Russian conscription

You can’t understand Russia with your brain. These are the words of Russian journalist Fjodor Ivanovich Tjutchev. One of the things that we had a problem to understand (and we are still quite confused by) is the conscription system. Young men between 18-27 years are required to complete a one-year-long training in the army.

Exceptions are given to doctors, students, and those who have children under the age of three. But it’s not quite that easy. If a man does not spend a year of his youth in the barracks, he is denied his international passport up to 27 years of age. Students ought to study, doctors to heal and father from family must feed his wife and children. Why would they need to travel? The only countries they can visit during this time are neighboring countries like Belarus, Georgia or Kazakhstan. They cannot get any further.

However, the migration of young people within the Russian Federation is a major complication of this system. There are several regions in Russia and no central registry. If a man decides to move to another region before his conscription, it may easily happen that he becomes invisible to the army. Obviously, this is a system error, but not a unique one. An example of the unreliability of this organization is a story of a young man who, up to his 27 years, hadn’t been summoned for military service. He has patiently waited for his 28th birthday and decided to sue the state for denying him the opportunity to protect his country. And he won.

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