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Is the End of Draft Dodging Coming Soon?
July 7, 2010 16:35

Should the country's Army mostly consist of conscripts or professional servicemen? The discussion on this topic has been held in Russia since the mid-2000s, when large-scale military reforms were launched in the country. And now there's some reactivation of the dispute.

The head of the defense committee in the Russian parliament's upper house said on Wednesday that the number of professional soldiers in the Russian Army should be increased.

"Today, officers account for 15 percent of the Armed Forces [personnel], professional servicemen for 25 percent - the rest are conscripts," Viktor Ozerov told reporters at the Sergeyevsky testing ground in Russia's Far Eastern Primorye Territory.

"I believe that this is not quite right," he said.

All Russian men between the ages of 18 and 27 are obliged by law to perform one year of military service, but people are encouraged to evade conscription by bribing military officials and doctors for medical exemption certificates. The reason is reports of military hazing and harsh conditions.

Are the conditions so hazing and harsh remains a good question for the people who try keeping their attitude fresh and sober. Russians of all kinds of social level know very well that the time of really hard conditions in the Army has almost passed. Today this buzz is often double, if not more times, exaggerated. Young male population day by day becomes more and more pettled by parents and comfortable, easy way of life. The notion of the call of duty vanishes from the youth minds. It is deleted by virtual aggression of the Call of Duty and other computer games alike. Moreover, modern parents consider their sons' life success consisted of only such images of “dolce vita” as brilliant education, comfortable work office, substantial income and many young beautiful women around. No wonder that their offspring think the same way.

Anyway, in the past few years there was a series of incidents involving the deaths of military conscripts. That's why Russian authorities have moved to boost the safety of servicemen and improve the military's image, but the number of draft dodgers continues to grow. The poor health of many Russian draftees and the "demographic hole" created in the 1990s aggravates this trend. There's a firm belief among many Russian citizens that the law of increasing the number of professional soldiers should limit the number of conscripts to only those young men who would really like to serve. Thus the double crime of bribing officials and faking exemption documents could be avoided at least partially.

"Russia will continue to rely heavily on conscription to man its Armed Forces in the near future rather than make a transition to fully professional army," Yuri Dashkin, the head of the main directorate for morale in the Russian Armed Forces said in May.

"The major reason for this is the current economic situation in the country and limited resources," he said.

The Russian military was planning to recruit about 270,000 eligible young people during the spring 2010 conscription.

In line with the ongoing military reform, the Russian Armed Forces will be downsized to 1 million personnel by 2016, enlisting 150,000 officers and about 745,000 soldiers. The length of military service for draftees will remain unchanged at 1 year.

     RIA Novosti

Max Yakuba

Tags: Russian laws Russian economy    

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