Secretary of the Union of Soldiers' Mothers Valentina Melnikova criticizes the newly adopted law concerning alternative civil service.
She states that the law does not allow a person to choose between military or alternative service.
First of all, the main problem deals with the fact that alternative service undermines a rather lengthy term. Second of all, a draftee is required to provide substantial reasons why he chooses this particular type of service. Finally, a draftee will undergo his alternative service in extremely distant places, reported Melnikova in her interview to the radio station “Echo of Moscow”.
“All of such factors do not allow to use the law in a way that would be totally Constitutional, so that a person could choose between military and civil services,” stated Melnikova.
She also added that “even the most basic human rights are being violated in the Russian army today. This concerns not only the draftees but all the contract soldiers and officers as well.”
While talking about possible reforms in the Russian army, Melnikova remarked that any reform should take place only after the Presidential elections of 2004. “By summer of 2004, everyone will see that current military system cannot survive without drastic changes.”
As far as the possible amendments to the Constitution are concerned, Melnikova also noted that attempts to draft students to the army will have to take place after the presidential elections. Even then however they will most likely fail.
As far as the positive aspects of present day army reforms are concerned, Melnikova said that “in accordance with the new policy, doctors are authorized to ask a draftee to undergo special military-medical commission in order to verify a person’s suitability for the service.” Overall, according to the secretary, “The Office of Public Prosecutor and Military doctors remain the most accountable defense structures.”
Melnikova also reported of a recently finished project entitled “Constitutional Protection for War Mothers.” The project was supported by the Euro Commission. “We helped so many youngsters. We organized a special colloquium with military prosecutors and military judges. Afterward, we published an interesting book,” informed Melnikova.