Russian Duma breaks lances over law on alternative service

Today, Russia’s State Duma gives a second reading to a governmental bill “An Alternative Civil Service”. The Union of Rightist Forces is the main supporter of alternative service; the Union is an active member of the Duma’s legislation committee that has developed amendments to the bill’s second reading. Deputies of the faction disagree with some items of the document.

A bill on alternative service passed by the State Duma on April 17, which had been developed with the active participation of the General Staff of the Russian army.

Servicemen have also submitted amendments to the bill. For example, military men think that alternative service can be offered to draftees outside their residence (according to the first reading of the bill, draftees can be offered alternative service in the federation subjects where they live). The Russian Vesti-RTR TV program informed that several public law enforcement organizations will appeal to the Constitutional Court if draftees are not allowed to choose the place for their alternative service.

The General Staff wants to prolong alternative service to 48 months; and opponents say that such punitive period differs radically from the EU alternative service period. Centrist associations are the main supporters of the governmental bill. They say that alternative service should last for three years in military units and outside military units for 3.5 years. Centrist deputies believe that it is not necessary to get draftee’s consent for alternative service as a civilian staffer in military units, and say that draftees should be sent for service to any part of the country even without their consent.

The legislation committee, for its part, says that it is reasonable to increase the period of alternative service in the army to 2.5 years. In addition, opponents to the governmental version of the document suppose that, if draftees on alternative service live in military units together with soldiers on service for a fixed period, it will be impossible to avoid the beating and insulting that are so typical of Russia’s regular army nowadays. This fact is necessarily to be taken into consideration.

It is very likely that the bill will be adopted in the second reading, in the governmental variant. Member of the Duma legislation committee Alexander Barannikov says, “Centrist factions will vote for amendments that are agreeable for the General Staff.”

Sergey Yugov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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