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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Soldiers' Mothers Say Untried Conscripts Fight in Dagestan

With thousands of Russian troops massing in Dagestan, the Russian Soldiers' Mothers Committee is warning that young, untrained conscripts are being sent to fight well-trained Islamic militants - just as they were in Chechnya.

Members of the committee said they had been unable to get detailed information about draftees being sent to Dagestan, where Russian troops are fighting an Islamic fundamentalist uprising.

But Lyudmila Timonicheva, an activist for Soldiers' Mothers Committee in the southern Rostov-on-Don region, said Thursday that officials from North Caucasus military district told her last week that units were sent to troubled Dagestan on what is called a "list" basis, meaning that no exceptions were made for those who just been drafted for the compulsory two years' service.

The State Duma on Monday passed a non-binding resolution urging the government to send only volunteers and experienced draftees. In the 1994-96 war in Chechnya, Russia deployed teenage draftees who had only fired a half-dozen rounds in training against Chechens who had fought in the Soviet special forces in Afghanistan - with disastrous results and a resulting public outcry.

A Defense Ministry spokesman conceded that new draftees were being sent, although the military was trying in general to avoid this. "And, also, we are not the only ones involved. There are Interior Forces which have similar problems, but for whose actions we bear no responsibility," said the spokesman, who declined to be named.

Television reports have identified wounded soldiers interviewed in the hospital as being draftees.

The committee says when the fighting in Dagestan started, local military units became very tight-lipped. "We only find out about kids being moved to Dagestan when we visit the military units for other purposes. Otherwise, if we ask by telephone, they say that everyone is still where they were originally stationed," Timonicheva said.