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Army of Russia


Submitted By drk090
Words 2720
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Topics in Comparative Russian Politics

Army of Russia. To Serve or Not to Serve –Russian Young Men Uneasy Dilemma
In Russia February 23, the Defender of the Fatherland Day is an official holiday for those who currently serve or have already accomplished their duty in armed forces. It used to be called the Soviet Army Day. Then our army was victorious, strong, and renowned for defeating a powerful enemy in the World War II. Now there is no world war, no Soviet Union anymore, but the country refuses to abandon the old Soviet system and still maintains compulsory army conscription for all men of the ages between 18 and 27. Existing military system that conscripts every young man of the country, often against their will, is very costly, greatly disliked in the society, and creates unavoidable disorders among discontented, forced to serve men.
Much has changed since the soviet times, and people’s definitely positive attitude towards the national army is no exception. Today’s population has almost evenly divided into those who are for obligatory army and those who are in opposition to it, agreeing that serving should be a matter of personal choice (Levada Center Research) Nearly every second Russian with no trouble can name a number of reasons for their negative feelings about the national army. Today there are three major problems, accumulated and deepening through time, to be faced by reformers.

1) Insufficient financing
Some critics claim that all the problems in the Russian military derive from lack of government funding. Both outdated military equipment and low salaries of the military men cause grave concern.
Current Russian government demonstrated that it well understands the problem. As was estimated in 2010 it now spends $58.7 billion on military maintenance which makes 4% of nation’s overall GDP. Although Russian military spending decreased 1.4% from 2009 to 2010, it increased 82.4% over the entire decade (2001-2010). Even more, according to BBC between now and 2020 Russia plans to spend $650 billion on defense and modernization of country’s armed forces. Notably most of the expenditure will be used on purchases of new weapons, warships and aircrafts. However this ambitious program will make little sense if it will fail to include the training of the personnel and efforts to boost morale and fighting spirit among the conscripts. 2) Negative Image of Army in the Society
According to Levada-Center, the biggest Russian nongovernmental research organization, between years 1998 and 2006 around 75% of the respondents admitted that they would not want their male relatives to serve in the army.
ХОТЕЛИ БЫ ВЫ, ЧТОБЫ ВАШ СЫН, БРАТ, МУЖ ИЛИ ДРУГОЙ БЛИЗКИЙ РОДСТВЕННИК СЛУЖИЛ СЕЙЧАС В АРМИИ? ЕСЛИ НЕТ, ТО ПОЧЕМУ? Варианты ответа | 1998г | 2000г | 2002г. | 2004г. | 2006г. | Да, хотели бы | 13 | 19 | 22 | 20 | 24 | Не хотели бы | 84 | 75 | 72 | 77 | 69 |
The reason of this is because serving in the Russian army is perceived to be dangerous. Stories of violent harassment in the army, leading to deaths and suicide prevail all over Russia. Humiliation, violence and assaults of “old” soldiers towards the “new” ones are so common in almost all military bases, that Russians have a special name for the phenomenon - “dedovshina”. Dedovshina is the rule of “ded”s, those soldiers who have already served more than a half of their compulsory term and now take advantage of new inexperienced ones. Dedovshina implies injustice and discrimination, often physical pressure. In fact, a “ded” may request anything and think up the most dreadful punishments. Only a few examples are smashing a chair on a victim’s head or punching him between lungs, or making a victim clean the toilet with a toothbrush and wash other soldiers’ uniform, dirty socks and underwear. Dedovshina has a devastating impact on young men’s minds. As a matter of fact, these days dedovshina grew to be more terrifying than the war itself. According to “ВЦИОМ” - Russian center of public opinion research, 75% of respondents named dedovshina as the main object of fear in argument against compulsory army conscription while only 51% are afraid of combats and warfare. Svetlana Kuznecova, the leader of the nation-wide NGO "Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia" says that dedovshina will remain in the Russian army as long as soldiers – young boys are treated as slaves whose rights are being severely violated. Consequently, since it was established in 1989 the committee has been actively engaged in the sphere of protection of the rights of recruits. Dedovshina is now the top frightening factor for not only young men themselves, but even more so for their parents, grandparents, and girlfriends.
But not only that, deaths of recruits became a horrifyingly habitual thing. And the major causes of these deaths in the past couple of years have changed: if previously soldiers used to die due to accidents, now soldiers are predisposed to committing suicide. Russian Ministry of Defense revealed statistics of the amount of young men who ended their lives while in the military: suicides add up to more than a half of all the death cases in 2007: 165 out of 305. According to the "Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia", approximately three soldiers across the country die every day during the peacetime, and behind the tragedy lie brutal affairs within the military base. Moreover, in general, every tenth recruit of Russian army suffers from some kind of psychological disorder, tells to the RIA News the head of the main Military–Medical management of Russian ministry of defense, Alexey Fisun. Such mental diseases originate a serious threat for the fighting capability of the armed forces.
Furthermore, the real firsthand stories told by the young boys themselves intensify the general antagonism. Alexey Gorbunov, a Russian friend of mine who is in the army right now constantly refers to his serving in the army as a waste of time. In his letter he says: “Here we are “taught” to clean the streets from snow and cook potatoes. So if an enemy attacks we will know how to clean up the road and make a dinner for them”. What an amusing but true evidence of worthlessness and ineffectiveness of the modern Russian army which regretfully turns into a meaningless, irrelevant institution. 3) Demographic crisis
As for demographic downside, sociologists forecast that in Russia by 2025 there will be only 770 thousand of 18 years old young men, in contrast to 1.3 million in 2005 (Demographic Research Institute). Birthrate rate is one of the lowest in the world and it continues declining. At the same time the mortality rate is one of the highest. Due to this gloomy statistics Russia suffers the shortage of the servicemen in the army.

