Country report and updates: Kyrgyzstan


1 Conscription

conscription exists

Conscription is enshrined in art. 24 of the Constitution, which states: "Citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic have the right and obligation to defend the motherland. Citizens perform military service as established by law". [2]

The legal basis of conscription is the 1992 Law On general military duties, amended in 1994. [2]

Military service can be performed both in the Kyrgyz armed forces and the Russian border guards. In 1995 some 60 per cent of the Russian border guards' troops were said to be Kyrgyz. [3]

military service

All men between the ages of 18 and 27 are liable for military service.

The length of military service is 18 months, and 12 months in the case of university and college graduates. [2] [4]

There are reservist obligations. [4]

postponement and exemption-

Postponement is possible for students.

Exemption is possible for medical and domestic reasons. Those exempted for certain domestic reasons (such as having children or having lost a brother who died while performing military service) must perform substitute service.

The authorities have a list of illnesses which can lead to exemption from military service. This list is secret as the authorities fear that conscripts would otherwise falsify medical documents in order to get exempted. [2]


There are two call-ups a year, between April and June and between October and December. [3]

2 Conscientious objection

legal right

The right to conscientious objection is not enshrined in the Constitution. [2]

The right to conscientious objection is recognized under the 1994 Law on Alternative Service, but only religious grounds are accepted. Art. 1 entitles members of certain religious denominations who forbid their members to bear arms to perform substitute service.

Those exempted from military service on certain domestic grounds (see: postponement and exemption) must also perform substitute service.

right for whom

Applications can not be made while serving. [2]

procedure and practice

Written applications must be made to the local call-up commission, which makes a decision. (1994 law, art. 6)

There is a right to appeal. When an application is turned down by the local call-up commission it is possible to make an appeal to the Oblast call-up commission. If this appeal is unsuccessful it is possible to appeal to a civilian court. (art. 8)

The government annually stipulates how many conscripts may perform substitute service. (art. 5)

Little is known about how the procedure works in practice. Evidently many conscripts are allowed to perform substitute service (see: Annual statistics), but it must be noted thatmost are assigned to substitute service because they are exempted from military service for domestic reasons. [2]

According to a Kyrgyz NGO, applications to perform substitute service for other than religious reasons are seldom granted. [2]

substitute service

The length of substitute service is 36 months, and 18 months in the case of university and college graduates - twice the length of military service. (art. 2)

Substitute service is performed in the economy of Kyrgyzstan (art. 11) and can be any civilian task. [2]

Anyone performing substitute service must hand over 20 per cent of his salary to the Ministry of Defence. According to the Ministry, this is needed in order to make up the defence budget. [2]

People can be re-assigned from substitute service to reserve service when medical reasons preclude continuance of substitute service, when domestic circumstances change or when they go abroad. (art. 16)

3 Draft evasion and desertion


Evading military service is punishable by a fine (equivalent to between 200 and 500 the amount of minimum wage) or three months' to two years' imprisonment (art. 351 of the 1997 Criminal Code). [2]

Previously avoiding military service was punishable under art. 74 of the old criminal code, by one to three years' imprisonment, between three and five years' if it was accompanied by falsifying medical documents. [2]


Draft evasion and desertion are widespread, prompted by poor conditions and human rights violations within the armed forces. South Kyrgyz separatism is another cause of draft evasion: officers from northern Kyrgyzstan often refuse to serve in the southern part of the country. [1] [3]

No information is available on how draft evasion and desertion are actually monitored, but some persons have evidently been prosecuted for avoiding military service. In 1995 and 1996 there were known to be 12 such cases, with sentences handed out of up to 18 months' imprisonment under art. 74 old criminal code. It is not clear whether these were cases of draft evaders tracked down by the authorities or of COs whose application for substitute service were rejected and consequently refused to perform military service. [2]

According to the Ministry of Defence, between 1993 and 1996 no one failed to respond to a call-up for substitute service. [2]

5 History

After gaining independence in 1991 Kyrgyzstan at first considered having no armed forces, but instead depending on Russian and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) forces for national security. However, in the following years Kyrgyzstan did establish its own armed forces. [1]

6 Annual statistics

The armed forces comprise 12,200 troops (which is 0,27 percent of the population).

Each year about 44,400 young men reach conscription age. There are 11,000 conscripts in the armed forces. [4]

According to the Ministry of Defence 4,607 persons were called up for substitute service in 1993, 10,693 in 1996, and 14,975 in 1997. [2]


1994 Law on Alternative Service (German translation). [1] Kangas, Roger D. 1996. 'With an Eye on Russia, Central Asian Militaries Practice Cooperation', in: Transition, 9 August 1996., RFE/RL, Prague. [2] Youth Human Righs Group Bishkek 1998. Alternative Service in the Kyrgyz Republic. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. [3] Shishlevskiy, Valentin 1995. 'Kyrgyzstan and its armed forces: A review', in: Asian Defence Journal, 1/1995. [4] Institute for Strategic Studies 1997. Military Balance 1997/98. ISS, London. [5] Amnesty International 1992. AI Concerns in Europe: November 1991 - April 1992. AI, London.

Articles related to conscientious objection

31 Aug 2004

Interfax reported that Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev has signed amendments to the law on mandatory military service, which will reduce military service by six months from 1 January 2006 on. Presently, the term of military service is 1.5 years. However, this cannot be seen as a step towards disarmement: "The Defense Ministry told Interfax that ongoing military reforms envision building a professional army and increasing the number of contract servicemen".
Source: Interfax, 23 July 2004,

01 Nov 2002
by Silke Makowski

In the region of Caucasus and Central Asia, no country offers a free choice between military service and alternative service, most of them even having no legal basis for a substitute service at all. The few states that passed a law on some kind of alternative service haven't implemented it according to international standards: in Georgia, substitute service isn't available in practice and in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, large bribes are necessary to perform it.

23 Jul 2000

24 July 2000


18. The Committee takes note that conscientious objection to military service is allowed only to members of a registered religious organization whose teachings prohibit the use of arms. The Committee regrets that the State party has not sought to justify why the provision on alternative service entails a period of service twice as long as that required of military conscripts, and why persons of higher education serve for a considerably lesser period in the military and in alternative service (arts. 18 and 26).

Forum posts related to conscientious objection