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LDPR offers public to discuss professional army bill

November 16, 2011, 18:44 UTC+3

The Liberal Democratic Party faction at the State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament put up for public discussion a federal bill

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MOSCOW, November 16 (Itar-Tass) — The Liberal Democratic Party faction at the State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament put up for public discussion a federal bill cancelling conscription in peaceful times. The authors of the initiative published on the Party's website are the key LDPR "newsmakers" led by deputy house speaker and Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

The military reform has several objectives, the authors said in an explanatory note to the new legislation, "they are: enhancing the combat capability of the Russian army, better organization and morale of servicemen and many other things."

"One of the ways of reaching these objectives is to staff the army with professionals serving under contracts on a voluntary basis," the authors said.

They noted poor results of the federal goal-oriented program implemented at present which aims to expedite the establishment of a professional army in Russia, and doubted the expediency of spending budget money on it.

"In the present situation, only a federal law can ensure the implementation of military reform and the transfer to contract service," the lawmakers underlined.

Under the document, citizens perform their Constitutional duty to defend the Fatherland in peaceful times only by joining the military on a voluntary basis. The bill keeps the opportunity to introduce conscription in wartime, as well as turn-outs. "This allows for introducing individual changes to the effective legislation which affects four federal laws," according to the authors.

The date for the law's coming into effect was tentatively set for July 1, 2012. It will provide for giving up the spring draft, and discharging the citizens conscripted in the autumn of 2011, the Liberal Democrats said.

"It requires from the law-enforcement agencies and departments certain efforts in staffing the armed forces with citizens, who decided to start an army career of their own free will. It is only by this method that we can make the conservative wing of the Russian brass drop such a Soviet-era relic as compulsory military service in peaceful time."

In the opinion of LDPR members, "canceling conscription will help eliminate hazing, including ethnic conflicts." It will also contribute to boosting the army prestige.

The proposal was forwarded to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, law-enforcement agencies and the Finance Ministry, in order to learn their position, as "it will require considerable spending, and, consequently, a serious financial and economic review."

The Liberal Democrats urged "all the citizens of our country, both experts and ordinary people, to join the discussion of the bill."

Meanwhile, chairman of the house committee on defense Viktor Zavarsin, a lawmaker from the ruling United Russia party, said it is not possible to completely give up conscription at present.

"As of now, all the necessary numbers for conscription contingent have been designated; the General Staff voiced the proposals to increase the number of contract troops, and, accordingly, decrease the number of conscripts. Special attention is paid to standby units; also, military equipment is evolving, too, which requires more well-trained specialists," Zavarzin said.

"The number of conscripted servicemen reaches some 220,000 at present. By 2016, the number of contract servicemen is expected to reach 425,000. They must be the best of the best, by health, professionalism, and physical training.

"Yet, it is necessary to realize that this process cannot run too fast, it will take some time. To completely give up conscription does not appear possible at present. The reasons are quite objective. Our state cannot afford full transfer to a contract army, it's too costly. At present, the armed forces have a mixed principle of staffing, and it has remained optimal thus far," Zavarzin said.

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