Russian Army’s hunt for conscripts
Affected by a demographic crisis and unproductive military reforms once-proud Russian army is now desperately seeking for the much-needed recruits. With the sole purpose of enlisting as many young men as possible, the military officials do not hesitate raiding colleges and universities as well as chasing and catching any suspect army deserters on the streets, in public transport or their doorways. The recruitment officers seize the documents and take the youngsters away with them, often without giving any explanations and time to get ready. In most cases, such actions are lawful but highly criticized by population.

Ways to wriggle out of the army conscript. Corruption.

Whenever a boy reaches 17 years old, the issue of army conscription slowly but surely heats up among all the family members. Very seldom does the matter awaken no doubts, or a clearly positive attitude and willingness to serve. Generally long ahead of time parents become greatly alarmed and rummage around for an opportunity to protect their children from the army. Full-time university students are excused from enlistment for the period of studying, however, must serve afterwards. Unless by the time of conscription a young man has given birth to two children, officially there is no a legal way to avoid the carrying out of a military duty. However, as in many other areas, here Russians conceived devious ways of disregarding the law. As was estimated by the head of the National Anticorruption Committee, Kirill Kabanov, the sum comes down to $5000 on average if they decide to bribe the military workers and a smaller amount is paid when the doctors are involved, the desirable diagnosis costs about $1000 less. So, those who can afford it pay thousands of dollars to doctors write out an imaginary illness. In the end, roughly speaking only ones who cannot wriggle out of it - those who do not have enough to bribe and those who cannot discover a serious illness - end up in the army.

Contractual vs. compulsory recruitment across world
According to 24/7 Wall St Russia is among the ten largest military powers of the world, coming fifth after the USA, China, Britain, and France. As the United States of America remains to be the world’s leading military power and China is expanding its military capacity, Russia recognizes its task in staying alert and meanwhile intends to fortify its armed forces. Nevertheless, while one after the other armies of the world switch to the contractual forms of recruitment, like not so long ago Bulgaria and Albania did, Russia is one of the few countries that still preserves compulsory army conscription.
Some Russian opponents of the voluntary army might claim that all a soldier serving by contract cares about is making money and moving up in ranks with no true affection towards the country. In truth, however, it is the other way round, in such an army a soldier recognizes the risks to health and life he is about to face, agrees to fight and fulfill his main responsibility to protect his family, his home, his land. In the United States of America, for instance, where military recruiting is voluntary since 1973, an army, although twice smaller, is much stronger than the obligatory Russian one, mainly because unlike Russian soldiers Americans serve by their own free choice.

