Russian army 'dog food whisteblower' Matveyev jailed

A Russian army major who alleged his men had been fed dog food has been jailed for four years for beating up two soldiers in a separate case.

Igor Matveyev was immediately arrested and sent to serve his sentence after the trial in the far eastern city of Vladivostok.

Matveyev said the case against him had been fabricated after he posted videos of allegedly re-labelled dog food.

He said it had been substituted for food stolen from his soldiers.

His defence lawyer said she would appeal against the verdict of the military tribunal.

Just two days before the verdict, Matveyev, a major in the Russian interior troops, told the BBC's Russian Service he was innocent but expected to be unjustly convicted.

Russia is plagued by corruption and fears have grown in the past decade that the security forces have become a law unto themselves.

Bloggers reacted angrily to Friday's verdict, which was one of the themes most discussed on the Russian internet. "From dog food to lawlessness," wrote one, while another wrote that it was "jail for the one who talked about the dog food, not the one who gave it to soldiers to eat".

'Tinned beef'

The major was sent to the reserves immediately after he posted the videos online in May, addressing himself to President Dmitry Medvedev.

The beating case, in which he was accused of assaulting two non-commissioned officers, was launched shortly afterwards.

Matveyev was stripped of his rank and banned from working for the state for three years as part of his sentence, Interfax news agency reports.

Military officials have denied Matveyev's allegations which centre on the claim that dog food was re-labelled as ordinary tinned meat and supplied to his garrison.

In one video, he shows a large warehouse of cardboard boxes appearing to contain tinned food.

At one point, he holds up a tin marked "beef". Under the torn label can be seen a different one, which he says is dog food.

The major accused his military superiors of allowing theft and corruption to flourish in his garrison.

Military officials in the region confirmed that some abuses had taken place but said they had been dealt with before Matveyev posted his videos.

In court, the regional commander of interior troops, Viktor Strigunov, denied any soldiers had been fed dog food.

An attempt by Matveyev's unit to sue him in a civilian court was rejected.