The Penal Battalion (2004)
"Shtrafbat" (original title)

TV Mini-Series  -   -  Action | Drama | War
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
 Penalty Battalion Cmdr. Vasilii Tverdokhlebov
Yuriy Stepanov ...
 Antip "Kulak" Glymov
Aleksandr Bashirov ...
 Stirah
Iliya Kovrizhnykh ...
 Tzukerman
Aleksei Zharkov ...
 Lykov
...
 Kharchenko
Dmitriy Nazarov ...
 Otetz (padre) Mikhail
Andrey Smolyakov ...
 Baukin
Viktor Suprun ...
 Shlykov
Vasiliy Mishchenko ...
 Svetlichniy
Andrey Merzlikin ...
 Bredounov
Olga Kalashnikova ...
 Sveta
Aleksey Oshurkov ...
 Shilkin
Timofey Tribuntsev ...
 Choudilin (as T. Tribuntsev)
Maksim Drozd ...
 Boulyga
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Storyline

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Genres:

Action | Drama | War

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 September 2004 (Russia)  »

Also Known As:

Rangaistuspataljoona  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(11 parts)

Color:

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User Reviews

"Penal-battalions" - some background on this little-known WW2 Soviet practice.
29 September 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Shtrafbat" (2004), an 11-part TV series, is about Soviet Army battalions made up of many kinds of prisoners, hoping to be "rehabilitated" of their "crimes".

"Shtrafbat" (Punishment or Penal Battalions) were made up of deserters, political prisoners, and former POWs who had returned from German captivity (according to Stalin: allowing ones-self to be captured alive & imprisoned was akin to surrendering, & surrendering was considered to be treason, a crime punishable by death), and even "regular" criminals sent from prison-camps, so the suspicion that these people wouldn't fight well, or might even surrender, was high. These "criminals" were "graciously" allowed "a second chance" by the government, a chance to "wash away their past sins with their own blood."

These "Shtrafbat" were sent on the most dangerous and difficult missions (i.e. those with low survivability) and were followed into battle by troops who were called "Zagrad-Otryad" (Blocking Troops), and were under NKVD (precursor to the KGB) control. Sometimes these troops were almost as large as the actually fighting units they blocked. They were under orders to shoot any Soviet soldiers who were thought to be retreating, be they wounded or not.

The few "Shtrafbat" soldiers who lived through it for some months, were considered rehabilitated and returned to regular army units. The KIAs were rehabilitated posthumously, sparing their families from being branded as families of traitors, "enemies of the Soviet people."


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