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1 Oct, 2008 08:26

You’re in the army now!

The Russian army draft starts on the first day of October. According to the presidential decree of September 28 more than 200,000 young Russian men are eligible for military service this year.

Compared to previous draft, held in the spring, the number of young men eligible for army service has almost doubled. This is due to a change in legislation, before which 26 categories of young men were eligible for deferment of service. Now this number has been reduced to 21.

Deputy Chief of the General Staff Colonel-General, Vasili Smirnov, explained the reason for the change to the media on Tuesday. He noted that as the term of military service has been reduced to one year, the army now needs more conscripts. This autumn, 205,000 servicemen conscripted in the autumn of 2006 and the spring of 2007 are to be discharged from the armed forces.

He added the number of draft dodgers has significantly decreased in the past few years. “Whereas there were 12,500 such people in 2007, we only had 5,800 draft dodgers in 2008,” he explained.

Still, the state of physical health of most young people leaves much to be desired. The spring draft’s medical staff found every third conscript to be unfit for military service.

Conscripts gather at special registration points, where they are given winter uniform. They will depart for their military headquarters by trains and planes shortly.

Contract military service is still not very popular with Russians. At the moment the number of contractors constitutes only 99,000 of more than 1.1 million army staff.