According to official information, in 1997 almost 6,000 servicemen left their military units without an official leave in the Russian Armed Forces. Overall, until recently some 17,000 deserters, who left their units during different years, were missing all over Russia. Avoiding military service accounts for almost 50% of crime in the Armed Forces. It is quite clear that special attention has to be paid to the struggle against such crimes. The Main Military Prosecutor’s Office offered an interesting initiative. On March 23rd it announced an action called Giving oneself up. As of the middle of May already 3,300 people, who had left their military units before, came to the military law-enforcement organs. According to Chief Russian Military Prosecutor colonel general Yury Demin, by now the fate of almost 800 was defined. The overwhelming majority of them were either released from any legal responsibility and went home, or released from any legal responsibility and continue their military service in accordance with the time, stipulated by the law. Along with this the former deserters continue their service not in the units, from where they fled, so that their fellow soldiers did not take revenge and attack them. Demin said that initially it was decided that the action would go on for a month, but it was necessary to prolong it, because we did not expect that there would be so many people giving themselves up. Along with this the flow of the applications does not stop. 80-100 people come daily.
Meanwhile, according to the military sociologists, the problem of deserting in the Russian Armed Forces is still very vital. In 1998 more than 1,000 servicemen on active service left their military units voluntarily. What is the reason of this? What made the young soldiers desert? How we are to struggle against this phenomenon? To find the answers to these questions the military sociologists studied the problems of preventive measures against the crimes conducted while avoiding military service in the military units of Moscow military district, Moscow anti-aircraft defense district, Siberian military district, Trans-Baikalian military district, Far eastern military district and Pacific Fleet. The following results were received:
1. The problem of avoiding military service has evident social roots. Thus, 55% of the soldiers (and sailors) of the first year of service who were asked, answered that the current condition of the Russian servicemen in the society does not correspond to the role, which the Armed Forces play in the life of the country.
1/3 of the young people of draft age would like to avoid drafting, and in case of drafting – would like to serve not far from home. The overwhelming majority of the youth thinks that the service in the Armed Forces according to the draft is a useless waste of time and a compulsory obligation. According to the majority of respondents, military service should be performed by professionals only, that is, by those who wish to serve in the Armed Forces voluntarily.
2. One of the main motives for avoiding military service is a high dissatisfaction of the servicemen with the service in their military units. Overall, only 1/5 of the servicemen is content with their service. The rest experience social discomfort to some extent, which negatively influences the process of their adoption. The latter is conditioned not only by the unpreparedness of the draftees for the growing physical and psychological strain, but also by the drawbacks in organization of the military service. The servicemen mention the following main reasons of their dissatisfaction with the military service: lack of free time (45%); frequent use for household work (25%); absence of close and reliable friends in their units (15%); big strain regarding military duties (11%); hazing on the part of the fellow soldiers (9%).
However the growth of dissatisfaction with the social conditions of the service makes a negative influence on the soldiers’ view of their service, making them think about deserting. Along with this, majority of the unsolved social problems completely belongs to the competence of the military units command.
Here are the servicemen’s answers to the question, with what exactly are they dissatisfied (percentage of the respondents; the sum of the answers is not equal to 100%, because the respondents chose up to 3 positions while answering): 52% -procedures of obtaining a leave from their units, 50%- organization of the rest; 48%- money allowances; 44%- ammunition provision; 40% nourishment quality; 40%- work of the libraries; 32%- mail delivery; 30%- quality of the medical services; 32%- conditions for the sports; 32%- provision of the military service security. All this result sin formation of negative attitude in the military units and creates a situation, when up to 30% of respondents say that they thought about deserting at least once.
3. The study of the military sociologists demonstrated that the officers evidently underestimate the role of factors, influencing the growth of the military service avoiding cases, caused by the drawbacks of the military units command activity. Only every second of the officers thinks that the center of gravity of the order enforcement lies in the units, and primarily depends on effectiveness of organization of the preventive work among the servicemen. Meanwhile, here is the experts’ explanation of the reasons of the servicemen’s deserting from their units (percentage of all respondents; the sum of the answers is not equal to 100%, because the respondents chose up to 3 positions while answering): 52%- low level of preparation for the military service; 51%- immunity of the illegal actions; 38%- hazing; 30%- unsatisfactory social conditions; 29%- fear for one’s own life; 28%- dissatisfaction with the military service; 25%- lack of the commanders’ attention to their subordinates personal problems; 23%- disagreement with the military service due to the personal convictions. Analysis of the answers demonstrates that there is a serious problem, connected with the legal education of the servicemen, their moral and physical training, extermination of hazing in the military units. This is confirmed by the servicemen themselves, who name the following reasons of deserting: fear of responsibility for the committed violations of regulations (31%); “tiredness from service” (27%), unjustness of commanders (9%0, hazing (6%).
Overall, the level of preparation of the units’ officials for prevention of military service avoidance is estimated by the officers as average. 72% of respondents indicated this, and some 20% estimated this level as very low.
Meanwhile the problem of the servicemen’s service activity is the most vital one. Many people connect this with the drawbacks of the existing system of moral and material stimulation of the servicemen in the Armed Forces. Officers point out that now possibilities of commander, staffs and ideological organs in the sphere of the military service stimulation are significantly limited. On the one hand, reduction of the service activity of the officers and reduction of responsibility of some officials for fulfillment of their direct service duties are caused by the heavy social situation, which resulted in further decline of the military service prestige, and on the other hand- by reduction of importance of the military corporate values in the officers’ conscience, proceeding from which it could have been possible to start an effective ideological work.
A special poll of the officers is devoted to the study of this problem. Almost 60% of respondents said that they sometimes wish to fulfill their service duties, and sometimes not. Every fourth of the officers directly said that they fulfill their service duties without any special wish. Only 1/5 of the officers called the military service to be their main vocation, and serve due to inertia, because they are not taught to serve in some other way. According to the rest, the military service already lost its former importance for them. This is expressed, first of all, in the loss of their profession attractiveness 15%; in the fact that the military service is becoming penal servitude, which has to be done until receiving of some benefits (13%); is a useless occupation (11%), dealt with only due to the absence of any other profession (10%). 1/3 of the officers are discontent with the existing moral stimuli of the military service.
As for the material stimuli, a few less respondents (25%) stick to this point of view. In the work with officers the measures for significant activation of the service activity, popular among the officers, are not used to the full. As demonstrated the questioning and conversations with the people, to them belong: clear regulation of the service time and representation of the rest for unused days off (77%); establishment of the principle of direct dependence between the achieved service results and receiving of material and social benefits (39%); fulfillment of the professional attestation results (38%); study of the servicemen’s opinion and taking it into account while issuing orders and making of decisions by the command; decoration of the subordinates (31%).
Ignoring the unskillful use of the measures mentioned above for stimulation of the servicemen’s service activity results in the conflicts in the military units, generates rumors, spreads distrust to the command, makes the servicemen violate the discipline, retire form the military service. Some commanders do not take into account high physical and moral strain on the officers and warrant-officers, serving at the level platoon-company. Analysis of the service strain, organized during inspections in the military units of Moscow, Leningrad, North Caucasus, Far Eastern military districts, Northern and Pacific Fleets, demonstrated that the servicemen of this category are on business trips and on combat duty for 14-18 days a month, separated from their subordinate personnel. However they are still the first to be punished for the illegal actions of their subordinates first.
It is quite clear that such injustice sometimes makes the junior officers retire from the military service ahead of schedule. This phenomenon is similar to deserting, but at this point an officer does not bear any responsibility, although for the state and Armed Forces the exodus of the junior officers from the Armed Forces costs very much.