Many young people in Russia have a very negative attitude to mandatory military service. They do not want to serve because of the oppression of young soldiers by seniors, tough conditions in the Army, social discomfort and other negative things in the Russian military.
The men due for call-up in the Army receive legal literacy by studying the statute on military service and its clauses giving the chance to “skip” the Army. Their parents are under stress, and some of them give bribes to the employees of the military registration and enlisting office who immediately “forget” about the existence of their son due for call-up. Doctors are bribed as well, and they write certificates that the man is unable to serve because of his health bad condition.
Military registration and enlisting offices complain of the young people neglecting their duty and forgetting that there are some social groups being eager to serve their Motherland for two or even more years. Such people appeal to military registration and enlisting offices, state officials, international organizations, claiming that Russian government and Defense Ministry conduct the policy of discrimination to them. They are women and gays (in the Russian Army, the majority of soldiers are men serving mandatory period of 1.5 or 2 years).
The statute about military and medical expertise from July 1, 2003 became the apple of discord. The statute determines the order of the medical examination for the people called up in the Russian military and the list of illnesses incompatible with military service. There is a clause of “deviations of gender identification and sexual preferences” among the reasons of disability for military service in this statute. Those not willing to serve used this clause pretending to be of non-standard sexual orientation. On the contrary, this clause irritated the proponents of having equal rights for people of different sexual orientation. However, another clause said that different sexual orientation should not be considered a deviation. In this way, the dilemma aroused whether homosexuality should be considered a pathology or not.
Finally, either human rights organizations requests or the realization of the mistake the Russian military had, made Major-General of Medical Service Valery Kulikov announce: "the new statute about military and medical expertise from July 1, 2003 does not forbid people of non-standard sexual orientation from serving in the military". "The issue of person’s homosexuality is not medical. There is no such diagnosis as homosexuality in medicine. There is no such illness in the classification of World Health Organization. The new statute about military and medical expertise follows international law practice. Therefore the reasons for evaluating the ability to serve for homosexuals are the same: physical and psychic health”, Kulikov explained.
In this way, the Russians practicing non-traditional sex gained equal rights on the official level. However, this is not going to solve the problem of shortage of recruits for military registration and enlisting offices. According to military commissars, the way to avoid the Army by claiming one’s non-standard sexual orientation was used only in Moscow. In Russian province people of non-standard sexual orientation experience bad attitude and therefore do not reveal their sexual orientation when being enlisted for the Army. The Chairman of Military Medical Commission of the military registration and enlisting office in Irkutsk region Oleg Kozlov says in the last 15 years no young man claimed he is not willing to serve because he is a homosexual.
People of non-standard sexual orientation can have problems when being in the Army, and therefore should not reveal there their sexual preferences, Valery Kulikov said. “Other soldiers are not going to like that, they can be beaten.”
However, having solved the issue of enlisting gays to the military, military registration and enlisting offices are going to face other problems dealing with non-standard sexuality. For instance, the employees of military registration and enlisting office in Irkutsk region were confused by the girl who after the operation on changing its sex came to be registered for military service. The local doctors asked their colleagues from the regional military registration and enlisting office how to treat the “girl-boy”. No statute has recommendations on this. Finally it was decided to recognize the “young man” not to fit for the military because he had endocrine illness.
All this reminds a bad anecdote revealing a much more serious problem of the Army which is avoided by the majority of men and attracts women, gays and transsexuals. It looks like gays are the biggest patriots in Russia…
The strike was defensive in nature and came in response to three attacks on the US military in February