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Hell No We Won't Go - Oread Daily

category russia / ukraine / belarus | repression / prisoners | non-anarchist press author Tuesday August 02, 2005 06:27author by Oread Daily Report this post to the editors

They’re fighting the draft in Russia. A new organization, the League to Abolish the Military Draft, has been set up by several Russian human rights groups. Its goal is a nationwide referendum on whether or not conscription should remain in that country.

Hell No We Won't Go - Oread Daily

They’re fighting the draft in Russia. A new organization, the League to Abolish the Military Draft, has been set up by several Russian human rights groups. Its goal is a nationwide referendum on whether or not conscription should remain in that country.

The move was initiated by the Russian Radicals movement and supported by the Congress of Soldiers’ Mothers’ Committees (Russia’s largest human rights organization), the nationwide Movement For Human Rights and the Democratic Union Party.

At the new organizations founding conference Nikolai Khramov of the Russian Radical Party said for its goals to be achieved, the new movement will need 5000 members and a “party machine” capable of teamwork. Two million signatures are needed on petitions to institute a nationwide referendum. Khramov was chosen to lead the new movement

Moscow News reports, the leader of the United Civil Front movement, former world chess champion Garry Kasparov greeted the new movement in a written statement and expressed his hope that the league “would become a tool of civil society aimed against the military policy of Putin’s regime which is ineffective and essentially dangerous for the future of Russia.”

All Russian men between the ages of 18 and 27 are required to serve two years in the armed forces - three years for the navy.

Russian Minister of Defense Ivanov publicly stated in April 2004 that "conscription into military service will never be abolished in Russia". However, President Putin has announced that by the end of 2007 volunteer soldiers should make up almost half of the military, which should allow for a gradual reduction of the term of military service to one year by 2008.

Many Russian youths find ways out already.

There are several means of draft evasion. Many young men obtain false medical documents through bribery and are consequently exempt from service for health reasons. Others simply do not respond to call-up papers. According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces in 2001, approx. 30,000 young men ignore the draft summons annually. According to the Ministry of Defense, there were 21,000 draft evaders in 2004 and 25,000 in 2003. According to estimates, there are nearly 40,000 deserters at any given time in the Russian Federation.

Draft evasion is punishable by a fine, arrest for three to six months or up to two years' imprisonment. There are no detailed figures available on the criminal prosecution of draft evaders. Because of its scale, it is evidently impossible for the Russian authorities to prosecute all draft evaders.

The military and police authorities regularly conduct search operations for draft evaders and deserters. When recruitment officials fail to hand over the draft summons to draft age men they inform the police. The police then stop and detain them at home or in the streets, and hand them over to the military authorities. The majority of these conscripts are sent to military units on the same day as their detention. Sources: Report: Refusing to bear arms: a world survey of conscription and conscientious objection to military service – funded by Myrtle Solomon Memorial Fund of the Lansbury House Trust Fund, Moscow News, Pravda

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author by Nestorpublication date Wed Aug 03, 2005 21:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well, it all sounds wonderful... BUT, a comrade from the Russian anarcho-communist federation Autonomous Action has described it as "yet another liberal initiative with no prospects whatsoever. Expecially if Khramov is going to be the frontman, [as] most of the liberals are getting more and more pissed with him". Another comrade comments on Khramov that [the initiative] "certainly won't be from an anti-militarist perspective, as Khramov is not only in favour of a professional army, but also in favour of quite some wars, especially if they are not fought by Russia (Chechnia), but by the USA (in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq)"

Furthermore, the Russian Radical Party, which is a local section of the "International" Radical Party, based in Italy, is also in serious difficulty. It seems the Italian parent party has stopped sending funds to Moscow, leading to several months of pay arrears for the ordinary workers in the party's office (if they still have one). It should be noted that despite its "radical" guise, the Italian Radical Party has supported the Berlusconi government in Italy.

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