Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict: Signed (15 Feb 2001). Ratified (24 Sep 2008).
Compulsory recruitment age: 18 (with basic military training at 15 or 16).
Voluntary recruitment age: 18 (16 at military education institutes).
Duration of compulsory military service: 12 months.
Conscientious objection to military service recognised for conscripts: Yes, since 1993.
Duration of civilian service: up to 21 months (for common servicemen), 18 months for those graduated with higher education or performing their service in organizations under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defence.
Conscientious objection recognised for professional soldiers: No.
Military expenditure: 4.3% of GDP (data 2009).
1) Prior to enrolment boys had to undergo training in the basics of military service in their final year at school, when they were 15 or 16 (Article 13 of the Law on Military Obligations and Military Service). Sixteen-year-olds who had already left school were supposed to attend training sessions at centres in their neighbourhood.
2) Under the Law on Contractual Military Service, military service contracts were open to volunteers from the age of 18, including non-citizens (Article 34). Candidates had to have completed at least one year’s study at a Military Educational Institute that offered professional training in military subjects to boys and girls from the age of 16. Students at these institutes were regarded as being on military service (Article 35).
3) The Law on Military Obligations and Military Service provided for state-run military education establishments for boys (Article 19). Suvorov military colleges, Nakhimov naval-military colleges and musical military colleges for orchestra players provided a general education with extra military options for boys aged 7–16. They prepared pupils for entry to Military Education Institutes and a life in the military. Cadet Schools provided boys of 12–15 with vocational training for jobs in specific branches of the armed forces. Entry to these institutions was competitive, but automatic for applicants who were orphans or children otherwise deprived of parental care. Cadet School was regarded as beneficial for these children because it guaranteed them a social context and later a job. There appeared to be no procedure for finding out if a child genuinely wanted to attend Cadet School or for an informed adult to represent his best interests. There was also no legal means for reversing the decision to attend Cadet School or the undertaking to do vocational military work on graduation. Cadet Schools offered a very limited curriculum, hard physical drill, little relaxation and military discipline from an early age. By 2007 nearly half the military districts had Cadet Corps and publicized them on a website.
4) The Law on Defence states: “The creation and existence of other military formations or arms and military technology, in which military service is foreseen, is not envisaged by Federal laws and is forbidden and punishable by law.” In practice numerous armed groups continued to operate in Chechnya and the north Caucasus. They included groups closely linked to the security forces and a range of non-state groups. Under-18s were reportedly recruited into opposition separatist forces in the Chechen Republic and other parts of the north Caucasus.
5) There is no right to conscientious objection for serving conscripts, reservists and professional soldiers. The Law on Alternative Civilian Service contains a strict time limit for submitting CO applications. Applications must be made at least six months before receipt of call-up papers (Article 11.1). As conscripts usually receive their call-up papers at the age of 18, they are only 17 years and six months old when they need to submit a CO application if they wish to do so. Consequently, conscripts are, in fact, still minors at the time when they are eligible to make a CO application. CO applications cannot be made by serving conscripts and reservists. According to Article 3.1: "Substitute service is only granted to those who are not in military service". The Law on Alternative Civilian service only applies to conscripts and the legal time limits further exclude professional soldiers from claiming the right to conscientious objection.
6) The civilian service is extremely punitive in length (75% longer than the military service) and in nature, including the requirement to perform such service outside places of permanent residence, the receipt of low salaries, and the restrictions in freedom of movement. Also, the assessment of applications is problematic and it is carried out by a draft panel for such service, is under the control of the Ministry of Defence.
1) Stop the basic military training of persons aged under 18.
2) Stop the voluntary recruitment of persons aged under 18.
3) Stop military training and abolish military schools for persons aged under 18.
4) Stop both government-linked armed groups and non-governmental armed groups.
5) Recognise the right to conscientious objection for serving conscripts, reservists and professional soldiers.
6) Make a genuinely civilian service (not under the Ministry of Defence) of non punitive length (equal duration to the military one) and nature.
Citizen, Army, Law, Report on the implementation of the right to conscientious objection to military service in Russia in 2002-2012, October 2012.