ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- It took a while to get the young deserter to talk. Roman had fled his army unit and was staying with Tatiana Barykina and her family, and they could see the scars on his wrist and sense the pain that hung upon him like a millstone.

But it was weeks before he began to describe life in the Russian military: the officers who stole their soldier's salaries, the hazing and beating of young draftees by career soldiers. When Roman slashed his wrists in despair, army doctors stitched him up and sent him back to his unit.

Roman sought help by writing to the Soldiers Mothers of Petersburg, but a sergeant found the antiwar organization's reply in the mailbag and threatened the soldier's life. So he fled to this Baltic city, and ended up billeted with Barykina, who volunteers with the mothers group. She eventually found him a place in a psychiatric hospital.