CIS, Baltic States and Georgia: Military Service



This report examines military service in the states formed out of the dissolution of the USSR. It focuses on several key issues including the creation of independent armed forces and the adoption of new laws on military service.

Many states are taking steps to create a national army and formulate regulations for military service. New laws relating to the military have been passed in some states but are still being discussed in others. The legislative framework and mechanisms needed to implement the laws are, in most cases, still being worked out. Despite the problems associated with the transition from the Soviet armed forces to the forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and/or national armed forces, some patterns are evolving among the states of the former USSR. These will be summarized at the end of the paper.

The body of the report is divided into three sections: the creation of national armed forces, state-by-state; conscription and the possibilities for alternative service, again by individual state; and desertion.


2.0                General

The right of member-states of the CIS to create independent armed forces was confirmed in Article 6 of a December 1991 CIS agreement on defence issues. The creation of these forces was to take place in stages, "on the basis of agreements among all sides concerned" (Nezavisimaya Gazeta 3 Jan. 1992, 2).

Azerbaijan, Moldova and Ukraine put forward a separate position on Article 6 stating that the transfer of troops to CIS member-states could start on 30 December 1991. According to their position on the issue of troop transfer, "All military personnel affected by this transfer shall be released from any previously taken oath of allegiance. The status of the USSR Armed Forces shall be determined on the basis of legislation of the member-states of the Commonwealth of Independent States" (Ibid.). Based on the CIS agreement, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine and possibly Uzbekistan are taking steps to create independent conventional armies. Moldova and Ukraine have not subordinated their conventional forces to the CIS command structure, but the other states have some form of joint jurisdiction. Moldova and Ukraine did not sign any of the agreements relating to the CIS Joint Armed Forces at the 20 March 1992 summit in Kiev (TASS International Service 23 Mar. 1992). Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan are, for the time being, prepared to share jurisdiction over the forces deployed on their territory with the CIS High Command without creating independent forces. Tajikistan is the only CIS member-state to have rejected the notion of an independent army (Sovetskaya Rossiya 29 Jan. 92, 1). Furthermore, any strategic forces on the territory of CIS member-states will remain under CIS command.

The Baltic states and Georgia, which are not part of the CIS, have created or are in the process of creating national armed forces.

2.1                Armenia

As early as November 1991, a draft law on the military was before the Armenian parliament (Krasnaya Zvezda 14 Dec. 1991, 3). Measures were subsequently taken to begin the formation of a national army. The defence minister claimed the property of the former USSR 7th Army, which was deployed in Armenia (Hayastan 16 Jan. 1992, 90), and the Ministry of Defence issued an appeal to all officers of Armenian nationality to join the Armenian army (Izvestiya 29 Feb. 1992, 1).

On 22 March 1992, it was reported that the first recruits to the Armenian national armed forces took their oath of allegiance (Armenpres 24 Mar. 1992). At the end of the month, an Armenian official at the United Nations indicated that a formal law on the armed forces had not been passed; however, no subsequent confirmation of this situation has been made (Armenian Mission to the United Nations 30 Mar. 1992).

2.2                Azerbaijan

Since the latter part of 1991, a number of decrees and laws have been adopted on the Azerbaijan armed forces and on military service. The law on the creation of a national armed forces was passed on 10 October 1991 (Krasnaya Zvezda 14 Dec. 1991, 3). In early December, the first battalion of the national army was reportedly sent to Nagorno-Karabakh (Ibid.). That same month the president declared himself commander-in-chief of all but strategic armed forces based in the republic (AFP 17 Dec. 1991; Krasnaya Zvezda 18 Dec. 1991, 1). It was reported subsequently that the Azerbaijan army is to be subordinated to both the president of Azerbaijan and to the CIS military command (RFE/RL 13 Mar. 92, 52). At least some of the conscripts being recalled to Azerbaijan (see section 3.2 on Azerbaijan under "Conscription and Alternative Service") are thought to be earmarked for service in the republic's army (Izvestiya 9 Apr. 1992).

2.3     Belarus

On 20 March 1992, the Belarussian parliament adopted a bill, in first reading, on the creation of national armed forces (Krasnaya Zvezda 25 Mar. 92, 3). It is reported that the initial size of the force will be 70,000, but, after Belarus becomes a nuclear-free, neutral state, the force is to be reduced to between 50,000 and 60,000 (ADN 9 Feb. 1992, 74). The minister of defence was put in charge of all conventional armed forces stationed in Belarus. An oath of allegiance to Belarus has been adopted by the legislature (Rossiyskaya Gazeta 13 Jan. 92, 2).

2.4                Estonia

In February 1992, Estonia's defence commission was debating a law outlining regulations for the creation of the Estonian army (Nezavisimaya Gazeta 21 Feb. 1992, 3). The following month, two infantry battalions, the first units of the Estonian defence forces, were reportedly being formed in the town of Voru (BALTFAX 22 Mar. 1992). On 13 April 1992, Estonia passed a resolution on the formation of a defence ministry (Ibid. 13 Apr. 1992). On that same date, it was reported that the national army would not exceed 6,000 military personnel (BALTFAX 13 Apr. 1992), although earlier reports claimed that, when formed, the force would number between 10,000 and 13,000 (Nezavisimaya Gazeta 21 Feb. 1992, 3).

