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AP: Hundreds in Moscow protest draft

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  • Norbert Strade
    Hundreds in Moscow protest draft Saturday, April 1st, 2006 MOSCOW (AP) - Hundreds protested in central Moscow on Saturday against the draft, calling for an end
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2006
      Hundreds in Moscow protest draft

      Saturday, April 1st, 2006

      MOSCOW (AP) - Hundreds protested in central Moscow on Saturday against
      the draft, calling for an end to mandatory military service and
      criticizing plans to cut deferments as the Russian armed forces began
      their spring conscription campaign.

      The demonstration, part of a nationwide campaign led by opposition
      politicians and anti-draft activists, drew about 300 people to Pushkin
      Square. Many chanted slogans or held posters saying "the Army is
      Slavery" or "Draft: No," and some called for the resignation of
      President Vladimir Putin and the defense minister.

      Ekho Moskvy radio reported that similar protests were held in some 30
      other Russian cities.

      The government is preparing to scrap a series of deferments - a decision
      Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov says is necessary to fulfill plans to
      reduce the term of mandatory service from two years to one.

      The protest also came amid public dismay over a horrific case that
      highlighted the persistent problem of abuse in the military - the hazing
      of an 18-year-old private over the New Year that resulted in the
      amputation of his legs and genitals.

      For the spring draft, the ITAR-Tass news agency said the military plans
      to conscript nearly 125,000 young men - 9.7 percent of those ranging in
      age from 18 to 27.

      All Russian men in that age group are theoretically required to serve in
      the 1.2 million-member military, but fewer than 10 percent are normally
      drafted, while many dodge service by signing up for college, being
      excused for health reasons - often falsified - or simply paying bribes.

      Some Kremlin critics want mandatory service to be eliminated altogether,
      citing poor conditions in the underfunded military and rampant bullying
      of young conscripts by older soldiers.
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