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Russia to cut conscript numbers by 40%

Published time: September 30, 2011 15:19
Edited time: September 30, 2011 20:11

Conscripts (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Kudenko)

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The number of men being conscripted into the Russian army is being slashed by almost half.

The army's chief of staff says only 135,000 new recruits will be needed this year. The Autumn draft gets underway tomorrow.

The head of the army has pledged to boost the efficiency of military personnel and to improve living conditions in barracks.

Russia’s army is notorious for its tough conditions. Conscripts are often subjected to systematic bullying and abuse from within their own ranks.

During the first two months of 2011, the Russian army reported more than 500 violent crimes. More than 20 soldiers were seriously injured and two others died.

According to Russia’s military prosecutor, Sergey Fridinsky, the number of violent crimes in the Russian army increased by more than 16% in 2010. Every fourth offense today is an unlawful act against a fellow officer.

No wonder may conscripts prefer to buy their way out of military service – by bribing army officials. Currently there are more than 200,000 draft dodgers in Russia.

Back in October 2010, Russian deputies drafted a law allowing young men to do it legally. A year of freedom from the army would have set back those avoiding the draft legitimately a full million rubles.

The draft law, however, was abandoned – lawmakers say the military risks facing a shortage of privates now that conscripts only have to serve one year.