Over 600 Chechens, Dagestanis drafted into Russian army

Over 600 young men have been drafted into the Russian army from the southern republics of Chechnya and Dagestan amid media reports of a decision by the Russian authorities not to call up North Caucasus residents.

Kavkazskiy Uzel website said on 17 July that for the first time over the last two decades 150 young people had been called up from Chechnya and would serve in the 249th special motorized battalion of the Internal Troops making part of the 46th brigade of the Russian Interior Ministry’s Internal Troops deployed in Chechnya on a permanent basis.

An official at Chechnya’s military commissariat told Kavkazskiy Uzel that around 300 Chechens would be drafted into the army in 2013, adding that there were very many young people in the republic willing to serve in the Russian army.

However, the website said, the conscripts’ parents are worried that their sons could be targeted in the army on ethnic grounds by both fellow soldiers and officers who have taken part in the Chechen war. Kavkazskiy Uzel recalled that a number of protests were held in Groznyy in 2007 after it became known that young Chechen conscripts were going to serve in army units deployed outside the republic. This news was then strongly criticized by Chechnya’s Human Rights Ombudsman Nurdi Nukhadzhiyev and former Defence Minister Magomed Khambiyev. The deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, Col-Gen Vasiliy Smirnov, said that no Chechen was drafted into the Russian army in 2011 despite his earlier statements that the call-up campaign in Chechnya would proceed like elsewhere in Russia.

According to Kavkazskiy Uzel, many young Chechens are willing to serve in the Russian army. A man identified as Baudi told the website that army service had always been considered to be an honourable job as well as an opportunity to earn good money. Another Chechnya resident noted that the attitude towards the Chechens had changed after the two Chechen wars, but that this would not affect his desire to serve in the army as army service taught people to be disciplined and responsible. However, the man said that it was not that easy to get in the army, as he himself had been asked to pay a bribe in order to join an army unit deployed near Groznyy, the website reported.

The state-funded RIA Dagestan news agency said on 16 July that 459 residents of Makhachkala had been drafted into the Russian army during the spring call-up in the period between 1 April and 15 July 2012. Head of the Makhachkala Enlistment Office Murtuz Idrisov said that the conscripts would serve in Central, Siberian and Far Eastern federal districts. A total of 326 conscripts were drafted during the 2011 spring call-up from Dagestan, all of them being residents of Makhachkala, and around 113 conscripts were called up during the 2011 autumn call-up, the news agency said.

Russian news agency Interfax-AVN reported on 29 June that Col Aleksey Knyazev, head of the call-up section at the Organization and Mobilization Directorate of the General Staff, had dismissed media reports that natives of Russia’s North Caucasus were currently being denied the opportunity to serve in the army.

Sources: Kavkaz-uzel.ru website, Moscow, in Russian 17 Jul 12; RIA Dagestan, Makhachkala, in Russian 1433 gmt 16 Jul 12; Interfax-AVN military news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1133gmt 29 Jun 12

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