Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

die puny humans
More members of Russia's armed services committed...

More members of Russia's armed services committed suicide or died in accidents than in the line of duty this year..

In October, Human Rights Watch published a detailed study of what it called "horrific violence" against new conscripts in the Russian army.

The international organisation highlighted a ritual of organised bullying known as "dedovshchina", which allegedly involves senior soldiers being able to treat juniors as little more than slaves.

The report claimed hundreds of soldiers were killed or committed suicide as a result. Tens of thousands ran away, while thousands more were left physically and or mentally scarred...

I just had dinner with a friend who served in the Russian army awhile ago. He said that at the time, they started recruiting from prisons so "prison rules" were common. Basically, new recruits had to listen to the old-timers or they got the shit beat out of them. People regularly were killed or died and accidents were unreported. When he had first been recruited, a somewhat senior recruit got upset and and threw a bayonet at him which pierced his leg. He was patched up, but the assailant was not reprimanded nor was he taken to a hospital. (He showed me his scar.) On another occasion, a young recruit was told to remove a rope between two armored vehicles. The vehicle being towed popped the clutch and crushed the head of the young recruit. There was a funeral, but no formal investigation or report. His theory was that suicides and deaths have been common in the Russian army forever and recent transparency is just beginning to reveal the extent of the abuse.


I served in the Marines Corps during the 80's. Our intelligence briefings reported that the Soviets used "live" nerve agents when training for chemical and biological warfare. During their training it was not uncommon for 10-20% of their conscripts to become affected by the agent.

Deaths during operations are quite normal. During a desert training session with 5,000 Marines - 2 guys died because they fell asleep under a truck and were ran over; 4 died in car accidents. That number didn't seem to bother anyone and was considered acceptable.

Marine Bootcamp in the early 80s was intense. Physically and mentally abusive. A few months after I graduated as a Marine - a trained LA County Lifeguard died during the "water survival" course. At the time we just accepted it as the way they harden into a Marine.

I have a several friends from the former USSR that served in the Russian Army (late 80s) and they said it sucked, but that it wasn't specifically brutal.


Junior enlisted (E1-E3) in the US Navy, Marines, and Army have also died due to hazing during ceremonial/color guard training. They weren't accidents or training techniques, they were examples of government sponsored sadism.

I'll never forget the day that they made us run around the building, with bayonets attached to our ceremonial M1s, during a lightning storm.

during training in Soviet army, it was not very bizzare for a recruit to be shot during formation or at a whim. the accepted loss rate during training due to "accidents" or friendly fire or whatever was very high. I have friends who served in both russian army and us marines.
this comes from them.

In response to Jim's comment above, I think that treatment in the Red Army has becomes much more specifically brutal. I just read an article in Vice magazine, albeit not a world renowned news source, but it reported on some pretty shocking things going on in the military there today. I sure hope the marines don't face this.