Friday, April 6, 2018

New Russian Draft Measure Not about Military but about Suppressing Dissent, Murtazin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 5 – A new bill that requires all draft-age males report to military commissions even if they have not received their notices in the mail that the Duma is set to pass and send on to the Federation Council and the president is not about increasing the number of draftees but about the suppression of dissent, Irek Murtazin says.

            Those who fail to do so will be subject to up to two years of imprisonment, but the numbers of young men it will affect, the Novaya gazeta writer points out, are so large that the regime cannot imprison them all and thus the regime  will be selective in imposing this penalty and do so to suppress dissent (

            According to explanatory materials accompanying the measure, Murtazin says, “approximately 170,000” men avoided service as of January 2017. If the new measure is signed into law as expected, that would mean the judicial system would have to charge, convict and send to prison “about 170,000 men.”

            “Neither the military commissions, nor the police, nor the courts have the people or time to cope with such a tsunami of criminal cases.”   And that suggests that any application of the law would be selective rather than total and that it represents “a response to the growth of protest activity among young people,” the journalist says. 

            The toughening of laws governing public protests “has led only to a situation in which the number of unsanctioned measures has grown sharply,” Murtazin writes. “And the primary participants of these meetings and marches are young people of draft age.” Now the police won’t have to fabricate charges against them: they’ll be able to use this law instead.

            That will simplify the work of the police and the courts and will become yet another way of repressing dissent as the possibility of being sent to prison for two years is a real threat, especially if it is used and it will be of necessity in a highly selective manner against those whose who take part in protests rather than the entire cohort of those who avoid military service.

            And there is an additional reason to think that this new measure is about dissent rather than about ensuring that everyone serves in the military. With the reduction of draft service to one year rather than two or three and the increasingly high tech weapons being introduced, the importance of draftees and meeting draft quotas has significantly declined, Murtazin says.

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