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Russia's Chechnya considers army conscription in North Caucasus political success

September 22, 2014, 19:42 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© ITAR-TASS/Dmitry Rogulin

MOSCOW, September 22 /ITAR-TASS/. Resuming army conscription in the North Caucasus is a sign that Russia is gradually ridding itself of the legacy of the 1990s when the federal forces carried out a so-called operation to restore constitutional order in Chechnya, experts interviewed by ITAR-TASS said.

Though Russia has never imposed any official bans on recruiting young men from the North Caucasus, a very restricted number of young conscripts from that region have served in the Russian army over the past 15 years.

“Army conscription should return to Chechnya where tens of thousands of young men want to serve in the army. But for some unknown and unspoken reasons they have not been sent to serve in the troops. Chechens are citizens of Russia and no one has the right to deprive them of the right to defend their Homeland,” Chechnya’s President Ramzan Kadyrov posted in his account in Instagram.

Kadyrov said after meeting Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu last Friday that 500 young men from Chechnya would be draft-called into the army this year.

“It is a huge political success for us,” Kadyrov said.

The autumn conscription in Russia starts on October 1.

“It would be wrong to say that people from the North Caucasus have not been drafted into the Russian army at all. A limited number of conscripts from the Caucasus are recruited annually to serve in the Akhmat Kadyrov internal troops regiment of the Interior Ministry that is deployed in Chechnya. Two battalions “Zapad” /West/ and “Vostok” / East/ of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate /GRU/ have been staffed predominately with Chechens,” Colonel General Viktor Yesin told ITAR- adding he did not see any problems in resuming army conscription of young men from the North Caucasus.

“Young conscripts from all parts of Russia should be drafted into the Russian army. Under the Russian Constitution, defending Fatherland is a duty and obligation of any Russian citizen. It is unfair when young people are conscripted or not conscripted to the army dependent on where they live. We are citizens of one country and compulsory military service should also be an equal obligation for everybody,” Yesin said.

“It is no sectret that due to demographic problems and shrinking population Russia is running out of potential conscripts. Russian troops are understaffed. Unlike in the rest of Russia, Chechya and Dagestan have an excessive number of young men who can be conscripted to the army. The Russian Army General Staff is out to liquidate this disproportion now,” Colonel-General Viktor Yesin said.

“The only problem with conscripting young men from the North Caucasus is their inclination to create fraternities in the army and impose their will and traditions on soldiers of other nationalities,” Yesin said. But he believes that this problem can be solved.

“My own army experience shows that if five or ten young men from Chechnya or Dagestan serve in a company, they do not create any conflicts. But it was hard to maintain discipline in a battalion of 300 servicemen that had 50-60 “hot Caucasian guys,” Yesin said.

According to Mikhail Remizov, the president of the National Strategy Institute, the problem of conscripts from the North Caucasus is not in their ideological convictions or political loyalty. “Men’s code of honor” which exists in the North Caucasus denies any form of obedience or subordination. But obedience to command is one of the main qualities for any soldier and this is something the conscripts from the North Caucasus will have to learn,” Remizov told Itar-Tass. “The unspoken moratorium on army conscription of young people from the North Caucasus was a forced measure. Now time has come to lift it gradually but not overnight,” Remizov concluded.


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