Government reform
Under the Putin’s presidency, the Russian Army reform was one of most ambitious projects to reconstruct and refurbish what was once a great Red Army. In the center of the reform lied the increase in the military budget along with the reduction of the draft term and creation of Special Forces Army composed of trained soldiers serving on a contract basis. Expecting that the professional army would compile up to a half of the armed forces, Putin succumbed to the people’s feelings and limited the term, and since January 1, 2008 conscript service in Russia is now decreased from two years to one year. However, the conditions of the professional soldiers turned out to be no better than those of the regular army. In the end, when the Ministry of Defense realized that such volunteers started a massive runaway from the bases, it had to totally give up the idea. Failure of this particular reform showed the drawbacks of Putin’s much pompous plan on turning a heavy, burdensome mechanism into a flexible, highly mobile force. Further, in attempt to stop the notorious military corruption the Deputy Prime Minister, Servey Ivanov, replaced over 30 percent of personnel of Russian military offices as well as issued an order prohibiting the use of conscripts for any work outside their military duties. Another effort undertaken by Ivanov was to fight against the acts of dedovshina by dealing with it administratively. But although it resulted in some progress, the military crimes still stay too high. Yet one of his biggest challenges Ivanov saw in retaining officers who continue leaving the armed forces. “We cannot but be worried by the fact that over 12,000 officers have left the military services since the beginning of 2005.” In the framework of the army reform, on January 1, Putin ordered a raise in salaries by 67 percent over the following three years along with the assistance with the housing issue. The change did somewhat increase the prestige of the officers, however, it was not yet enough to solve such a difficult problem.
Overall, unlike the preceding president Yeltsin, Putin showed a serious concern in dealing with the military’s problems. Putin’s course of actions was supported and later carried on by his successor, the current Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. But despite both leaders’ efforts to improve and modernize, the Russian Army still has a long way to go.

Future of the Russian Army and the democratic context
As today’s Russian army is obviously inefficient, the issue of Russian Army’s future is greatly debated in Russia. A successful restructuring of the army depends on solving a series of interconnected problems. The huge amount of government finance, intended to be spent on military modernization, might end up becoming a dead capital in the hands of unprofessional soldiers, unless their intensive timely education and training is provided. But a one year draft can never guarantee this. It means that contemporary structure is not working well, and the conscription system is failing to meet the army's needs. The only solution to the problem that I see is in making military service voluntary for everyone. My point of view is supported by over 50% of Russians, as the Levada Research Center data prove.
КАК ВЫ ЛИЧНО СЧИТАЕТЕ, СЛЕДУЕТ ЛИ СОХРАНИТЬ В ДАЛЬНЕЙШЕМ ВСЕОБЩУЮ ВОИНСКУЮ ОБЯЗАННОСТЬ ДЛЯ ЮНОШЕЙ ПРИЗЫВНОГО ВОЗРАСТА — ИЛИ ВЫ СЧИТАЕТЕ, ЧТО СЛЕДУЕТ ПЕРЕЙТИ К ФОРМИРОВАНИЮ АРМИИ НА КОНТРАКТНЫХ НАЧАЛАХ, ИЗ ЖЕЛАЮЩИХ СЛУЖИТЬ В АРМИЮ ЗА ПЛАТУ? Варианты ответа | 1998год | 2002год | 2005год | 2006год | 2007год | Сохранить формирование армии за счетлиц, проходящих службу по призыву | 35 | 27 | 31 | 32 | 41 | Перейти к формированию армии наконтрактных началах, из тех, ктоидет служить в армию за плату | 53 | 64 | 62 | 62 | 54 | Затруднились ответить | 12 | 9 | 7 | 6 | 5 |
In this case, re-institution of the compulsory army and appearance of contract military service would mean that our nation state will be under reliable protection of not inexperienced youngsters, but mature gifted men who have deliberately chosen military to be there profession and who would want and know how to serve. And this would also justify Russia’s claim to be a true democratic state where the rights and freedoms of individuals are respected and obeyed.
We have to keep in mind that military service is a job almost like any other: it is a regular activity of soldiers who obey orders and accomplish military tasks, responsibilities, and missions. Would one be interested in going to work, say, at the factory knowing beforehand that they will not get any reward, merely for the reason that your country needs their labor, and it is their “duty” to help the country? A negative answer seems to be reasonable, as nearly everyone would admit that it is wrong, unjust, and government ought not to force anyone to do that. I believe that for a democratic state that Russia proudly identifies itself to be in its Constitution the only appropriate type of military is voluntary one. A man is born free and has a legal right to make his own choice. Soldiers should have the will and aptitude to serve. It is obvious that an army made of men unwilling to serve, who are there just because they are obliged do not care about making their country better. But most importantly, government does not gain real benefit from such an army since one year is not a sufficient amount of time for young men to get proper experience and become effective defenders of the country. That is why Russian Army today requires reforms, one of should be replacement of the existing compulsory military with a professional contract army consisted of only mature trained men who are ready and willing to devote themselves to defense of the homeland.

