Ten military servicemen arrested over soldier's death

Ten military servicemen have been arrested in an inquiry opened in connection with the death of a conscript soldier in a military unit near Barysaw, Minsk region, according to the Investigative Committee of Belarus.

As Syarhey Kabakovich, the Investigative Committee's spokesman, told BelaPAN, those arrested include two commissioned officers, a non-commissioned officer and seven sergeants.

Private Alyaksandr Korzhych, a 21-year-old native of Pinsk, Brest region, was found hanged on the grounds of the 72nd United Training Center in Pechy on October 3. The soldier's family and friends say that he repeatedly complained about bullying before his death.

The commissioned officers are suspected of inaction over bullying in their company. In particular, the company chief, a 23-year-old senior lieutenant, and the deputy chief, a 28-year-old captain, were aware of the non-commissioned officer's crime against Mr. Korzhych but failed to take action in an effort to make superiors believe that everything was OK in their unit. They were also reluctant to maintain order in their unit as they wanted to "minimize their workload," said Mr. Kabakovich.

While Mr. Korzhych was discharged from the Center's medical unit and did not report back to his company, the company chief had no interest in learning the private's whereabouts in violation of army regulations that require company chiefs to keep track of the company's personnel and maintain military discipline, according to Mr. Kabakovich. The company's deputy chief in charge of ideology violated army regulations by failing to take measures to prevent offenses within the unit and to oversee the unit's morale.

The commissioned officers are facing a charge of inaction of a person in authority resulting in grave consequences under Part Three of the Criminal Code's Article 455.
After the death of the soldier caused a strong emotional reaction on social media, authorities announced that the case would be thoroughly investigated.

Alyaksandr Korzhych, who was called up for military service this past spring, was one of the recruits trained at the United Training Center's Military Unit No. 43064, a school that trains tank and artillery personnel.

The defense ministry's press office announced last week that Minister Andrey Rawkow had dismissed the commander and a number of other senior officers of the unit for failure to take proper measures to ensure strict compliance with army regulations.

The Investigative Committee of Belarus has three theories regarding the death of the soldier, including driving to suicide by hazing and violence, murder and suicide "due to psychological trauma and reluctance to serve in the army," Mr. Kabakovich said last week.

The soldier was found hanged with a cloth belt, with an undershirt pulled over his head and his feet tied together with shoe strings, Mr. Kabakovich said.

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