Four soldiers found hanged in a forest in central Russia

Four Russian conscripts were found hanged in a forest early Wednesday, the Defense Ministry said.

The Interfax news agency said investigators were looking into whether the young men had committed suicide. The agency quoted Air Force spokesman Alexander Drobyshevsky as saying the four had been called in as suspects in a case of theft on Tuesday.

All four soldiers were to have completed their two-year military service in a helicopter-training unit outside the Volga River city of Saratov this spring, the Defense Ministry said. The four had voluntarily left their unit Tuesday night.

Interfax quoted an official in the military prosecutor's office as saying that investigators were considering whether the deaths were due to suicide or "simulated suicide."

The demoralized and cash-strapped Russian armed forces see numerous violent deaths and suicides even in units far from conflict zones. Conscripts complain of vicious hazing by older soldiers and abuse by officers.

Associated Press

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