Soldier armed with automatic rifle deserts in southern Russia

A soldier armed with a Kalashnikov deserted his unit during maneuvers in the southern Russian region of North Ossetia, the Russian Interior Ministry said Monday.

The soldier, identified only by his last name, Tkachyov, left his unit of the 58th Russian Army, which is stationed in Rostov-on-Don, on Sunday, said ministry spokesman Roman Shchekotin. He said the reasons for the desertion were unclear.

Desertions, suicides and other violence are common in Russia's armed forces, which suffer from acute funding shortages, low morale and abuse of young conscripts by older soldiers, reports the AP.

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