Thursday, October 11, 2012

Window on Eurasia: Moscow Cuts Draft in Daghestan Fearful Soldiers from There Could Use Their Training Against Russia, Military Expert Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 11 – Moscow has cut back the number of young men it is drafting in Daghestan because it fears that people from that North Caucasus republic could be a fifth column within the Russian armed forces or use any military training they received by later joining “the ranks of criminal and terrorist groups,” according to a Russian analyst.

            Aleksandr Perendzhiyev, an expert at the Association of Military Political Analysts, is quoted in today’s “Izvestiya” as saying that the proximate cause for cutting the draft in Daghestan by more than 90 percent is the propensity of young men from that republic to violate military discipline (

            But lying behind that, he continued, is “a problem of a political character. It is probable the leadership of the country is concerned that a portion of the Daghestanis in the army are ‘dispatched agents’ of the militants and serve as their spies” and that Moscow fears that whatever training they get, they will subsequently use in militant organizations.

            Such an approach, Pendzhiyev continues, is “at its root incorrect” because “the Constitution of Russia does not divide its citizens by nationality.  Instead, it clearly states that the duty of each citizen is to defend his Fatherland.”

            In recent years, Moscow has drafted large numbers of young men from Daghestan each cycle, a reflection of the relatively higher birthrate in that heavily Muslim republic.  But this time around, “Izestiya” reports, it has cut the total draft to 179, of whom only 42 will serve in the defense ministry. The remainder will work in the emergency situations ministry.

             Yanus Dzhambalayev, the head of the draft department of the Military Commissariat of Daghestan, told the Moscow paper that he wouldn’t want to exacerbate the situation or “connect it with nationality.” But he noted that elsewhere in the North Caucasus, the draft appears to be continuing at the same levels as in the past.

            “Izvestiya” reports that Moscow is drafting 450 young men from Ingushetia, more than 5,000 from Krasnodar kray, and more than 2,000 from Stavropol kray.  The number drafted from Chechnya, military officials say is “defined by the leadership of the republic which informs the command about how many people may go into the army.”

According to Dzhambalayev, this reduction in the quota for Daghestan is troubling because “without a military ticket, young Daghestanis cannot work in the MVD and other force structures of the republic.”

Just why Moscow has made this decision, he continued, is unclear, but he suggested that it may reflect “the lack of desire of junior commanders to work with Daghestanis [or] with the insufficient trainings of certain” of young men from Daghestanis “because in any nationality there are good and bad people.

Whatever the facts of the case, he concluded, “there will not be Daghestanis in the ranks of the Russian armed forces this year.”

Zulfiya Razulova, chairman of the Soldiers Mothers Committee of Daghestan, pointed out that “until 2010, about 15 to 20 thousand young men were drafted from Daghestan each year.” In the spring of 2012, this number fell to 2200; in the fall of 2011,”about 400; and the spring of 2011, 2500.”

She said that many young Daghestanis want to serve because it is often the only way for them to get married and to be hired in jobs they want.  But she acknowledged, “Izvestiya” said, “that the main problems of Daghestanis in the army are incorrect behavior with fellow soldiers and commanders.”

            Queried by the Moscow newspaper about the situation, officials at the Defense Ministry said that “there are no special prohibitions to the draft of residents of Daghestan”but that “they simply do not meet the demands” that the military service imposes. Indeed, the officials added, “the majority of Daghestani residents of draft age are not suitable” for service.

            “To correct the situation,” these officials continued, “the authorities in the republic must guarantee the military-patriotic training of young people and organize courses for the preparation of draftees on military specialities,” an implicit acknowledgement that Moscow has problems with the values of Daghestanis.

            However much commanders may be pleased by the decision to reduce the size of the draft in Daghestan, this move is likely to prove explosive in two regards. On the one hand, it sends a clear signal to Daghestanis that Moscow views them as unreliable, something that may prove a self-fulfilling prophecy.

            And on the other, it means that the Russian defense ministry will have to draft more young men from predominantly ethnic Russian regions, thus imposing a kind of tax that some of them and their parents will object to paying. One indication that there may be more resistance to the draft in those places came this week.

            At the assignment of the president, Russian news agencies report, a number of amendments to the law on military service are being prepared. Among them is one that would deny access to all government jobs to those who are found to have avoided the draft illegally (

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