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By Vladimir Mikheev,
special for,
7 November 2005

On a powder keg

Criminal offences in military unit # 3377 guarding especially dangerous objects of Zheleznogorsk Mining-Chemical Combine are becoming a cruel tradition... Military Office of Public Prosecutor and local authorities do nothing so far

The Russian army has been under the military reform for more than 10 years. However, this does not diminish the number of people dying in the army. What`s more in recent time the military crimes increased. Military unit 3377 of the Interior Ministry the staff of which guards a strategic nuclear facility in Krasnoyarsk krai - Mining-Chemical Combine (MCC) in Zheleznogorsk - is a vivid example.

Is it worthwhile to discourse on nuclear safety problems at MCC and nonproliferation of nuclear materials when security of nuclear-dangerous facilities is entrusted to soldiers wallowing in havoc and anarchy. Is it possible to talk about an international repository for spent nuclear fuel? Lord forbid the operational repository to have an accident. The combine is running a dual-purpose atomic reactor and a weapon-grade plutonium repository - this makes possible to consider MCC a high-security object(!).

By the Nunn-Lugar Act the American government annually allots $1 billion to enhance safety and reliable protection of Russian nuclear facilities. For several years millions of dollars have been channeled to ensure security of the mining chemical combine and enhance is physical protection, accountability and monitoring of nuclear materials. But what can be done with the human factor. Machinery will work but is it possible to rely on those who are qualified to protect and guard a strategic combine?...

It was ten years ago when I heard about military unit 3377 for the first time. I visited Atamonovo village sitting on the bank opposite to the Mining-Chemical Combine. Talking to local residents I knew about the following: a soldier guarding the entrance to the tunnel running under the Yenissei left his post and went to the village store for vodka...

Chronicle of crimes, from mass media materials:

  • 31 October 2005. Krasnoyarsk TV and radio company "TVK-6" features "Two suicides in one military unit".
  • "...a piece of a soldier`s belt hangs from a roof trap handle. A representative of the Office of Public Procurator for Oktyabrsky district (Krasnoyarsk) confirmed that it is in this building a serviceman committed a suicide. Now the case is under investigation by the military Prosecutor office. Andrei Zagorodtsev - private first class was 20. He was called under the colors last November from Amur oblast and did military service in Zheleznogorsk in military unit.

    It wasn`t possible to find out details in Krasnoyarsk - military prosecutors worked all day in Zheleznogorsk. In the same place on Fridaty, 28 October, Andrei Sobin, 19 hanged himself in the barracks toilet room, He was called under the colors from Tomsk oblast. In an informal phone talk his comrades-in-arms told that the reason for the suicide was a letter from his girlfriend and added that recently Andre had been depressed - because of humiliating treatment of soldiers from Daghestan soing their service in the same unit. Proceedings were commenced on two suicides by the Criminal Code article incitement to suicide.

    Journalists and deputies of the krai Legislative Assembly were purposefully invited in summer 2004. By that time a score of various incidents had been recorded with soldiers from this unit..."

  • On 2 November 2005. "TVK 6" gets back to this subject - "Soldier killed".
  • "...About 1 A.M. 31 October police who have come called to site of event took a young man from a loop. He turned to be a soldier of a Zheleznogorsk military unit. The first conclusion- a suicide. Recently Zheleznogorsk military unit 3377 became notorious over the entire country for regular suicides of servicemen. New details came to light on the third day of investigation. An the suicide story was dropped. It was a murder. Vladimir Skvortsov - vice-prosecutor of Oktyabrsky district (Krasnoyarsk) - notes that it is the first case for him when a suicide is simulated in such a way Andrei Zagorodtsev, 20, born in Skovorodino, Amur oblast was returning to his duty station - Zhelznogorsk - from his leave. In the train he got acquainted with two young Krasnoyarsk residents. Instead of getting back to his unit he had fun in one of apartments in Karbyshev St. 28. The outcome was mournful for the soldier. Andrei Zagorodtsev was found to be killed by an ordinary knitting needle. In the heart. Practically no trace. This made difficult to establish that it was not suicide on the spot. Graphologic examination showed that the ante-mortme note was not written by Zagorodtsev. Thus, Andei was hanged when he was already dead.

    Meanwhile, the Zheleznogorsk military unit was visited by an inspecting commission from Siberian district of the Interior Ministry. The supreme command of the Interior Ministry troops got concerned with the situation in the Zehleznogorsk military unit. By unofficial information tomorrow Zheleznogorsk is to be visited by high-ranking military officials from Moscow".

  • 3 2005. Krasnoyarsk "Segonyashnyaya Gazeta" publishes an article "Suicide simulation?".
  • "November 1 military prosecutors from Krasnoyarsk garrison started to investigate circumstances under which in the recent three days two conscripts committed suicide. Proceedings are commenced on these cases.

    both soldiers did their service in military unit 3377 of Interior ministry troops located in Zheleznogorsk (Krasnoyarsk krai). Yury Shvytkin - deputy of the Legislative Assembly of Krasnoyarsk krai says: both tragedies prove "environment extremely unfavorable for military service in this unit. We are resolute to demand from the Interior Ministry to urgently replace the unit commanding officers". The deputy recalled that this military unit had five suicides among soldiers in 2005 only ".

