A court in the Russian city of Chita in Siberia has set November 23 as the date for the trial of conscript Private Ramil Shamsutdinov, who is accused of shooting dead eight fellow servicemen last year in what he claims was the result of brutal hazing.
Shamsutdinov’s lawyer Ravil Tugushev said on November 19 that the Second Military District Court had selected the jury for the high-profile case after an initial attempt in late October failed.
On October 25, 2019, Shamsutdinov allegedly shot eight military servicemen, including two high-ranking officers, in the town of Gorny in the Zabaikalye region. He was arrested soon after and charged with murder.
The case shocked many in Russia and attracted the attention of rights activists after Shamsutdinov claimed that he went on the shooting spree after suffering a nervous breakdown caused by the brutal hazing and torture he had endured.
The Defense Ministry accepted at the time that Shamsutdinov “had a conflict” with one of the officers he killed. In March, Private Ruslan Mukhatov was found guilty of bullying Shamsutdinov and was handed a suspended two-year prison term.
On September 23, the Investigative Committee said Shamsutdinov pleaded guilty to murder charges.
Another lawyer for Shamsutdinov, Ruslan Nagiyev, told RFE/RL that the defense team will try to persuade the jury that Shamsutdinov was in a deep state of psychological stress caused by bullying and torture when he committed the act.
Deadly shootings in Russia’s military as a result of widespread hazing have been a focus of human rights organizations for years.
Last week, a soldier at a military air base in the western region of Voronezh shot an officer and two soldiers dead.
In recent years, photos and video footage have been posted online by members of the Russian military that show the severe bullying of young recruits as they are inducted into the army.