A new drafting campaign began in Russia on April 1. In the course of this campaign, the list of the persons subject to the obligatory draft was broadened significantly. First of all, this is applicable to young fathers whose son or daughter is less than three years old, as well as to husbands of pregnant women, countryside teachers and doctors, employees of the law enforcement agencies and Emergency Situations Ministry, as well as students of vocational schools, colleges and spiritual seminaries. Thus, this spring the conscript base is increased almost by 100,000 people. However, it is necessary to draft these people and it is more difficult to do this. That was why the Duma passed a number of bills that tightened control of military registration and enlistment offices over the conscripts and also amended the rules of military registration and corrected duties of some categories of citizens.
Colonel General Victor Zavarzin, chair of the defense committee of the Duma, reported recently, “The relevant bill has already been passed in the second reading and in the near future it is planned to conduct its third final reading.” According to Zavarzin, the document says that military registration of citizens is done by military registration and enlistment offices not only at the place of residence but also at the place of their stay to which they arrive for a period longer than three months.
Zavarzin stressed, “In this case, citizens on military registration are obliged to cancel this registration at the place of residence and get registered at a military registration and enlistment office at their temporary place of residence.”
It is planned that military registration and enlistment offices will register throughout the calendar year citizens who have spent their imprisonment term, people who have lived abroad and have arrived to Russia for permanent residence, as well as citizens obliged to come for initial military registration who have not done this. Male citizens at the age from 18 to 27 years old being on military registration should personally report about their departure during the draft period if such departure amounts from 15 days to three months, as well as in cases when there are less than 15 calendar days left until the end of the period of the draft to military service for a time equal or shorter than the time remaining until the end of the period of the draft to the military service.
The leading Russian human rights organizations criticize the initiative of the Duma to tighten control of military registration and enlistment offices over the draftees obliging the young men to inform the military registration and enlistment offices if they leave theor place of residence temporarily.
Valentina Melnikova, responsible secretary of the soldiers’ mothers committee, commented, “This initiative is an attempt to limit the rights and liberties of a human being. This is a kind of punitive measure.” Melnikova adds that she does not see any point in this. She explains, “Why is it necessary to report to a military commissar where you have gone with a girl, for example? A person is obliged to report about his location only if he is under investigation or has the sanction of a court.”
In turn, the Soldiers’ Mothers faction of Yabloko party presumes that if the relevant amendment is passed by the Duma, “In the current situation this will inevitably lead to breaching the rights of those who, for example, have received the right to postpone the military service because of studying or has been exempted from it because of disease.” In its statement published on Monday the faction says, “It will be possible to draft a young man from any point of the country and relatives crazy from horror will seek for their boys all over our vast Motherland.”
The authors of the statement presume, “If we tailor the legislation proceeding from the convenience of employees of the military registration and enlistment offices, it is better to create a “ghetto” for youths of the conscript age at once to make their seeking and catching easier.” Lyudmila Alexeeva, chair of the oldest human rights organization of Russia Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG) says that the initiative of the Duma is “fully anti-constitutional.” Alexeeva explains, “According to the constitution, all citizens including those of conscript age have the right to move freely in the country. On what basis is it possible to deprive a person of this freedom? Only if he is suspected of committing of some crime.” According to Alexeeva, if such a bill is passed “it will turn out that any young man is equated to a criminal.” She adds, “I think that if such a bill is passed, a person who is subject to its effect will have to immediately file a lawsuit to the Constitutional Court to abolish the law as an anti-constitutional.” Along with this, according to the leader of the MHG, “Such a norm of the law will encourage corruption.”
Meanwhile, despite the arguments of the human rights activists, there are grounds to believe that all aforementioned amendments to the laws that regulate drafting to military service will finally be passed because representatives of pro-governmental parties have a majority in the Duma.