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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ministry Says 35 Schools Will Offer Draft Alternative

The Defense Ministry is moving ahead with plans to slash the number of schools that will be certified to provide military training, a change that will effectively leave hundreds of thousands of students without protection from being drafted into the military.

The ministry has named 35 universities and institutes that will be able to offer military training effective as of 2008, down from the current 210 schools. Five schools have been added since the ministry first came up with the plan in June.

The amended list includes 12 Moscow-based universities and colleges, including Moscow State University and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and five universities in St. Petersburg, General Nikolai Pankov, head of the Defense Ministry's personnel service, said Thursday.

The ministry announced in June that the number of schools offering military training to students would be slashed to 30 by 2010. It created a public furor similar to the one seen last December when Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov called for scrapping exemptions for students who undergo training as reserve officers.

Military recruiters have for years complained that there are so many exemptions from service that the armed forces remain chronically undermanned.

After the June announcement, many schools lobbied to retain their military training, and five more schools were subsequently added to the list, ministry officials said, Kommersant reported.

Undergoing military training in colleges and universities allows students to avoid an otherwise-compulsory two years of military service. A few reservists, mostly graduates of technical universities, are conscripted to serve as officers for two years.

Starting in 2008, however, conscripts will serve for only one year, and the ministry has repeatedly said the draft needs to be expanded.