It is envisaged that the Estonian army will be a mixture of a professional officers' corps, whose services will be contracted for a minimum three years, and active-duty conscripts (Ibid.). Lacking a trained officer corps, Estonia is willing to contract the services of former Soviet army personnel so long as they are fluent in Estonian and respect the laws of Estonia (Ibid.).

2.5        Georgia

On 11 April 1992, the State Council passed a resolution on the creation of the Georgian armed forces (INTERFAX 11 Apr. 1992). The most recent reports estimate it will be about 20,000 strong (Ibid.; Russian Television 12 Apr. 1992). Recruitment into the national guard, established in February 1992, began on 6 March 1992, and service is on a contractual basis (BBC Summary 9 Mar. 1992).

2.6       Kazakhstan

There has been no move to bring troops currently deployed in Kazakhstan under an independent Kazakh command structure. Kazakh leadership would, however, like to establish joint jurisdiction over troops in Kazakhstan. This might include a local military commander who would report to Kazakhstan's defence chairman, to the president of Kazakhstan and then to the commander-in-chief of the CIS Armed Forces (Sovetskaya Rossiya 29 Jan. 1992, 1).

On the eve of the 20 March 1992 CIS summit in Kiev, Kazakhstan's president expressed his support for the preservation of the CIS Joint Armed Forces. He noted, however, that if states withdrew completely from the CIS Joint Forces, then Kazakhstan would be compelled to form its own armed units (TASS International Service 20 Mar. 1992b).

On 10 January 1992, the government of Kazakhstan established a national guard consisting of between 2,000 and 2,500 soldiers who could be called upon to defend the Constitution (Nezavisimaya Gazeta 11 Jan. 92, 3; Radio Baku 11 Jan. 1992).

2.7                Kyrgyzstan

Positions adopted by the government of Kyrgyzstan appear to be similar to those of Kazakhstan. Troops deployed on the territory of Kyrgyzstan are currently under the jurisdiction of both Kyrgyzstan authorities and the CIS Military Okrug (Regional) Command with headquarters in Alma Ata (Sovetskaya Rossiya 29 Jan. 1992, 1).

Kyrgyzstan was reported to be creating a symbolic national guard of 800 men. The guard will protect the president and state facilities and respond to natural disasters and accidents (Krasnaya Zvezda 17 Jan. 1992, 3).

2.8        Latvia

Latvia intends to establish an armed forces that will probably number some 6,000 by the end of 1992 and about 9,000 by the end of 1993. These forces will comprise border troops, motorized infantry, an air force with paratroops, a navy, anti-aircraft forces and units directly subordinated to the general staff of the defence forces (BALTFAX 19 Feb. 1992).

2.9               Lithuania

Lithuania is proceeding with the establishment of its own army comprised of conscripts and professionals. The Lithuanian armed forces will be in charge of border protection, territorial defence and a civil defence system, and the core of the regular troops will be made up of professional soldiers (Krasnaya Zvezda 19 Nov. 1991). A 12,000-strong national guard is already in operation (Ibid.).

2.10                Moldova

The decision to form the national army of Moldova was adopted on 15 October 1991 (TASS 16 Oct. 1991). In January 1992 the army was expected to number 20,000 men (INTERFAX 31 Jan. 1992); a later report quotes a projected figure of 30,000 (INTERFAX 18 Feb. 1992). By presidential decree, Moldova also created a Ministry of Defence (Mayak Radio 10 Feb. 1992).

Following an agreement signed on 14 February 1992 in Minsk, the conventional troops of the former Soviet army stationed on the territory of Moldova were to be placed under the republic's jurisdiction beginning 1 March 1992 (Radio Romania 17 Feb. 1992). Moldova will not take part in the financing of CIS Armed Forces. It will maintain only those ex-Soviet army units that have agreed to shift to Moldovan jurisdiction (INTERFAX 11 Feb. 1992). Government officials have said that Moldova's army and border corps would accept all officers of the former Soviet army and border troops now serving in Moldova, regardless of nationality, with "professionalism and loyalty to the republic" as the only criteria (RFE/RL 17 Jan. 1992, 52).

Rompres reports on an appeal from Moldova's Defence Ministry, which states that all military personnel and their families are guaranteed "legal and social protection (and) the right to remain on the republic's territory, or to go to other republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States, in keeping with the inter-republic understandings" (Rompres 25 Feb. 1992). An earlier article reports that a bill had been published on the legal protection of military personnel and their families. This bill states that all officers in the regular army and the reserves of the former Soviet army who have acquired Moldovan nationality and who are enlisted in the republic's army will retain their seniority and corresponding pension. It also says that they and their families have all the rights and privileges "provided by the law" (Krasnaya Zvezda 18 Jan. 1992, 3).

In the eastern part of Moldova, called the Dniester region or Pridnestroyve, an ethnic conflict has engaged military units from Moldova, Russia and the CIS, as well as the those of the Dniester Republican Guard. There seems to be some dispute as to who controls the former Soviet 14th Army stationed there. Russian President Boris Yeltsin decreed that the units be transferred to the Russian armed forces and subordinated to the CIS command, but this decree is regarded by the Moldovan deputy defence minister as "interference in Moldova's internal affairs." The minister has also indicated that "the Dniester region belongs to an indivisible Moldova and the future of the troops on this territory should be decided by the Moldovan leadership in conjunction with the CIS Armed Forces command" (ITAR-TASS 1 Apr. 1992a; Nezavisimaya Gazeta 3 Apr. 1992).

