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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Draftees' Choice Urged

MOSCOW () -- A coalition of Russian anti-war activists launched a petition drive Thursday urging lawmakers to give all draftees the right to fulfill military obligations with civilian service.

"We recognize that very powerful forces in Russia don't want this law to be adopted," said a statement by the group, which included two soldiers' mothers' associations.

Last month President Boris Yeltsin signed a bill extending mandatory service to two years and requiring most university students to serve after graduation. But he also has pledged to pare the military into a volunteer force.