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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Thousands Dodging The Draft

The Russian military's triumph in winning the right to draft thousands of previously exempt students this fall has been dampened by massive draft evasion, officials said Wednesday.

Moscow's top draft official, Major General Vladimir Bespalov, has told the Moscow government that about 7, 000 conscripts, or about 38 percent, have failed to report for duty, a mayoral spokeswoman said Wednesday.

President Boris Yeltsin revoked deferments for students in Russia's 6, 302 technical schools last month, allowing Moscow military authorities to summon over 18, 000 youths, more than twice the number called in last spring's draft.

But the low response means that as many Muscovites have dodged the draft in the first two weeks of Moscow's fall draft period as in the preceding two years combined.

Defense Ministry spokesman Vasily Zubin said draft dodging was on the rise. He attributed the increase partly to a backlash against the Yeltsin decree.

"We know that there has been a very pained reaction to this decree among young people, that they are dissatisfied", he said.

Draft evasion is not a new problem, the military listed 31, 000 young men as draft dodgers in the first five months of 1993 alone. With higher pay in the private sector and parental advocacy groups claiming that brutal hazing, negligence and starvation kill 5, 000 soldiers yearly, the incentive to serve is waning.

But the broader net cast by this fall's draft has intensified anxiety by snaring youths who thought they were exempt until graduation from technical schools, which are one rung below universities.

"The mother of one boy called me up and said that if her son gets drafted, the whole family is going to hide him", said Tatyana Koryablina, director of the Ivan Fyodorov typographical school. "She said, 'I have only one son and I'm not going to give him to the army'".

Although she said she told the woman her son would be expelled if he left school to avoid the draft, Koryablina said she sympathized "wholly" with parent's desire to shield their sons from military service.

"Parents don't believe their child will be safe in the army", she said. "And of course, they want their child to get an education".

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov called for tougher draft enforcement by police the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Wednesday.

A Moscow draft center spokesman said Wednesday that "the mayor answers for the draft", but several mayoral spokesman said the mayor "had nothing to do with the draft".