Russia: April 5, 2002


The Duma (national legislature) is debating the abolition of conscription. The major argument against conscription is the custom of  "dedovshchina" (harassment by older recruits of younger ones), that is thought to have killed or injured 150,000 young Russians since 1945. The armed forces admit to 1,800 troops dying each year from non-combat causes (although some civilian groups say the number is twice that.) Proposals include lowering mandatory military service to six months (to prevent the conscripts from being sent to places like Chechnya) and a five year term, at much higher pay, for volunteers. Upon completion of this service, the veterans would receive educational and other benefits. Another proposal would offer conscripts four years of public service (non-military) duty instead of military service. Evading conscription is a big business, with bribes of $5,000-$10,000 paid of military officials to be exempted.



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