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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Reservists Are Facing Conscriptions

A Kremlin decree has given the military the right to call back men who have already finished their compulsory military service, and human rights activists say some of these reservists have recounted efforts to send them to Chec hnya.

Two years of military service is compulsory in Russia for all men, after which they are put on inactive reserve duty. The Defense Ministry can summon back reservists to refresh their military skills; but the law does not allow for these men to be pressed back into active duty - and some reservists and rights groups say the officers of local conscription offices, or voyenkomaty, are trying to do exactly that.

One reservist who has been handed a flat conscription summons is Roman Toroptsev, 23, a teacher at high school No. 73 in Voronezh.

A reserve lieutenant, Toroptsev was to have joined the army on Feb. 6, but his students protested and won him a temporary deferral. Sergei Sedykh, the school's deputy principal, said in a telephone interview from Voronezh that Lieutenant Toroptsev will now be called up in the summer, after final exams.

Mikhail Nefedov, press secretary of the Legal Society consultancy in Novosibirsk, said at least another five reservists were successfully pressed by officers of a voyenkomat in Iskitim, a town 70 kilometers outside of Novosibirsk, for another two-year tour.

The five were summoned to the Iskitim voyenkomat for two months of training, but were instead interviewed for an hour or so each by conscription officers, Nefedov said.

He said the information came from a 37-year-old reservist who had served as a private in an army intelligence unit. This reservist responded to similar pressure by traveling to Novosibirsk to visit the Legal Society's offices for a free consultation on his rights.

On the basis of that consultation, Nefedov said, the reservist declined the contract. He still had to agree to being conscripted for two months of training, however, and chose not to release his name to avoid harassment.

Reached by phone on Friday, a duty officer at the Iskitim voyenkomat denied that any illegal pressure had been exercised by his colleagues on reservists - and added that his office is already trying to identify the 37-year old reservist.

"We would like to see him and clarify how he got to tell all these lies about us," said Major Andrei Bezdenezhnykh.

Bezdenezhnykh said that a dozen or so jobless reservists visit his office every month to voluntarily sign contracts and join the armed forces.

Reached by phone earlier this week, voyenkomat officials in the Dagestanian capital of Makhachkala and Bryansk region town of Surozh also said dozens of volunteers sign contracts every month at their offices.

Officials at the Defense Ministry denied plans to press-gang reservists who have been summoned for training.

"Voyenkomat's can, of course, ask them whether they want to sign contracts [for a new tour of duty], but they have not been instructed to use force," said one officer, who asked not to be named, in a telephone interview on Friday.

Colonel General Vladislav Putilin, who heads the General Staff's Chief Organization and Mobilization Department, told the Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozrenie weekly that reservists are being called up simply because his agency can finally afford to train them this year - 150 million rubles for this purpose is allocated in the 2000 defense budget.