The Military Observed 2012 …

Official Interruption of the draft in the North Caucasus Region

by ESK –  1 October 2012 

The official decision to stop drafting young men from the republics of the North Caucasus announced by the General Staff on June 25, 2012[1] closes a long period of chaotic attempts to incorporate conscripts from thoses regions since the end of the first Chechen campaign, and endorses a recurring informal practice of operational commanders since the early 2000s.

Interrupted in 1994-1995, attempted briefly in 1996 but made difficult by the loss of identity documents of conscripts in Chechnya, the draft of Chechen conscripts is officially back in place in 2000-2001 with a very small numbers of them actually recruited because of insubordination or refusal of parents to let their sons serve under commanding officers who have passed through Chechnya. But soon many commanders refuse to integrate Chechens in their units for fear of riots. This informal practice is extended to the North Caucasus and the fear of slavisation of the Russian armed forces is expressed in the press by NGOs. On May 6, 2002 the Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov announces that henceforth Chechen conscripts will serve in their own republic ; but in reality it is the spring of 2004 that this measure is implemented until the fall of 2004, when the draft is … cancelled. The professionalization of the armed forces serves as a justification for this decision: a representative of the Ministry of Defence who wished to remain anonymous said that “given the fact that the positions in the armed forces will all be on a contract basis in Chechnya starting in 2005, the General Staff is considering where it will send the young Chechen conscripts in the spring 2005. “

Starting in 2006, Chechen formations are included in the Ministries of Defense and Internal Affairs (through the Combined Task Forces OGV) and deployed in the North Caucasus.  In 2007, while Russian officials speak of a successful stabilization of the situation in the North Caucasus, the project to incorporate Chechen draftees in other regions of Russia is presented as a symbol of progress. But in 2009, a new end to Chechen conscription is declared. The military commissariat of the Chechen Republic announces that Chechen draftees will be “tested” but not recruited during the spring draft.

Today, the interruption of the conscription in Chechnya and more widely in the North Caucasus is presented as a means to put an end to the increasing inter-ethnic violence among concripts. This shutdown process is affecting the Republic of Dagestan[2] : a circular of the Chelyabinsk Draft Commission sent to the pressshows that only the Dagestani mountain peoples will be drafted with the conscripts of Slavic origin. In fact the draft call of 2011 already saw the incorporation of 121 slavic conscripts while the 3199 others of North-Caucasus origine were assigned to the army reserve[3]Similarly, for a few years already, the conscription rates in North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachevo-Cherkessia and Adygea have been declining.

Faced with this situation it would be expected that in the coming years units composed exclusively of Slavs would be sent in troubled regions such as the … North Caucasus … But the demographic decline of the Slavic population suggests that the Russian army will have great difficulties to recruit enough conscripts to fill its ranks and therefore this looks like a temporary decision. Nevertheless, it will be difficult to erase from the mind of the North Caucasus population the confidence expressed by the authorities in this measure somewhat unconstitutional.

[1] Ria novosti 25 June 2012.

[2] « Ravnodushie rossiiskoi armii obuzhaet dagestantsev »,, 18 June 2012,



The slow clericalization of the Russian Army

by ESK – 18 September 2012

Considering itself as a religious organization representing the interests of the majority of the Russian population, the Orthodox Church has requested permission in the 1990s to carry out pastoral activities in not accessible areas during the Soviet era such as the army and the  power ministries. Since then, the Orthodox Church continues its penetration of the military institution and as a sign of rapprochment to the State under Medvedev, in 2009,  it obtained the institutionalization of a military clergy long rejected by Putin, who has always taken care to emphasize the secular and multinational character of the military institution. The Ministry of Defence has in turn established a Directorate for Religious Affairs responsible for the relations with the military believers, while the Orthodox Church has obtained the direction of the clergy where the four traditional religions (Orthodoxy, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism) are represented.

But the Orthodox Church does not seem to be satisfied with this victory. An article in the weekly VPK dating August 2012[1] denounces the fact that Orthodox priests present in the army are engaged in a struggle against atheism and non-believers. A second article in the same magazine[2] recognizes that the objective of the Orthodox Church is to instill a “spirit of Orthodox spiritual and patriotic education” in the military. In fact, the Church is more concerned by having theology introduced as a subject in the Russian military academies curriculum than by trying to solve discipline problems.

The declaration of the representatives of the Moscow Patriarchy in December 2009 concerning the role that Orthodox priests intend to play in the army shows that the Church has definitively renounced tackling the problem of hazing: “It is not a question of fighting against dedovshchina. We will not substitute ourselves to the officers should dispense education “. In other words the Church has chosen to instill religious propaganda to “captive” men, subject to military discipline – that very same military discipline  which forbid them to brake the rank when they disagree with the rules.

[1] Сергей Иванеев, « Православие вместо интернационализма. Вызовы свободе совести в российских Вооруженных Силах »,

[2] Вячеслав Котков, « Помощь батюшки необходима. Военные и церковь в современных условиях »,


Russian officers and satisfaction survey under Putin & Medvedev

by ESK – 27 August 2012

The Russian  sociological journal SotsIss publishes in its 3rd issue of 2012[1] the results of a survey conducted among 600 junior officers of the Russian army from 2007 to 2010 in four military regions. The average age of the cohort is 29 years old and most respondents made an average of ten years of service – a majority in the Army and 28% in the Air Force. 91.2% of surveyed officers are men. The topics discussed in the survey  are wages, material conditions, benefits, job satisfaction. According to the survey data the average salary of officers in 2007 amounted to 4 500 rubles and three years later in 2010 to 10 705 rubles. This substantial increase, however, must be put into perspective as the national average that year grew faster and reached 18,453 rubles. In January 2012, a new wage growth has been completed and the survey shows that it was welcome : in 2010, the officers continued to suffer from the monetization of benefits (established in 2004) including the removal of free transport. The material situation of those officers was aggravated by the difficulty for their wives to find work in the cities of cantonment. Some trust they had to sell their blood to make ends meet.

[1] СУРКОВА И.Ю. Удовлетворенность воинской службой в российской армии: факторы и прогнозы, Социологические исследования, 2012, #3,




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