Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Russian Draft Falls Short because of Demography and Resistance, ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ Reports

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 7 – “Despite the optimistic reports of the Russian defense ministry,” Vladimir Mukhin of Nezavisimaya gazeta says, the military did not meet its quotas for new draftees this past spring “not only” because of demographic problems – there are too few Russians in the prime draft cohort – but also because of draft avoidance.

            As a result, the observer writes, the Russian military has “developed a number of measures” intended to increase the number of young men who will be inducted this fall, including but not limited to the restoration of the Main Military-Political Administration which will work with draftees (

            More immediately, Mukhin says, the defense ministry is imposing tougher requirements on local draft agencies, requiring them to hand out to those who avoid service special certificates that will make it harder for them to enter universities or get jobs. The ministry had ordered this in 2014 but not all boards have been doing so.

            According to available sources, the journalist continues, “several tens of thousands of young people” have such certificates already. New pressures from above will likely increase their number substantially. That will make it very hard for those getting such “tickets” to work in the government or in firms connected with the government for ten years.

            Not surprisingly, Mukhin adds, the parents of such young men are already complaining about “the supposedly illegality” of the 2014 decree. They won a victory earlier this year in the Supreme Court which has led to the freezing of such cases across the Russian Federation. But problems with the draft may force a revision of that policy.

            Indeed, officials in the defense ministry are “optimistic” they will get their way. They note that in March 2018, “a group of members of the Federation Council” introduced legislation that would make Sergey Shoygu’s earlier decree an act of law and thus not something the courts would be inclined to overturn.

            A month ago, Mukhin notes, “Duma deputies without any particular noise almost unanimously considered and passed corresponding amendments” to the law on military service. “The media almost did not write about this; but soon about this in Russia many interested people began to speak out ‘in full voice.’”

            “It is expected that already in September, this bill will be adopted and signed by the president,” Mukhin says. And in this way, “the military commissariats will have the legal bases for handing out to young people who avoid service ‘a certificate of draft avoider.’”  That is going to spark enormous anger.

            Col. Aleksandr Sekatchev, a military expert, says that he calls these “’wolf tickets’ for young careerists. It will be difficult” for them to continue their educations or get good jobs.  And the number of such people is large – at least “several hundred thousands of intellectually educated young people.” 

            Many will presumably decide that it is cheaper and better to serve in the army, he suggests; but they will do so without particular enthusiasm. And others may seek alternative ways to continue to avoid service, including emigration or illegal changes in the certificates they have been issued.

             But according to Col. Yury Belyaev, a former military commissar from Orenburg, Moscow has now choice. It has to rely on the draft because “the transition to a contract military requires money. Under conditions of sanctions and the economic crisis, there isn’t enough.”  But equally clearly, there aren’t enough willing draftees either. 

No comments:

Post a Comment