2.11           Russia

Russia is in the process of establishing its own armed forces. When formed, the Russian army is expected to number around 1.2 to 1.3 million (INTERFAX 14 Apr. 1992; Postfactum 1 Apr. 1992). Reports in mid-April 1992 suggest a presidential decree forming the Russian armed forces was to have been issued in May 1992 (INTERFAX 14 Apr. 1992; ITAR-TASS 15 Apr. 1992).

The first move in creating this independent force was taken on 16 March 1992, when Russian President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree "On the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces of the Russian Federation." Article 2 of this decree states that the "Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are transferred to the strength of the General Purpose Joint Forces and are operationally subordinate to the Main Command of the Joint Armed Forces," that is, to CIS command. Article 7 of this decree calls for the formulation within a month's time of a draft law on the armed forces of the Russian Federation and a statute on the ministry of defence of the Russian Federation. The president is "temporarily" responsible for the Ministry of Defence (TASS International Service 16 Mar. 1992).

On 1 April 1992, Yeltsin signed a decree putting the 14th Army and a number of other former Soviet military units stationed in Moldova under Russian control. The decree also stated that all military personnel in Moldova would be subordinate to the CIS commander-in-chief, thus creating confusion as to which authority is to be in charge of those forces. On 7 April, Yeltsin announced the creation of a commission under the directorship of Colonel General Dmitrii VolKogonov that would responsible for the establishment of a Russian army (RFE/RL 17 Apr. 1992).

According to a Russian military advisor, former Soviet troops stationed in Poland, Germany and the Baltic states (a Radio Moscow report also names Georgia and Mongolia) must become part of the Russian army. The military officer added that the army's role should be to prevent conflict and that it should eventually come under civilian control (Nezavisimaya Gazeta 12 Feb. 1992, 1; Postfactum 2 Apr. 1992a; Radio Moscow 10 Apr. 1992).

The self-proclaimed republic of Chechen, located on the territory of the Russian Federation, is taking steps to create its own military forces by asking servicemen stationed there to swear an oath of loyalty to the Chechen Republic and its president. According to one report, there are not enough units willing to take the oath, and the republic is making do with volunteers. The same report states that weapons for the army are stolen in attacks on barracks, and it also mentions the sale of a hail missile launcher to Chechen guardsmen (Teleradiokompaniya Ostankino Television 5 Feb. 1992).

On 29 December 1991, President Yeltsin announced that Russia would create a national guard of between 30,000 and 40,000 men (RFE/RL 17 Jan. 1992, 52).

2.12              Tajikistan

As of January 1992, Tajikistan indicated that it had no intention of creating an independent army (Sovetskaya Rossiya 29 Jan. 92, 1). CIS forces will constitute its defence. The Tajik parliament has, however, decreed that a national guard of 700 men should be created and subordinated directly to the president of Tajikistan (Mayak Radio 24 Dec. 1991).

2.13 Turkmenistan

According to its president, Turkmenistan "would be willing to create its own Ministry of Defence in order to coordinate military policies and to develop...its own defence doctrine. However, [the government] will not rush into creating its own armed forces" (Nezavisimaya Gazeta 9 Jan. 1992, 3). As of January 1992, all troops deployed in Turkmenistan were reportedly under joint command of Turkmenistan authorities and the CIS High Command (Sovetskaya Rossiya 29 Jan. 1992, 1).

Turkmenistan also plans to create a symbolic national guard (Nezavisimaya Gazeta 9 Jan. 1992, 3).

2.14   Ukraine

By early November 1991, Ukraine had already created a national guard and a border guard. The 6,000-strong national guard was to begin functioning immediately (The Independent 5 Nov. 1991). At the beginning of 1992, Ukraine took measures to create an independent military force. It put under its jurisdiction about 520,000 conventional troops and began to finance its armed forces independently (Moscow News 29 Dec. 1991, 8-9; Nezavisimaya Gazeta 29 Jan. 1992, 2). Ukrainian and Russian are the two official languages of the Ukrainian armed forces (Nezavisimaya Gazeta 11 Jan. 1992, 3).

Ukraine did not sign the 20 March 1992 Kiev agreements on the CIS Joint Armed Forces. All military personnel stationed in Ukraine and under the Ukrainian government's jurisdiction are required to take the oath of allegiance to Ukraine. Personnel from other CIS member-states who refuse to take the oath will be honourably discharged and can return to their home state. They will be replaced by the returning Ukrainian nationals serving in other CIS member-states (Nezavisimaya Gazeta 14 Jan. 1992, 1). On 6 April, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk issued a decree subordinating all military units on the republic's territory to the Ukrainian Defence Ministry. Two days later, it was announced that 483,000 men had sworn an oath to Ukraine. The more than 40,000 who refused were being sent to other CIS states (RFE/RL 17 Apr. 1992; Russian Television 9 Apr. 1992).

2.15     Uzbekistan

The president of Uzbekistan and the minister of defence have spoken about the creation of national armed forces (Krasnaya Zvezda 16 Jan. 1992, 1; Postfactum 28 Mar. 1992). A report indicates that Uzbek soldiers are being urged to take an oath of allegiance to the CIS Joint Armed Forces "until military questions are resolved" by legislative means (Krasnaya Zvezda 25 Jan. 1992).

In March 1992, Uzbekistan signed the Kiev agreements on the CIS Joint Armed Forces, indicating its continued commitment to the CIS. Although the government is still discussing the creation of national armed forces, no final decision appears to have been taken.


