Russia: Fact Sheet
- Population: 142.4 million
- Government armed forces: 960,600
- Number of shild soldiers: Exact figure unknown due to a media and human rights group ban
- Military "adopted" children: 35,000
- The Second Chechen War
- Russia vs. Chechen Republic
- Chechen Republic employs the use of child soldiers
- The Chechen forces recruit child soldiers in order to be used as suicide bombers, land mine detectors, spies, and messengers
- The Russian government says that the adoption of orphans is justified because they have no other alternative. They also claim that tagging along with military forces does not do any harm
- Adopted military orphans go through training, learning about things such as gasmasks and firearms
- There are no known demobilization programs in either the Chechen or Russian Federation forces
Russia's Current Conflict
Since 1992, two devastating wars have ravaged the region of Chechnya in Russia. The conflict started in 1991 when Chechnya declared itself independent from Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The rebel groups adopted a constitution that created a government and parliament independent from Russia. After this, Russia sent troops into Chechnya to stop the rebellion. This conflict is known as the First Chechen War, which lasted from 1994 to 1996. The use of child soldiers during this period is largely undocumented.
The violent conflict started again in 1999 after a series of bombings in Russia killing over 300 is blamed on Chechnya. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sends troop back into Chechnya in the name of stopping terrorism. This conflict still rages on today. There have been documented uses of child soldiers and recruitment by both sides in this current conflict.
During both conflicts, the Chechen and Russian forces both committed unspeakable atrocities against civilians. Civilians living mainly in Chechnya lived with a continuous risk of rape, extortion, abduction, dismemberment, and bombings. The Russian Federation is notoriously known to have been responsible for the killings and “disappearing” of hundreds of Chechens after raids. Similarly, Chechen forces are known to have continuously targeted pro-Moscow leaders in the government ranks of Chechnya.
Russia's Use of Child Soldiers
In the ongoing Chechen wars, children are frequently used as suicide bombers after being coaxed into action.
- On June 6, 2000, the first suicide bombing in Chechnya was performed by two female teenagers aged 16 and 17.
- In December of 2001, another 16-year-old girl attempted to drive a truck loaded with explosives into a temporary police station
Outside of news stories, information about uses of child soldiers in the conflict with Chechnya is sparse due to media and press restrictions.
The government of Russia actively “adopts” orphans under the age of 18 into military schools. The government provides education to those who would otherwise go without one. However, people have criticized this practice because it subjects children to the harsh conditions of military training and sometimes even warfare.
There have been occasions where the troops of Russia performed “cleansing” operations in parts of Chechnya where boys believed to be rebels were sent off to camps to be tortured or killed. It is believed that over 90 children have been killed in this manner. The official government line on this issue is that these children had to be eliminated because they collaborated and conspired with Chechen rebels.
- "Chechen suicide attacks." Wikipedia. 21 January 2007. 28 January 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chechen_suicide_attacks>.
- "Military use of children." Wikipedia. 26 January 2007. 28 January 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_soldier>.
- "Russia." Child Soldiers Global Report 2004. 2004. 28 January 2007 <http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=924>.
- "Timeline: Chechnya." BBC News. 26 August 2006. 28 January 2007 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/country_profiles/2357267.stm>.
- Tsvetkova, Maria. "Chechen women to drive killer trucks." Gazeta.ru. 29 October 2002. 28 January 2007 <http://www.gazeta.ru/2002/10/29/Chechenwomen.shtml>.