Russia to Require Officials to Undertake Military Service

Russian army
A Russian serviceman aboard an armoured personnel carrier salutes next to the blue-white-red tricolour flag of Crimea, during the Victory Day parade in Moscow's Red Square May 9, 2014. Grigory Dukor/REUTERS

Russia is set to adopt a law banning people from occupying high-ranking governmental positions as well as from becoming public prosecutors or court judges if they have not served in the Russian armed forces, according to the country's upper house of parliament.

Viktor Ozerov, head of the defence and security committee of Russia's Federal Council, which serves as the upper house of parliament in Russia, the State Duma being the lower house, said today that the council would soon pass the law.

"In the very near future we are going to approve a law banning evaders of military service from eventually taking high-ranking positions in government," Ozerov told Russian embassy military attachés in a meeting today, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

"These positions are ones such as ministers as well as judges and prosecutors. Candidates must absolutely have in their CV service in the armed forces of the Russian Federation," he added.

Ozerov pointed out that confirmed draft dodgers are currently not allowed to serve in Russia's local and national civil services, but added "we must go further".

The announcement came as Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a presidential decree to draft 150,000 young men into the Russian army between April 1 and July 15 as part of Russia's spring intake of conscripts.

Russia's draft has been dubbed "the great annual hide and seek" because of the lengths young men would go through to avoid being conscripted as all males between 18 and 27 who meet minimum health requirements have to present themselves for service.

Mental illness and failure to meet the physical requirements for service are the most common reasons for which young men are excused from service. Reforming the Russian draft system is a contentious issue which continues to be debated as conservative activists argue for tightening loopholes to make it more difficult for people to avoid service, while others advocate for relying less on conscripts and increasing the proportion of professional soldiers instead .

The legal secretary for the speaker of the Russian lower house, Vadim Solovyov, suggested earlier this month that military service should not have an upper age bracket, meaning that if someone hasn't served in the armed forces before they're 28, they can still be forced to do so.

"It is so that everyone knows from the start that if he is found [to have dodged the draft] even at age 40, he will be made to serve and he will never be able to skip it," he said.