Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson
The Moscow Tribune
12 October 2001
Good draftees hard to find
By Dmitry Polikarpov

Massive draft dodging and health problems widespread among young Russians have dramatically reduced the number of potential conscripts. According to official statistics, only 14 per cent of those of call-up age currently go to the army. However, this number may become even smaller if pessimistic forecasts made by military medics come true.

According to the chairman of the Defence Ministry's Medical Commission, General Valery Kulikov, 37 per cent of potential conscripts throughout Russia are ineligible for military service because of serious health problems, while 55 per cent of those conscripted can only perform limited military service because of health reasons. In several regions, the percentage of unhealthy young people is even higher.

In Moscow, 45 of every 100 potential conscripts are exempt from military service because of various diseases.

The number of drug addicts and alcoholics among the conscripts has doubled since 1995. Together with mental illness, drug addiction, and alcoholism have become the most common reasons preventing people of call-up age from entering the army. Dystrophy, malnutrition, and tuberculosis are the most cited of the so-called "social diseases." In 2000, tuberculosis was diagnosed in more than 5,000 conscripts, which is twice as many as in 1997.

Military medics have worked out a psychological portrait of an average Moscow conscript: "A young man with low intellectual level who is unable to think abstractly. He is quite quick to take offence and is always discontented with those around. He is passive and cannot adapt to difficult situations, also having an inclination towards anti-social behaviour."

Many analysts believe that the unprecedented increase in the number of those exempt from service is due to the introduction of new regulations in the late 1990s, which strictly banned the conscription of people with certain illnesses, alcoholics, and drug users. In previous years local recruiting centres often ignored instructions from Moscow, sending the army men physically and psychologically unfit for military service.

As a result, over 2,000 carriers of HIV were dismissed from the army last year.

"We do not conduct necessary blood tests to detect HIV or hepatitis because we do not have the money and equipment for this. To check all the conscripts we need $15 million annually. I do not know whether we are going to receive this money," Kulikov, told the Trud daily on Thursday.

Back to the Top    Next Article