  • 21 July 2005. "Another Emergency in Zheleznogorsk Military Unit 3377", "Siberian News Agency".
  • "Angyr Sulzhat - a serviceman from Tyva who had served one month only, swallowed a needle. Now he is at the hospital after an operation. According to his words he swallowed the needle accidentally, when sewing down the collar. Yet, according to Alla Safonova - representative of Soldiers` Mothers Committee - a week ago the young soldier attempted to hang himself. The military unit refused to comment this".

  • 7 2005. "Krasnoyarsky rabochy" newspaper published an article by Vasily Kasaktin "Deadly Service".
  • "Several servicemen died in military garrisons in Krasnoyarsk krai in the preceding year. The reasons are the same - notorious hazing, or negligence of soldiers, their commanding officers when performing their duties.

    The last drop that made run over the cup of patience of deputies of Legislative Assembly of Krasnoyarsk krai who monitor such events was a recent tragic case in Zheleznogorsk military unit 3377. "Krasnoyarsky rabochy" wrote that the victim was conscript Igor Neszhilov. While maintaining the zone of obstacles his hand was torn off by an ammo explosion.

    An a week earlier a more horrible accident occurred in the same unit- With a string of burst from a submachine gun Dmitry Kolodeznikov - private conscript killed himself. Just a few days ago Mikhail Zakharov suspected to incite to suicide was detained. The krai military commissariat commented: Zakharov is charged by article 110 of the Criminal Code.

    Alas, for military unit 3377 such tragedies are not surprising. Still in our memory is the case when in April 2004 a soldier keeping guard of one of Zehelznogorsk Mining-Chemical Combine facilities shot himself.

    in May 2004 an other soldier from the same unit shot himself into his belly. He survived.

    In March this year (2005) a this again became a site of a "cowboy" drama - a conscript killed one and wounded an other comrade-in-arms...

    Yury Shvytkin - deputy of the Legislative Assembly of Krasnoyarsk krai head of the deputies` committee investigating army crimes does not conceal his concerns... "More cases of murders, suicides and injuries of servicemen in the military units in the Krasnoyarsk krai territory have a horrible tendency. In his interview to "Krasnoyarsky Rabochy", Yury Nikolaevich Shvetkin said, that inspectors will pay special attention to military unit 3377. Representatives of the chief Military Prosecutor`s Office will hold a special inspection here. The course of investigation will by supervised by Sergei Fedorov - Military prosecutor for Krasnoyarsk krai. One cannot but hope that the inspection will be efficient and will amend the situation..."

  • 11 March 2005. "Gunfight at the Reactor ". A sentinel opened fire on his comrades-in-arms at a secret facility near Krasnoyarsk ", Roman Ukolov, "Nezavisimaya gazeta".
  • "the Office of Military Prosecutor investigating circumstances of an incident that took place in a high-security enterprise in Zheleznogorsk, Krasnoyarsk kri. On the night of 9 March 2005 a conscript keeping guard at the checkpoint of the Mining-Chemical Combine (MCC) shot one of his comrades-in-arms and heavily wounded the other. Zheleznogorsk Chemical Combine produces weapon-grade plutonium and processes nuclear fuel. On its territory the combine has a reactor that makes it the high-security facility.

    Speaker for the Office of Military Prosecutor: Victor Gabyshev, 19, from Yakutyia keeping guard at the MCC checkpoint opened fire on his comrades-in-arms. As a result Nikolai Malygin, private first class was killed, private Artnish Oorzhak has a breast wound.

    Alla Safonova - chairman of Zeleznogorsk soldiers` mothers committee - told local journalists that the entrance to the tunnel leading to MCC undergraound facilities is guarded by eight conscripts from military unit 3377 of Interior Ministry Troops: three in front of the entrance, five - inside. The incident took place in the checkpoint post where three soldiers keep guard. According to Safonova "Gabyshev went about 50 m away from the post. When Malygin and Oorzhak saw this they challenged him and demanded to get back to the post. In response Gabyshev unexpectedly cast up the submachine gun and opened fire. The first bullet hit Nikolai Malygin in the head and killed him. The second bullet hit primate Oorzhak in his breast. When the officer reached the checkpoint the soldier dropped the submachine gun"...

    this is not the first incident n Z"heleznogorsk garrison. In may 2004 a soldier keeping guard shot himself two times in the belly, but survived. Earlier in April an other soldier shot himself - he also kept guard at one of MCC facilities. And several days ago the garrison court delivered judgment to a serviceman of unit 3377 for incitement to suicide ".

