As The Economist
predicted, the Russian government is closing one of the loopholes young Russians use to avoid military conscription. MosNews
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov has said that most university military departments will be closed by 2009 in a bid to block a widely-used chance to avoid compulsory military service, local media reported.
For young Russian men, the military departments have provided an opportunity to receive the rank of reserve officer and thus escape serving in an army notorious for vicious hazing and poor living conditions, Associated Press points out.
According to the ministry only 30 to 35 of the country’s military departments would remain by 2009. “The others will be shut down,” Ivanov said.
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. However, military officials have said that only 9.5 percent of eligible men are being drafted.
Many try to dodge service in the underfunded military by signing up for college, being excused for health reasons — often falsified — or paying bribes. While students who graduate without military training are automatically drafted into the army, most reserve officers avoid military service altogether.
Russian officials plan to switch part of the nation’s military from conscripts to volunteer soldiers and reduce the conscription term by one year — a measure expected to take effect by 2008. They say, however, that this will require enlisting twice as many conscripts — around half a million per year.