Work references:
McIntyre, Douglas A. and Charles B. Stockdale "The Ten Largest Military Powers In The World - 24/7 Wall St." 24/7 Wall St. - Insightful Analysis and Commentary for U.S. and Global Equity Investors. Web. 30 Apr. 2011. - the Demographic Research Institute in Moscow - Levada-Center, the biggest Russian nongovernmental research organization – website of the "Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia" – a website of the ministry of Defense of Russian Federation – wall street journal

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...The Rise of Muscovite Russia If you were to ask someone to name the center of Russian cultural identity and political power, odds are they’d say Moscow; after all Moscow is the current capital of the Russian Federation and was the capital of the USSR before it. But the importance of Moscow goes back even further than the USSR; it was the capital of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, the country that would go on to form the Russian Empire. For such an important city and region, it surprising then that so many Americans don’t know just how it rose to power, after all the city just didn’t sprout up from the ground. So, how did Moscow reach such prominence? To fully understand that question, we must first look back in history to see what came before Moscow. For those who don’t know the history of Russia and its people, it might shock them to learn that the Russian heartland wasn’t always in the northern part of Russia or the city of Moscow; instead it was the city of Kiev. The easiest way to demonstrate just how important Kiev was to the Russian sense of identity is to read about its mythical founding in the Russian Primary Chronicles. According to this chronicle, written by a Russian monk, the city of Kiev was founded “when [Saint] Andrew was teaching in Sinope and came to Kherson, … he observed that the mouth of the Dnipro [the Dnieper River] was nearby. Conceiving a desire to go to Rome, he thus journeyed to the mouth of the Dnipro. Thence he ascended the river, and by chance he halted...

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Premium Essay

Alexander Ii

...Alexander II was pronounced Tsar in 1855 after his father died. On his Nicholas I death bed he said the following to his son: “I hand over to you my command, unfortunately not as in good order as I would have wished” Although Alexander II was not a natural reformer he had recognised the need to reform. He was certainly more receptive to new ideas and understood the need for change. The need for reform was evident a long time before Alexander II became Tsar of Russia. Alexander II believed that part of his responsibility involved developing and improving the power and prestige of Russia. This was done to restore the country’s dignity and assisting Russia to become a leading power of Europe. Furthermore Alexander II knows that any reforms he made had to modernise and strengthen Russia as well as maintain autocracy. Alexander II embarked on the reform programme for the following reasons: * Russia was at a crossroads. * It had suffered defeat in the Crimean War. * There had been peasant unrest caused by his father’s decision to recruit a militia in January 1855. * The Crimean war had caused the government a large financial problem. This resulted in a debt burden of one billion roubles. The defeat in the Crimean War concentrated the minds of Alexander II and his advisors. This defeat also discredited the entire regime and forced Alexander II to acknowledge that there were military deficiencies that were a deeper refection of the problem faced within Russian...

Words: 1391 - Pages: 6