Staunton, October 27 – Despite Moscow’s military buildup and demographic trends which mean the draft pool in Daghestan is far larger than in Russian regions, the Russian government is drafting fewer than a fifth as many young men from that North Caucasus republic than it did a decade ago.
In fact, according to a report by Amina Murtuzova on the “Kavkazskaya politika” portal today, Russia is drafting only 2800 Daghestanis for all of 2015, far below the 15,000 to 20,000 it took prior to 2008 and only seven percent of the more than 40,000 men of draft age there (kavpolit.com/articles/dagestan_sluzhit_by_rady_no_ne_vse-20903/).
This may represent a victory for Russian commanders who don’t want North Caucasians in their units. But it creates problems both in the North Caucasus and elsewhere. In the region, many want to be drafted because a military “ticket” is needed for many jobs; and elsewhere, low draft numbers in the Caucasus mean disproportionately more ethnic Russians will have to serve.
Last spring, Murtuzova says, Moscow drafted 1300 Daghestanis; this fall, it is taking 1500, for a total of 2800. In 2014, 2800 were drafted. In 2012, the figure was 2379; in 2010, 7900; but “before 2008, between 15,000 and 20,000 men were called from Daghestan each year.”
Not only are fewer being drafted, but the share of the draft pool called to service has declined as well, from almost half of the available figure to only seven percent, something that allows the republic military commissariat to be far more selective, turning down many who want to serve, and also far more willing to grant deferments or exemptions altogether.
Many young Daghestanis want to serve so that they will be able to get jobs, especially outside of Daghestan, or get into higher educational institutions. Consequently, some of them turn up year after year in the hopes of being drafted but are turned down for one reason or another.
But Murtuzova says, it is also true that many young men in Daghestan no interest in serving in the Russian army, seeing it as a waste of time especially as they might be sent for service in construction battalions – as was true of many non-Russians in Soviet times – rather than in units where they would receive more useful training.
Such anti-military attitudes are reinforced, the Kavkazskaya politika journalist says, by the experiences many have when they show up for medical checks prior to the draft. It is all too obvious that this process is corrupt with some young men getting in who shouldn’t and others being denied the chance to serve even though they want to.
Yavnuz Dzhambalayev, who oversees the draft at the republic military commissariat, tells Murtuzova that the military takes older men first and gives preference to those who have higher educations. And because there are so many in the draft pool, it generally excludes those who don’t want to serve or who are already employed.