Chechen and Dagestani Mothers Want Sons to Serve at Home

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 15

The Caucasus Times reported on April 7 that Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has signed a decree approving the membership of the republican and district conscription commissions in preparation for a resumption of the military draft in the republic. The website quoted Lieut.-Col. Sultan Umarov, deputy head of the Chechen military enlistment center, as saying that a large number of people in Chechnya who were supposed to have served in the Russian army a long time ago were granted an exemption because of the limited number of young Chechens. “The situation may change this year,” the Caucasus Times reported. “The republican military enlistment office is waiting for specific instructions according to which young people granted an exemption and those who have just turned 18 can be drafted into the army. Only disabled people and university students will be exempted.”

The website noted that anti-draft protests took place in Grozny in late March and early April. The protesters, mostly women, demanded that their sons not be sent to serve outside the republic given the hardships that the more than 500 Chechen young men who had volunteered for the army reportedly encountered in various Russian regions. The Chechen mothers say that the best option for Chechen conscripts would be the creation of railroad and construction battalions on the republic’s territory.

On April 5, the Caucasus Times quoted Khuri Pirsaidova, head of the Dagestani Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, as saying that the rights of Dagestani conscripts are being violated, with more than 800 of the 7,000 Dagestanis drafted in the Russian army last year ending up in disciplinary battalions. She said the law stipulating that future fathers or people looking after their elderly parents should do their military service in Dagestan is also being violated.

Meanwhile, Kommersant reported on April 11 that the Novosibirsk Military District’s court had begun court martial proceedings against a Dagestani conscript who served in the training battalion of the Russian Interior Ministry Internal Troops’ local military institute. The newspaper said the accused, Pvt. Shamil Akhmedov, was a “Wahhabi” who allegedly called for the murder of Russians and did not even deny that he had incited religious and ethnic hatred. He is also accused of three robberies, among other crimes. According to Kommersant, investigators believe Akhmedov became a Wahhabi before being drafted and that he had assisted a terrorist group but had not joined it. After being drafted in November 2004, he allegedly started “propagating radical Islam” inside his battalion. The newspaper cited former fellow soldiers who said that officers had failed to discipline Akhmedov and that some of them still fear his claims that he “has his men everywhere.”