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April 1, 2006 -- Hundreds of demonstrators rallied in Moscow and other Russian cities today, calling for an end to mandatory military service and protesting the planned reduction of draft deferments.
Up to 300 people attended a rally on Moscow’s Pushkin Square. Some protesters called for the resignation of Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. Others urged conscripts to refuse to serve and military prosecutors to not take action against them for doing so.
Smaller protests took place in Omsk, Izhevsk, Voronezh, Barnaul, and more than 20 other cities.
Today’s protest actions had been called by a number of opposition parties and the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers.
The government has justified its plans to scrap several deferments by saying the move is necessary to reduce the term of mandatory service from two years to one by 2008.
(newsru.com, Ekho Moskvy, AP, AFP)