3.0              General

The CIS member-states, with the exception of Azerbaijan, Moldova, Ukraine and Turkmenistan, signed an agreement "On the Principles of Manpower Acquisition of the Joint Armed Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States and on Military Service Therein" at the Kiev summit on 20 March 1992 (TASS International Service 23 Mar. 1992). According to one report, however, each of the signatory states has to adopt laws implementing the 20 March Kiev agreement, and Stephen Foye of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty indicates that by 6 May 1992 none of the states involved had yet done so (Foye 6 May 1992; Komsomolskaya Pravda 27 Mar. 1992, 5). Foye adds that, to the best of his knowledge, until the Kiev agreement is ratified, CIS military service regulations appear to be the same as those in effect before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He stresses, however, that his information "should not be considered as definitive" (Foye 6 May 1992).

On 6 April 1992, the Commander-in-Chief of the CIS Joint Armed Forces issued an order stating that "citizens drafted by the Commonwealth member states for active military service in April to June 1992 are to be sent to man the Commonwealth Joint Armed Forces." The order also stated that, during that same period, servicemen and military construction workers who had completed their terms of active military service were to be transferred from CIS forces to the reserves (Krasnaya Zvezda 7 Apr. 1992b).

There has been some discussion on the issue of alternative service for the CIS forces. Those not wishing to serve in the military may be able to opt for a 24-month service in a construction battalion building military facilities (RFE/RL 3 Apr. 1992, 50). Another report indicates that, at least in Russia, large numbers of conscripts are either being exempted from service or having their service deferred. The report states that only 28 percent of the designated draftees will actually have to carry out their service in 1992, with the remainder qualifying for some form of exemption or deferment (Komsomolskaya Pravda 28 Apr. 1992, 1).

Before the Kiev summit it had been agreed among all eleven member-states of the CIS that servicemen will retain the citizenship they held prior to conscription into military service of the CIS (TASS International Service 15 Feb. 1992). According to Article 6 of the 20 March 1992 agreement, servicemen may, with their consent, be transferred from the CIS Joint Armed Forces to national armed forces of CIS member-states, and vice versa, to continue their military service, so long as there is a bilateral protocol governing this (TASS International Service 23 Mar. 1992).

Most CIS member-states, the Baltic states and Georgia have or are preparing national legislation on conscription to their own armed forces.

3.1     Armenia

In the latter part of 1991, legislation that called for Armenian conscripts to serve within the boundaries of Armenia was being debated. Service outside Armenia could be done only on a voluntary basis (Krasnaya Zvezda 14 Dec. 1991, 3). More recent reports have indicated that, because young people are unwilling to serve in the army, the state needs to adopt a new law on conscription as soon as possible (INTERFAX 27 Feb. 1992). Additionally, the period of military service has been reduced from 24 to 18 months (BBC Summary 6 Dec. 1991). No further details on conscription or alternative service were available at the time of writing.

Some conscripts are apparently taking their training in Georgia on a voluntary basis for a period of six months. Following the training, the majority are to return to Armenia to take part in the creation of the national army, while others will stay on in Tbilisi (Nezavisimaya Gazeta 29 Feb. 1992, 6).

3.2                Azerbaijan

The law regulating Azerbaijan's armed forces was published in the local press on 31 October 1991. Compulsory service for is for 18 months. Women aged 18 to 35 with medical or specialized skills may serve in auxiliary units on a volunteer basis (BBC Summary 1 Nov. 1991; TASS 31 Oct. 1991).

There are provisions for alternative service for men aged 18 to 25 "who cannot serve in the army due to their convictions." It remains unclear whether only those objecting to military service for religious reasons qualify or whether those objecting on other grounds are also included (BBC Summary 1 Nov. 1991; TASS 31 Oct. 1991). On 6 December 1991, a presidential decree was signed on compulsory military service (Krasnaya Zvezda 14 Dec. 1991, 3), but the creation of the Azerbaijani national army has been proceeding slowly (AFP 8 Mar. 1992) with fewer individuals than anticipated being drafted (Radio Baku 7 Apr. 1992).

In February 1992, there were reports about bringing Azerbaijani servicemen home from the Baltic states and other CIS states (INTERFAX7 Apr. 1992; Radio Moscow World Service 24 Feb. 1992). In April 1992, soldiers continued to be recalled for service in the Azerbaijani national armed forces (Izvestiya 9 Apr. 1992).

3.3             Belarus

The Belarussian parliament approved a law on universal conscription and military service on 20 March 1992 (TASS International Service 20 Mar. 1992a). The Council of Ministers of Belarus has set the next call-up for April to June 1992 (ITAR-TASS 8 Apr. 1992), but it is not clear whether it applies to the national or CIS forces or both.

Conscripts with children under three years of age or whose wives are on maternity leave, as well as youths whose brothers died while serving in the military, will be granted a "delay" from military service (Krasnaya Zvezda 25 Mar. 1992, 3). A working group was set up to prepare draft laws on military questions, and it is expected to draw up a bill on alternative service. More details are not available at this time (Krasnaya Zvezda 5 Feb. 1992a).

The resolution dealing with active duty service outside of Belarus, which was adopted by the legislature on 12 March 1992, states that citizens of Belarus can do military service beyond state borders only in accordance with the laws of Belarus and special inter-governmental agreements, and exclusively on a voluntary basis (Postfactum 13 Mar. 1992).

