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Russian Army Drafting Men From Chechnya For First Time In 20 Years

Young men from Chechnya are being drafted into Russia's armed forces for the first time in 20 years.

Some 500 men aged 18-27 will be drafted this autumn.

Officials at Russia's Southern Military District said on October 1 that drafting commissions had started working in Chechnya's 17 districts and that the first group of conscripts will be sent to military units in 10 days.

Mandatory military service in Russia is 12 months.

Chechen youth stopped being drafted to the Russian Army in late 1994, when the Kremlin sent the military into Chechnya to try to crush its separatist leadership.

Government forces drove separatists from power in a second war and Moscow announced in 2009 that its "counterterrorist" operation in Chechnya was over.

Chechen separatist fighters gradually turned into Islamic insurgency and spread to other parts of Russia's volatile North Caucasus region.

Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops intermittently over the past six months near its border with Ukraine, which is battling a pro-Russian separatism that Western governments accuse Moscow of supporting and supplying.

Western leaders and NATO say Russia has also sent its troops into Ukraine, a charge echoed by Russian NGOs organized by the families of Russian soldiers though denied by Moscow.

Based on reporting by Interfax and ITAR-TASS

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