By Valery Dzutsev
On June 29, Russian news agency Regnum published a news story about another hazing scandal. This time it was about six ethnic Russian conscripts running away from a Russian Ministry for Extreme Situations (MChS) training camp in Chelyabinks, in southern Ural. The North Caucasian conscripts allegedly extracted money and physically attacked ethnic Russians. Reportedly there were only 30 ethnic Russian conscripts against 140 North Caucasians, which made it especially hard for the Russians to withstand the pressure. The officers not only did not defend the group of ethnic Russian conscripts against their assailants, but were also themselves subjected to beatings by the North Caucasians. Ludmila Zinchenko, the chairwoman of the Soldiers’ Mothers Organization in Chelyabinks, stated that the Russian military had refused to draft new conscripts from the North Caucasus, so only MChS continues to accept them, which is why their concentration became so high (http://www.regnum.ru/news/1420229.html).
In April 2011, the Russian Ministry of Defense officially rebutted claims about a decrease in its drafting of North Caucasians (http://www.regnum.ru/news/polit/1396456.html). Yet, the draft from North Ossetia in spring 2011 decreased by threefold from previous conscription campaigns, allegedly because there are more professional soldiers in the Russian army. All quoted conscripts from North Ossetia appear to be ethnic Russians, so the number of ethnic Ossetians drafted to serve in the Russian military is probably even lower (http://region15.ru/news/2011/05/17/10-17). The Russian military is experiencing a severe shortage of conscripts, which already forced it to abolish its plans to reduce the number of conscripts from Dagestan from 4,000 to 400 in spring 2011. Instead, the draft from Dagestan was allegedly increased up to 6,000. Dagestan could dispatch up to 10,000 draftees every year, according to the local experts (http://www.rosbalt.ru/kavkaz/2011/04/22/842284.html). The Dagestani and other conscripts from the North Caucasus appear to be recruited to the Russian army only because of the shortage of manpower in Russia. It thus seems that a separation of Russia and the North Caucasus is already underway, even though officially it is still a semi-taboo topic in the country.