According to republican legislation, the CIS High Command was to ensure the return to Belarus of all Belarussian conscripts and regular servicemen serving in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Georgia by 20 April 1992. This recall involved a total of 1,794 servicemen -- 1,750 in the Transcaucasus states and 44 in Moldova (TASS International Service 12 Mar. 1992). On 29 April, one Belarussian official stated that this recall had proceeded in agreement with CIS military authorities. His statement could not, however, be corroborated, and information on whether the recall has been completed is currently unavailable (Belarussian Mission to the United Nations 29 Apr. 1992). On the other hand, the government reacted coolly to a proposal for it to recall its nationals stationed in Estonia, indicating that this could not be done until adequate housing and other social guarantees are in place (RFE/RL 17 Apr. 1992). Even if all of the republic's military personnel stationed in the Transcaucasus and Moldova were to return, there would still be about 10,000 troops and 30,000 officers serving outside of Belarus (Postfactum 13 Mar. 1992).

3.4      Estonia

In the latter part of 1991, there were reports of conscription in Estonia, but it was apparently limited to the border guards and police service. Estonia has decided to create its own armed forces, and conscription will be used to fill some of the positions.

There are conflicting reports about the status of defence legislation in Estonia. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported that Estonia's Supreme Council (legislature) passed a law on military service on 27 January 1992 (RFE/RL 7 Feb. 1992, 57). An Estonian government official, however, has indicated that legislation is still being discussed by various ministries and that it has not yet been submitted to parliament (Estonian Mission to the United Nations 27 Apr. 1992). In February, Nezavisimaya Gazeta also reported that legislation on defence was still being debated by the Estonian defence commission (Nezavisimaya Gazeta 21 Feb. 1992, 3).

The legislation provides for an 18-month compulsory service; eligible conscripts will be between 18 and 25 years of age (Nezavisimaya Gazeta 21 Feb. 1992, 3; RFE/RL 7 Feb. 1992, 57). Provisions for a 24-month alternative service for those who do not wish to serve in the army on ethical and religious grounds exist, and individuals who have served in a foreign service, such as the Soviet armed forces, are exempt, as are "invalids, those who must care for an invalid, sole breadwinners, and those in a number of other categories" (RFE/RL 7 Feb. 1992, 57). According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, soldiers will have an opportunity to occupy professional contract positions in the army after their mandatory service is completed. University students have the option of volunteering to receive military training at the universities' military education departments to obtain the rank of officer, or of being conscripted to the army as privates for 12 months upon completion of their education (Nezavisimaya Gazeta 21 Feb. 1992, 3).

3.5           Georgia

A proposal to create a national army in Georgia was submitted by the Defence Ministry and approved by the State Council on 20 March 1992. The proposal envisaged mandatory military service in the armed forces for men aged 18 to 25 and stated that conscription was to take place in April and May 1992 (AFP 20 Mar. 1992; Radio Tbilisi 23 Mar. 1992). On 11 April a resolution on the formation of the army was passed. The Council adopted a decree on recruitment and set the period of service at 18 months (INTERFAX 11 Apr. 1992; Russian Television 12 Apr. 1992). No mention is made in any of the above-cited articles about alternative service. Recruitment to professional military units of Georgia's national guard was to begin on 10 March (Postfactum 4 Mar. 1992).

3.6          Kazakhstan

In early April 1992, the president of Kazakhstan signed a decree ordering the demobilization of servicemen who have finished their service. The decree also orders conscription of men 18 years and older into the CIS Joint Armed Forces, the republican guard corps, the border, interior and railway troops, and construction divisions, in accordance with the quotas stipulated by the agreement between Kazakhstan and the CIS Joint Armed Forces Command. The call-up period will last from April until June (INTERFAX 2 Apr. 1992; Izvestiya 4 Apr. 1992).

In the early part of 1992, Kazakh servicemen were being asked, in an appeal made on behalf of the government by the Chairman of the State Committee for Defence, to fulfil their duty to the CIS Armed Forces. The Chairman also acknowledged "the burdens and privations of difficult military service" and "difficulties" which have recently arisen in military service (Krasnaya Zvezda 4 Feb. 1992b). On 18 January 1992, the Supreme Soviet of Kazakhstan passed a "resolution" prohibiting the republic's conscripts from military involvement in ethnic conflicts in other CIS states. The resolution also instructed the president of the republic to coordinate the future service of conscripts outside of Kazakhstan with the CIS military authorities, and ordered the republic's State Defence Committee to recall all conscripts serving outside of the CIS within one month (BBC Summary 7 Feb. 1992; Krasnaya Zvezda 5 Feb. 1992b). A report predating the 18 January resolution indicates that the recall of conscripts may also apply to those being made to take the oath of allegiance to other states, but the issue was still under discussion at the 10 January 1992 meeting of the Security Council of the Kazakh republic (Nezavisimaya Gazeta 11 Jan. 1992, 3).

3.7            Kyrgyzstan

In Kyrgyzstan, which has decided not to form its own army, conscription accords with CIS regulations contained in the 20 March 1992 agreement. No information has been found on whether the April to June call-up is under way.

In early February 1992, about 10,000 servicemen from Kyrgyzstan who refused to swear allegiance to the national armies of other CIS-member states, particularly Ukraine, were reportedly returning to Kyrgyzstan (INTERFAX 3 Feb. 1992). The same article makes a reference to alternative service; however, it remains unclear as to who is eligible and under what conditions this service is carried out.

