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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Military Turns to an NGO

The military said Monday that it would ask members of the Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees, a stern critic of the armed forces and their treatment of conscripted soldiers, to serve on each of its draft boards.

The armed forces have previously been hostile toward the committee, accusing it of deliberately undermining the military's reputation.

"We want them to be a permanent part of the process, to work on the commission, where they will have a decisive voice," Colonel General Vasily Smirnov, the military's head of recruitment, told reporters.

Hazing by older soldiers is commonplace, sometimes resulting in death or serious injury and making draft dodging rife.

The Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees won prominence in 1995 as a persistent critic of the first Chechen war and since has become the most outspoken advocate of conscripts' rights.

A spokeswoman for the Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees said that while a few regional military commissariats had reached out to include a committee member, the 33 Moscow draft boards had so far made no such offer.

"We wouldn't be against sitting on the draft board, we have been asking for this for years. But so far we haven't heard anything," said Lyudmila Vorobyova of the committee's Moscow office.

The armed forces general staff said Monday that it would conscript 132,350 young men for compulsory military service in this year's fall call-up, down slightly from the total of 133,500 in the spring.

Reuters, MT