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Christopher Jones says "In reply to Cameron Sawyer's unbelievable defence of current Russian policies, I send this article from The Guardian. Press gangs? Is this a democracy? Maybe, if you believe in serfdom". Here is the opening section of the article: "Killer who was high on mushrooms exposes lows of life in Russian army. A Russian soldier shot and killed eight of his colleagues yesterday during a hallucinogenic fit brought on by eating magic mushrooms. Denis Solovyov, was stationed with a border guard unit in the Caucasus mountains in southern Russia, close to the border with Georgia. Witnesses said that Mr Solovyov ate some mushrooms before he started shooting at his fellow soldiers. Five others were wounded in the incident. Russian military officials said a preliminary investigation showed the soldier was in a "state of narcotic intoxication" when the shooting occurred.
The incident highlights the depression and ill-discipline of the Russian army, most of whom are teenagers not lucky enough to avoid conscription. Some 400,000 men are forced into the Russian army each year, although many try to get a doctor's exemption from two years in the brutal culture of a barracks or under rebel fire in the Chechen conflict. A recent report by Human Rights Watch exposed the practice of "press-ganging" by the Russian authorities". RH: I do not think the plight of the Russian army is relevant to Cameron Sawyer's assertion that capitalism is working in Russia, but it may be to his remarks about Russian democracy. The American army has had problems too, with multiple murders, but certainly the Russian army is much worse off.
Ronald Hilton - 1/27/03