In late March, authorities were not ruling out military service outside Kyrgyzstan. On 25 March 1992, the chairman of the Kyrgyz parliament's Committee on Military Affairs said that republican authorities would "take into account" the wishes of recruits who did not want to be posted outside Kyrgyzstan but that over half of the 11,000 draftees would be required to serve in other CIS republics (RFE/RL 10 Apr. 1992, 44).

3.8                Latvia

By the beginning of April 1992, the spring call-up for the Latvian armed forces was underway. Those subject to conscription are individuals born between 1967 and 1973, and they can serve as border guards or as Interior Ministry special guards (BALTFAX 1 Apr. 1992; Embassy of Latvia 1 Apr. 1992, 5 May 1992). Persons with health problems, university students who have not finished their education, citizens who have been granted a deferment, ordained priests and students in church schools are not eligible for military service. At the time of writing, an English-language copy of the military service law was unavailable to the IRBDC; however, one report indicates that those who are sole providers for their family and those who have two or more children are exempted from military service. For university students under 25 years old at the time of graduation, the period of service is reportedly six months (BALTFAX 2 Oct. 1991; Embassy of Latvia 1 Apr. 1992; Sovetskaya Latviya 28 Mar. 1990).

In 1990, while still under Soviet control, Latvia adopted a law on alternative service (Sovetskaya Latviya 28 Mar. 1990) to provide for non-military, civilian service. According to Article 1 of the law, citizens whose pacifist or religious persuasions preclude military service must complete alternative (labour) service. Article 7 states that the period of service is 36 months except for persons who have graduated from an institution of higher education, for whom the term is reduced to 18 months. Under alternative service, citizens do jobs in the following areas: municipal economy, public health, social welfare or conservation. If there is no work available in these designated sectors, the government can identify other areas of employment (Article 8). Exemptions from alternative service exist: those citizens who are not eligible for military service according to Article 4 are neither to be sent to alternative service.

A representative at the Embassy of Latvia in Washington, D.C. writes that to his knowledge the law is still in effect, and he points, as evidence, to a report dated 1 April 1992 from the Latvian news agency LETA about a hospital that is accepting conscripts for its work force (Embassy of Latvia 1 Apr. 1992). Another article of the same date also indicates that provisions still exist for alternative service (BALTFAX 1 Apr. 1992).

3.9      Lithuania

Lithuania's conscription regulations identify four different types of service: in regional military units, as border guards, in the Interior Ministry and as honour guards (Radio Vilnius 21 Oct. 1991).

Those eligible for the draft are males aged 19 to 27 who are citizens of Lithuania. The term of conscription is 12 months. Youths with poor health, ecclesiastical seminary students and those who have served prison sentences of more than three years are exempted (Radio Vilnius 21 Oct. 1991).

On 16 October 1990, Lithuania's president signed the Law on Compulsory Alternative (Labour) Service. Article 1 stipulates that citizens aged 19 to 27 "who are unable on the basis of their beliefs, to serve in the national defence service, shall perform alternative (labour) service" (Government of Lithuania 1991). Article 12 indicates that such alternative service can take place within purely civilian institutions and economic enterprises (Ibid.).

During the November 1991 call-up the national defence system reportedly had 4,000 workplaces for alternative service (Radio Vilnius 21 Oct. 1991). Approximately 2,000 young men were called to the regular defence service, 1,000 to alternative service and 150 to the honour guard (Radio Vilnius International Service 20 Nov. 1991). About one-third of the draftees were rejected because of poor health (BALTFAX 5 Apr. 1992).

On 6 April 1992, a spring call-up of 7,000 conscripts began. They are to serve as border troops, army guards at state facilities and internal troops, or be assigned to alternative work service (BALTFAX 5 Apr. 1992). Students at higher technical schools and universities are exempted, as are people over 23 years of age working in agriculture (Ibid.).

3.10          Moldova

There is compulsory military service for the Moldovan national armed forces. On 11 April 1992, the president of Moldova signed a decree on discharge and call-up to active service for eligible citizens who will be 18 years old by conscription day (ITAR-TASS 11 Apr. 1992). He also signed a decree on 1 April 1992 calling for Moldovan officers and soldiers serving outside the republic to return home to continue their service (ITAR-TASS 1 Apr. 1992b).

Moldova has a law on alternative service, but details are lacking. At the beginning of March 1992, that is, before the spring call-up, it was reported that more than half of the conscripts had applied for alternative service, making it difficult for the Defence Ministry to form a national army (INTERFAX 11 Mar. 1992). The defence minister has criticized the system, saying that it provides "an opportunity to evade military service under the pretext of being a believer or a pacifist" (Ibid.).

In the Dniester region, it appears that local authorities have initiated their own draft of men between the ages of 18 and 40 (Radio Rossii 5 Mar. 1992). A TASS article dated 26 March 1992 says men up to the age of 45 will be drafted.

3.11    Russia

On 4 April 1992, Russian President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree on conscription, which is to take place from April to June 1992, and on the transfer to the reserve of those who have served the prescribed terms of active military service. The decree states that Russian citizens born between 1965 and 1974 are eligible for service in the CIS Joint Armed Forces, the border guards and troops under Russia's jurisdiction. The term depends upon the type of service--the regular term is 18 months, but for those with higher education it is reduced to one year. Seamen and petty officers of ships, vessels and combat support units of the navy must serve for two years (Krasnaya Zvezda 7 Apr. 1992a).

