Valentina Melnikova: Proceeding with the draft now is a crime against the state. On conscription during a pandemic

27 April 2020

Valentina Melnikova is executive secretary of the Union of Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: The Insider]

On 26 April the Minister of Defence announced that the army conscription committee would begin working after 6 May as part of spring army recruiting, and military recruits would be sent into service after 20 May. Valentina Melnikova, executive secretary of the Union of Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia, told The Insider that conscription operations are not feasible while the country is in self-isolation and are simply dangerous.

While the country is self-isolating, there cannot be a draft, because the leaders of the subordinate entities of the Federation cannot cite “conscription operations” as a reason for abandoning self-isolation. A draft requires a large number of medical procedures. First of all, you need to get a referral to a clinic from the military recruitment office, and you need to get five mandatory tests done: a urine test, a blood test, and tests for HIV, hepatitis C, and syphilis. You also need a fluoroscopy and a cardiogram. Show me a clinic that would do that now. The second protocol involves the physical evaluation board and the draft committee. Those are traditionally older folks, way older than 65. How on earth are they going to break self-isolation?

The decree ‘On the Draft’ refers to 130,000 draftees, but the conscription commissions must summon 1,300,000 persons because we don’t have an individual draft, but rather a mobilization procedure. They are calling in everyone whose deferment on the basis of studies has ended or is ending, who has turned 18, or whose medical documents require additional in-patient examinations. What hospital is going to take in these tens of thousands of draftees with their chronic illnesses?

I’m assuming that the General Staff and this chief — I can’t remember his last name out of spite — they think that the boys will go to the conscription commissions like idiots, that they’ll just quickly shove a draft card at them along with all their things and that’s that? Are they going to set off for the military right there and then or something? That wouldn’t work.

In any epidemic — cholera, the plague, anthrax — conducting a draft is a crime against the state. It means crowding people together, transporting people across great distances in unknown ways and for unknown reasons, enlisting people with unknown medical backgrounds into the army. While they’re traveling in convoy from Kaliningrad to Khabarovsk, what will they pick up along the way? This is madness.

It’s possible that there are already people in military units who have coronavirus, but it’s not exactly clear whether they’re separated in some way or if they’re handling them like they would handle those with the usual kinds of respiratory infections. Since there are no complaints, that means there’s nothing serious happening. We would know. Parents are more or less keeping track of what’s happening there, they’re calling their kids.

We know perfectly well what’s happening at military bases. We have a certain Soviet flaw, so that when someone complains about not feeling well, having a runny nose and fever, we say to them, “You’re just trying to get out of serving.” And so on, until they drop dead. That’s the problem.

There would be some clarity if the Ministry of Defence had been honest and said, “In our medical companies, in the military units and hospitals, there are this many patients with respiratory diseases.” But so far they’re only talking about what we found out without them: about the cadets, about the preparations in Alabinsk for the parade. They’re reporting things everyone already knows.

Translated by Nina dePalma

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