[JURIST] Russian military prosecutors said Monday that they plan to launch a probe into allegations that young men serving their mandatory military conscription [HRW backgrounder] period are being forced into prostitution by fellow soldiers. The Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees [advocacy website], a soldiers' rights group, brought the allegations to light by telling the story of an anonymous soldier from interior troops unit No. 3727 who was beaten by his comrades and told he must earn money for them. Similar claims were made against soldiers in unit 3727 a few years ago, but prosecutors did not investigate the complaints.
Stories of abuse by seasoned Russian soldiers against younger conscripts have made going into service unpopular. Last year, a Russian military court found an army sergeant guilty of abuse of power [JURIST report] and sentenced him to four years in jail for beating and torturing a conscript soldier [JURIST report]. Many Russian men ages 18 to 27 avoid mandated military service by going to college, paying bribes, or revealing disqualifying health reasons, which are often fabricated. In the face of accumulating problems with conscription, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law last July that shortens the conscription term [JURIST report] and wipes out five accepted reasons for military draft deferments. AP has more.