Russia's position on alternative service is yet to be determined. One report indicates that the Defence Ministry is exploring the possibility of "forming units made up of persons drafted into an alternative service" (Postfactum 1 Apr. 1992).

3.12      Tajikistan

Tajikistan signed the agreement on rules governing conscription for the CIS Joint Armed Forces put forth at the Kiev summit in March 1992 (TASS International Service 23 Mar. 1992). The Cabinet of Ministers was to prepare draft laws on military and alternative service and on service in the national guard by 1 March 1992 (BBC Summary 28 Feb. 1992). The status of these bills is unknown.

In January 1992, Tajikistan announced that it would recall Tajik citizens serving outside the republic. Those who had completed at least 18 months of service would be released from "real" military service. Servicemen with special military training would serve in units deployed in Tajikistan, while the remainder would be assigned by local authorities until the relevant laws were passed (BBC Summary 28 Feb. 1992).

3.13    Turkmenistan

No information has been found to suggest that there are national conscription regulations in Turkmenistan. Conscription in Turkmenistan likely adheres to CIS regulations, although this has not been confirmed.

In response to requests from conscripts from Turkmenistan who have been serving outside of the state, especially those in Ukraine and the Transcaucasus, troops are being called back. This was confirmed by presidential decree in February 1992. The returning conscripts will replace those who were drafted in May 1990 and are now being discharged (Krasnaya Zvezda 27 Feb. 1992, 1).

3.14          Ukraine

On 31 January 1992, a law on military service in the Ukrainian armed forces passed first reading in parliament. It calls for compulsory service of 18 months in the army and 24 months in the navy. The law on alternative service was adopted on 20 February. It seems unlikely that regulations for alternative service will be finalized before a military service law has been adopted, and subsequent reports do not indicate whether or not the latter has been passed by parliament. A Reuters report, however, indicates that 300,000 soldiers had already been called up for service by 31 January 1992 (Postfactum 31 Jan. 1992; Radio Rossii 20 Feb. 1992; Radio Kiev 20 Feb. 1992; Reuters 31 Jan. 1992).

According to a Radio Kiev report, the 20 February 1992 law on alternative service provides for unarmed service within the military for "members of various religious congregations registered by the state" whose religion forbids them from bearing arms (Radio Kiev 20 Feb. 1992; Radio Rossii 20 Feb. 1992). When the law was in its draft stage, the term of alternative service was 36 months; however, there is no confirmation that the final version contains this provision unamended (Krasnaya Zvezda 4 Feb. 1992a). Military authorities hope that with alternative service, the incidence of draft evasion during the spring call-up will decrease dramatically; in the autumn 1991 campaign, one article reports, there were 3751 draft evaders (Postfactum 11 Feb. 1992). In March 1992, Ukraine began recalling Ukrainian servicemen from CIS member-states, particularly those in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and eastern-most Russia. According to a mid-April report, President Kravchuk "reacted positively" to a suggestion by Estonia that the 2,000 Ukrainian troops stationed in that republic be recalled (Radio Rossii 11 Mar. 1992; RFE/RL 17 Apr. 1992; Soviet Press Digest 27 Mar. 1992).

In April 1992, Ukraine began organizing a call-up to the Ukrainian armed forces. All the draftees are to serve on Ukrainian territory (Programma Radio Odin Network 14 Apr. 1992).

3.15 Uzbekistan

By 28 March 1992, the Ministry of Defence of Uzbekistan had indicated that it was working on draft laws regulating military service and alternative service (Postfactum 28 Mar. 1992). No further details are available at this time on the progress of those laws.

In March 1992, a parliamentary decree on the recall of conscripts drafted from Uzbekistan was signed (Krasnaya Zvezda 24 Mar. 1992, 3). Servicemen drafted from Uzbekistan but currently serving in non-CIS member-states, in CIS member-states that have formed their own armed forces, in the Transcaucasus Military District or in the Caspian Flotilla are being recalled (Izvestiya 20 Mar. 1992). In the absence of a law on compulsory military service, returning conscripts who have served 18 months or more will be discharged (Krasnaya Zvezda 24 Mar. 1992, 3).

4.           DESERTION

Desertion from the armed forces has become commonplace. Ethnic discrimination and ethnic conflict as well as demands that soldiers take oaths of allegiance to states other than their native one constitute the major reasons for desertion. Most deserters from the armed forces are conscripts fleeing from the North Caucasus, the Transcaucasus and the Baltic states. Further, there are reports of servicemen being assaulted in areas plagued by ethnic conflicts. In December 1991, there were 16 instances of assault, nine of them involving the use of a weapon, against Russian military personnel stationed in Groznyy, the capital of the Chechen-Ingush Republic in the North Caucasus. At least one Russian officer in charge of a military base was killed while on duty (Sovetskaya Rossiya 16 Jan. 1992, 1). Fleeing such situations, servicemen often end up in "deserters' gathering points" to await their fate (Krasnaya Zvezda 4 Mar. 1992, 2). One article refers to some of these deserters as "refugees in military uniforms" (Sovetskaya Rossiya 10 Jan. 1992, 1).

There is no common position on classifying deserters from the armed forces. A commander of a gathering point for deserters said, "One is classified as a deserter only when found guilty by the military court...For now, we are simply dealing with runaways who left their army units without authorization" (Krasnaya Zvezda 4 Mar. 1992, 2). Information on penalties for desertion is not available. One report, however, mentions a soldier being sentenced to five years in a labour camp for unauthorized leave (Ibid.).

