who had been drinking heavily at a wedding celebration. Doctors said belt buckles had been used to inflict severe injuries on Pte Sinkonen's head.

Dozens of deaths

Russian military prosecutors are investigating the case as one of "exceeding professional authority" - a vague Russian legal definition most often applied to torture cases, BBC Russian affairs analyst Steven Eke reports.

Harsh physical discipline has historically been a feature of Russian military life, he adds, but bullying now claims the deaths of dozens of young men every year.

It is the major reason why most Russian families do everything possible to help their sons avoid military service, he says.

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