  • 11 June 2004. "Soldiers left a unit and stole a car".
  • "After a long pursuit Krasnoyarsk highway patrolmen detained three conscripts who had stolen a car. On the previous day went AWOL from their unit 3377 in neighboring closed city Zheleznogorsk. They stole a "Toyota" and went to Krasnoyarsk. When the runaways did not stop on demand of highway policemen a pursuit commenced. At one of the turns the soldiers threw from the car a sawn-off hunting shotgun charged one with one cartridge. The offenders were detained when they tried to escape leaving the car. Now the soldiers are taken back to the unit for the investigation of the Office of Military Prosecutor..."

  • 24 May 2004. "Another suicide attempt among soldiers in Zeheleznogorsk military unit 3377", REGNUM - KNEWS.
  • "By a version on May 23 a conscript from Zheleznogorsk military unit # 3377 shot himself two times in the belly and now is at the hospital. This information was announced at a session of a working commission on servicemen`s affairs in the Legislative Assembly chaired by Yury Shbytkn. We should remind that this is a second suicide case in this military unit.. By late April a soldier killed himself. He was 19. The deputies decided to set up a working commission and visit this military unit because it is unit that is a cause of major concern ".

  • in 2004 Sergei Makarenko accused o beating soldiers of unit 3377, was found guilty to excess power and sentenced to a fine...
  • 10 January 2001. "Cargo-200. Hazing ", "Krasnoyarsky Rabochy", by Irina Dmitrieva.
  • "Agafia molkhanova and her husband Aleksander saw their son alive. They came five days before his death. Yury Molkhanov was regularly beaten in one of military units of "closed" Zheleznogorsk where he did his service.

    "Bid him farewell quickly, by morning he`ll be dead. Do not call here anymore. We`ll give the body to the morgue ", - said short-spoken tired surgeon to the relatives waiting for his "sentence". For more than a week the Zheleznogorsk doctors had been fighting for Yury Molkhanov`s life. 29 October 2000 unconscious he was delivered to the resuscitation ward of the local hospital because of his extremely poor condition. For some time the doctors had hopes for positive outcome, and workers of law enforcement organs waited for him to regain consciousness and cast light on the events that took place.

    ...12 days after operation November 10 at five a.m. Yury Molkhanov died. He was 20.

    Yury Molkhanov came to do his service to the same Zheleznogorsk military unit with magic number 3377, about which heard so much from his elder brother Vitaly. ...Suddenly in July the letters from the son turned very sad. "I`m beaten heavily, particularly by sergeant Lysy. I fight him..." - read his relatives news from the army. Later the words "heavily beaten" so frequent in Yury Molkhanov`s letters were replaced by "permanently beaten", by fall the complaints turned into open warnings, horrible ominous portents... "I don`t if I can stand this any longer. I`m pissed off with Lysy. I promise: I`ll do my best!"

    ...Forensic medical examination statement was short: Yury Mokhanov died because of cerebral hemorrhage and pulmonary edema. The latter, the doctors think was the consequence of the operation, its complication. But the origin of the cerebral hemorrhage need to be established. A detailed investigation is to follow. Immediately after death of soldier Yury Mokhanov the Zheleznogorsk Office of Military Prosecutor supervising military crimes commenced a suit.

    It should be admitted that company seven is considered in military unit 3377to put it mildly not quite satisfactory. The favorite trick played by the servicemen finishing their term is to teach young soldiers... by arcs from metal barracks beds.

    Military unit 3377 located in the territory of "closed" Zheleznogorsk is surrounded by barbed wire not less than the city itself is notorious among the city residents. Events that happened in summer 1998 , before the 45-th anniversary of the unit had never been recorded in the history of military unit 3377. Old-timers from MTO company recorded in other crimes (blackmail, drug purchasing), beat to death conscript Vladislav Vlasov , called under the colors from Kudymkar, Perm oblast. Last year a show trial was held in the club of military unit 3377. No result again. It is difficult to adapt to the army. Some cannot stand the psychological change and... come off.

    Vladimir Kuzenkov was called under the colors in autumn 1999. To the same MTO company. His mother says that over 11 months of service he was beaten many times, they extorted money from him. All this in totality made him leave the unit without permission and went home.

    Another example. Early November previous year Procurator of Zheleznogorsk Surin received a letter from father of soldier Denis Slobodinsky who did his service in military unit 3377. Denis was called under the colors from Yekaterinburg in June 2000. Vladimir Slobodinsy - lawyer with more than 15 years` practice concludes that the "unit is wallowing in criminal offences", namely, by article 117 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (torture), article 163 (blackmail), article 335 (hazing), article 336 (insult of a serviceman).

    Facts that her son was beaten, vital organs at that, and there was even an attempt to rape him are put in Denis` mother application. All facts were confirmed by the soldier himself. His truth was that he did not tolerate and wait. In the beginning of November after another "educational" session Denis Slobodinsky was delivered to Zheleznogorsk hospital for long-term treatment".

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