The treatment of those who leave their units appears to be quite arbitrary, depending to a great extent on the area to which they relocate, and possibly on their rank. Servicemen who have fled their army units because they refused to take the oath of allegiance to another state apparently receive the most lenient treatment from military authorities, as there is no appropriate legislation in the CIS Armed Forces regarding this type of deserter, nor is there clarity on the legality of such acts. Several incidents illustrate this situation. In one case six bombers were flown without authorization to a Moscow region military airport. The 13 officers on board, who had been stationed in a western Ukrainian town and who apparently had diffuculty with an oath of allegiance to the Ukraine, were met by a CIS military official who determined that they would not be punished and that they would be allowed to stay in the Moscow region (Izvestiya 19 Feb. 1992, 1). In contrast, 350 conscripts who refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Ukrainian state and fled to the North Caucasus Military District, located in Russia, were placed under house arrest pending investigation (Krasnaya Zvezda 24 Jan. 1992, 3). Tajik citizens who are absent without leave (AWOL) from their military units outside of Tajikistan are not to be held accountable according to a decision made by the Tajik Supreme Soviet (BBC Summary 28 Feb. 1992). Some states have formulated regulations on desertion from the newly-formed national armies. Ukraine, for example, has taken a hard line against deserters from its national army. The first report of desertion from the army came in February 1992 when 300 servicemen were reported to have left their subunits in the Kiev Military District (Teleradiokompaniya Ostankino Television 19 Feb. 1992). It was reported that Ukraine would launch a wide-scale campaign in late March to locate fugitives from the national army and return them to their respective units (INTERFAX 18 Mar. 1992).

Azerbaijan's prosecutor general suggested that servicemen who have gone AWOL should return to their units before 10 April 1992. Otherwise, district prosecutors could start criminal proceedings and place guilty parties under arrest (Postfactum 2 Apr. 1992b).

Due to the high number of draft evaders in Estonia, a senior military official has advocated that anyone failing to show up after the third call-up notice should face criminal charges (Radio Tallinn 1 Apr. 1992).

No information has been found on penalties for desertion or unauthorized leave from, or failure to report to, national armies.

5.                SUMMARY

Given that regulations on military service in the states of the former USSR are in transition, it is not possible to make firm conclusions on many of the issues raised in this report. Some summary observations, however, can be offered:

1. Independent, national armed forces are being created in most of the states, including those that are CIS members. The Central Asian states, apart from Uzbekistan, are the exception. These states at present have CIS forces only, but with some form of joint jurisdiction between national and CIS authorities;

2. In CIS member-states, there seems to be no standard relationship between national forces where they exist and the CIS Joint Armed Forces. Some member-states refer to joint jurisdiction between the national and CIS command structures, while others indicate that they will not support the CIS Joint Armed Forces;

3. It appears that most states want to reduce the size of the conventional armed forces;

4. Conscription appears to be in force in all states, either to the CIS or national armed forces, or both;

5. The length of compulsory military service is generally 18 months, reduced from the previous Soviet standard of two years. More possibilities for alternative service also exist now;

6. Several states require that ex-Soviet servicemen stationed on their territory take an oath of allegiance to national armed forces. This requirement has led to an increasing incidence of unauthorized leave by those serving outside of their home republic, which in turn gives rise to the legal question over whether such action amounts to desertion. In addition, many conscripts are being recalled by their home republics, which may not be in accordance with CIS military authorities. In the case of Belarus, however, the limited recall ordered by that republic appears to have been issued in coordination with the CIS military command (see section 3.3 on Belarus under "Conscription and Alternative Service");

7. When servicemen do not take an oath of allegiance to national armed forces and leave the region where they had been stationed without authorization, there is no consistency in the way they are treated. What happens to them appears to depend upon the area to which they relocate and possibly on their rank; and

8. Given the confusion that currently reigns, the movement of troops and officers from state to state and between CIS and national armed forces will continue.

6.           REFERENCES

Government of Lithuania. 1991. Selected Anthology of Institutional, Economic and Financial Legislation. Vilnius: Records Department of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 10 April 1992. RFE/RL Research Report [Munich]. Vol. 1, No. 15. Stephen Foye and Douglas L. Clarke. "Military and Security Notes," p. 44.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 13 March 1992. RFE/RL Research Report [Munich]. Vol. 1, No. 11. Stephen Foye and Douglas L. Clarke. "Military and Security Notes," pp. 52-53.

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TASS International Service [Moscow, in Russian]. 16 March 1992. "Text of Decree on Defense Ministry Released." (FBIS-SOV-92-052 17 Mar. 1992, p. 31)

TASS International Service [Moscow, in Russian]. 12 March 1992. "Country's Servicemen Recalled from Transcaucasus." (FBIS-SOV-92-050 13 Mar. 1992, p. 42)

TASS International Service [Moscow, in Russian]. 15 February 1992. "Safeguards for Servicemen Agreed." (FBIS-SOV-92-032 18 Feb. 1992, p. 23)

Teleradiokompaniya Ostankino Television First Program [Moscow, in Russian]. 19 February 1992. "Over 300 Republic Soldiers Reportedly Desert." (FBIS-SOV-92-034 20 Feb. 1992, p. 82)

Teleradiokompaniya Ostankino Television First Program [Moscow, in Russian]. 5 February 1992. "Chechen Authorities Set Up 'National Army'." (FBIS-SOV-92-025 6 Feb. 1992, p. 54)

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