putler's conscription and dedovshchina

Recently, I found myself contemplating the worst case scenario for the Ukraine war so far: Putin calls partial mobilization and formally annexes his Ukrainian conquests, having “clarified” the use of nuclear weapons.

composite of Charlie Hebdo cover, showing Putin as a gorilla with a very small penis peing on the red button, and Time & The Economist with a grungy, respectively bloodied Ukraine flagVarianta în limba română pe FaṭăCarte Meta.

  • Though I don’t keep this blog updated, I religiously add relevant videos to playlists.
  • I thought I wrote about dedovshchina or hazing in the Russian military, but here it is again just in case I didn’t.
  • War and machismo have an impact on society, and what I care about is what impact this war will have on Romania

As I watch this increasingly international shit-show (i.e., the Russian invasion of Ukraine), I was at first concerned about China’s involvement. I don’t always have the time to keep up with the news, so I created two playlists, one on serious news on Russia, the other on China anxieties; I add videos I often don’t have the time to watch, but at least I read the headlines. China is far more important than Russia for the world, and it isn’t doing too well right now due to the self-inflicted wound of zero-Covid. Remarkably, both countries and their allies, (e.g., Iran), are engaged in policies that enrage their local populations, causing increased outbound migration and dissent – although in China, whatever dissent takes place we don’t even hear about it.

But before worrying about China, something else was on my mind: Dedovshchina, or hazing in the Russian (Red) Army. I first learned about it many years ago, in 2006, from a Vice article (vc-fmt) and am quite sure I wrote about it somewhere but now I can’t find my echo (I also remember some Russian official claiming it’s not taking place anymore, but nobody took that seriously). It’s a disturbing article that few seem to have read, and those who did quickly forgot, pushing it out of their head. I, on the other hand, kept wondering:

  • how is such hazing affecting the effectiveness as well as efficiency of an army?
  • what is the interplay of machismo with society at large (see also wife-beating and/or homophobia)?
  • how is such efficiency (or lack thereof) impacted by having nuclear, chemical and biological weapons (of mass-destruction)?
  • does hazing increase propensity to terrorism and criminal acts by that military (which are supposedly eradicated through the Geneva conventions)?
  • to what extent is similar hazing taking place in other armies today and took place in the past (especially in the army of lovers)?

I have recently looked again at this issue and found a few more articles:

  1. A 2004 Human Rights Watch report is far more detailed but nobody read it, apart from the Vice reporter
  2. NYT (nyt-hzng) followed up in 2006, while France24 in 2011 (f24-dbb) but not as impactfully
  3. In 2019, Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu declared victory in modernizing the Russian army and stopped providing stats on the deaths of recruits, though dedovshchina most likely continued (f24-dbb, ee-stoicescu, tg-ramil; I’m on the fence w/ this D spelling)
  4. In 2020, Moscow Times makes another claim that dedovshchina continues (mt-dedo)
  5. In 2021, Global Security (gs-hzng) and Fair Planet (fp-hzng) attempted to correct another Minister of Defense (Kartapolov) claim that it’s been eradicated
  6. Back in May 2022, Sasha Petrova in Al-Jazeera foresaw conscription and re-stated the open secret that dedovshchina never stopped (aj-cnscr).

The point of hazing is to get the recruit emotionally invested in belonging. Having gone through hazing, an individual is less likely to forfeit said investment by quitting or “betraying” the group. The greater the pain, the deeper the investment. Hazing and generally torture can also backfire, causing the subject to turn against his tormentors, but this happens mostly in the movies, because IRL (and Ramsey in the Game of Thrones) such a person simply doesn’t make it through.

Let’s remember that conscription was a reality in communist Romania as well – although, if we read between the lines of those who remember it, it wasn’t that bad (ptr-vot). What if hazing in Romania was just as bad, with those surviving it being walking ghosts, carrying the heavy burden of those secrets with them, waiting for the courage to end their suffering in a car accident (MVA)?

That’s unlikely. The very high rate of casualties on Romanian roads is centered on the younger demographic (as elsewhere), i.e., people who were never conscripted. It’s likely due to several policing failures:

  • the failure to set and enforce lower speed limits
  • the failure to set and enforce DUI legislation
  • the failure to design and build safety infrastructure

The last one is far less relevant and I hesitated in including it, but it’s a factor nonetheless.

One has to wonder if Putin didn’t grasp what the war in Afghanistan did to Russia (its economy and its society, to be precise), or whether he does not care, or he simply thinks that restoring the Soviet empire is more important than anything else. After all his doctrine in nuclear weapons use (which is authorized to defend territorial integrity, which now includes the occupied territories of Ukraine) is Brezhnev Doctrine 2.0.

So how far is Putler willing to go and more importantly, is China going to follow him? Fortunately, I don’t owe anyone an answer, except those who helped me keep the dream this blog alive.

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Sources / More info: twt-hebdo, tec-pukrn, vc-fmt, ptr-vot, nyt-hzng, gs-hzng, tg-ramil, f24-dbb, ee-stoicescu, fp-hzng, mt-dedo, aj-cnscr


  1. You know, I had a discussion with a friend about the exact same thing: the Russian military had an absolute horrible culture before the war.

    1. At least in terms of bacterial culture, they had and still do have a lot!

  2. Dedovshchina doesn't translate well to Spanish: (Cuban mercenaries eliminate their own Russian commander in Ukraine, from zeleb.es) https://www.msn.com/en-xl/news/other/cuban-mercenaries-eliminate-their-own-russian-commander-in-ukraine/ss-AA1o4CzG


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