Friday, October 6, 2017

One Draft-Age Russian in Four Views Military Service as ‘Lost Time’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 6 – A new Public Opinion Foundation poll shows that Russians overall have a more positive view of the military than a year ago, but it also shows that one young Russian in four still views any years in uniform as “lost time” and would rather not be drafted let alone volunteer.

            The poll found that overall, 76 percent of Russians say that service in the military is “a school of life,” but 15 percent of all Russians say that it is simply time taken away from real life.  Among younger people, those subject to the draft, however, 25 percent view in the more negative way, highlighting a generation shift (

                Two-thirds of all Russians – 68 percent – say that “every young man should be obligated to serve in the army. The remainder – 30 percent -- say that young people should “have the right to independently decide whether to serve or not.  Among the younger cohort, 41 percent say that service should be up to the individual.

                The survey also found that many Russians who served in the military experienced dedovshchina, the term for the mistreatment of newer recruits by more senior ones. But the military insists this has disappeared because draft service has been reduced to only one year and the differences in time are minimal.

                What is perhaps most striking is that a greater share of Russians view dedovshchina and related phenomena as having a positive impact on soldiers than view it negatively, 49 percent to 42 percent respectively. That suggests that they may be understanding of other bases such as ethnicity or religion for the mistreatment of one group of soldiers by another.

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