Chechens as a Conscription Resource

On 13 January, ITAR-TASS announced that, for the first time since the Soviet collapse, the armed forces will conduct preliminary military registration in Chechnya of males born in 1993 and earlier.  The SKVO is organizing town and rayon draft boards.  The preliminary registration will continue until the end of March.  Administration heads are asked to get organizations and institutions to help spread the word about registration.

There is no move to draft young Chechens yet, and this represents an effort to inventory and organize potential manpower from the republic.

In recent years, small numbers of Chechens were called to serve in special operations units like the Vostok and Zapad battalions, but only in Chechnya.  In 2008, the republic’s military commissar said nearly 700 Chechens were conscripted during his tenure.  He said he had recommended that Chechens not be sent to serve outside their home republic for several years, and even then in limited numbers at first.

The military commissar said Chechnya had 50,000 men of draft age, and only 8-10 percent would be exempt for health reasons.

By spring 2009, however, the commissar reversed himself, saying he was confident Chechens would be drafted in fall 2009 or spring 2010.  The available Chechen manpower was also put at 80,000.  And its percentage of medically unfit men is one of the lowest in the Russian Federation.

Chechen human rights activists have opposed sending young Chechens outside their republic to serve.  Valentina Melnikova of the Union of Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia has said that after two military campaigns in Chechnya, not many parents are ready to send their children to serve in the Russian Army, where the majority of the officers took part in the counterterrorism operation and have a negative attitude toward Chechens.  She said, “There is no reason to involve Chechens in military service.  Almost every family has either lost a member or has had a member mutilated in the war.  Something like that is not easy to forget and this means that if Chechens end up in military communities, we are to expect new conflict situations and even crimes.”

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