Yekaterina Maksimova: Military commissars say that almost no young men avoid service in army

Every conscription in Russia can be characterized from two points of view: the official position of military commissariats and the opinions of those young men who are subject to the conscription. This autumn conscription, which ends on December 31, reveals the following state.

Military officials report about the planned quantity of young men subject to the conscription, and young men, in their turn, try to avoid service in the army and get a postponement. Military commissars do not publish exact figures, but say that there are not so many people who avoid the conscription. Very few criminal cases have been instituted on the grounds of conscription avoidance in Moscow over the last several years. As statistics shows, about 30% of young men receive a postponement of the conscription. The number of different causes for postponement in Russia is larger than in any other country. What is more important for the general staff of the Russian armed forces is to meet the planned figures for the conscription, and not health of any particular young man. Despite the regulations existing in Russia, ill young men serve in the army. Cases when mentally ill men get into the army become more frequent. Bad living conditions and internal relations in the army do not inspire young men to serve in the army nowadays.

A scheme for alternative service has been developed in Russia, but it is not popular among young people now. There are several gaps in the law on alternative service that may be used against young men. Work in law enforcement departments or fire guards is usually offered to men as an alternative to service in the army.

Every time when conscription comes to its end, young men of call-up age draw more attention of law enforcement departments. Sometimes, they are delivered to enlistment offices right off the street. Police cooperate with military officials during the conscription at enlistment offices. Fromm informal talks with officers of the municipal police, we learned that sometimes young men escape from enlistment offices.

During conscription, special raids are organized at crowded places where lots of potential men of the call-up age usually get together: Internet-cafes, clubs, discos.

However, despite all talk about avoidance of the army services, there are young men who still feel patriotic and go into the army on their own free will.

President Putin speaks a lot about the transition of the army to a contractual basis. This is to make for strengthening of Russia’s might. However, such a transition to a contractual service will entail the reduction of Russia’s professional army. Also, important financing problems are to be solved in this case.

At the end of January 2002, military commissars will report on the fulfillment of the plan for the conscription submitted by the general staff. But, as it is evident, no official information about those young men who avoid conscription will be published.

Yekaterina Maksimova PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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