Law on Alternative Civil Service at Odds with Human Rights

Russia's Union of Right Forces political party opposes the present version of the law on alternative civil service as accepted by the State Duma. This is according to the statement Irina Khakamada, a co-Chairman of the party and a Vice-Speaker of the State Duma made at a press conference. She said that amendments added to the law on the initiative of the General Staff and the Ministry of Defence made it nothing if not a prohibitive act.

Mrs. Khakamada believes the law is at odds with human rights, considering that recruiting commissions, which will decide weather or not one may serve in a civil environment, can not be objective and there is no knowing what criteria such commissions will use when making decisions concerning young conscripts. Mrs. Khakamada said this was the evidence of the military having no trust for Russia's people.

Besides, the Vice-Speaker says the 3.5-year tour of alternative service duty is by far excessive. She says the young must be involved in the most advanced spheres of the country's economy instead of being locked up.

She also said that the experimental Pskov division where soldiers and sergeants serve on contract only had received too much money because this was how the military were trying to prove that switching to military service on contract was too expensive and could not go through sooner than in 10 or 15 years.

Mrs. Khakamada said in this particular case of alternative civil service she was 'a total opponent of the government-oriented party of centrists', which acted as the promoter of this version of the law. The Union of Right Forces, she said, would keep amending this law and try and form an appropriate public opinion.

She concluded by saying that the law on alternative civil service turned out to be a bright-coloured candy wrapper to show to the West. Yet as far as Russia was concerned it would be 'just another law that does not work, unable to resolve the problems of either the young or the army'.

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