Russia supposedly has military conscription for all healthy young males, but the Novosti news agency reported on October 28 that Chechens are not being drafted this year—even though the federal armed services are facing a personnel shortfall of some 20,000 men. Nezavisimaya gazeta quoted Yevgeny Maksimov, deputy chief of the military staff for the North Caucasus, as admitting that “the military draft will take place in all the provinces of the Southern Federal District except for the Chechen Republic.” A member of the State Duma, Akhmar Zavgaev, commented, “I believe this is a political mistake, discrediting the anti-terrorist operation in the Northern Caucasus. It is a sign that we do not trust our own people.”
Meanwhile, the federal authorities in Russia are considering a proposal to eliminate all exemptions from the military draft for college students. The military newspaper Krasnaya zvezda (“Red Star”) reported on October 27 that under the proposed scheme every 18-year-old male would have to spend two years in the military before being permitted to enroll in any institution of higher education. Backers of the proposal estimate that more than one-third of potentially available draftees currently have student deferments.