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Russia: No End To Student Deferments From Draft

Russian soldiers in Chechnya 19 January 2005 -- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said the government will not revoke students' right to defer military service any time soon.

Ivanov previously had suggested that student deferments from military service would be canceled, but reversed himself after speaking to lawmakers in parliament today.

Ivanov told reporters that, quote, "no one is going to recruit students in the military." The government already is facing a surge of public anger over separate reforms canceling social benefits in favor of cash stipends.

Pensioners and other economically vulnerable members of the population have held protests in cities across Russia in recent days.

Earlier today, Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said pensioners who are protesting against benefit changes represent a tiny and disruptive minority.

Kudrin was speaking after a high-level ministerial group agreed today to a higher increase in basic pensions than previously approved.