Lawmakers propose obligatory psychological selection of Russian military conscripts

Lawmakers propose obligatory psychological selection of Russian military conscripts
Several Russian senators have drafted a bill detailing the psychological and professional assessment of military conscripts to determine their future assignments in various military branches and roles.

The main sponsors of the motion are the head of the upper house Committee for Defense and Security, Viktor Ozerov, and the first deputy head of the committee, Franz Klintsevich.

In the explanatory note accompanying the draft, the authors wrote that the psychological and professional assessment procedure is intended to establish whether certain conscripts are fit for particular professions and types of service, as well as for studying in specific military schools.

The aim is to improve the professional qualities of servicemen. If the bill is passed, the assessment would be carried out by professional psychologists and the details of the procedure would be laid out by the Defense Ministry.

Presently, assessment of conscripts during the draft is regulated by a special order issued by the defense minister in 2000.

Russia has long relied on universal conscription to staff its military forces, but the situation has changed greatly since the launch of a major military reform in 2008.

In April 2015, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told reporters that for the first time in Russian history the number of contract servicemen exceeded the number of conscripts – 300,000 versus 276,000.

Former General Staff head General Nikolay Makarov told reporters in February 2016 that he expected the number of contract soldiers to reach 425,000 by the end of that year. Official Defense Ministry estimates were lower, at 384 000.

A poll conducted by independent sociological organization the Levada Center in early 2016 showed that 58 percent of Russians want the authorities to keep universal conscription (up from 40 percent in 2014), with 37 percent wanting a shift to fully professional military forces (down from 48 percent in 2014).