Army Deserter Shacked Up in Russian Forest for 11 Years

30-year-old's own family thought he was dead, buried another man by mistake
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2015 9:29 AM CST
Updated Dec 5, 2015 4:20 PM CST
Army Deserter Shacked Up in Russian Forest for 11 Years
Screenshot of man's camp found in the woods.   (Twitter)

For more than a decade, a Russian army deserter was believed dead and buried—until he turned up recently hiding out in the woods in a remote eastern part of the country, the Guardian reports. A police spokeswoman said Monday that cops on the Kamchatka peninsula hauled in a 30-year-old man from Taganrog who had ditched his army post in 2004 after just a year in the service, the Tass news agency reports. His family had mistakenly IDed another man's body as their missing kin and even buried the stranger, while the soldier erected a makeshift house in the forest out of old construction materials near the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the police rep tells Tass, and he gathered "berries and mushrooms and scrap metal, worked at a swine farm, and went fishing to earn his living."

His desertion apparently wasn't much of a surprise, as regional officials say he had "family problems," per the Guardian. At the time, Russians were required to serve two years in the military; that requirement has since been reduced to one year. Although Russian service members can face up to seven years in prison for desertion, it's unclear whether this particular defector will face jail time. "There were lots of deserters in those days in the far east," the head of the NGO Committee of Soldiers' Mothers in Russia tells the Guardian. "We've had cases when some would hide in a basement for years, but they would go through a psychiatric examination and would be set free." (Here's what America's most famous deserter was thinking before he took off.)

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