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Russian Parliamentarians Criticize Yeltsin Army Decree

Moscow, May 20 (RFE/RL) -- A Russian Duma deputy says the country's lower house of parliament is likely to contest a presidential decree abolishing compulsory military service.

Lt. General Mikhail Surkov told our correspondent in Moscow Friday that Boris Yeltsin's decree, in his words, "contradicts the constitution." Surkov, a Communist party member, is also the deputy chairman of the State Duma's defense committee.

The Yeltsin decree, signed Friday, calls for abolishing compulsory military service and would transform the Russian army into a professional outfit by 2000.

At Surkov's urging, the Duma voted Friday to allow its defense committee to review the decree.

Another top Communist party member and Duma deputy told Russian media Friday that the transition to a professional army should not be enforced by a presidential decree. Viktor Ilyukhin, who chairs the Duma's security committee, said the State Duma should initiate such a plan.