MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti military commentator Viktor LITOVKIN) - About 30,000 to 50,000 Russian servicemen aged between 30 and 45 are transferred to the reserve each year.
Only 50% quickly find jobs as they have "civilian" professions -- lawyers, doctors, programmers, communications experts and equipment engineers. However, tankmen, infantrymen, pilots, navigators and commanders are having trouble adapting to civilian life.
A round-table discussion in Noginsk near Moscow examined these problems. It was organized by NATO's Defence and Security Economics Directorate, as well as by Moscow's Center for Servicemen's Social Adaptation. Talking to RIA Novosti's military commentator, Col.-Gen. Leonid Mayorov, who heads this center, said that the Russian government had endorsed a state program called Social Adaptation of Demobbed Servicemen and Their Family Members for 2002-2005. The program contains many interesting ideas that cannot be implemented for lack of money. NATO contributed $195,000 for the social adaptation of Russian officers in 2002. Another Euro 420,000 were received last year. And next year's sum total is Euro 462,000.
Social-adaptation centers were opened in six Russian cities, including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad and Anapa. Office equipment and computers were purchased. These centers have Internet access. Personnel-retraining manuals were also published. Demobbed officers are lectured in management by the best local professors. Their successful colleagues, who run small and medium businesses, conduct practical sessions. "The Moscow center alone has trained 324 tutors in the last three years," General Mayorov noted. Such people help others adapt to civilian life. "The retraining center has graduated 900 to 1,200 officers, including 50 generals and admirals. Dr. Reiner Weichhardt, Deputy Director of NATO's Defence and Security Economics Directorate, added that the social-adaptation program was the only successful Russia-NATO Council program.
One thousand out of 25,000 demobbed officers have been retrained to date. Still this is a drop in the bucket. This problem must be solved promptly because Russia would either have thousands of young qualified specialists ready to work for the benefit of the country and their families or otherwise face thousands of angry and unpredictable young men.
Talking to RIA Novosti, Michael De-Mouliner, Second Secretary of NATO's Germany mission, said that NATO would help demobbed officers adapt to market economics and find a worthy job.
A total of 39,000 commercial firms headed by former servicemen already work in Noginsk, Serpukhov, Orekhovo-Zuyevo and other towns of the Moscow region. Some of them are run by graduates of the Russian-NATO social-adaptation program. These companies provide 23% of all regional goods and services worth 177 billion rubles.